Proposed Revisions to the MIC’s Public Involvement Plan

We are interested to know your thoughts about the changes we are proposing to our Public Involvement Plan.

The MIC’s Public Involvement Plan (PIP) spells out our process for obtaining public input as an integral part of the transportation planning process.  Public Mtg participants

Recently we put these procedures to the test, during the development of our Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP).  We noted several edits, deletions and additions to be incorporated into the 2013 PIP document as approved revisions.

The proposed revisions are:

 

 1. Delete all references to air quality consultations

 

Why is this being proposed?

As of late 2014, Duluth has received an ‘Attainment’ area for air quality; therefore federal ‘conformity consultation’ requirements no longer apply.  (pages 7, 29, 33, 50)

2. Discontinue the step of placing hard copies of the Draft and Final TIPs and LRTPs at area libraries for review.

 

Why is this being proposed?

Placing hard copies at the libraries was a method of distribution that predated the 2005 SAFETEA-LU mandate to utilize electronic and online channels (e.g., CDs, websites and email) to deliver plans and planning process information.  At that time the MIC switched from producing printed versions to formatting our plans as PDFs designed to be viewed online, as well as developing online-only visualization features such as interactive mapping.  (pages 29, 30, 33, 40, 41)

 3. Add the following language for members of the public who wish to give comments at regularly scheduled meetings of the Policy Board, TAC, HTAC and BPAC:

 

Speaker Rules – for Commenting at MIC Policy Board, TAC, HTAC and BPAC meetings (page 11)

  • Give your name and affiliation (if any)
  • Comment Time Limit: 3 minutes*
  • Limit your remarks to the specific plan, study or document under consideration by the Board
  • Be respectful in dialogue

* The Chair, with committee approval, has the option of extending or closing the public comment period, depending on the number of people who wish to speak and the length of the meeting agenda

 

Why is this being proposed?

The point of the speaker rules is to ensure that all people who show have the opportunity to have their say.  The 3-minute time limit is consistent with Duluth City Council and St. Louis County Commission rules.  Some flexibility in the amount of time for each speaker is allowed.

Let us know what you think

Public comments about the proposed changes may be made from December 14, 2014 through January 30, 2015, by commenting below, or contact Rondi Watson at (218) 529-7511 or by email .

Comments are also welcomed in person at the MIC Policy Board meeting on Wed, February 18, 2015, at 7pm at the Hermantown Dept. of Public Safety Training Center, 5111 Maple Grove Road, Hermantown, MN.  The proposed revisions will be presented for a vote at this time, along with a summary of all comments received during the public comment period.

To view a copy of the 2013 Plan and the proposed changes, please visit www.dsmic.org/pip.

 

What will our Transportation System Look Like in 2040?

Updating the 25-year Vision for Transportation in the Twin Ports

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You are invited to attend one of the four public meetings on Connections 2040 – the Twin Ports Long Range Transportation Plan.

 

The Duluth-Superior Metropolitan Interstate Council (MIC) is updating its Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) to provide policy guidance, goals and strategies for jurisdictions within the greater metropolitan area of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin.  It covers a twenty-five year planning horizon and is updated every four years.Connections2040-logo-320px

The over-arching purpose of the LRTP is to provide a planning foundation for jurisdictions to work cooperatively to provide a well-maintained, integrated, accessible and multi-modal transportation system to safely and efficiently move people and freight for the next 25 years, within the constraints of funding the region can reasonably expect to receive.

The heart of the Plan is a listing of proposed federally-funded transportation projects, as well as transportation initiatives underway within the region, to be implemented from 2015-2040. You can view an interactive map of the projects here.

To learn more about demographic trends for this area, projections, transportation priorities and planned projects, you have three opportunities for input:

1. Attend a Public Meeting

Thurs. Sept 11, 2014
5:00-7:00pm
Community Action Duluth, 2424 W 5th Street, Duluth, MN 55806

Thurs. Sept 18, 2014
4:00-6:00pm
Superior Public Library, 1530 Tower Avenue, Superior, WI 54880

Thurs. Sept 25, 2014
4:00-6:00pm
Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC)
221 W First Street, Duluth, MN 55802

Mon. Sept 29, 2014
4:00-7:00pm (drop-in)
214 West Superior Street
221 W First Street, Duluth, MN 55802

2.  Visit our Connections 2040 web page at www.dsmic.org/lrtp for more information about the plan and to view the interactive map of proposed projects.  You can use the “layers” tab in the upper right corner to toggle on and off views of information about environmentally sensitive areas, low-income and minority populations, etc.

