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MORPC Drafts Long-Term Metropolitan Transportation Plan

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) has completed a draft of their 2012-2035 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP), which will be available for public review and comment through April 13th. A public open house meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, March 20th from 4pm to 7pm at the MORPC offices at 111 Liberty Street in The Brewery District.

The 2012-2035 MTP identifies transportation goals, land use changes, population trends and the long-term polices that will need to be put into place to improve an intermodal transportation system for the region. This includes highway systems, bikeways, pedestrian safety, freight logistics, and public transportation infrastructure.

Central Ohio is expected to add nearly 500,000 new residents by the year 2035, based on local land use plans and the density of development that is controlled by various local communities. MORPC expects some of this population to infill existing developed areas, slowing the rate of suburban sprawl in the region.

“Development expansion is more concentrated than what we have been experiencing,” explains Nancy Reger, Deputy Director of Transportation at MORPC. “These forecasts reflect a land consumption rate at more than half the rate that occurred during the past 10 years. So while approximately 100 square miles of agricultural land is expected to be consumed over the next 23 years, the same amount was consumed just over the past 10.”

As a result of this population increase, roads and highways are expected to be upgraded to accomodate increased congestion and to improve safety. The MTP identifies nearly $6 billion in highway projects that will require investment over the next two decades, in addition to another $6 billion for maintaining existing roads.

“The MTP includes a variety of strategies that include community outreach to encourage consideration for the long term effects of development patterns on the accessibility and mobility of their residents by some other means than automobile,” adds Reger. “An example is that a targeted outcome of the plan is to have every community adopt Complete Streets elements at the local level. Other targeted outcomes that MORPC will be tracking with regards to development trends and the relationship with the transportation system include increasing the number of people that are within 3/4 mile of a transit route where transit service exists.”

The MTP includes the recommendations of COTA’s Long-Range Transit plan, which accounts for $4.5 billion that is recommended to expand and maintain regional public transportation systems. Though one thing missing from the long-term plan is any form of rail-based transit.

“The long range plan that COTA is developing is part of the MTP, and rail is not part of that plan,” says Reger.

That’s not to say that rail transit couldn’t be added later on.

“Though this plan has a horizon year of 2035, it is updated on a four year cycle, with the next update scheduled for the year 2016,” says Reger. “As development and transportation system plans evolve, the assumptions included in future Metropolitan Transportation Plans will be modified to reflect these changing trends.”

Over the next 23 years, members of Generation Y and the Millenial Generation will come into a more prominent role in shaping the way that our society lives, commutes and interacts with the environment. These demographics have placed a stronger emphasis on public transportation networks than previous generations, and accountability to their needs will shape policies decided upon by future civic leaders.

“This is the first Metropolitan Transportation Plan that includes performance measures and a mechanism for tracking progress towards reaching set targets,” says Reger. “MORPC will be reporting on progress toward reaching the targeted performance measures included in the plan in its annual State of the Region report.”

If you’d like to review the full Metropolitan Transportation Plan, you can visit MORPC at 111 Liberty Street, or review the plan at any Columbus Metropolitan library branches or the main libraries in Delaware, Licking, Fairfield and Franklin counties. The plan can also be found online HERE.

More information can be found online at www.morpc.org.

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