By MARIA SCHAPER
Published in This Week Community News
Transportation infrastructure has long been the measure of progress for civilization.
As populations have grown throughout history, so has the need for societies to move themselves and their goods from one place to another. Transportation infrastructure also can be a driver of inclusive and sustainable development.
You likely have heard that central Ohio is expected to grow to 3 million people over the coming decades. This growth is and will continue to strain our transportation infrastructure.
If you read this column regularly, you know the implications of continuing to grow while failing to change –the safety, health, quality and competitiveness of our region as a place to live, work and play are all at stake. Our challenge, as a region and society, is clear: We must invest in transportation infrastructure that efficiently moves a growing number of people and goods and advances our sustainability goals.
Politics aside, federal economic recovery and transportation infrastructure bills are making a great deal of funding available to central Ohio to tackle this challenge in a potentially transformative way.
Our region is ready to utilize this funding, and we have a plan. The 2050 Metropolitan Transportation Plan identifies nearly $30 billion in strategies and transportation improvement projects to advance central Ohio toward our goals for 2050. The development of this plan is led by MORPC as our region’s metropolitan planning organization, but it is developed in a collaborative partnership among local and regional stakeholders, with local public input.
Most importantly, the Metropolitan Transportation Plan articulates regional goals and strategies and provides the regulatory foundation for regional and local partners to utilize federal transportation dollars to carry out and implement the strategies and projects identified.
The Metropolitan Transportation Plan establishes six regional goals relating to health, safety and welfare of people; economic opportunity; sustainable neighborhoods; energy consumption; natural resources; and regional collaboration.
It also identifies key strategies for managing and developing our regional transportation system in a way that will help achieve those goals, including more than $8 billion in preservation and “smart” management of existing transportation infrastructure, five high-capacity transit projects covering 36 miles, 415 miles of new, standalone bike and/or pedestrian facilities, safety improvements for 149 intersections and 120 corridor miles, and upgrading 25 freeway interchanges.
This plan is the document the U.S. Department of Transportation looks for when awarding funding. It is proof that our region is working together toward goals around economic development, safety and sustainability, and it’s proof that we have strategies in place for advancing those goals through transportation projects and programs. This allows our region to leverage newly available federal transportation dollars and to implement those strategies through collaboration with state, regional and local partners.
To learn more about the regional goals, objectives, strategies and projects included in the 2020-2050 Metropolitan Transportation Plan and how to get involved, go to morpc.org.
Maria Schaper is a transportation planning manager at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.