In Europe and China, Russia and Polynesia, Susan Adams observed firsthand how ancient societies managed to convert their centuries-old transportation systems into modern-day movement mechanisms.
She figures five counties in northeast Kansas can figure out how to shift out of the been-there, done-that.
“If you get some good minds working together, we might be able to do this,” said Adams, who returned to Lawrence a few months ago after years living and traveling elsewhere.
Adams took the opportunity Thursday night to meet with some of the minds that will be helping shape the area’s transportation future, during a public dialogue session at the Union Pacific Depot in North Lawrence.
The meeting is part of the information-gathering process for the 5-County Regional Transportation Study, a $1 million effort by the Kansas Department of Transportation to assess the multimodal needs for the next 20 years or more in Douglas, Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami and Wyandotte counties.
About two dozen people attended, moving throughout the Lawrence Visitor Center to learn about existing and projected traffic, environmental and development conditions. They heard from department planners and their hired consultants, the people scheduled to complete the first phase of the study by the end of the year.
The second phase of the study, not yet financed, would be expected to set priorities for projects and systems identified during the first phase.
But don’t expect the first phase to identify specific roads, detailed movement plans or anything else that could be taken out for a bid.
“This is a 30,000-foot view of what needs to happen with transportation,” said Thomas Dow, the state’s transportation planner, as participants huddled with planners around maps behind him.
The study is intended to explore a variety of passenger and freight transportation options, including those involving cars, trucks, transit and trains.
Adams said she’d be interested in seeing more opportunities for travel by bike. She also would like to see affordable shopping options brought closer to people, whether that’s through new development rules or implementation of efficient and convenient transportation offerings.
“That is something that would work everywhere,” she said.