By Lexi Petrella
Published in This Week Community News
For many in our communities, getting from one place to another is a daily challenge.
To address this issue, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission worked with stakeholders from nine counties in the Human Service Transportation Coordination Region 6, designated by the Ohio Department of Transportation over the past year to develop the Regional Mobility Plan, a MORPC-administered four-year transportation plan focused on supporting the existence and use of mobility options for our community’s most vulnerable populations.
Representatives met for local and regional discussions that guided public-engagement processes and data analysis to highlight the primary barriers that older adults, people with disabilities and people with lower incomes experience in getting to work, medical appointments, grocery stores and other trips to support their quality of life and independence.
This isn’t the first time this work has been completed, but this is the first time MORPC led a human-service-transportation coordinated plan for such a large geography. Although MORPC had the opportunity to review regional coordinated plans already piloted by two fellow Ohio planning organizations, the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association and the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, MORPC’s plan is tailored to central Ohio’s transportation needs.
The region’s transportation is diverse, with varying transit service areas. Inconsistencies in private transportation provider availability, lack of consistent mobility-management resources and mix of urban, small urban, suburban and rural communities can make transportation planning a challenge.
The COVID-19 pandemic also presented difficulties in engagement and the approval process. Connecting with individuals in disadvantaged communities was challenging due to limited internet access or capabilities.
Also, approval was required by a number of committees, working groups, MORPC representing Delaware and Franklin counties, LCATS representing Licking County and boards of county commissioners representing Fairfield, Fayette, Logan, Madison, Pickaway and Union counties before submission to ODOT, with the goal of obtaining specialized transportation funding for all nine counties.
Despite these obstacles, MORPC’s regional stakeholders came together with unique engagement strategies and thoughtful discussions, and they delivered a plan with goals at the local and regional levels that was adopted by all necessary groups and approved by the ODOT Office of Transit in February.
Although this phase of the plan has been completed, the work must continue.
The Regional Mobility Plan is not a document simply developed for funding requirements; it is a guide for how the region will move forward to make our mobility ecosystem more convenient, safe, accessible and affordable to meet everyone’s needs.
Transportation awareness, connectivity and accessibility improvements utilized by our community members and partners will be the real success stories.
The Regional Mobility Planwill be updated with the inclusion of an action-step benchmark to review on an annual basis. A full update to the document will be completed again in four years.
To learn more about the Regional Mobility Plan, go to morpc.org/mobilityplan.
Lexi Petrella is a senior planner at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. MORPC’s purpose is to bring communities of all sizes and interests together to collaborate on best practices and plan for the future of the region.