Chet Skwarcan is an award-winning engineer, writer, and industry innovator in the field of traffic engineering. He is known for leveraging his creativity, logic, and technology to solve today’s engineering challenges.

Transportation Planning is Incredibly Important (for you anyway)

Because I am often involved with recommending roadway improvements to accommodate new development, and because I also provide this service on a larger scale for cities, towns, and counties, it seemed appropriate to take a nap. And, after my nap, it seemed appropriate to record my thoughts and then delete them and then perhaps take another nap. But, (unfortunately for you), someone got hold of my thoughts and published them below. (Retraction: I actually only took one nap.)

We can all name cities, towns, and counties where transportation planning was apparently not invented at the time the city, town, or county was invented. I can spot three such places right now just by looking out my window (granted, I’m in an airplane). Similarly, we can all name cities, towns, and counties where transportation planning was obviously (and consistently) evaluated and implemented. That kind of foresight deeply benefits both residents and patrons alike, now and in the future.

I remember traveling with my father-in-law and how he’d often express gratitude whenever we traveled on a well-designed roadway. He recognized that not very long ago, in the midst of the required planning and construction, there were likely very few drivers expressing thanks…

Thus, the nature of planning. It can be painful in the short-term and appreciated in the long. Or, simply avoided (or delayed) in the short-term and painful forever.

Transportation planning for growing municipalities is essential. There are many examples of not making sensible planning decisions and suffering the consequences for many, many, years. When sections of a community are difficult to access, commercial and residential development suffers and traffic often diverts to neighboring roads never intended to serve as short-cuts.

Most of us have heard the acronym NIMBY (Not in My Backyard). But in my circles, there are more acronyms than YCSASA. A new favorite is BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone). Granted, initial planning effort can be difficult. And the more comprehensive the effort, the more difficult. But when long term plans are established and updated regularly, the community benefits.

I’ll admit, it is challenging to assure local citizens that land use plans and the corresponding roadway plans are needed — needed to protect potential opportunities to provide the best access and encourage the best development. But perhaps, someday, when you’re driving with your son-in-law, instead of cutting through my neighborhood, you’ll be cruising along and expressing thanks for the planning efforts of those who have gone before.

Chet Skwarcan has over 25 years of traffic engineering experience and can be reached at