Those are the sort of questions asked during a half-day regional transportation planning summit held by the
Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission
(TJPDC) on May 10, 2008. Around forty people attended the event, which featured a presentation on how communities can reduce carbon emissions by growing in a way that reduces vehicle miles travelled.
The participants were also there to give their feedback on how they’d like to see the TJPDC region grow over the next 27 years. Groups answered questions in workbooks ranging from “What needs to happen in your community to make it more transit friendly” to “Where should we focus [transportation] dollars?” The responses, as well as those taken online, will be compiled as part of the TJPDC’s update of the United Jefferson Area Mobility Plan, or
. Federal statues require each planning district to update something called the “Constrained Long Range Plan” which is an attempt to prioritize transportation construction projects for the next few decades. The most recent plan, UNJAM 2025, was adopted in 2004, and includes the plan for the MPO as well as the region’s rural areas.
Harrison Rue, TJPDC’s outgoing director, said much has changed since the last update. There’s been a renewed emphasis on the physical health of people, leading to a renewal of interest in “walkable” communities. The price of fuel has also increased dramatically since 2004, leading many to reconsider long commutes. Most importantly, Rue said more people are concerned about climate change and are willing to make changes.
With that in mind, Rue introduced Reid Ewing of the
National Center for Smart Growth
. Ewing is the co-author of a new book called
, which describes specific land use strategies for creating less auto-centric communities. He showed examples of how communities across the country are trying to achieve density as a way to battle traffic congestion. Ewing said the growth of vehicle miles travelled (VMT) must be stopped, and reversed, even as vehicles become more fuel efficient.
“The growth of VMT pretty much negates the value of the higher fuel economy standards that we just adopted as a country,” Ewing said. He claimed communities with compact development have smaller VMT rates, and showed specific examples from across the country.
Before each 15-minute workshop topic, Rue showed the audience slides with different scenarios facing the greater Charlottesville region. At the conclusion of the workshops, a representative of each group stood to announce recommendations. Charlottesville Tomorrow presents the entire video below.
Watch the video: