Thursday, February 01, 2018

Developers Pay For Traffic Studies? The Corrupt Sham and Shame of It. Guest Blog by Stuckintraffic

The reality of traffic studies: You can make the numbers work for whomever is paying you and it is almost always the developer.

There is corruption rampant in Traffic Impact Studies. I had trouble sleeping last night because I was planning on writing this. So, here are a few words. There was a time even not too long ago when I was naive enough to believe that the system could be fixed:

A basic life lesson that we learned at an early age (or, that most of us learned) is that we have to clean up after ourselves, that we must “mitigate” problems caused by our actions. Supposedly, developers are required to mitigate the impact that their developments have on the traffic infrastructure by either improving the infrastructure or paying for needed improvements to the infrastructure.

This is widely accepted and universally addressed in Comprehensive Plans at the municipal, county, and state levels. Governmental agencies require the submission of a Traffic Impact Study before approving any development. And, these studies must show that the impact of a proposed development does not degrade the Level of Service (LOS) below minimum levels.

It all sounds great, doesn’t it?

But in truth, its all a sham, an imposture, a fraud. The system has been corrupted.

The legislatures – municipal, county, and state - have abdicated to the developers the responsibility and the right to perform these impact studies, and the right to choose the method of measuring LOS. So, the developers choose a methodology that grossly misrepresents LOS on roadways that are already severely congested. (In fact, the State of Florida actually recommends this inaccurate method – the count based methodology - in their “QLOS Handbook”.)

So, no matter how congested a roadway is, the developer’s impact study shows that the LOS is acceptable, even with the additional traffic that their development will generate. And, municipalities must, as required by their own laws, and by both county and state laws, accept this bullshit and approve the development.

So, traffic continues to get worse and worse.

The truth of these statements is obvious to anyone that drives on the roadways anywhere in the state of Florida.

The system is corrupt – top to bottom.

How did this happen?

The developers are major campaign donors for candidates running for public office.  In fact, many of our elected officials are actually developers themselves. As a result of their money, the developers have corrupted and now control the legislature.

It is so bad, even the traffic study perpetrators "experts" can be found on the campaign donor lists.

And traffic engineers know what side of the bread is buttered. They know that if they generate a study that shows impact, they will be blacklisted – they will never work for a developer again. And those traffic engineers that work (or contract) for a governmental agency know that if they object to blatantly dishonest traffic studies, they will never get a plum job with a traffic engineering company. And realistically, even if they did object to a dishonest study, the study will be upheld in the courts because to allow use of blatantly dishonest studies is written into law. So, engineers issue blatantly dishonest studies and professional opinions in violation of their professional code of ethics.

Both our government and professional engineering in the state of Florida have been corrupted by developers’ money. This sham really sucks and I am stuck in traffic daily because of it.

Join with Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay and County Commissioner Levine Cava (our host) for Traffic Solutions Summit - This Saturday, 9 AM to Noon, Cutler Bay Town Hall, Penthouse, 10720 Caribbean Blvd.
Space is limited - register here.

(Geniusofdespair - we wrote about this in 2015 even posting a picture of the Traffic Engineer most popular with developers.)


Anonymous said...

FPL needs enough generating capacity to handle peak period energy demands but traffic engineers evaluate roadway capacity based on daily averages, not rush hour demand. This is the crux of the dilemma.

Cully Waggoner said...

Letting Developers do Traffic Studies is a lot like letting the Fox guard the Hen House, its not a good idea.

Here’s a prime example. The online brochure from Ram Realty the company that wants to put Coral Reef Commons, a Walmart Super Center with LA Fitness and another big box store, smaller retail, restaurants and 900 apartments next to Zoo Miami. It shows “VPD” (vehicles per day) at 30,610 for SW 152 St. Except online. FDOT shows the truth. 60,500 is the daily traffic on SW 152 St right in front of where they want to build Coral Reef Commons with 35,000 on SW 152 east of SW 117 Ave and 29,000 west of SW 137 Ave. Ram’s brochure also shows the Turnpike with 163,500 VPD, while FDOT shows 191,600 on the Turnpike north of SW 152 and 159,500 south of SW 152.

The developer does not say how many extra vehicles will be added just by a Walmart and 900 apartments, but other studies have shown that a typical Walmart draws 24,000 cars per day. Add another 1,800 to 2,000 for the residents plus the people coming to the other stores and it could be almost 30,00 cars per day added. The developer does not want you to know that they will increase traffic by almost 50% bringing total gridlock to the area.

Anonymous said...

Pretty much public record in Miami Beach that if you want to expand an existing commercial or residential property without parking you can give the city a letter that 90 percent of your guests don't come to your property with an automobile. Some residential properties run shuttle buses. Negates any traffic study. Ride sharing apps make this scam even easier. Fire department occupancy limits should have to be finalized in the public record before voting. Valet stands and commercial loading zones in front of residential property should never take place.

Anonymous said...

I think the writer's feelings of frustration mirrors those of us stuck in traffic with no real recourse. If there are any honest politicians left in Miami Dade County, at any level of government, they should stop these practices within their jurisdiction. Unfortunately I doubt anyone in office has the balls to make this right.

Anonymous said...

Lots of Truth Here. This is Proof Positive that Recommendations from Miami Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works Department Traffic Engineering Division and their approved Traffic Engineering Vendors should ALWAYS be the the Go To Experts and not the Developers Hired Hands.

Anonymous said...

Other its not developers, we have a huge problem in our South Coconut Grove neighborhood with Carrolton parents speeding through our neighborhood. A couple of years ago a traffic study was conducted. The man came out on Columbus Day, a day off for Carrolton. So, to this day, we still have those AH's speeding right on through.

Milly from Hialeah said...

It is very dangerous when we lose integrity and honesty in government, and this has been happening for too long. The developers buddy up with elected officials and others to get their ways. No one knows more about this than residents in older areas of Miami and Hialeah.

Anonymous said... would be interesting to compare the "expert" testimony on previous projects to the facts on the ground today. The dynamic duo of Andy Dolkart and Ms. Sweetapple (sp?) Have never seen a development that was not an economic plus and that ever contributed to congestion. Could their statistical models be out of date? Or simply not taking everything into account?

Anonymous said...

So true. Traffic Studies funded by developers state 100% of the time, "the proposed monster 1,000 unit project will have no negative impact on the surrounding 8 neighborhoods". Such bullshit.

Anonymous said...

It’s been gridlock for years already unless you don’t consider getting from Country Walk to the TP, a distance of 2 lousy miles, up to 2 hours, some mornings!!

Anonymous said...

Gridlock has existed for years. It takes up to 2 hours some mornings, already, to drive the lousy 2 miles from Country Walk to the Turnpike!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the cancer is at stage 4.

Anonymous said...

It is not just the Carrolton School, it is Ransom as well. Now Ransomn wants to expand and create more traffic on roads that are barely wide enough to fit two SUVs, the most common soccer mom car. They speed through our neighborhood every morning. Also, the Grove is a convenient way to avoid US-1, so the southbound traffic streams through each afternoon on their way to the southern communities, often not even slowing down for the stop signs. Our roads were not designed for this traffic, so who will pay for the repairs once the tarmac crumbles? Those of us who pay taxes. Where is Ken when you need him?