Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
This plan addresses the current and future transportation needs for the Savannah region, home to 240,000 people. The population is projected to increase 26 percent by 2030, and new development is anticipated to occur in the suburban areas. The Chatham Urban Transportation Study (CUTS) serves as the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for the region. The Chatham County coastline is dotted with saltwater mashes, which provide important habitat for wildlife, offer scenic benefits, and help buffer flooding from storm surges. Thus, the protection of these marshes has important environmental and safety benefits. An additional transportation safety consideration is ensuring efficient evacuation for all residents, including those without access to a private vehicle, when hurricanes threaten. Aside from the issues of congestion and safety related to automobile traffic, the transportation system must accommodate significant volumes of freight movement. The Port of Savannah is a busy and expanding container operation. In 2002, 1.1 million containers moved through Savannah, a 30-percent increase in just two years, with capacity expected to continue to increase. Supporting the current and future economic importance of the port will require ongoing investments to improve intermodal connections between ships and trucking and rail routes. These connections are also a high priority for military purposes, as the port is a major national defense center. The City of Savannah is well known for its historic architecture and streetscapes, which bring thousands of visitors and millions of dollars to the region. Thus, the economic vitality of the region requires close attention to aesthetics for all proposed transportation projects and programs.
Landscape, Community and Valued Resources Understood Before Analysis or Solutions Explored: The plan uses the transportation amenity plan (TAP) as a starting point. The TAP was a planning initiative begun by the CUTS staff in response to past objections to road projects. In the TAP, specific road segments are mapped as amenity corridors. These corridors are "constrained"; with respect to capacity projects. Phase 1 corridors are identified for conservation of existing assets, such as canopy trees, palm trees, scenic vistas, and historic roadways. Phase 2 corridors are priorities for landscaping projects on recently built and new roadways as well as for installing community gateways. The two phases represent a commitment not only to preserving existing valued streetscapes, but also to ensuring that new facilities will add to the inventory of aesthetically pleasing streetscapes. These corridors were "constrained"; for the purposes of the congestion management system (CMS), as well as in the "2030 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP),"; and substantial capacity improvements are not proposed for these roadways. Instead, management strategies will be pursued to maintain acceptable levels of service. As a result, the LRTP does not alleviate all problems on poorly congested corridors, reflecting an approach that placed the community cultural/historical values ahead of the transportation analysis and proposed solutions.Evaluates Multimodal, Operational, and Innovative Strategies: The plan includes recommendations for increased transit investment for the existing bus service, and recommends starting streetcar and water taxi service as ways to reduce congestion in the historic center of Savannah. Projects that improve transit facilities and/or service are given additional points in the prioritization for funding. The plan also includes a number of recommended improvements for bicycles, based on an assessment and project prioritization carried out by a citizen advisory committee.
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