Seniors voice opinions at transportation workshop

Published on Friday, 29 August 2014 00:19 - Written by Kelly Gooch kgooch@tylerpaper.com

Residents gave input during a workshop on proposed transportation projects at the Tyler Senior Center on Thursday.

The workshop was put on by the Tyler Area Metropolitan Planning Organization as a way to get public feedback for an update of the Metropolitan Transportation Plan. The MTP is a 25-year, long-range plan that goes through 2040. It is updated every five years.

According to a news release, the MTP helps in planning for future transportation needs in Tyler and surrounding areas and the spending of federal, state and local monies for projects.

About $390 million worth of transportation improvements was included in the MTP when it was adopted in 2009, Tyler Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Coordinator Michael Howell said.

During Thursday’s event, attendees had the opportunity to view various posters, which provided information on projected population growth and other things related to the MTP, as well as information on previous public input.

Howell also discussed the existing MTP, the MTP update process, data that has been collected and what the next steps are.

As an exercise, attendees were then asked to rank 13 projects, including the widening of Texas Highway 31 (Front Street) to four lanes from Loop 323 to Farm-to-Market Road 850; widening Farm-to-Market Road 756 (Paluxy Drive) to four lanes from Jeff Davis Drive to Farm-to-Market Road 346; and building Segment 6 of Toll 49, which would connect Texas Highway 110 to U.S. Highway 271.

Tyler Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Director Heather Nick said the goal is to receive some prioritization from the exercise.

One workshop attendee, Thomas Johnson, chairman of the city’s Traffic Safety Board, said he wants to be able to have a discussion about the MTP at the next board meeting.

And with the significant population growth that is expected between now and 2040, it’s necessary to be as prepared as possible to ensure that infrastructure is correct for the safety as well as security of traffic, he said.

As far as ranking proposed projects, Johnson said, “We have to understand that whenever we choose one over the other that the pie is only so big. We want to make sure that we do the best that we can for the future of Tyler.”

Retired teacher Sharla Ward, 58, said she was interested in plans for Toll 49 and future plans for Tyler in general.

Ms. Nick said the MPO will receive input from the public, and from there the MPO’s consultant will put together a draft of the updated MTP, which will go to the MPO’s Technical Committee and ultimately the MPO’s Policy Committee.

Howell said the hope is to take the MTP draft report to both committees in November and have everything finally adopted in December.

Those who did not attend the workshop Thursday may still provide feedback by sending an email to mpo@tylertexas.com.

For more information, call 903- 531-1175 or visitwww.TylerAreaMPO.org .