Transportation officials seek public input on new proposals

Heather Fors

Metro area residents will soon play a part in future transportation and air quality improvement plans.
Metropolitan Council and Minnesota Department of Transportation officials hope to receive public input on several proposals they will pitch in the annual Transportation Improvement Program report.
Students and others in the metro area can voice their opinions and concerns about metropolitan transportation plans for highways, bicycle and pedestrian paths, mass transit and other projects.
The first meeting, to be held Wednesday, is simply an informational meeting. Public discussion will be sought by the board in three subsequent meetings during the next few months.
“The intent is to notify the public and give them the opportunity to react,” said Emil Brandt, transportation coordinator for the Staff Transportation Advisory Board to Metropolitan Council.
In the past, the University has worked with Metropolitan Council on transferring the reigns of some Route 52 buses to Metro Transit’s control. They have also worked together on the Como Bus Pass and U Pass initiatives.
However, this year’s report will have no plans for new enterprises for the University, said Cari Hatcher, public relations representative for University Parking and Transportation Services.
Because of the recent changes to the University bus system, the organizations won’t devote much time to the school’s transportation, said Bruce Howard, regional transit marketing coordinator with Metropolitan Council.
Metro Transit is expected to take over the rest of the University’s 52 routes, Howard said. But officials aren’t sure when this will happen.
University community members might also have something to say about local bike paths and transportation improvements, Brandt said.
The Transportation Improvement Program is federally required to implement regional transportation plans. All organizations that want federal funding must be part of the program.
While some of the smaller projects may not be included in the plan, the big ones are all there, Brandt said.
Although Metro Transit and the state transportation department have not yet revealed specifics, their projects for the next few years will include changes in mass transit, highways, waterways, and walk and bike paths.
The program also must show it will enhance air quality in the area.
The final report, with hundreds of project proposals, will be available to the public May 27. The program is scheduled to pass the Transportation Advisory Board July 22. The Metropolitan Council will vote on the program Aug. 6.