Champaign-Urbana Becoming Safer, Healthier, and More Connected, While Economy Also Continues to Improve

Traffic on a city street at night

The Champaign-Urbana area is seeing a number of positive developments according to the annual report card for the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP): Sustainable Choices 2040. These developments include increased housing access to major employment centers, added miles of bike and trails infrastructure, numerous new alternative fuel and charging stations, and higher air quality in Champaign-Urbana.

The Champaign Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study (CUUATS) carries out the federally mandated LRTP every five years. The LRTP report card is an annual assessment of the area’s transportation system using performance measures to track progress toward the completion of each LRTP goal and objective, compared with the baseline year of 2014-2015.

“The LRTP report card is a great metric for the City of Urbana to use to help gauge its performance in achieving goals outlined in the LRTP Sustainable Choices 2040,” says Bill Gray, the City of Urbana’s Director of Public Works. “The means and methods that CUUATS staff have developed in determining performance measures is a real plus for our metropolitan planning organization.”

The performance measures are organized by six planning pillars: Safety and Security, Resilient Economy, Multimodal Connectivity, Accessibility and Affordability, Healthy Neighborhoods, and Balanced Development. “The LRTP report card indicates that CUUATS should be proud of the metrics assessment this year,” comments Savoy village president Joan Dykstra, who also serves as the chairperson of the CUUATS Policy Committee. “We had 19 positive ratings, six neutral ratings, and only two negative ratings.” Among the planning pillars receiving multiple positive ratings for their 2017 performance measures are:

The Long Range Transportation Plan Report Card logo

Safety and Security

  • Although the number of traffic fatalities has remained relatively steady since 2012, there has been a 7% decrease in the number of “A” injuries (the most severe injuries in non-fatal roadway crash events) from 2014.
  • Similarly, the average number of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) has been relatively stable since 2013, but there has been an 8% decrease in the number of “A” injuries per 100M VMT from 2014. (All Safety and Security performance measures use five-year rolling averages in the Champaign-Urbana urbanized area.)

Resilient Economy

  • There has been an increase in both the total number of housing and the supply of multi-family housing in the urbanized area with multimodal access to major employment centers.
  • Investments in transportation infrastructure improvements encouraged job growth in the urbanized area by improving regional connectivity and accessibility.
  • Enplanements at Willard Airport increased by 11.5% from 2015 thanks in part to the addition of three Willard-to-O’Hare daily flights.

Multimodal Connectivity

  • More than 15% of the high-priority trails recommendations proposed in the local trails plans have already been completed, thanks in large part to 6.7 miles of off-street trail for the Kickapoo Rail Trail being added in 2017.
  • Similarly, about 15% of the high-priority bike infrastructure recommendations proposed in local bicycle and trails plans have been completed, with 10.9 miles of bike infrastructure being added since 2015.
  • Residents living inside the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (C-U MTD) service area are having better access to transit service thanks to expansion of C-U MTD service to the new Carle at the Fields development and a few Champaign subdivisions.
  • Residents living in the Village of Rantoul are having better transit access to Champaign-Urbana. Champaign County Area Rural Transit System (C-CARTS) started the first deviated-fixed route between the Village of Rantoul and the urbanized area in November 2016 and provided more than 22,000 one-way trips in 2017.

Accessibility and Affordability

  • Better transit access to major employment centers is being provided to residents living inside the C-U MTD service area during weekday morning rush hours.
  • The number of alternative fuel stations in the urbanized area already exceeds the 2020 goal of a 15% increase from 2015, with the total number of alternative fuel stations increasing to 46 in 2017.
  • Four local schools implemented more than 40% of the high-priority projects proposed in C-U Safe Route to School Plans.

Healthy Neighborhoods

  • Both Ozone 1-hour and 8-hour pollutant levels decreased in measurements from 2014 and were below the state standard.
  • There were 66.7 miles of bike facilities available within a quarter-mile of affordable housing units, including additional bike facilities at Hamilton on the Park in Urbana and Round Barn Manor in Champaign.
  • Urbanized area residents traveled 14,954 vehicle miles per household, a decrease of 3.5% from 2014.

“We clearly are making significant progress in our goals to make the Champaign-Urbana transportation system safe, connected, and sustainable,” says Dykstra.

The 2017 report card gives negative ratings to two performance measures: total pedestrian crashes, in which the number of pedestrian crashes increased between 2014 and 2016 (the urbanized area five-year rolling average increased from 40.4 to 40.8); and Amtrak ridership, which saw an 8% decrease in passengers using Amtrak from Illinois Terminal since 2015. Access the full LRTP report card on the CUUATS website.

Developed under regional collaboration and consensus, the LRTP defines a vision for the region’s transportation systems and services over a 25-year period. Due to its significant influence on the regional transportation system, the LRTP includes performance measures to track progress toward the completion of goals and objectives over time. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, well-developed performance measures will enable decision-makers to quickly “observe the effects of a proposed transportation plan, or monitor trends in transportation system performance over time.”

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