Tuesday, April 7, 2009

ARRA Project Public comment

Via Jane Byrnes ("janebb AT sbcglobal DOT net"), the Bicycle and Pedestrian Representative on the Metropolitan Transportation Plan Project Advisory Committee (MTP-PAC), comes WAMPO's list of projects identified to receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (that's "Stimulus Package") money. Appendix E is where the list actually appears. WAMPO is receiving public comment on the list until 8:00am Monday, April 13, 2009; you can e-mail your comments to Brenton Holper at "bholper AT wichita DOT gov"

As far as cyclists and alt-transportation are concerned, there's not much there: a combination bike path/sidewalk along Andover Rd.; bike racks placed at various places along bus routes to encourage bus usage by cyclists, and the transit department's purchase of three hybrid vehicles. Most of the rest consists of resurfacing projects, though a stretch of Maize Road will be widened to 5 lanes.

I admit to not knowing just how firm this list is--the now-familiar term "shovel-ready" seems to be a defining criterion--but I made note to Jane and will cc to Mr. Holper the fact that according to WAMPO's "Priority Missing Links", the already-listed projects of re-striping Douglas from Webb to the Canal Route and restriping Waterman from the Canal Route to the river so as to create dedicated bike lanes (paint-ready projects?) would cost an estimated $81,000 total. Given both the cheap cost and the enormous value these east-west routes would add to the existing system's connectivity, maybe enough people writing Mr. Holper could sway his panel to do some reshuffling of funds.

Just a word about Jane--and thanks to the anonymous commenter who gave me her name: as a result of our brief exchange of e-mails, she strikes me as being a strong advocate of cycling and pedestrian interests. She herself is a member of the Sierra Club and a health and fitness advocate; she has a brother who is a bike-commuter; she is concerned about increased sprawl into farmland and the (so far) car-first infrastructure that comes along. She describes herself to me as "carefully assertive": a nice phrase. It'd be good to let her know that we have her back. Squeaky bike-wheels get the funding grease.

Further comment: It seems indicative to me of the default assumption about cyclists and how best to serve them (the subject of this recent post) that a) there's only one "shovel-ready" project involving cycling infrastructure; and b) it's a combination bike path/sidewalk that is c) located in the far suburbs (AND, again, runs north-south)--this, when the WAMPO Priority List contains a total of 3 re-striping projects that would create bike-lanes on east-west streets that are, apparently, not deemed shovel-ready. Granted, re-striping doesn't put many folks to work, nor does it do so for very long--the other purposes of ARRA projects--and no one argues that already existing streets don't need repairing. But still: only one bike-infrastructure project is ready to go? Really? This lack is obviously not WAMPO's fault: they've done their work.

More planning--that is, some actual engineering--please. Especially given the fact that, sooner or later, transportation, energy, liveable-city and sustainability will become issues that cities and states will have to address, let's see some signs that in Wichita, cycling-infrastructure and mass transit and alternate transportation projects are something more than afterthoughts.


bicycleptic said...

My personal opinion is that it would be better if Mt. Vernon was re striped instead of Douglass. Mt Vernon is a lighter traveled thoroughfare and therefore would have less overall impact on traffic and also a lower risk to cyclists. Plus it would be easy to get from the west end of Mt. Vernon to the river path. One could get right on the Canal Route path off Mt. Vernon. Plus at the eastern end of Mt. Vernon it hooks up to the Gypsum Creek path. Also one could continue east if they wanted to on the path that runs parallel with Pawnee between Woodlawn and Rock Rd.

John B. said...

Sorry for the delay in responding to you.
Yessir. I don't know if you looked at the WAMPO priorities list, but the re-striping of Mt. Vernon is also on that list; and, seeing as the work on Mt. Vernon is wrapping up and, last time I was there, repaving had commenced, perhaps they will indeed do that (if they haven't already--I confess to not having been that way in a while). It'd clearly be a valuable linkage between those three paths for southside cyclists. I didn't mention it because the Douglas and Waterman routes would be much more direct for eastsiders. Clearly, though, the Mt. Vernon route would be better than what presently links the eastside to downtown (read: nothing). And, of course, there's the just-as-pressing matter of getting some bike-paths and/or routes west of Sedgwick County Park that would allow cyclists to get to the downtown paths.

The wish list grows, doesn't it?