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Transportation Planning Driven By Survey Results

Ralph Weisheit

The Long Range Transportation survey conducted by the McLean County Regional Planning Commission (MCRPC)  late last year is providing direction for the organization's Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). The eventual blueprint will help guide transportation planning in the county for the next two decades.

The survey helps Transportation Planner Jennifer Sicks and others at the MCRPC develop an every five-year LRTP that projects 20 years into the future. During Sound Ideas, Sicks said respondents shared their opinion on bikes and bus transportation,  investing in technology, and whether the transportation network should be expanded or the current system maintained better, among other issues. It also asked for an opinion about road conditions, which can be a subjective exercise.

Credit Ralph Weisheit / WGLT
File photo of the frontage road near the intersection of Fairway and Empire in Bloomington.

"Yes, there are some locations were the roads are in fairly lousy shape," said Sicks. "There are potholes. It depends on a lot of factors. The of City Bloomington has documented this very carefully. The real constraint is money.  Jim Karch, the Public Works Director, a couple of years ago did a presentation to the city council about the enormous gap between the projects they would like to do or need to do to get the road system up to the standards the council wants and how much it would cost to do that. It's a big gap."

While people complained about the road network's condition, they were also strongly opinionated about maintaining the current network before expanding it.

"I think some of this flows from the fact that in the Bloomington Comprehensive Plan that we did a couple of years ago, one of the sort of big changes was looking at a much narrower land use area for future development, simply because there's an enormous amount of land available already, without going out all over the place," said Sicks. "And Normal, we think, is is going to head in a similar direction as we finish the Normal (comprehensive) plan later this year."

Of the the 1,008 respondents to the survey more than 85 percent agreed that it is easy to get around the community in a car. Sicks says that number has been pretty steady survey to survey, but says data shows a slight increase in people occasionally shifting to another mode, like biking or using the bus.  At the same time 75 percent agreed that its difficult to navigate to central Illinois without a car. Thirty-eight percent felt walking to destinations is not a safe mode. Sicks interpreted the response about walking as people feeling unsafe walking near fast moving traffic and/or as a personal security issue.

Sicks said the data from the survey will be combined with information gathered from other sources to develop the LRTP. Sources include other transportation and comprehensive plan surveys, conversations with area municipal engineers and public works directors, and partners, such as Connect Transit.


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