17  Focus regional growth in areas that support multimodal travel

Focus regional growth in areas that support the full range of multimodal travel.

17.1 Community comprehensive plans with multimodal transportation

The Met Council is the regional planning agency charged with planning and coordinating the growth and development of the seven-county metropolitan area. While local governments focus on planning for their communities, the Met Council is responsible for regional services that communities need. The two coordinate their efforts by taking part in a process of plan-making, negotiations, and final review of the local plans by the Met Council.

State law (Minnesota Statutes: Comprehensive Plans; Local Governmental Units 2022) requires the Met Council to create regional plans and policies to guide growth and manage regional systems for transportation, aviation, water resources, and regional parks. The law also requires local governments to update their comprehensive plans.

Under the law, the Met Council reviews local comprehensive plans to ensure they are in accord with the overall framework provided by the regional plans. The review helps determine how a community’s planned actions relate to the interests of the whole region over the long term. It helps ensure that costly public infrastructure, like roads and sewers, are built in an economical and coordinated fashion, so that user fees and tax dollars are spent wisely.

Once the Met Council completes the review process for a comprehensive plan or amendment, the local government can implement it through zoning ordinances, capital budgets for public improvements, and other actions.

In April 2021, Met Council staff conducted an analysis of 66 completed comprehensive plans compiled the resulting transportation related policies, like those that include transit, bike, or pedestrian supportive policies or strategies.

Around half of regional comprehensive plans mention new or expanded roadways. Most communities included counts of Heavy Commercial Annual Average Daily Traffic (HCAADT).

Figure 17.1: Percent of completed community comprehensive plans that include specific references to new or expanded roadways or heavy-commercial average annual daily traffic.

A majority of communities in the Twin Cities account for bicycle travel in one way or another in their comprehensive plans but there is little sense as to how residents are actually using bicycle facilities. Over half of plans have specific bicycle policies and an inventory of on-street bicycle facilities. Approximately one-third of communities have a separate bicycle plan. No communities’ comprehensive plan included a count of bicycle traffic.

Figure 17.2: Percent of completed community comprehensive plans that include specific bike policies, separate plans for biking or active transportation, on street bike facilities, or local bike counts.

A similar pattern is found with pedestrian planning found in the region’s comprehensive plans, with pedestrians being considered by over half of communities, but little knowledge of how residents are actually using pedestrian facilities. Over half of communities have specific pedestrian policies, slightly less than half include sidewalk and sidewalk gap mapping, very few have pedestrian planning zones, none have local pedestrian counts, and less than a quarter incorporate complete streets principles or address American Disability Act (ADA) compliance.

Figure 17.3: Percent of completed community comprehensive plans that include specific pedestrian policies, sidewalk and sidewalk gap mapping, pedestrian planning zones, local pedestrian counts, complete streets, or ADA compliance.

Planning for pedestrians typically occurs in a comprehensive plans’ transportation chapter, less than a quarter of communities plan for pedestrians in the context of their park plans.

Figure 17.4: Percent of completed community comprehensive plans that include pedestrian planning in specific sections, like transportation, parks, or downtown framework plans.

Communities vary in the degree to which they considered transit in their comprehensive plans. Slightly less than half of communities pursued opportunities beyond transitways and/or referenced transitways that were included in the increased revenue scenario.

Figure 17.5: Percent of completed community comprehensive plans that include unique transit strategies, opportunities beyond transitways or non-transitways, or increased revenue transitways.

Slightly less than half of communities discuss linkage between transit service and land use within their plans and/or discuss the potential impact of centers of growth on multi-modal transportation.

Figure 17.6: Percent of completed community comprehensive plans that link transit and land use or plan for centers of growth with potential to impact multimodal transportation.

Roughly half of completed comprehensive plans discuss transportation safety and/or crash data. Connected and autonomous vehicles are an emerging theme, appearing in about one third of comprehensive plans. Drones are considered in few plans.

Figure 17.7: Percent of completed community comprehensive plans that include references to transportation safety and crash data, drones, or connected and autonomous vehicles.