a street filled with lots of traffic next to palm trees
Traffic crawls at MM 84.5 on Windley Key following a water main break on the southbound lane of U.S. 1 in Islamorada in March. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

The following is a press release from Monroe County on the U.S. 1 Arterial Travel Time and Delay Study. Find more in-depth coverage in the Aug. 24 Keys Weekly newspapers.

The Monroe County Year 2030 Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code (LDC) require all proposed development and redevelopment taking place within unincorporated Monroe County do not result in a reduction of the implemented level of service requirements. 

The comprehensive plan and LDC have established minimum level of service (LOS) standards for roads, particularly U.S. 1, which is part of the Florida Department of Transportation State Highway System.

The LOS standard is implemented through a review of development proposals ensuring that the transportation facilities needed to serve development will be in place when the development impacts occur.

The U.S. 1 Arterial Travel Time and Delay Study (study) is done by the county’s professional traffic engineering consultant who conducts an established systematic traffic monitoring program to monitor traffic volumes and travel speeds of U.S. 1 as well as on each of the 24 study segments on U.S. 1. This review has been conducted annually since 1992 and every two years since 2013.

Over the years, there have been timeframes where certain segments of U.S. 1 have experienced a slowing of traffic speeds but normally not for U.S. 1’s overall entire arterial length. In 2019 the draft study indicated that the overall LOS for the entire length of U.S. 1 had fallen from a C to a D grade, but the county’s professional traffic engineering consultant had concerns over portions of the methodology that were outdated and asserted should be updated. As a result, the Monroe County BOCC did not adopt the 2019 draft study and re-engaged the U.S. 1 LOS Task Force to evaluate the county’s professional traffic engineering consultant’s considerations. 

The task force recommended several updates to the methodology, which the BOCC adopted in February 2021 (Reso. No. 064-2021). The updated methodology was used to complete the 2021 study, which was adopted and incorporated and is used by Monroe County for development review.

The 2023 draft study has been completed utilizing the updated methodology and indicates that the overall LOS for the entire length of U.S. Highway 1 has fallen from LOS C to LOS D, and there is no reserve capacity for additional trips. According to the approved policies and regulations in the comprehensive plan and LDC, this would mean that the county may not permit new development, other than single-family homes, unless the proposed development’s traffic impact is mitigated.

Staff confirmed with the county traffic engineering consultant that the FKAA water main breaks and repairs that occurred during the dates of data collection were accounted for in the study calculations and results. The data is collected during the same timespan each time.

With the draft study indicating an overall LOS D on U.S. 1 with a median speed of 44.7 miles-per-hour, an applicant would need to work with the county and FDOT to identify mitigation and improvement projects to achieve and maintain compliance with the implemented LOS, represented by a median speed of 45 mph.

The 2023 draft study requires approval by the Monroe County BOCC, after which professional staff will incorporate it into the Biennial Assessment of Public Facilities Capacity Report, which is usually presented for adoption at the October or November BOCC meeting, and would then be used for development review.

The Monroe County BOCC will discuss the 2023 draft study at the regularly scheduled Sept. 20, 2023, BOCC meeting.

The 2023 Level of Service and Capacity chart. CONTRIBUTED