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Interview: MORPC’s William Murdock on Planning for Density, the Hyperloop, and More

Brent Warren Brent Warren Interview: MORPC’s William Murdock on Planning for Density, the Hyperloop, and MorePhoto by Walker Evans.
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The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is the driving force behind some high-profile initiatives in Central Ohio, such as the Insight 2050 and Corridor Concepts studies and the proposal to connect Columbus to Chicago via high speed rail or Hyperloop.

Columbus Underground recently sat down with MORPC Executive Director William Murdock, who was happy to talk about those projects, but also eager to discuss some of the lesser-known initiatives that the organization is involved in.

Murdock stressed that, despite the outsized attention that certain ideas seem to get (the Hyperloop being the prime example), the day-to-day work of MORPC is grounded in the specific needs of its 60-plus member jurisdictions.

That work includes the development of a Smart Streets Policy for the region, as well as a forward-looking plan for the area around Rickenbacker International Airport. It also includes continuing support for the different cities, townships, village and counties that are now working to implement the ideas laid out in the Corridor Concepts study.

“In order to do these things, (the different communities) are going to have to look at their zoning regulations…their incentive structures, their right-of-way,” Murdock said, explaining that MORPC will help jurisdictions that are interested in, for example, encouraging denser development along their major corridors.

“We want to be able to work with them and give them the tools they need (to achieve their goals),” he added.

On the perennial topic of light rail, Bus Rapid Transit and other types of “high-capacity transit lines,” Murdock said he is “feeling optimistic.”

“There’s alignment here,” he said. “There’s growth, and the community sees the need for (transit investment), but it can help solve other problems, too…so a number of different groups are now pushing in the same direction.”

Other topics covered include an upcoming plan to use “tactical urbanism” to sell transit ideas, the importance of educating Columbusites about what other cities are doing, and the key to overcoming NIMBYism when talking about density.

Listen to the whole conversation here.

Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission

The article is sponsored by The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) featuring stories about local and regional partners that envision and embrace innovative directions in economic prosperity, transportation, sustainability and an inclusive Central Ohio. MORPC’s transformative programming, innovative services and public policy initiatives are designed to promote and support the vitality and growth in the region. For more information, please visit www.morpc.org.

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