The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) commissioned the Williston-Essex Network Transportation Study (WENTS) — a “Network Management Plan” for implementing a mutually supportive set of strategies to enhance access, mobility, safety, economic development, and environmental quality within the Burlington, Vermont region. This study was initiated to determine the best set of multimodal improvements to initiate in the aftermath of the cancellation of a major highway project – “the Circumferential Highway” – that had been in planning in the region for over 30 years. The outcome of the WENTS project was to be a set of recommended transportation improvement projects that could move directly into project scoping and design.
CCRPC agreed that the best analytical tool for addressing the systemic impacts of multimodal transportation improvements within the network area (as opposed to a corridor) was an area-wide traffic microsimulation model implemented with the TransModeler microsimulation software. RSG worked with CCRPC to build the microsimulation model and calibrate it to nationally accepted calibration standards using an extensive 2012 traffic count set. RSG used the model extensively to evaluate five distinct “strategy packages,” or assemblies of multimodal transportation improvements designed to achieve the project objectives. We worked with various stakeholder groups to estimate future land uses in the project area to 2035 and ran the model to determine future No Build conditions. The model also helped generate a set of transportation performance measures designed to support a decision on a preferred Strategy Package. Performance measures included total intersection delay, corridor travel time, and total CO2 equivalent emissions in conjunction with the MOVES mobile emissions model. These performance measures were instrumental in communicating with the public and with the project’s Steering Committee. This ultimately led to a consensus decision on which Strategy Package to select as the Preferred Improvement Set; namely, a comprehensive and coordinated list of highway, transit, bicycle and pedestrian, and land use recommendations that satisfy an overall vision that accounts for transportation improvements and land-use changes anticipated within the study area to 2035.