Connectivity and Network Spacing

Do you need a travel demand model and expensive simulations to plan your future? They have their value, but to some extent they are over-rated. Good advice goes a long way. The Institute of Transportation Engineers has recommended that good design would include a through street at least every half mile. They suggested a collector street every half-mile, an arterial every mile, and a modest freeway every 5-miles. Many would also advocate for local street connectivity between 400-800 feet.

Metro took these ITE recommendations and compared them to Salt Lake County as it is and is planned to be, to see what it might have looked like if it had followed these guidelines. Some locations have the tight grid recommended by ITE, and those locations tend to support high densities with relatively little congestion. But many low density locations have missing links at both the collector level and at the regional level. The few through streets are almost unmanageable as they are forced to carry both local and regional traffic.

Connectivity and Network Spacing

Should there be a freeway every 5-miles? In a modern city, the ability to move long distances quickly through an urban area is useful. But there is associated sprawl and unsustainable consequences of "free freeways" that end up not so fast in the end due to induced demand. Undoubtedly some freeways are ill-conceived, but instead of labeling all freeways "bad," perhaps there are better ways to manage their negative aspects. Transitioning urban freeways to distance-based tollways or congestion pricing would ensure freeways never get congested, but also ensure no need to widen them beyond a modest size. Sounds like a tax increase? It doesn't have to be. You could lower gas taxes, or lower income, payroll, or sales taxes. It just changes the incentives - giving people a way to save money by living closer to work, take transit, or travel during the free period. There are win-win solutions. We just have to find them then convince enough people it's worth a try!

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Phone: 801.860.2409