YMPO seeks public comments on transportation needs
What do you think are the most critical transportation issues in the Yuma region? What improvements are needed? The Yuma Metropolitan Planning Organization wants to know and is asking the public for input as it updates its Regional Transportation Plan for the years 2014-2037.
YMPO held the first public open house Tuesday in Yuma and is holding another today from 4-7 p.m. at the San Luis City Hall, 1090 E. Union St.
The plan is a long-term blueprint of the region's transportation system. It is updated every four years and plans for more than 23 years into the future, identifying and analyzing the regional transportation needs and establishing project priorities.
“This will be a transportation plan for now until 2037, so we're not just looking for what doesn't work right now but anticipating the transportation needs of the future,” said Dave Perkins of the consulting firm Kimley-Horn and Associates.
It's not just a roadway improvement plan, he noted. The plan will cover all transportation modes, such as pedestrian, freight, bicycle, trails, buses and aviation.
It's also a cost-constrained plan, which means “it's not a wish-list,” Perkins said.
YMPO has looked at available state and federal funds and balanced that information with what's needed.
“It's something we can actually implement,” Perkins said.
The objectives are to develop:
• A regional transportation plan by creating a framework for economic development, trade, tourism, environmental protection and community development using input from regional and community groups and leaders.
• A technically comprehensive and forward-looking plan that will allow members to benefit from investing in multi-modal transportation infrastructure and services
• A plan that promotes regional opportunities and celebrates the region's culture and history
• A public-friendly and visually appealing plan
The planning process started in September and is scheduled for completion in June.
Why does the plan go so far in the future? That's standard practice, according to Perkins. “When we're done with what we're working on right now, we want to be able to say, what's next?”
To complete the plan, YMPO and the consultants are relying on community groups and residents to identify “hot spots.” They are also analyzing traffic volume, levels of service, existing transit routes and congestion areas, said project manager Bryan Patterson of Kimley-Horn.
“Safety is a major issue. There's a nationwide emphasis on reducing fatalities and injuries” involving vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists, Patterson noted.
The next open house will be held in March when alternatives will be presented to the public before the final recommendations are made at another open house in June.
All sorts of factors are taken into account as alternatives are developed, said Mark Teuscher, YMPO senior transportation planner.
“It's important for the public to comment. The hardest thing in a study is to get the public to come and listen. We want to know what the issues are, they're the ones doing the driving,” Teuscher said.
“The more comments the better, and we're more than willing to talk to people,” he added.
The YMPO Regional Transportation Plan Technical Advisory Committee will provide recommendations to YMPO staff and executive board and will meet regularly until completion of the project in June. The committee is composed of representatives from each of the member agencies, which include Yuma, Yuma County, Cocopah Indian Tribe, Wellton, Somerton, San Luis and Arizona Department of Transportation.
In addition, non-voting members represent the Quechan Indian Tribe, Winterhaven, Calif., California Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, Imperial County, Calif., Yuma County Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority, Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration.
For more information or to submit comments, visit YMPO.org or contact Mark Teuscher, YMPO senior transportation planner, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 928-783-8911.