July 24


Top Ten Traffic Related Mistakes Developers Make

By Mike Spack

July 24, 2017

consultant, developers, Intersection, traffic issues, traffic signal, traffic study

By Mike Spack, PE, PTOE

There are literally hundreds of decisions that need to be made when dealing with any development project. Sometimes, a few details get missed. Over the years, Spack Consulting has worked with numerous developers on projects large and small. Following are the top traffic issue mistakes that are commonly made during development. Take a look at these frequently overlooked details to help ensure your next projects goes smoothly.

  1.   Driveway and Curb Placement. Assuming you can get a driveway or curb cut wherever you want.
  2.   Traffic Signal Placement. Assuming you’ll get a traffic signal at your development’s main intersection.
  3.   Government Infrastructure Funding. Assuming a government agency will pay for the infrastructure (signals, turn lanes, medians, etc.) needed to get traffic smoothly in and out of your development.
  4.   Neighbor Concerns. Ignoring the traffic concerns of your neighbors.
  5.   Internal Traffic Circulation. Assuming one of your consultants (architect, landscape architect, civil engineer, traffic engineer) is designing a site plan that will have good internal traffic circulation.
  6.   Presenting at Public Hearings. Assuming your traffic engineer is a good public speaker and will represent you well in public hearings.
  7.   Traffic Study Turnaround Time. Assuming a traffic study can be done in a few days.
  8.   Mitigation Plan. Assuming all traffic engineers are good at developing a phased mitigation plan that will protect the motoring public while considering your bottom line.
  9.   Engineer Firms Reputation. Using a consultant traffic engineer that is not respected by the public agencies who will be reviewing their traffic study.
  10.   Traffic Studies and Politics. Assuming traffic studies are straight science – many assumptions go into a traffic study and politics are often involved with traffic issues (politicians rarely question the size of a recommended sewer pipe, but they often have an opinion on traffic recommendations).

What other traffic consideration do you examine when working on a development project? Share your thoughts below.


  • Great list! A couple more egregious mistakes I’ve encountered to some degree:
    “calling your traffic consultant after you’ve committed to building footprints”
    “fretting excessively about whether 5 versus 10% of your traffic accesses the site via a particular direction, while completely overlooking how it distributes once on your private property”

  • Jay –
    Great additions. I would love to turn this into a top twenty list of there are other thoughts out there.

  • You hit the nail on the list.
    In reference to #5… Not having a traffic engineer involved in the site plan at all.
    As far as I am concerned, all city’s should require that all site plans be sealed by a traffic engineer in addition to the Site/Civil engineer.
    Also trying to nickle and dime over pro-rata share while tying the project up for months.

  • That improving the designs of their access, internal circulation, and seriously implementing sustainable mobility measures will in the end benefit them

  • Mike : I like your 10 Mistakes. Another one is that they like to run all the traffic past the front of the building for exposure causing major conflicts with pedestrians from the parking lot. Or they do not use predominant Business Name and /Street Address Number so they are easily found.

  • Mike – Good list, and all too familiar. One other somewhat frequent mistake is having the project’s civil engineer (or occasionally site planner) perform the TIA because they said they could do it when they have one young engineer with a masters in transportation.

  • Tree placement, i.e., lack of coordination between landscaping and roadway design; there’s a strong desire for shade and green (I’m in in the AZ desert), and intersection sight distance as well as visibility of traffic control devices are often forgotten about.

  • Great list! Related to #1, 2, and 5, “Completing your site design (grading, drainage, landscaping etc.) before engaging your traffic engineer.” Then when a driveway needs moved per #1, the entire site has to be redesigned accordingly.

  • I presume you are including the traffic control in and thru the work zone(s) as a part of your Mitigation Plans.

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    Mike Spack

    My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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