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October 28, 2019
Jackson Town Council & Mayor
Teton County Board of County Commissioners
Re: Integrated Transportation Plan update
Dear Mayor, Councilors, and Commissioners,
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Integrated Transportation Plan (ITP). At the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, we believe that our community should invest in a better transportation future that aligns with our values of protecting wildlife and community character; provides everyone with the freedom to safely and conveniently get where they need to go on foot, bike, or transit; and prioritizes alternatives to expanding roads and highways.
According to the Growth Management Program / Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) update, transportation and climate are the most pressing issues we need to address as a community. We have already blown past the vehicle miles traveled target for 2035 in the ITP, and the majority of our climate pollution comes from transportation. Moreover, our community suffers from a dangerous misperception that we are achieving our multimodal transportation and climate sustainability goals, when in fact we are falling short. This does not mean that “the ITP has failed,” but rather that we have failed to fund and implement its transit/walk/bike elements. Now more than ever, we need to redouble our efforts to make it easier to use alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles, instead of building more roads and making it even easier to drive.
Our 2012 Comprehensive Plan has an excellent vision for a lower-carbon transportation future. Unfortunately, the ITP includes a number of road-building projects that were not called for in the Comp Plan. Decades of research into road expansions and induced demand show that “if you build it, they will come” – if you make it easier to drive, more people will drive. Conversely, if we make it easier to take transit or walk or bike to nearby destinations, more people will be able to leave their cars at home.
The ITP includes a suite of policies to make it easier to walk/bike/ride transit, like better funding START, hiring a transportation planner, charging for downtown parking, getting all employers involved in transportation demand management (TDM), and giving buses signal priority through intersections. Please start implementing these policies effectively.
And please clarify the unwritten understanding that the ITP implicitly calls for doing all of this work first, before building more roads. Please add language to the front of the ITP such as:
“Our community vision, as stated in the Comprehensive Plan, is to decrease growth of vehicle miles traveled and climate pollution. In order to achieve this vision, we and our partners will not build new roads or new lanes on existing roads until after we fully implement the transit/walk/bike tools in this document and can measure the success of those efforts.”