Editorial: Weigh in on transportation

Residents would be wise to familiarize themselves with major projects under consideration.

Residents should take advantage of the opportunity to provide input on area streets and roads as the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Organization updates its long-range transportation plan.

Douglas County MPO will hold five public meetings from Nov. 13 through Nov. 21 to take input on the plan, known as Transportation 2040. The meetings times and dates are

• 4:30-6:30 p.m. Nov. 13, Baldwin City Public Library, 800 Seventh St., Baldwin City.

• 4:30-6:30 p.m. Nov. 14, Eudora Community Center, 1630 Elm St., Eudora.

• 3-5 p.m. Nov. 16, Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St., Lawrence.

• 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 17, Aunt Netters Café, 336 Elmore St., Lecompton.

• 5-7 p.m. Nov. 21, Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St., Lawrence.

Transportation 2040 will lay out the major transportation projects for the area for the next 20 years. The plan is updated every five years and includes a list of projects, their costs, funding sources and time frames for their completion. The update to the plan must be finished by March 2018.

Among the projects being considered for the update:

•Widening the 8.5-mile west leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway from two to four lanes from the I-70 junction to Iowa Street junction.

•Extending Wakarusa Drive from its interchange with Kansas Highway 10 to Route 458, including a new bridge over the Wakarusa River.

•Extending 31st Street for 1.5 miles from O’Connell Road to Noria Road, also known as East 1750 Road.

Senior Transportation Planner Jessica Mortinger said the plan pulls together transportation plans from the state, county and city into a cohesive document. In addition to cars and roadways, the plan also will make recommendations for other types of transportation, including public transit, bicycle and pedestrian.

“In the public engagement that we’ve heard, we’re hearing increased desire for improved multi-modal transportation options,” Mortinger said. “For example, people want increased bicycle and pedestrian amenities.”

In addition to the open houses later this month, the public also will have the opportunity to provide input on the MPO through an online survey that will launch on Nov. 13.

Transportation 2040 is a critical document that will guide the area’s transportation philosophy for many years to come. Hopefully, residents will get engaged in the process of building the transportation plan by participating in the online survey and/or one of the upcoming open houses.