Creative solutions for traffic creation
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Bill Hocker | Sep 14, 2015

NVR: NCTPA wrapping up countywide transportation plan

As usual I am coming late to the major development projects being proposed in the county. As with most of them, the solutions being proposed to the problems created by previous development is - more development. Traffic has become the most evident of the problems created by the continuous expansion of the tourism industry and imported-grape wine industry in the county. Both the county and the municipalities have continued to do what all local governments, as tools of development interests, have done: sanction the conversion of vacant land into buildings with the promise of jobs and fees and taxes necessary to pay for the impacts of previously approved projects.

The Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency has been working for several years qon its Vision 2040 Plan to propose solutions to the traffic congestion that now impacts everyone's daily life in the county. The solutions proposed are nuts and bolts mitigations of existing problems: widen the congested stretches, signalize the blocked intersections and build a flyover for the worst of them. And then there are the enormous amounts to be spent on hopeful solutions. Maybe more people will use buses if enough money is spent on maintenance or schedules. Maybe the population will decide bicycles are a more convenient mode of travel if enough money is spent on the vine trail.

Such traffic mitigations, unfortunately, will never keep pace with the increase in traffic as long as the current amount of building development continues in the county. The mitigations proposed by NCTPA may help with the existing problems citizens have complained about. But by the time those mitigations are in place, 150 more tourism wineries or winery expansions will be built promising tens of thousands of new events, 3000 housing units will be built, hundreds of thousands of square feet of commercial space will be built, several major resorts and hotels will be built, a new jail will be built and, of course, a Costco will be built. All will bring more tourists, and workers, and shoppers and residents - and their vehicles.

And the reality is that the easier you make it to get from one place to another the more people and development are attracted to come. The level of congestion quickly rises again to the not-quite-tolerable awaiting more costly mitigations. (Since the completion of the Jameson Canyon widening, its intersection with Hwy 29 has become hopelessly clogged as traffic seeks the easiest route to get from Sacramento to the Napa Valley and points east). What is never proposed is that development should be stopped first, and then, once you know that no more buildings will be built and no more jobs created, at least for a predictable period of time, efforts can be undertaken to make getting from one place to another more bearable.

NCTPA is doing what it is charged to do: make proposals to try to relieve existing problems. It is up to city and county governments to limit the development that will create the traffic of the future.

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