After putting its Traffic Calming Program on hold for a year, SFMTA has announced that its new, revamped program should be up and running by Spring 2013. The Traffic Calming Program is part of the city’s ‘Livable Streets effort’. The SFMTA began the program over 10 years ago to address citizens’ requests for the implementation of traffic-safety measures in their neighborhoods.
The original program, while admirable, was seriously flawed. First, a resident would have to submit a request for a traffic calming measure for their neighborhood. Once the request was reviewed and accepted it was placed on a waiting list. Once on this waiting list, the project was ranked based on the number of accidents in the area, the severity of the speeding problem and a number of other factors. Once a project was ranked it would have to work its way to the top of the list, competing with newer, higher ranked programs along the way. Once the project reached the top of the list, a feat that could take more than three years, the two year long planning and implementation process would begin. Needless to say, the backlog was absurd and the entire system needed to be overhauled. The SFMTA itself described the system as a dam.
The new plan will nix the waiting list. Instead, “planners [will] select a yearly round of projects based on the severity of speeding and crashes. If an application doesn’t rank as a top priority, but does meet the minimum threshold for consideration, it would be placed on hold for two years. If the application still doesn’t reach priority ranking within two years, the SFMTA [will] drop the application.” The new system eliminates the potential for projects in never-ending limbo. It streamlines the process, by combining the approval process and the waiting list. Instead of being approved, being ranked, being put on a waiting list and then working up to the top of the list, only to go through a long planning process, the new program will assess the projects as they are submitted, look at all of the proposals at once and pick 25 locations to work on over the next year. Once the locations are selected the town halls and community meetings will begin. Within 11 months the project will be completed.
Instead of spending years considering multiple solutions to relatively simply speeding problems, the new process will consider simple, effective and relatively cheap solutions like the Chicane and Speed Hump.
Although the system is bound to have disadvantages, everyone agrees that the program needed to be redesigned. Now we will have to wait and see how it all goes….