MONTPELIER — An updated traffic study measuring the impact of new and proposed development in the downtown of the Capital City says traffic congestion and delays will increase only marginally.
The study by Resource Systems Group, of Burlington, updates a previous study by DuBois & King associated with the Taylor Street Transit Center and housing complex currently under construction. The study was updated to measure the impact of a proposed 81-room Hampton Inn & Suites and a 348-space public parking garage on the Capitol Plaza Hotel parking lot site. The projects depend on voter approval of a $10.5 million bond for the garage in Tuesday’s midterm elections.
RSG reviewed a 2015 traffic study of the transit center by Dubois & King that looked at the impact on the intersection of Taylor and State streets. RSG wrote a second memo last month about the impact of the parking garage on traffic issues and updated it again in October to encompass analysis of “turning movement count” by the Development Review Board which is still reviewing the hotel and garage projects.
RSG has now expanded the study — which previously only looked at the impact on intersections at Taylor and State streets and State and Elm streets — to include analysis of what are known as the “site driveways” into the Capitol Plaza site from State and Taylor streets.
The updated study notes that level of service (LOS) will be most adversely affected by the proposed hotel and garage projects at the Taylor and State streets intersection. Gov. Davis Avenue also forms part of the intersection that would be affected.
“The Taylor Street and Gov. Davis Avenue approaches experience LOS of F and E, respectively,” the report said. “This intersection did not meet the warrant for a traffic signal. It did meet the warrant for all-way stop control, but that created unacceptable LOS on the State Street approaches.”
The LOS for Gov. Davis Avenue is expected to fall from D to E, with a 4-second increase in delays, which was not considered excessive, the report said.
To address the problem, Dubois & King had recommended an additional lane at the north end of Taylor Street for left turns onto State Street while removing the right-hand turn lane eastbound on State Street into Taylor Street. The report said that the city planned to implement the change in an upcoming maintenance project – something the report did not support.
RSG went on to note that the analysis was overly conservative and that “actual delays were not excessive for peak-hour conditions.”
RSG noted that the bus circulation study for the transit center is still in draft form “so its volumes are not finalized.”
The RSG report then turned to studying the turning movements at the Taylor and State streets entrances into the Capitol Plaza site and the Taylor and State streets intersection during morning and evening rush hours.
“The (p.m.) peak-hour volume at the State Street/Taylor Street intersection was 15 vehicles lower than the 2013 counts used previously, but side street volumes were slightly higher,” the report said, noting that the reduction may have resulted from the removal of 111 parking spaces at the former Carr Lot on Taylor Street where the transit center is being built.
“The new parking garage and hotel are projected to generate 55 AM peak-hour trips and 103 PM peak-hour trips distributed between the two site driveways, respectively,” the report said. “The new trips projected to be generated by the hotel and parking garage represent a modest increase in traffic at the two study intersections.
“During the (p.m.) peak hour, the project is projected to generate 30 trips that will pass through the Taylor Street and State Street intersection and 49 trips through the State Street and Elm Street intersection. Twenty-six trips are projected to pass by the Transit Center’s entrance during the peak traffic hour, approximately one trip every two minutes,” the report added.
The study said state traffic guidelines stipulate that there should be traffic study if the proposed development results in 75 or more peak-hour trips directly accessing the state highway system.
“Due to traffic being distributed between the two driveways, no intersection will see an increase of more than 75 or more trips,” the report said.
“Based on our findings, we conclude that the LOS at the study intersections will be acceptable for most approaches,” the report added.