Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Topics of interest at upcoming MPO meetings

There are several important topics being discussed at various MPO meetings this month. BikeWalkLee will be making comments on the following issues: the Heartland Parkway, transportation concurrency changes, the TIGER III bike/ped grant application, bike/ped/transit projects in FDOT's new 5-year plan, and the Fowler Street one-way project proposed for Fort Myers.
This month, the MPO Board holds two meetings. First, on October 21st there is the semi-annual joint Lee-Collier County MPO Board meeting held at Bonita Springs City Hall (9-11 a.m.). On the agenda are several items of interest. First, there will be a discussion of two major cross-jurisdiction road projects: the Everglades Blvd. Interchange & the Heartland Parkway. The discussion of the I-75/Everglades Blvd. exchange will include a presentation by environmental groups about their concerns with this proposed project.

BikeWalkLee will express its concern about the Heartland Parkway, consistent with our 9/14/11 News-Press commentary about the Governor’s new transportation plan. The Heartland Parkway is inconsistent with the goals and objectives of the Florida 2060 Transportation Plan and the Lee County MPO’s Long Range Transportation Plan. Both plans emphasize the need to balance and integrate transportation modes and investments to promote sustainable economic development, environmental resources, and social equity. Transportation investments need to promote economic development in the existing urban areas, not create new areas. Transportation investments should focus on multi-modal transportation and should maximize the use of existing transportation facilities and explore opportunities for improved connectivity before adding new facilities (MPO policy adopted in Resolution 2010-12).

The joint meeting on 10/21 will also include a discussion on the recent growth management changes and transportation concurrency,as a result of changes in the Florida statute last year. BikeWalkLee will encourage the MPO and local jurisidctions to make major changes to the current transportation concurrency approach, which uses "level of service" and traffic projection methodologies that are biased towards building more roads rather than promoting multi-modal transportation and sustainable communities.

On October 28th, the Lee MPO Board will hold a special meeting in order to act on the new proposed FDOT workplan for 2012-2017, and the amendments to the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). There will be a joint TAC/CAC committee meeting on October 18th to review the plans and make recommendations to the Board.

We are pleased that the draft FDOT workplan includes many new bike/ped and transit projects that have been added since last year’s 5-year plan. We’re still analyzing the information and will share that analysis with you in an upcoming blog post.

With respect to the FDOT-proposed TIP amendments for FY2012 projects, there is one road project that BikeWalkLee has concerns with--the project in Fort Myers that would make Fowler Street one-way between MLK and Kennesaw. The Fort Myers City Council has opposed this proposal in the past, and will vote on this proposal at their Oct. 17th meeting. This approach is not consistent with some of the important elements of complete streets, as recently embraced by the Fort Myers City Council. Its focus on moving cars rapidly through the city is without regard for the surrounding context, in this case a redeveloped downtown. We’ll have more to say about our concerns in an upcoming blog post.

For the background documents for these meetings, visit the MPO website.

On Oct. 25th, the MPO's Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinating Committee (BPCC)holds its regular monthly meeting. The committee’s membership and mandate have been greatly expanded and the agendas are packed. Check the MPO’s website for the agenda & background materials the week before the meeting.

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