We all experience traffic. Whether it's taking our children to school, running errands, going to work, or going to dinner with friends, the fact is it takes longer than it did before. And for those of us who are born and raised in Napa, as my wife, Brenda and I are, we've seen and experienced it progress over time.
Last month, I wrote about why housing matters, and a component of our current traffic challenge is directly related to having housing that is affordable so working families can live where they work.
Here are a few highlights of our traffic challenge, according to the Napa County Travel Behavior Study:
- 41 percent of daily trips are imported trips, which means they live outside of the county and commute into Napa;
- 56 percent of total trips are inbound from 6-10 a.m.; the same percent is outbound from 3–7 p.m.;
- 76 percent of Napa County commuters drive alone;
- 35 percent of employee survey respondents said they have flexible schedules that allow them to alter their commute times;
- 43 percent of employee survey respondents said they would be open to using public transit if it became a reasonable option.
Beyond the 140,000 residents who call Napa County home, we also welcome over 3.6 million visitors annually. We simply have more people using our roads. I don't envision a future where we expand Highway 29 or Silverado Trail, or turn local streets into boulevards, nor would I support that.
However, we need to act and bring solutions into reality. We have the data, we know who is using our roads, and we have a good understanding of our peak congestion problems. We also need to be forward thinkers and be willing to innovate and embrace private-public partnerships.
As your representative on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Napa Valley Transportation Authority, I've gained a broader perspective on transportation and viable solutions. While we are a small county, we cannot afford to think small about this issue.
Over the past month, I've had encouraging conversations with leaders from the wine and hospitality industry about coming together to discuss transportation solutions. We aren’t the first community to experience these traffic problems, and we can learn from places like Vail, Colorado, or other global communities that have made significant progress to improve the local traffic conditions, increasing traffic flow, and reducing congestion.
I am optimistic, excited, and eager to continue to work on this critical issue for our communities. It is a shared responsibility, with our cities and town, our core industries, our employers, and you. We have simple solutions like increased carpooling and/or private-public partnerships like working with the Napa Wine Train to offer a commuter service. However, we will not succeed long-term if we are not dynamic and forward-thinking with our approach.
It is time to think outside the box on traffic.
District 4 Supervisor