Urban Planners Seriously Question Metroplan Orlando's 1.5% Traffic Growth Rate in Corrine Drive Study

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By Mark Baratelli
The Corrine Drive Complete Streets Study has created 6 distinct ideas for how Corrine Drive between US 17/92 and Bennett Road (the main artery of Audubon Park neighborhood and business district) could improve transportation and become a Complete Street.
  1. 5-Lane Concept
  2. 5-Lane Concept Variation
  3. 3-Lane Concept
  4. 3-Lane Concept Variation
  5. Hybrid Concept
  6. Hybrid Concept Variation

The Daily City spoke with Jim Hall, a member of the 7 year old Corrine Calming Coalition group. Hall is an urban planner and resident of Audubon Park.

He and his group applauds Metroplan Orlando for doing the study. "We’re behind the study. We like the study," he tells me repeatedly.

There's just one sticking point for Hall and his group: "We just want to get this growth rate right is all we want to do."

Hall says it's "the number one influencer" for determining the condition of the road. The growth rate is traffic size, the number of trips, the traffic present in a given location. 

In the study, according to Metroplan Orlando, over the next 20 years the the growth rate will be 35% (1.5% per year).

This would mean that for the 5-lane concepts the morning rush travel time would be about 6 minutes as it's been for the past 20 years. The 3-lane concept, using the 1.5% growth rate, would be a 23.7 minute morning rush travel time.

Hall has traffic counts from 2000-2016. Historically for 16 years there've been 23,000 cars on Corrine. Metroplan says in 20 years it will be 31,500 on the road. Hall isn't finding where these numbers are coming from. "Thats a 1.5 growth in 20 years. Thats a 35% increase. Thats huge."

Hall says historically, theres no precedent for going to 31,500 cars. Audubon Park and Winter Park are already built out. In 2007 Baldwin Park developed with 4,000 units but the traffic stayed steady. The history is there. 

The Daily City received more negative feedback from several other planners, both in Orlando and across the country, after they read the study. All of them wish to remain anonymous. See their feedback below. 

Planner 1 - "I'm astonished and very disappointed. So far from context sensitive design."

Planner 2 - "We are suspicious as to study assumptions" 

Planner 3 - "(The numbers) don't make sense to me . . . They don't sound correct in the least to me."

Planner 4 - Indicated that all Metroplan did was plug numbers into a calculation without accounting for drivers choosing other routes, discretionary trips shifting to other times to avoid traffic, people choosing to bike or walk now because it's a viable option finally, etc.

Panner 5 - This planner rejected the travel numbers as a sloppy calculation. They added that Metroplan is accounting for a twenty year increase in growth that simply won't exist because the area is already built out. Said that planners don't build roads for peak travel, with the expectation that a driver will never experience a delay. You build roads for all users and this area should be able to expect some relief from high speed traffic that exists when it's not commuter time which is only 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes at night, five days a week.

Planner 6 had the most in-depth feedback of the group:
  • "This seems like a technical brushoff and BS. I can’t believe that they let that be published, and is almost evil in the way that it makes the better design look bad for drivers and the corridor. The MetroPlan values are not aligned with the community’s values, or at least the model does not invoke those values with the way the travel times were portrayed.
  • The engineers in our office looked at this and it is a disingenuous way to show the data. It only depicts what a computer model spit out, and didn’t take into account any of the contextual factors. Corrine can only receive the amount of cars/traffic that can be fed from the signal at 17-92 or Bennett on each end, so the amount of cars entering the corridor will always be limited by those signals and won’t ever make the system reach critical fail or the extreme travel times that they modeled. Reducing the number of lanes does not control the flow or the speed, the intersections do. 
  • Their model output indicates that there will be a continuous heavy flow of cars entering the corridor and that it will reach a tipping point and exponentially congest and be a traffic jam. It doesn’t take into account the other routes that some people will choose, the modal split that you could get if more people biked on the new bike facilities there, or that people may not mind driving a little slower through the nice new street. Plus it implies that the new street will delay people, when in fact it just changes the travel time and corrects the problem that is there today – that you can drive through there too fast. It does exaggerate the travel time though and in no way would it take over 20 minutes to go two miles.
  • Luckily for Corrine there are only three signals in the middle of the corridor that have to be timed together to make it flow smoothly. The amount of time that a signal allows green time for cars is actually improved by narrowing to 3 lanes, because the ped timer gets shorter - the amount of time that a ped has to cross the intersection is shorter so the light doesn’t have to stay red for as long for them to cross. The additional lanes along Corrine are only needed for holding cars at those intersections – essentially stacking volume or car storage during a red light. That is why the idea of doing 3 lanes in one part and leaving it 5 in others doesn’t help or work, because the middle parts isn’t the problem, it’s the signals and how many cars can go through a signal cycle at one time. 
  • The 3 lane design controls the cars to go through on the neighborhood’s terms instead of one their own terms – fast. That corridor should match the desired vision and context for the residents and business owners and if cars want to use it to go home or as a shortcut they will choose to go through it with respect and the desired character and vibrancy that the community asks for. 
  • Then there is the safety, comfort, and economic issues that a computer model can’t determine or add as a variable. If moving cars through quickly is the desire than all the businesses should close and driveways should be moved to the side streets and Corrine can move as freely as possible. 
  • Plus the bike facilities do not comply with what we are designing across the country. The sections drawn are shortchanged by the vehicular cyclists crowd that MetroPlan follows and promote. They would rather see sharrows and people riding in the street than in real bike facilities, and it shows in the way they graphically made the sections. Their designs don’t comply with the way those separated bike lanes are being designed and implemented. Plus they do not address how those facilities cross the numerous driveways and travel through the intersections. It seems halfhearted and a way to brush the idea off as a bad idea, or one that would not help things and would hurt the corridor. The road diet, bike lanes, sidewalks, and street trees would only help that street."

The Daily City told Metroplan Orlando this article was being written and asked for their feedback prior to its completion. While they offered no new explanation directly to us, they did release a revised report to the public with a newly added appendix directly addressing how they got the 1.5% growth rate. It says they did not take into account drivers taking alternate routes because those available were already overburdened. It also shared that the rush hour drive time was closer to 30 minutes than the originally stated 23.7 minutes.