Transportation Element

Section 163.3177(6)(b), Florida Statutes, establishes the requirements for transportation and mobility planning in local government comprehensive plans. Comprehensive plans must focus on providing a multimodal transportation system that emphasizes public transportation systems, where feasible, and encourages economic development through flexible transportation and mobility options for Florida communities. Links to transportation planning related issues and organizations are included below to help provide additional information on transportation mobility planning in Florida.

Multimodal Transportation

A multimodal transportation system recognizes the importance of providing mobility options through a variety of integrated travel modes, such as by bus or rail transit, bicycle, automobile, or foot. A well-designed multimodal transportation network minimizes impacts to the environment and enhances the livability of neighborhoods by increasing transportation options, expanding access, and increasing connectivity between destinations.

A well-designed and efficient transportation network can help create a sustainable development pattern that contributes to the community's prosperity, enhances transportation efficiency by minimizing vehicle trips and contributes to a healthier environment by reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Transportation Element of a local government's comprehensive plan should contain policies that will create a well-connected multi-modal transportation network; support increased residential densities and commercial intensity; help walking become more practical for short trips; support bicycling for both short- and long-distance trips; improve transit to serve frequented destinations; conserve energy resources; reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution; while maintaining vehicular access and circulation. Key multimodal transportation strategies can include the following:

  • Create an interconnecting grid network of streets, connectors, arterials and sidewalks that provide a complete and accessible transportation network;
  • Establish land use patterns that support a mixture of residential, commercial and retail uses, and dense populations and urban intensities, so that transit service may be provided more efficiently and economically;
  • Increase the viability of pedestrian and bicycle travel;
  • Integrate land use and transportation planning to create communities that provide transportation choice; and,
  • Accommodate the flow of freight throughout the state so that the economy can continue to grow.

Other multimodal transportation planning efforts, such as transit-oriented developments, defined in section 163.3164(46), Florida Statutes, are being developed and planned by the Cities of Boca Raton, Clearwater, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa and West Palm Beach, and in Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Pinellas Counties and other locations. Below are a several examples of successful multimodal transportation planning efforts in Florida:

Complete Streets

Complete Streets is a transportation strategy to develop an integrated, connected networks of streets that are safe and accessible for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. According to Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition, Complete Streets make active transportation such as walking and bicycling convenient, provide increased access to employment centers, commerce, and educational institutions, and allow greater choice in travel.

In Florida, complete streets are context-sensitive. For example, a street considered complete for use within a dense urban area would look and function very differently from one located in a rural area, and a complete suburban street would look and function differently from both the urban and rural complete streets. One way to think about what elements are necessary to create a complete street is to determine its context within the community and based upon that context, match the design and operation of that street with the direction and guidance provided in the local government's comprehensive plan.

As an example, some communities use an Urban-Rural Transect (or simply Transect) to assign portions of their community into approximately five or six "context zones" based on the degree of development intensity desired and geographic location, ranging from very low intensity rural context zones to more intense urban context zones. For each context zone, the community establishes a context in terms of appropriate public facility design, urban design, general spatial form, and appropriate street types.

This approach allows the local government to determine, in its comprehensive plan or other public planning document, which portions of the community fit within which context zone, and to provide guidance within the comprehensive plan as to what mobility functions (such as walking, biking, transit use) are most important in that context zone, and what design features and operational characteristics are appropriate for streets in that location.

Several examples of communities have initiated complete streets planning in Florida. Here are a few excellent examples:

Transportation Concurrency

In accordance with the Community Planning Act, local governments may establish a system that assesses landowners the costs of maintaining specified levels of service for components of the local government's transportation system when the projected impacts of their development would adversely impact the system. This system, known as a concurrency management system, must be based on the local government's comprehensive plan. Specifically, the local government comprehensive plan must provide the principles, guidelines, standards, and strategies, including adopted levels of service, to guide the application of its transportation concurrency management system.

Prior to June 2, 2011, transportation concurrency was mandatory for local governments. Now that transportation concurrency is optional, if a local government chooses, it may eliminate the transportation concurrency provisions from its comprehensive plan and is encouraged to adopt a mobility fee based plan in its place (see below). Adoption of a mobility fee based plan must be accomplished by a plan amendment that follows the Expedited State Review Process. A plan amendment to eliminate transportation concurrency is not subject to state review.

It is important to point out that whether or not a local government chooses to use a transportation concurrency system, it is required to retain level of service standards for its roadways for purposes of capital improvement planning. The standards must be appropriate and based on professionally accepted studies, and the capital improvements that are necessary to meet the adopted levels of service standards must be included in the five-year schedule of capital improvements. Additionally, all local governments, whether implementing transportation concurrency or not, must adhere to the transportation planning requirements of section 163.3177(6)(b), Florida Statutes.

Mobility Fee Based Plans

If a local government elects to repeal transportation concurrency, it is encouraged to adopt an alternative mobility funding system that uses one or more of the tools and techniques identified in section 163.3180(5)(f), Florida Statutes:

  • Adoption of long-term strategies to facilitate development patterns that support multimodal solutions, including urban design, appropriate land use mixes, intensity and density.
  • Adoption of an area wide level of service not dependent on any single road segment function.
  • Exempting or discounting impacts of locally desired development.
  • Assigning secondary priority to vehicle mobility and primary priority to ensuring a safe, comfortable, and attractive pedestrian environment with convenient interconnection to transit.
  • Establishing multimodal level of service standards that rely primarily on non-vehicular modes of transportation where existing or planned community design will provide adequate a level of mobility.
  • Reducing impact fees or local access fees to promote development within urban areas, multimodal transportation districts, and a balance of mixed-use development in certain areas or districts, or for affordable or workforce housing.

Requirements for Transportation Concurrency

If a local government elects to use transportation concurrency, it must adhere to the following concurrency requirements in section 163.3180(5), Florida Statutes:

  • Include principles, guidelines, standards, and strategies, including adopted levels of service, to guide the application of concurrency to transportation.
  • Use professionally accepted studies to evaluate the appropriate levels of service.
  • Adopt appropriate amendments to the capital improvements element of the comprehensive plan consistent with the requirements of section 163.3177(3), Florida Statutes.
  • Allow for proportionate share contributions to mitigate transportation impacts for all developments, including developments of regional impact (DRIs), consistent with section 163.3180(5)(h), Florida Statutes.
  • Consult with the Florida Department of Transportation when proposed amendments affect the Strategic Intermodal System.
  • Exempt public transit facilities from concurrency.

In addition, local governments are encouraged to develop tools and techniques to complement the application of transportation concurrency consistent with section 163.3180(5)(f), Florida Statutes, and to coordinate with adjacent local governments for the purpose of using common methodologies for measuring impacts to transportation facilities.


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