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9 predictions about the completion of Truman Parkway

Image by Savannah Morning News

Image by Savannah Morning News

The final leg of the Truman Parkway in Savannah is set to open this month. Marcus E. Howard writes about the long, tortured history of it here, which is a familiar tale for many urban freeway projects. It's interesting to me that it was only started in the 1990's - that obviously explains why it's in such good condition, and pretty lightly-traveled. Bill Dawers writes about the opening, and notes a few thoughts:

I’m thrilled that the road will be opening, though I fear that it will get more traffic right away than some are expecting. There are lots of us who live in the downtown area and work pretty far out on the Southside, or vice versa, who will immediately begin using the Truman for at least one leg of our daily commutes.

For what is worth, I'm going to jot down a few predictions here about the opening of the final leg of this roadway. I came to Savannah from Kansas City, which has more freeway lane-miles per capita than any city in the world, so I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to plans and completed roadways. The only condition I'll put on this set of predictions: they all go out the window if we see a sustained increase in the price of oil & gas. Otherwise, here's what I think Savannah will see happen:

Overall, the Truman will have an impact (especially since it will now connect to Savannah's prime north-south artery of Abercorn), but not a total game-changing impact, since connectivity is still so limited on the south side of Savannah. Here's some detail:

  1. The parkway will generate much more traffic than 35K/day predicted. Freeway opening like this tend to understate the induced demand of new infrastructure.
  2. Because it will have more traffic than thought, we'll quickly hear calls to expand it to six lanes for the full length of the route.
  3. From a traffic standpoint, the impact on other parallel routes will vary widely. I suspect traffic on Abercorn will see a marginal reduction, but only marginal. The roads that will see the most reduction will be Waters & Skidaway/Ferguson.
  4. The additional traffic will increase development pressures at key intersections all along the route. It's really no surprise about all of the action at Victory Drive, but I expect to see similar action at President & the terminus at Abercorn.
  5. The opening will also likely lead to louder calls to extend Truman across the river to South Carolina. It's an expensive and logistically-difficult undertaking, but one I actually think is well worth pursuing. 
  6. The completion will impact the south side and create demand for more development there, but not a lot more. The constraints are pretty tight, and it likely won't impact the lives of people west of Veterans Parkway a great deal.
  7. Two big landowners on the south side will be happy: Armstrong Atlantic University & the Savannah Mall. Both will benefit from the new, much easier connection to downtown and the islands.
  8. Since both Skidaway Island/Landings and Sandfly/Isle of Hope will be more accessible now from the south, I expect we'll see continued commercial development in those areas.
  9. The biggest impact on downtown will be that it will be far easier to drive in from the far south side, which means some amount of more cars dumping in at President. As I noted before, that will put significant commercial pressure at that interchange, but also some increase in parking demands for all of downtown. Of course it will also make it easier for downtown residents to get to far south side for shopping, dining, etc, but that will more of a trickle than a flood.

Savannah - what are your predictions? Who cares to place a wager with me?

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