Planners are often unfairly characterized as waiting to the last minute to seek input from the public. This perception is driven by the public hearing and open meeting laws that require a public hearing be advertised in the newspaper a certain number of times/days before the hearing. In our case, these laws apply to the RVAMPO’s Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) and Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). However, these laws have the unintended consequence of giving off the impression that planners wait until the last minute before seeking feedback through a “public hearing.” In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. We planners need good constructive input and feedback from citizens to help us develop plans in the first place. Gone are the days of the 1950’s and 60’s in which planners believed that there was one rational and comprehensive planning model that applies to all situations. Now, the vast majority of planners see their role as using professionalism and tools to have a conversation with citizens (“the public”) and to facilitate joint creation of plans that reflect the values and aspirations of a community. This new role redefines the way planners view the public involvement process, which was previously mechanical and primarily benchmark driven.
With the above in mind, many plans often begin with “Goals” and “Objectives.” The next LRTP – due in the summer of 2015 – will be no exception. So, we are asking – even imploring – you for your early input to help us develop the “Goals” and “Objectives” of the next Long-Range Transportation Plan. We are not waiting for a “public hearing,” we crave your input and feedback now! Please put your ideas for goals and objectives in the comment box below. Let’s get a conversation going.
Here is a convenient and concise definition of Goals and Objectives – courtesy of the State of Michigan http://www.michigan.gov/documents/8-pub207_60743_7.pdf – to help get you started:
**phase in most fuel-efficient public transportation fleet including electric or other proven green technologies by 2020 (see Chattanooga, TN)
**include in public transport vehicle fleet an increased number of small “RADAR” type vehicles that can be ordered at nominal cost for the growing elderly population. These should be logo-ed so that they are not seen as only as emergency medical transportation (as RADAR is). Northern California’s town of Paradise has had this program to shuttle older folks to doctors’ appointments, etc. Their program has “cute” name that appeals to elders but would make riding in them ‘uncool” for the young and able-bodied. This is a 30 year program that could be phased out with the changing demographics as the Boomer generation passes away.
**Open the rail station for Amtrak east coast line by 2016. Vicinity of I-81 and Salem/311 exit? with shuttle service from Downtown, VWCC, Vinton, Hollins, Valley View/Airport, and from Blacksburg. Secured, monitored parking 24/7.
**Accommodate bicyclists with parking racks in high-density areas (downtown, malls, VWCC, schools.)
**Reconsider Sen. John Edwards inter-modal truck/train plan for safety, fuel efficiency, high potential of being funded by the federal government.
**work with VA Tech engineering for forecasting of evolving best practices for fuel efficiency and safety.
As is referenced in the Michigan example, the word “vision” should really be synonymous with “goals”. As a community, we should be aware of what the current regional transportation landscape is now, think logically on how it will evolve, and formulate a comprehensive and realistic vision which factors tourism, growth and increased economic development. The region is becoming a more desirable place to live and work and demands upon the future transportation network will become apparent as the region changes and grows. Not every goal or vision will be exactly uniform for every locality in the region; and this is why our goals for the LRTP should be tailor-made to the size and characteristics of the localities in the region.
When approaching the public involvement process for the LRTP, planners may want to consider soliciting input from citizens in a slightly different way. First, reach out through a variety of conventional and social media channels to the regional community as a whole to solicit goals, visions, and objectives. Synthesize the goals and objectives into a regional strategy and further streamline the goals and objectives by holding locality-specific public meetings to gauge whether these “regional” improvements, strategies and initiatives meet the perceived vision of the locality. Utilize the Citizens Advisory Committee to get the word out about public meetings, and to encourage and motivate individuals to attend and participate. At the public meetings, ensure that elected officials are invited, present, and participate in the discussion and hear/understand the preferences, goals/vision and objectives from their constituents. Following the meetings, again, synthesize the data and this will lead to specialized recommendations and implementation strategies, some which align with and others that do not, the rest of the region.
For as much as the region is different in its transportation needs, it is the same. Employing techniques to foster uniformity, yet individuality, will help maintain the integrity and character of our counties, cities, and towns, while providing connectivity and multi-modal forms of transportation to an ever-evolving region. With individual and overlapping visions, we cease trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Thank you Linda and Bryan for your feedback. Please tell your friends and colleagues to post their ideas as well.
I’m reporting back on whether I found much broken glass on the sidewalks or greenways today. I didn’t and Ben says he’s noticed it’s been cleaned up on his routes as well. My route was Wasena Greenway to South Roanoke/Williamson to Acupuncture Clinic over past Carilion and back around to RiverHouse. It was a pretty smooth trek.
Beautification is still on my mind in terms of more areas that are adopted by groups that will plant flowers and things of that nature and more flower power in Downtown also. 🙂 I suppose that Ride Solutions has some weight in this kind of discussion in terms of timing and how much value and quality of life it adds to walkways, bikeways, trollyways, and autoways – as well as ecosystem support.
I bet there are some artists who’d love to comment on art that can be created here and there along routes as well… yes, I’m very much about the enhancement factors!
I have something to add about charming alcoves but I’m not sure exactly what right now… I’m keenly interested in the inviting, safe, outdoor patio/picnic/alcove concept and there is a good amount of some kinds of that now… I’ll get back to you if something clearly speaks to me.
That’s it for now! The ride was exceptional, friendly, and very lovely with all the dogwoods and other things already out there blooming away! I am looking forward to being able to ride and walk a lot this year! Thanks for all the great work!!!
I’m glad that you enjoyed your time on the greenways. The Roanoke Valley Greenways group has a volunteer corps: http://www.greenways.org/volunteer/default.asp that goes out and helps with trail maintenance and I presume cleanup as well. You and Ben may be interested. On the planning side you can keep up with general Bicycle, Pedestrian and Greenway planning news on this page: https://rvarc.org/transportation/bicycle-pedestrian-greenways/
Goal: Increase safe pedestrian and other multi-modal connectivity along transportation corridors in the Roanoke Valley. NOTE: Our valley is urbanizing and very much needs attention to safe pedestrian and bicycle transportation along major corridors. Greenways are great, but there are other increasing needs for pedestrian travel, not just recreational walking.
Objectives: Assess existing multi-modal connections and access patterns. Determine priority areas for enhanced service. Pursue implementation funding and capital improvements. Educate officials on importance of connectivity and needs. Encourage public outreach and partnerships (business, organizations, public facilities, etc.)
Goal: Enhance and maintain existing sidewalks and transportation corridors. NOTE: There is not enough funding spent on maintenance. Sidewalks need repair – safety and performance are issues. It is not just about “routes to schools, ” more and more people NEED to walk to support services and neighborhood facilities.
Objectives: Assess existing conditions and facilities. Prioritize areas (other than those to schools) and schedule improvements. Allocate long-term funding for maintenance.
Goal: Reduce “heat island” effects along transportation corridors due to pavement. Reduce storm water runoff and non-point source pollution by using appropriate low-impact and green techniques.
Objectives: Plant trees along corridors. Educate and train power company contractors in correct pruning techniques. Identify appropriate tree species and planting specifications for transportation corridors.
Now is the time for Roanoke City to at least define its first light rail route that will connect an area to our pending Amtrak Station downtown. For example, to Raleigh Court, a high density neighborhood with commercial. Define the route now for planners, developers, and landowners. Light rail revolutionizes a neighborhood because apartments and condos spring up along the corridor.