A tool that could help new urban projects
ROBERT STEUTEVILLE    OCT. 1, 2005
A tool that could help new urban projects by generating more accurate estimates of their impact on traffic and air quality has been developed for the California Air Resources Board. Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates in San Francisco produced an “operational mitigation component” for URBEMIS, a model that air quality districts use to determine how new developments will affect the level of air pollution. Adam Millard-Ball, a principal at Nelson/Nygaard, says the new tool “could have a huge impact in helping to level the playing field for new urbanist and TOD projects, but only to the extent that it is used by traffic engineers.” It’s long been known that building in a compact, high-density, mixed-use manner can reduce the volume of vehicular traffic. The new tool helps to document those reductions and thus allow transit-oriented developments to be constructed with less roadway infrastructure. Millard-Ball said the mitigation model was devised for the San Joaquin Valley air district, which wanted an impact fee on new developments that significantly affect air quality. “They wanted a way to credit developers that put in place measures to reduce traffic emissions,” he explained. The tool can be obtained at no charge from the California Air Resources Board. See www.urbemis.com.