Residents contribute ideas to Tyler Area Metropolitan Planning Organization

Published on Friday, 28 March 2014 00:02 - Written by Betty Waters blw@tylerpaper.com

Residents contributed ideas Thursday for how the Tyler Area Metropolitan Planning Organization might go about updating the Metropolitan Transportation Plan, a long-range, 25-year transportation plan.

The plan, approved in December 2009, includes multiple projects totaling approximately $390 million of transportation improvements. The plan is updated every five years.

During a “visioning workshop” at Tyler Municipal Rose Garden, attendees sat at tables for small group discussions to express their assessment of the current transportation network and their opinions on criteria for ranking projects that will be included in the updated Metropolitan Transportation Plan.

“For this long-range planning effort, we really want to get some feedback from our citizens of the Tyler area and find out from them what they think is important, the criteria and what are their transportation issues, needs and wants for the community as we move forward in progressing in development of our long-range plan,” Heather Nick, planning director/MPO executive director, said.

Moderator for the workshop was J.D. Allen, executive vice president of Alliance Transportation Group, a transportation, planning and traffic engineering firm helping the Tyler MPO through the development of its new updated Metropolitan Transportation Plan for 2040.

“We want to get a feel for what’s important to the community and how they (citizens) feel about the criteria we will use to select projects,” Allen said. Citizen input will be used along with input from the Tyler MPO staff on criteria for ranking projects so officials know what’s most important to the community, he added.

“We are trying to develop criteria for doing project selection,” Allen said.

Workshop participants carried out some exercises to aid in the process.

They were first asked to look at the current state of the transportation network and to identify problems if nothing else was done to improve it.

At a table facilitated by Michael Howell, senior planner for Tyler Planning Department, workshop attendees identified several issues.

They said the disabled and elderly would be poorly served as well as the economically disadvantaged and college students if nothing were done to improve the transportation network.

They also said the city needs to look at how to mitigate congestion by encouraging other modes of transit, either bicycles or walking.

They favored implementing additional bus routes with shorter connection times, railways, sidewalks along Martin Luther King Boulevard and educating the public on public transportation. They complained that certain paratransit services are difficult because they must be planned and scheduled a day in advance and they said shuttle service around town and out to the airport would be beneficial.

When asked to identify growth trends, the group said areas along the Toll 49 corridor, the Flint-Gresham area and areas around medical centers and similar facilities will likely experience growth.

They also foresaw growth along Highway 64 East around the new Wal-Mart, along Old Jacksonville Highway, the Highway 69 corridor north of town and around the Fed Ex complex to be constructed on Interstate 20.

In ranking criteria that will be used to evaluate transportation projects, one table of workshop participants ranked mostly highly support of economic goals and improving access. Another table of participants ranked improving safety and reducing congestion the highest.

Citizens may provide more feedback atwww.TylerAreaMPO.org .