The Jackson/Teton County Integrated Transportation Plan (ITP) was adopted in September 2015 by the Board of County Commissioners and the Jackson Town Council. Have you read the ITP? And if so, what are your top three priorities?
Candidates for Mayor
Sara Flitner: Yes.
My top priorities are related to setting the table effectively. I will focus on getting the data and analysis we need to address the Albertson’s intersection improvements, and the same with Tribal Trails. The ITP clearly states the need for improved traffic flow through the Y intersection, and I am concerned about our ability to deliver emergency services to our community without a connector. Finally, as we await outcomes regarding transit funding, I will continue to focus on ways to improve START bus service and efficiency. It would be great to be able to provide service to neighborhoods south and west of town.
Pete Muldoon: Yes, I have read it. I agree with all of the immediate actions listed in the implementation section (with the exception of Tribal Trails), and wouldn’t want to prioritize any of them in particular as they’re all important. So instead, I’ll just give you my thoughts on the rest of it.
One of the keys to solving our housing crisis is to dedicate less land to vehicle use. We have some of the nation’s highest land values, yet nearly half of the land in the downtown core is currently paved for vehicle use and storage. So finding ways to reduce that dependence on vehicles is absolutely critical. I think the ITP does a great job of addressing that, and I strongly support it (with the exception of prioritizing the Tribal Trails Connector). I’ll add a few comments here:
Improving the town shuttle route is important. Improved frequency and better routing, coupled with better public awareness, will really help get town residents out of their cars, and make commuter buses a much more attractive option.
I’d like to explore the possibility of making the Jackson/TV route free. It would make all routes (except the commuter routes) free. There are transaction costs associated with that fare, and it has a negative effect on ridership. Increasing that ridership and the growing the perception of transit as a public good will have substantial community benefits.
I’d also support expanding the employer pass program as soon as possible.
Let’s hire a TDM coordinator as soon as possible. I’m also very supportive of TDM programs that trade parking requirements for employer TDM.
We need to update the parking study.
I’d also like to look into installing wifi on board buses to make them more attractive.
I’d love to see us do a better job of informing visitors of the transportation options, and promoting the idea that a car isn’t necessary. Developing a trip planning app will help with this. We could also look into adding displays to bus stops that show wait times for each inbound route. We should market the Bike Share program as an attraction, not just a convenience.
We need to change the projected mode share by increasing the number of residents who don’t own a vehicle. We should explore ZipCar service, more frequent bus service, bike share programs, paid parking in the downtown core, car free affordable housing development, improving pathways and developing a culture of alternative transportation. Some of that change may come from national demographic shifts as well.
We’re basing new road construction on very detailed projections of mode shares that extend 20 years into the future. But it’s likely that technological, economic, demographic and cultural shifts will overwhelm the accuracy of those projections. That’s not a reason to do nothing, but it should give us pause when we consider building new roads based on those assumptions. As an example, the traffic trigger for Capital Project Group 1 construction (which includes the Tribal Trails Connector) is 20,000 vehicles per day (VPD). The ITP forecast is for that to increase to to 24,400 VPD by 2035. That’s an increase of 22% over 20 years. I’m not confident that 22% is outside the margin of error for a projection with such a high degree of uncertainty. And the VPD carrying capacity of that corridor will likely increase with a redesign of the Y.
My concern with the Tribal Trails Connector is based on my view that:
- It’s a subsidy for vehicle traffic, and when you subsidize something you generally get more of it.
- It will undercut our efforts to move away from SOV use.
- Our traffic projections are highly uncertain.
I’d like to see us move forward with the Y redesign, and postpone a decision on Tribal Trails until we see how our TDM program works and get a better handle on traffic trends. We might also consider eventually constructing a single lane connector that would be restricted to transit and emergency vehicles and as route redundancy for emergency use.
Candidates for Town Council
Jessica Chambers: Yes, I have read the ITP in its entirety. Having our residents and visitors be able to safely, efficiently, and economically move within our community and region by many modes of transportation is a great goal.
First, understanding who is on our roads and focusing on reducing those travelers is key; reducing local single-occupancy vehicles is essential and will require the use of both “carrots and sticks”.
Second, START updates must be done in tandem with other area updates, such as zoning, land development regulations and used with both incentives and regulations. Research shows that by getting people off roads and onto buses or whatever else, people see less traffic and start driving again — bringing us back to square one. Prioritizing ease, sensibility, and predictability of START bus routes is a key, which is presently in the works. Currently, using the buses for random or non-uniform travel is often out of the question because the system as is, is not intuitive. We need a Broadway Line with an express option and a Snow King Avenue Bus with common hubs at the end of the line, ideally at parking lots.
Thirdly, all of these improvements need to be coupled with pedestrian friendly streets to be effective, which the Town is already doing. We shouldn’t put the cart before the horse – we need ridership first — which, as I’ve been saying for months now, requires both ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks’. And, people value what they pay for – why not implement a bus pass system like any other place, with student and senior passes subsidized; and charge for parking in town, like they do at the village; it’s all regressive but it works and those who can afford to pay for parking in town will do so generating revenue – and who knows – maybe they’ll get on the bus instead.
