Ken Larsen's web site - Traffic


Car traffic is a nuisance.  No one wants to be stuck in traffic.  Time is wasted, and air pollution rises.


In my current home of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a light rail system (Durham-Orange County Light Rail or DOLRT) was proposed to alleviate part of the problem.  For a variety of reasons, I regard it as a complete waste of money.  [details]


What can be done?


In my view, the answer is simple:  Impact fees.


Unfettered growth causes traffic.  Growth needs to be curbed; otherwise, a small town (e.g. 75,000) can swell to the size of a major city (1,000,000) given enough years [261 years at 1% annual growth].  No amount of public transportation will alleviate traffic. 


To slow growth, developers should be assessed "impact fees" based on the current population of a town.

  1. If a town is tiny (e.g.. 5000), there should be no impact fees.  Instead, incentives should be given to permit growth.  The town wants to grow.

  2. Once a town reaches a population of say 50,000 impact fees should be levied.  Those fees should be modest, because 50,000 is still small.

  3. As the population of a town increases, the impact fees should be increased exponentially.


Impact fees would be used to pay for pedestrian bridges, greenways, affordable housing, public transportation, storm water handling, schools etc.


Developers are loath to pay impact fees, but that's normal, because they're in the business of making money.  However, if you let them have their way, taxes will have to be raised and traffic will get worse.  Unfortunately, developers have been lobbying to prevent impact fees from being levied.  Not surprisingly, the North Carolina Homebuilders Association is vehemently against impact fees.  See  On April 5, 2017 there was this N&O story:  "NC House panel votes to stop local governments from charging development fees"


Another component that affects Chapel Hill is the University of North Carolina and its healthcare entity.  They are a non-profit, they own more than 35% of the property in Chapel Hill, and they keep expanding.  As a non-profit they don't pay taxes.  This drives up property taxes for everyone else.  They also add to the traffic.  They are the principal proponents and beneficiaries of the Durham-Orange County Light Rail project (DOLRT), but they are not paying a dime for it.


Here are a couple of responses to a March 28, 2017 Chapel Hill guest column on impact fees by developer Mark Zimmerman:



Lastly, world population is booming [details].  That increases traffic across the entire globe.





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