In the year 2045, what will the roads and highways in Grand Island look like and how will they meet the transportation needs of the public?
That question is difficult to answer, especially as smart roads, electric vehicles and autonomous cars slowly become part of the citys transportation landscape.
On Tuesday, the public had the opportunity to participate in the planning process of visioning Grand Islands future transportation system.
The Public Visioning Workshop for the 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) was conducted at the Grand Island Public Library.
The LRTP defines the vision and goals for Grand Islands transportation future.
According to Andres Gomez, Metropolitan Planning Organization program manager for the city of Grand Islands Department of Public Works, the workshop was an opportunity for the public to give a voice to the process.
He said the plans are mandated by the federal government every five years.
We are trying to get the public involved in developing a vision for the region, Gomez said.
People attending the workshop visited various stations, such as hike and bike trails, road safety and public transportation, where they could talk with various city officials about what they would like to see as part of Grand Islands future transportation infrastructure.
What we have here are maps showing existing conditions of what the city looks like today, Gomez said. To take it a step further, we want to hear from the public about where we want to take the city 25 years from now.
He said the workshop seeks to get a better understanding whats important to the public when it comes to their roads and highways, whether its improving traffic conditions along Highway 281, which will be a main artery for Grand Islands expansion toward Interstate 80, or correction of the confusing Five Points intersection. As Grand Islands population ages, public transportation becomes a key issue for older people. Expansion of hike and bike trails will have multiple positive impacts, such as improving the communitys health and attracting younger people and industries to Grand Island.
Also, improving the citys transportation infrastructure will be important to Grand Islands future economic viability, such as developing business and housing opportunities.
We want to hear from the public what is important to them, Gomez said.
The public also was asked to prioritize what is important to them concerning Grand Islands future transportation needs. Gomez said this not only will help city planners, but also council members in drawing up future budgets and allocating resources to the publics future transportation needs.
He said after the workshop, they will take the public input and work with technical experts, such as the city engineers, and put the pieces together to prioritize future projects.
There will be another public meeting on the LRTP in May.
At that meeting, what we will do is look at projects, Gomez said. Right now we are not looking at projects, but asking the public what projects will be important to them.
In November, Gomez said, they will hold another public hearing where the public will get to see a draft document of the LRTP.
It will be another opportunity to comment, he said.
Then a year from now, in February 2021, the MPO policy board will adopt the final document.
This is a process that happens every five years.
Gomez said that planning process is important as society is on the verge of having more and more autonomous vehicles on the road.
That is a disruptive technology that is happening that we should be considering, he said. We also need to keep planning for more electrical vehicles and the availability of charging stations. Some major cities are also planning for flying vehicles.
Also, Gomez said, once 5G technology becomes more integrated in cities communications systems, that will also be something city planners will have to take into consideration in designing the transportation systems of the future.
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