Judd Grossman: Yes, I have read the ITP.
My focus will be on limiting the expansion of development rights, so that we don’t dig our over population and traffic hole deeper. I will work to focus development into the walkable urban commercial core of Jackson where residents have easy access to work, shopping, entertainment, transit and pathways, so that they can move towards a new non-car-centric paradigm. I support putting all options on the table regarding optimizing, expanding and connecting our roadway system based on traffic studies and objective advice from traffic engineers and input from affected neighborhoods. I support expanding START in response to demand.
Hailey Morton Levinson: I have read and supported the adoption of the ITP. It’s a great document outlining how to address transportation as we go forward.
My priorities in implementation are working together as a community to address the needs. Town, County, WYDOT, and other players will need to work together to make sure we can appropriately and effectively implement recommendations. The document gives different thresholds to begin the process of planning and then construction. For example, thresholds at the Y intersection have already been met or surpassed so those items are a priority. Finally, I want to prioritize alternative transportation. We need to make it more convenient and safer than the car so that people will use that instead.
Jim Stanford: Yes, as the town liaison to the Transportation Advisory Committee, I was involved in drafting the plan and strongly advocated its adoption. The committee is composed of town and county engineering, planning, transit and pathway staff, along with representatives from WyDOT, the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service. TAC worked closely with the consultant, Jim Charlier, to shape the plan.
My top priority toward implementation is passing the 1 percent sales tax this November, proceeds from which will help fund transportation and housing initiatives. We simply cannot expand our transit system without additional resources. Once funding is secured, the next two priorities would be finishing the bus maintenance and storage facility, which is necessary for adding more buses, and continuing to improve commuter service.
Candidates for County Commission
Trey Davis: I have read the ITP.
My top three priorities toward Plan implementation will be to establish a regional transportation strategy and to work to increase service levels for START (frequency, hours of service and connectivity) on local routes, bring much better service to South Park and the West Bank as well as within the Town. I would like to see the number of daily runs on commuter routes increase, the town circulator to become more convenient, and more bus connectivity to parking areas to encourage park and ride. Additionally, we have invested heavily in the construction of pathways and sidewalks throughout the community. We need to now focus on consistent maintenance to improve year round usage. I will support looking at ways to improve safety with plowing and sweeping of the pathways and sidewalks, and improved lighting for safety in certain areas. I will also support and encourage park and ride and the Bike Share program.
Greg Epstein: I have read the entire ITP. With the goal of reducing our dependence on single occupancy vehicle trips, my top three initiatives are the following:
– Fund and hire an ITP Coordinator to implement the actions called for in the plan, and unite START Bus, pathways, and complete streets.
– Expand START Bus service in Teton County and regionally to make it easier for us all to ride the bus – this includes increased frequency and earlier/later service for existing routes, as well as starting to serve new areas like Melody Ranch, Rafter J and Wilson.
– Make START Bus a hub and spoke system by fully utilizing the one true park & ride in the County at Stilson as a year-round transit center, and identifying locations for additional park & rides.
Nikki Gill: Yes, I’ve read the entire ITP. The frustrating traffic we’ve experienced these last couple of years doesn’t have to be the new normal. People want solutions. Safety requires it. Wildlife needs it.
Improvements to the Y intersection should be a high priority. The Y not only serves as one of the gateways to Jackson, but it’s also where we see the greatest traffic congestion. Reconstruction of the Y should accommodate all modes of transportation with emphasis on improvements upon signal and bus transit prioritization.
The winter park and ride program at Stilson is the only one of its kind in Teton County and it has proven success. Why not continue this program into the summer? Right now, during the summer months, a START bus only stops at Stilson if a rider calls and waits. Implementing this program during peak summer traffic months has the potential to take hundreds of cars off the road. Doing nothing at Stilson in the summer is unacceptable. I will help with common sense action so that summers to come are much different and for people and for wildlife.
Wildlife deaths on our roadways are also a top concern is mine. We need to reduce speeds. We need to educate drivers. I support widening shoulders on select roads in order to provide more space for animals and emergency vehicles. We can also look at areas where there is dense vegetation next to high mortality points and address that so our valley’s beautiful wildlife has a better chance of survival as they cross our roads. Fewer surprised animals and drivers will lessen wildlife deaths and put fewer people in harms way. It will take both large and small steps to have an impact. Education is key.
Natalia Macker: I was proud to be on the board when we adopted the Plan last year, so I have read it many times over. My priorities include:
- Traffic Modeling (this is already underway) so we can make evidence-based decisions about the network, especially with our intersections
- Expanded Bus Service, including commuter routes outside 9/5 work hours and service to other dense areas in the Valley, especially South Park and the JH Airport.
- Securing dedicated funding.