Sunday, January 24, 2010

New WAMPO survey now online

[UPDATE: Just a quick note to remind people that the next WAMPO meeting to discuss the plans that are the subject of this survey is tomorrow (Monday the 25th) at 1:30 on the 10th floor of City Hall.]

As mentioned in my post on last Tuesday's WAMPO meeting, the survey regarding the 2035 master plan is now live. I just finished taking it; you should know that it will require at least ten minutes from you of looking at maps and project lists, in addition to a PowerPoint-style presentation that talks through the different scenarios presented at the meeting on Tuesday.

A few things to keep in mind:
1) The map shows projects that are explicitly bike/pedestrian projects in green; keep in mind, though, that many of the road projects, especially in outlying areas, include the 10-foot-wide multi-use paths. Of interest to Delano District folks: one of the bike/ped projects is the conversion of the abandoned railroad right-of-way that runs from Seneca northwest to Meridian; meanwhile, folks near the old railroad corridor that roughly parallels 17th Street should be happy to see that corridor's conversion to a path from I-135 to Oliver. True, these are presently a few years away; but, for reasons I mentioned in last week's post, external circumstances may very well compel the city to speed up the construction of bike/ped and other public transit projects. I'd also note that, of course, I would much prefer to see more green on the map--in particular, more east-west routes and something/anything west of Sedgwick County Park; but the ones that are there will add connectivity to a bike/path system that, as users know, is sorely lacking it.

2) As near as I can tell, while the various scenarios involve the removal of various larger road projects, all assume expanded bus service to outlying towns (Andover, Derby, etc.), and none involves the removal of bike/ped projects.

3) As one of the slides in the presentation tells you (and as I reported last week), none of the scenarios appreciably reduces congestion or drive-times--doing any one of the scenarios has the same overall value as doing nothing at all. So, the survey in essence asks citizens to express a preference for an overriding priority that future transportation planning and construction should address.
I didn't develop this idea in that last post, but: The WAMPO region is of a size (i.e., not populous enough) that truly massive mass transit projects that would lead to reductions in road traffic, such as light rail systems, don't make financial sense. If a transportation priority for the coming decades is to provide transport options that encourage people to leave their cars at home a little more often, the entities best able to do that right now are the municipalities, via zoning that encourages high-density, mixed-use development and discourages sprawl, and via adding on-street dedicated bike lanes (or even sharrows) on those streets where it makes good transportation sense to do so. We obviouly have some work to do in persuading (some of) our elected representatives to this way of thinking, as Jim notes here, but not only is this a Good Fight, it will become, whether said representatives like it or not, a more and more necessary fight.

So, WAMPO needs to hear from us via this survey; but so also do the municipalities who present their wishlists to WAMPO--and who, in any event, have more power to effect real change in transportation (via not building a single road) that will make their cities more livable.

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