Affordable Housing Transportation Consultants: Traffic Engineering, Multimodal Planning, and Parking - Wells + Associates

Affordable Housing Transportation Consultants: Traffic Engineering, Multimodal Planning, and Parking

It is a given that developing affordable housing for those with low to moderate incomes is a crucial component of developing communities where all people can live closer to their workplaces. While affordable housing requires funding and community buy-in, it also requires the application of sound traffic engineering, transportation planning, parking, and multimodal transportation analyses and principles to projects.

Our multidisciplinary team of traffic engineers, transportation planners, parking consultants, and mobility management and TDM experts has experience in helping communities bring affordable housing projects from concept to completion.  

Background: The Need for Affordable Housing

How are affordable housing and transportation connected? A few quotes from the Virginia General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission gives us insight into this issue:  

  • “Virginians most affected by the lack of affordable housing are renters, have low incomes, are more likely to live in the state’s populated areas, and often work in common, essential occupations”  
  • “Declining number of Virginians can afford to buy a home, and state has a shortage of at least 200,000 affordable rental units”   
  • “local zoning ordinances can be a substantial barrier to such new construction” 

The Need for Transportation Engineers and Consultants in Affordable Housing Development

Why would affordable housing developments require a transportation consultant?  

One basic reason is local regulatory requirements such as traffic and parking studies. Like many other real estate development projects, transportation-related analyses are required to achieve project approval.   

Perhaps of more acute concern, affordable housing is often required in areas of population density. Density raises many concerns, challenges, and opportunities such as parking availability, potential increase in vehicular traffic, access and circulation, availability of transit, and the development of multimodal transportation solutions.  

Finally, the State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) reported on a transportation 2020 study with the following statement:  

“In choosing where to live, people strive for a combination of short driving commutes and good transit access, according to a new study spanning three large regions: Atlanta, Seattle, and Detroit. Walkable neighborhoods are also a plus, depending on the region.” 

Parking Analyses for Affordable Housing

Parking for affordable housing can be a complex matter. Traffic engineers can help developers assess a wide variety of issues related to parking, such as:  

  • Analyses of surface parking 
  • Analyses of structure parking  
  • Access and circulation, including driveway accessibility 
  • Potential for shared parking 
  • Parking reduction measures, including TDM programs and multimodal options 

Traffic Engineering Studies and Approvals for Affordable Housing

Traffic engineers who are licensed Professional Engineers (P.E.) are sometimes required in order to meet regulatory requirements for affordable housing projects. While a P.E. stamp is often required for project approval, it is important to understand the important role that a traffic engineer plays in affordable housing development. Engineers help developers resolve issues such as:  

  • Vehicular trip generation analyses to forecast future traffic generated by the project, including AM and PM peak hour trips 
  • Access to the development, as well as traffic circulation within the site 
  • Analyses of intersections related the development 
  • Traffic signal warrant analyses and traffic signal design 
  • Pavement and marking, also known as traffic control devices 
  • Maintenance of traffic plans to keep existing traffic moving during construction 
  • The impact that multimodal transportation options have on project requirements 
  • Engagement with the community at local hearings 

The Advantages of TDM and Mobility Management in Affordable Housing Transportation

Transportation Demand Management (TDM) – also known as Mobility Management – describes efforts to increase the availability and usage of non-vehicular transportation options for commuters. Our TDM consultants not only create comprehensive transportation and mobility plans for properties such as affordable housing, but also have deep experience in implementing and managing these plans.  

TDM planning and implementation can play key roles in successfully integrating affordable housing into existing communities by providing additional transportation and commuting choices. These programs mitigate the impact of increased development on transportation networks by diversifying the availability and use of transportation. TDM services are wide-ranging, and include:  

  • Developing additional transportation options for developments and residents, such as transit, active transportation modes, shuttles, and carpools 
  • Educating commuters about multimodal transportation options 
  • Creating detailed TDM plans and programs for new developments 
  • Implementing TDM programs in order to fulfil local regulatory requirements 
  • Performing analyses, including geospatial studies, to determine optimal multimodal transportation options