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Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) & Environmental Review

New Approach to Assessing Traffic Impacts

The State of California has changed the rules about how traffic impacts are analyzed. In the past, project related traffic impacts were assessed based on how new traffic would increase wait times at local intersections.

Now, we are required to look at traffic differently. Instead of analyzing how traffic changes road congestion, the traffic analysis is instead assessed based on how the project changes trip lengths, measured in vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The new approach is defined by each community and relies upon input from the public, specialists, and decision makers.

To make sure that the City of Petaluma’s approach to assessing traffic impacts reflects our community, we have formed a committee of Petaluma residents to consider various options for the City’s new approach. We invite you to participate in the committee (Vehicle Miles Traveled Technical Advisory Committee) meeting to learn more about the ways to analyze traffic and to weigh in on alternative approaches that we may adopt.

Upcoming Meeting - May 25, 2021, at 7:00 PM

How to Participate -

Project Description

Pursuant to Senate Bill 743 the City of Petaluma is transitioning to a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) metric to assess environmental impacts. Historically, the City of Petaluma has used level of service (LOS) methodology to assess traffic operations and analyze environmental impacts for projects in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In 2013, Senate Bill 743 established new legislation mandating a change to the CEQA Guidelines (Section 15064.3), which replaces the LOS metric with a VMT metric. The shift from LOS to VMT focuses on regional traffic patterns and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, rather than vehicle delays on local roadway networks.

The City is in contract with Fehr & Peers to guide the transition from LOS to VMT and develop a Petaluma specific VMT model, which will rely on regional data from the Sonoma County model provided by Sonoma County Transit Agency (SCTA). The SCTA model calibration is being finalized and Fehr & Peers is developing parameters for a Petaluma specific VMT model (travel demand model). Draft VMT baseline information, metrics, methodology, screening levels, thresholds and mitigation measures will be prepared and presented to a Technical Advisory Committee for review and feedback. Input will also be solicited from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Transit Advisory Committee. Input received will be incorporated into a Final VMT Report, which will be presented to decision makers including at least one public hearing before the Planning Commission and City Council.

Project Documents

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