Transport impact study on every new building

A new resolution will require developers to conduct a transportation impact study with the Department of Transport before proceeding with construction.

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ABU DHABI // Developers of every new building in the emirate have been ordered to carry out a study of the impact on surrounding transport networks before construction can begin.

The study must assess the effect of any development on nearby parking, congestion, pedestrian safety and private and public transport.

If the study concludes that a project entails improvements to the local transport network, the developer will have to pay all or some of the cost. They will also have to pay a fee for every additional journey their projects generate.

The new rules were ordered by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and take effect immediately, Department of Transport (DoT) officials said yesterday.

"Our objectives are safety and accessibility," a DoT official said. "A developer can build the most beautiful tower in the world, but it is pointless if people cannot access it."

Developers must conduct the study in conjunction with the DoT and receive approval before Abu Dhabi Municipality will grant a permit to build.

The transport impact study is in two parts: a computerised model and an overall transport review.

The model, which is already used on larger-scale projects, is a high-tech system that allows the DoT to predict the impact a development will have on transport networks. It takes into account land use, private transport (including bicycles and walkways), public transport and future transport developments.

It also considers the number of lanes on roads, speed, the easiest way drivers can reach a destination and any possible ripple effects. By considering these factors the DoT can decide on the most effective strategy to reduce the negative effect of a development.

"We look at both interim and long-term solutions," the official said. "Not only at how the development will affect the transport network now, but also at five or 20 years from now."

How much developers will have to pay for improving a transport network will depend on the scale of the project.

"For example, if we're talking about the development of an entire 'city', such as Reem Island, the developer will be responsible for taking care of all the costs of the transport network within that development," the official said.

"However, if it's only a single building that may add traffic to an already congested junction, then the developer will be responsible for paying a percentage, depending on the project's impact."

The transport impact study will also consider future developments in the network based on the Surface Transport Master Plan, a significant expansion of the emirate's public transport network by 2030 that includes a metro and tram system, and water taxis.

Project approval after the transport study will take 60 days, provided the developer complies with all requirements set by the DoT. Small-scale projects may take less time, officials said.

The fees payable by developers for the study are Dh5,000 for the computerised transport model plus Dh1 for every trip the development generates, and Dh7,500 plus Dh1 per journey for the overall review.

"Globally, this is not a new concept," another DoT official said. "It is something that is implemented around the world. We looked at the international best practices and came up with something that is the most suitable for Abu Dhabi."