The executive board of the MPO met at 11 a.m. in the Cleveland Municipal Building to approve the goals and objectives of the transportation plan and project list. From there, the plan and project list will be submitted to Tennessee Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration for more approval.
Doug Delaney, supervising planner with consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, led a public meeting Tuesday evening in the Museum Center at Five Points with about 25 people in attendance. He said after all the reviews are completed by state and federal agencies, the LRTP will be returned to Cleveland for more public review and comment next spring. It will be available at the Cleveland Community Development Office, Cleveland Bradley County Public Library and probably the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce. That is when the public will see more specific recommendations and actual costs.
“What we are trying to do is focus on some longer-term issues that need to be addressed that can ultimately be put into the shorter-term plan, perhaps for implementation as money becomes available,” Delaney said Tuesday evening during his presentation.
The Long Range Transportation Plan is a multimodal strategy and capital improvement program to guide investment of public funds in transportation roadways and intersections, bicycle lanes and pedestrian paths such as the Greenway system and sidewalks, bus routes, railroads, freight, air, water and connecting facilities.
The goal of the transportation plan is to help manage congestion, increase regional mobility options and conform to national air quality standards. Though the Long Range Transportation Plan looks forward 25 years, it is required to be updated every four years.
The long range plan is updated every four years because of the associated Transportation Improvement Plan that is updated every four years by the Metropolitan Planning Organization. The TIP is a four-year budget containing transportation projects selected from the Long Range Transportation Plan. The TIP must include all projects funded wholly or in part with federal funds.
“Priorities are adjusted,” he said.
The Transportation Improvement Plan is reduced to a one-year plan developed to ensure the planning aspects of SAFETEA-LU are carried out in all actions of the MPO executive board. SAFETEA-LU is an acronym for “Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act: a Legacy for Users.” The legislation is contained in an 836-page document.
The vision of the LRTP is to achieve better integration of transportation and land use to guide and control anticipated residential, commercial and industrial growth. The goal is to preserve the rural areas of Bradley County, while promoting targeted growth within urban areas; to improve and maintain existing transportation choices, and strengthen partnerships to benefit the entire community. In order to implement the plan in a way that meets the vision and goals of the plan, the MPO, county, cities, other organizations and the public will have to make contributions.
The LRTP meshes with the BCC 2035 Joint Strategic Plan that was initiated to look at impacts of growth on the character of the community.
Delaney said there needs to be a connection between how the community wants to develop and transportation.
“There has to be a connection, but it is driven by the community and the local decisions that are made,” he said.
One man in the audience questioned the lack of property rights protection and asked what it meant to develop green space or green corridors.
“When I see ‘green’ I see a transition of more money from the taxpayers’ pocket,” the man said.
Cleveland Community Development Director Greg Thomas said there are literally millions and millions of dollars worth of transportation needs, but the process demands the determination of how and when money is available for projects. Once that is done, individual projects can be considered.
“There are always more good and worthy things to look at than there is a supply of dollars,” Thomas said. “It’s not just a pie-in-the-sky exercise, it does have some fiscal restraints with it.”