Transport systems are a key component of sustainable development because of their dependence on the use of natural resources and their potentially damaging effect on the physical environment. An evaluation of traffic impacts has become an important consideration in the assessment of planning applications for development projects in many countries where planning principles are increasingly based upon the principles of sustainable development.
An assessment of potential traffic impacts is by way of a Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA). Historically, TIAs have been used to determine expected traffic increases and to assess the effect on adjacent roads, junctions and accesses. The basis of assessment has traditionally been the private car and the improvements needed to cater to the private car. However, TIAs are now being used more in the context of sustainable development with policy initiatives aimed at promoting a more integrated approach to transport planning and greater consideration given to public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.
In Bermuda, there have been a number of traffic studies conducted by or on behalf of the Government. These studies have been largely focused on the traffic movements in and around the City of Hamilton.
With the significant growth in the number of vehicles on Bermuda’s roads and traffic congestion related issues, the need to integrate transportation issues into the planning process has become increasingly important. Since, most new developments result in changes to vehicle and/or pedestrian movements, more recently the Department of Planning has been asking developers to conduct traffic studies as part of major development proposals.
Traffic issues were seen as a key issue for the City of Hamilton Plan 2001, and the City of Hamilton Plan 2001 introduced the requirement for the submission of traffic impact studies for developments comprising a gross floor area of 50,000 sq. feet or more. Similarly, the Ministry of Transport’s National Transportation Management Report 2002 recognized the important relationship between transportation planning and land use planning, and recommended that applicants be required to submit traffic impact studies as well as environmental impact statements for all major development projects.
Under section 3 and the First Schedule of the Development and Planning Act 1974, the Development Applications Board (the Board) is authorized to determine applications for planning permission. In its assessment and determination of a planning application, it is essential that the Board has all the pertinent information relating to a proposed development to ensure that a development does not have any adverse impacts on the natural, human or built environments of a site or its surrounding area, and to ensure that any such impacts are reduced and appropriately mitigated. This includes information regarding the traffic impacts of a development.
This planning policy guidance note has been prepared to assist developers in providing the necessary information for projects which may require a Traffic Impact Assessment and a Traffic Impact Statement. It is based on the UK Institution of Highways and Transportation Guidelines on Traffic Impact Assessment (1994).
The carrying out of a TIA and the submission of a TIS are usually required for large scale development proposals. However, there may be other types of development or changes of use which may require a TIA.
Policy TPT.2, chapter 12 of the Bermuda Plan 2018 outlines the criteria under which a proposal may require a TIA and a TIS.
Policy TPT.2 The Board may require the submission of a Traffic Impact Statement for large scale developments comprising a gross floor area of 50,000 sq. ft. or more, or in other instances where the characteristics of the site or the particulars of the proposal justify the Board carrying out a careful examination of the potential traffic impacts of the development prior to the determination of the application.
If a proposal is also required under policy ENV.4, chapter 6 of the Bermuda Plan 2018 to submit an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the details of the TIS may be included as part of the EIS.
There are 8 main steps in the process of conducting a Traffic Impact Assessment and submitting a Traffic Impact Statement, although not every development proposal is required to go through every step of the process.
This flow diagram illustrates the main steps in the TIA/TIS process and those parties involved in each.
To enable the Department of Planning to process a planning application as quickly as possible, it is in the developer’s interest to submit the TIS at the same time as submitting the planning application.
A TIS should ideally be submitted with an in principle planning application as opposed to a final planning application. This allows for traffic issues to be reviewed, understood and assessed at the early stages of the project’s planning and design stages.
The developer is required to provide the Department of Planning with a sufficient number of copies of the TIS to enable copies to be sent to consultees as necessary. The precise number of copies will depend on the project but a minimum of 5 copies should be provided.
Technical officers within the Department of Planning will evaluate the TIS and the merits of the planning application. The Department of Planning may seek advice from statutory consultees or other suitably qualified persons or organisations to help evaluate the TIS, in particular technical officers in the Highways Section of the Ministry of Works and Engineering.
Following consideration of the TIS and the planning application, the technical officers in the Department of Planning will make a recommendation to the Board. In turn, the Board will make a determination and decide that:-
It should be noted that the Department of Planning may not grant final planning approval for a development until all road works required outside the curtilage of the development site have been satisfactorily completed, as stated in policy TPT.7, chapter 12 of the Bermuda Plan 2018.
Policy TPT.7 In cases where road improvements are required outside the curtilage of the development site to accommodate the development, the Board may require those works to be completed prior to granting final approval.
As with any planning application, the applicant or a third party has the right to appeal the decision of the Board by submitting an appeal to the Minister responsible for the Environment.
This checklist is intended to be used as a guide for preliminary discussions on the scope of a TIA and a TIS. The precise information that should be included in a TIS will depend on the particular project and it is unlikely that all the items listed will be relevant to any one project.
The main components of a TIS
A TIS should contain 5 main components of information:-
In addition, the TIS should include a non-technical summary.
(1) A description of the baseline traffic levels and existing road conditions of the site and surrounding area
A description of the baseline traffic levels and existing road conditions of the site and surrounding area should be provided including details of the following:-
(2) A description of the proposed development
A description of the proposed development and transport related issues should include details of the following:-
(3) An assessment of projected traffic flows
An assessment of projected traffic flows should provide details of how many trips the proposed development will generate, and the distribution and routing of those trips:-
(4) An assessment of the potential traffic impacts
An assessment of the potential traffic impacts should include details of the following:-
(5) A description of the provisions for accommodating the projected traffic flows including mitigation measures
A description of the provisions for accommodating the projected traffic flows including any mitigation measures should include details of the following:-
The provision of new or improved sidewalks should be carefully considered and addressed in the TIS where appropriate. It should be noted that policy TPT.8, chapter 12 of the Bermuda Plan 2018 Planning Statement states that the upgrading or creation of a new sidewalk may be required for developments along public roads in order to improve pedestrian access:-
Policy TPT.8 In order to improve pedestrian access and the movement of traffic, the Board may require a development proposal on a site which borders a main public road, to include the construction or upgrading of a public sidewalk along the entire length of the lot line that borders the public road and/or improvements to the public road.
The access needs of persons with disabilities and elderly persons should also be carefully considered (see Accessibility Guidance Note GN115) and addressed in the TIS where appropriate.