Northcross
It’s not a done deal. We continue to press on. In the last couple of weeks, while City staff review Lincoln’s second site plan – one that has since been modified to include a smaller Supercenter, members of the ANA’s Northcross Committee have let the City know our concerns have not changed. Northcross is no place for a Supercenter. We don’t have the infrastructure nor the desire for a single retailer of that scale.

Members of the Northcross Committee have met with City staff twice and
followed up the meetings with letters/emails. We also submitted a peer review of the initial traffic impact analysis (TIA) that was done by a
traffic engineering firm, VRPA Technologies. What follows are the
points we want considered in their review of the second site plan.
Please contact city council members and let them know you want their
response to these concerns. What follows is the text of a letter sent
to city council members last weeek followed by a letter sent to city
staff following a meeting on the subject:

June 11, 2006

Honorable Mayor Wynn and Council Members:

I am writing to you on behalf of the Allandale Neighborhood
Association (ANA) Executive Committee with regard to the revised Traffic Impact
Analysis (TIA) submitted by Lincoln Properties
Company (LPC) for the Northcross Mall redevelopment. As you are aware, LPC recently
submitted a revised TIA to the City of Austin stating that the proposed 192,000
square foot Wal-Mart Supercenter at Northcross Mall will reduce the forecasted number of trips by 20 percent,
from 25,607 unadjusted daily vehicle trips to 20,602 unadjusted daily vehicle trips,
causing none of the intersections
surrounding Northcross Mall to fail. This finding strongly concerns
ANA’s Executive Committee and its general membership, since it is counter-intuitive
and contradicts the findings of the City of Austin staff, who have performed actual
traffic counts
at the Wal-Mart Supercenter at Ben White and
IH 35. At this location, COA traffic counts
exceed the volume forecasted
in that store’s TIA by approximately 100 percent.

As a result, we believe that Lincoln Property Company has
not acted in good faith, when submitting this revised TIA, and should submit a
TIA to COA staff that accurately predicts the future volume of the store. The first step to achieving this goal is to
base the traffic analysis on the findings of the August 2006 ITE Journal article
(see attached), which demonstrated that
Wal-Mart Supercenters in Texas and Oklahoma produced traffic volumes that
greatly exceeded the volumes predicted by the ITE Handbook.  By making this adjustment to the methodology,
LPC can produce a traffic forecast that is more likely to reflect reality,
rather than simply using inaccurate figures to satisfy the COA’s TIA
requirement.

Second, at the expense of
the ANA, we contracted an independent engineering firm to conduct a peer review
of the original TIA, which I have attached to this message. This review was performed by VRPA Technologies,
a traffic engineering consulting
firm  which has significant experience
measuring the traffic impacts of Wal-Mart Supercenters. In their review, VRPA found that the level of
service at four intersections
surrounding Northcross Mall, including at Burnet
  Road and Anderson Lane,
will fail after the new facility opens. Even though the review was based on a
206,000 square foot store as opposed to the revised 192,000 square foot store,
we are confident that the results would be the
same. You will find the table showing a comparison
of the LPC’s TIA results to the VRPA study on page 10 of the report.  A member of the ANA Executive Committee also provided
a copy of this report to Victoria
Hsu in the Watershed Protection and Development Review department on Friday,
June 8.

Third, although Wal-Mart has stated it might reduce the size
of the proposed Supercenter and, while it is logical
to expect a smaller store will generate fewer car
trips, in reality we do not believe a slightly smaller store will be any less
of a Supercenter to Wal-Mart shoppers. Will
fewer people go there because of the proposed 7
percent reduction in size? We do not believe so,
and it is unlikely that this reduction will have any noticeable
effect on traffic in our neighborhood or surrounding neighborhoods.

Finally, the residents of the Allandale neighborhood realize
that any new development will bring increased
traffic. However, the volume, patterns, and
timing of traffic related to a Supercenter are
significantly higher and more intrusive than many other types of more
appropriate commercial development. Unlike a supercenter, appropriate development would not overburden our
local streets and potentially threaten public safety.  We respectfully request that the City staff
and council members study the attached peer
review of the LPC TIA and, subsequently, use this more reliable quantitative
analysis as the basis to reject the LPC’s second
site plan for the Northcross Mall redevelopment. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Tom Linehan
Presiding Officer, Allandale Neighborhood Association

Here is an email to city staff from Allan McMurtry regarding their meeting on the smaller supercenter:

I want to thank you for attending the meeting with the
Allandale Neighborhood Association on Monday. Your group asked several
questions, and I wanted to respond in part.

1) We have contacted
our engineering company, VRPA, about doing a study to back up the 1st study
they did. The contract would cost us
$5000. Now, we’re prepared to raise
funds to pay for this study. However,
we’ll need to know just what site plan building size we’re looking at. We’ve already paid big bucks for a study of a
206,000 sq ft facility, only to have that thrown out by Lincoln inserting the digits 192 in front of the comma. Tell you the truth; that hurts. If citizens are going to be required to submit engineering studies at
their cost, then the applicant should be required to submit one set of data
only per site application. If they want
to change the numbers, then they, just as we are, should be required to file
anew and start over.

2) The City’s
position is that the reduction of the store size below 200,000 sq ft, 4%,
justifies a reduction of VTD from approximately 5.5 to 4.7 (this is from
memory, but the firgure represents the VRPA VTD plus the ITE 7th Ed assumed VTD
divided by 2). This is a 4% reduction in
size and a 14.5% reduction in VTD. We would like for the City of Austin to revisit this.

3) In light of the
high % of grocery use at this site, we believe traffic will be higher than even
the 5.50 VTD. Keep in mind that VRPA found
Peak Hour VTD rates of 7.7 at some of the stores it surveyed.

4) Lincoln is claiming that the mitigation should include an extra turn land at Anderson. Please be advised that the ROW at that
location will not permit that turn lane to be built without condemnation of
land. If I am correct, the current ROW
there is 90′. 5 lanes of 12′ each plus 2
feet for each of two curbs is 64′. Two 8′ sidewalks brings the total ROW used to
8′. That does not allow for room for
another turn lane without condemnation. Further, the standard distance to trees from the curb by TXDot is
greater than 10′. We would like the City
to review this proposal.