Developing a Regional Database for the San Francisco Bay Area
SUTTON J, GIS/Trans, USA
The San Francisco Bay Area comprises 9 counties and 100 cities with a combined population of over 6 million people (see Figure 1). This is forecast to grow to 7.7 million by 2020, with a concomitant increase in employment. The Bay Area has been one of fas
The San Francisco Bay Area comprises 9 counties and 100 cities with a combined population of over 6 million people (see Figure 1). This is forecast to grow to 7.7 million by 2020, with a concomitant increase in employment. The Bay Area has been one of fastest growing regions in the USA in the past decade, due largely to the success of the IT businesses in Silicon Valley centered on San Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. The explosive growth of IT and communications business has spilled over to other parts of the Bay Area. Even older industrial cities in Alameda County such as Oakland have benefited from the region's growth, and the spillover effects are spreading to peripheral cities in the region that traditionally served as market towns or small industrial centers. Examples include Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County in the East Bay and Salinas on the southern edge of the region.
This tremendous growth has placed increased pressure on the region's transportation systems, which have been struggling to catch-up with the growth in travel demand. In addition, major retrofitting of the highway system has been on-going since the 1990 ea[thquake, which caused significant damage to major highways in Oakland and San Francisco. Thus Caltrans (the Califomia Department of Transportation), and local authorities have had to cope with increasing demand while at the same time repairing and strengthening the region's highway infrastructure. The Bay Area is also constrained by its physical geography comprising hilly terrain on three sides of the bay. The San Francisco peninsula is largely developed, as are most of the low-lying areas in the East Bay and Silicon Valley. There is growing support for sustainable growth policies, and widespread concern about environmental impacts of new communities (as well as opposition to development on the sensitive wetlands and on the hill tops). This is why the growth is being absorbed by cities on the periphery. The only exception is the redevelopment of "brown field" sites in parts of Oakland and other East Bay cities.
A critical question for the transportation adthorities in the region is how to meet the forecast travel demands in the next 20 years? Several highway schemes are planned, including a new bridge paralleling the Bay Bridge that connects Oakland and San Francisco, but these projects add only a marginal increase to the 1400 miles of existing freeway and are aimed primarily at relieving specific bottlenecks.
In parallel with these infrastructure projects, agencies such as Caltrans, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Association of Bay Area Governments, the California Highway Patrol and other jurisdictions are experimenting with a number of demonstration projects that utilize Intelligent Transportation Systems. These include ramp metering, traffic monitoring and incident management, and the provision of real-time traffic information to assist travelers in their trip choices. There is a large effort in progress in the Bay Area to coordinate traffic information that can be made available to users via the internet, telephone or the media. This project is called Travlnfo and is one of the largest systems of its type in the USA. Making greater use of information technology to address the traffic problems in the Bay Area is also part of the transit development strategy as described below.
Association for European Transport