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Caltrans to Ditch Level of Service for Vehicle Miles Traveled

Unlike for land use regulations, state law doesn't require Caltrans to switch from Level of Service to Vehicle Miles Traveled in measuring the environmental impact of projects. The state department of transportation is making the change anyway.
November 27, 2019, 8am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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San Francisco, California
Suzette Leg Anthony

"Caltrans hosted a webinar recently to discuss changes it will be adopting soon in the way the department measures, analyzes, and mitigates for the environmental impacts of transportation projects on the state highway system," reports Melanie Curry.

The webinar comes with the acknowledgment that Caltrans' "current practices have not solved urban congestion and instead have led to more driving, more emissions, and unsafe conditions for people who don’t drive," according to Curry.

Astute obervers of California planning law will recall that the state passed SB 743 in 2013, which required land use and transportation projects in the state to switch from Level of Service (LOS) to Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) to measure environmental impact. The law, however, "gave transportation agencies some leeway on transportation projects, saying they 'could choose the most appropriate' way to measure environmental impacts," explains Cuirry.

Fast forward to the recent news about Caltrans, and we have here the the state department of transportation choosing VMT as the most appropriate way to measure environmental impacts.

Caltrans is still ironing out the details of how it will make the change, but Curry has plenty of information to share about how the change will change planning and approvals in the state.

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Published on Monday, November 25, 2019 in Streetsblog California
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