3.  Contact MIC Senior Planner James Gittemeier by phone at (218) 529-7556 or by email at jgittemeier@ardc.org.

 

Public Involvement in Transportation Planning

For many of us, transportation projects seem to come from nowhere.  Others may vaguely remember a project “promised” years ago.  Too often, people OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdevelop negative impressions of the process by which transportation projects come into being because of the lack of information about how these decisions are made.

That’s where public involvement comes in.

Right now we are updating our Public Involvement Plan – the steps we take and the tools we use to facilitate two-way communication while our plans and studies are underway.  Public involvement gives community members an opportunity to provide input and lets our planning staff provide information, answer questions and understand their perspective.

Our work at the MIC is to study, analyze and make recommendations to make it easier for people and businesses to get where they need to go—whether by car, bike, bus, on foot, by air or on water.  We think about how well these transportation systems will function, and how they can be paid for, not just today but for the next 5, 10, even 25 years.

Public involvement ensures that these decisions are made with input from the people who know this area first-hand.

With this in mind, take a look at the draft of the MIC’s updated Public Involvement Plan.  We understand that there’s more to public participation than holding meetings.  We need to become more visible and find multiple ways to get people and organizations involved.

So let us know: will these steps help to encourage participation in the MIC’s planning activities, as well as to broaden the range of voices and views expressed?

 

Transportation Breakdown

Normally, every five or six years our elected representatives in D.C. put aside their political differences to reauthorize the nation’s transportation program — including the fuel tax, for construction of roads, bridges, transit and bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and safety programs.

This is because our economy relies on transportation, and bridges and highways are not Republican or Democrat.  Everybody needs them.

The process has broken down

On March 30, Congress managed to avoid a shutdown of the nation’s transportation system by passing an eleventh hour extension of the current SAFETEA-LU legislation. This means  that thousands of highway and infrastructure projects, here and across the nation, won’t stall out this construction season.  Until June 30th, anyway.

Funding our transportation infrastructure via nine “temporary” extensions – one stopgap measure after another, since the original SAFETEA-LU expired in September 2009- is not the way to move forward.  The process has broken down.

The reason is simple: money

The major problem is the growing inadequacy of the federal gas tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1993.  Not only are we attempting to build 21st-century infrastructure with 20th-century dollars, but also, as cars become more efficient, people need less fuel and pay less into the Highway Trust Fund.

With Congress bitterly divided, lawmakers can’t agree on where the additional funding should come from, although a number of ideas are being floated.

Legislative stalemate

For the past several months, the House attempted to gain enough support to pass a 5-year, $260 billion bill (the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act) that has new revenue incorporated into it via leasing and production fees from new oil-drilling rights on federal lands and coastal waters.  This funding mechanism, although favored by nearly two-thirds of Americans (according to a poll by the United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection), failed to gain bipartisan support.

Another provision of the bill, which would have terminated guaranteed funding for public transit, failed to gain even Republican support in the House and as a result, the bill was doomed from the start.

The Senate alternative (MAP-21), a two-year program with a price tag of $109 billion — had bipartisan support but was not taken up by the House and is unlikely to move forward even though the clock is again ticking.

Reforms to control spending

And before asking taxpayers to pay more for roads, rail, bridges, and infrastructure, we must ensure existing funds are not wasted. Both bills include significant reforms to control federal highway spending.

Both of the Senate and House bills include provisions to make the project delivery process more efficient and both consolidate existing transportation programs by nearly two-thirds.

And many lawmakers rightly argue that states should be given more flexibility in how they can find creative ways to use federal dollars. Congress should give more encouragement to innovative approaches, including public-private partnerships that leverage private investment with public dollars.

Gas taxes or user fees are not on the table – but need to be

In the current political climate, no one in Washington is going to suggest an increase in the gas tax. Yet more revenue from that source – or from a mileage-based user fee – is an essential part of a solution.

Every transportation policymaker understands the potential long-term solutions to these near-term problems, but few are willing to push them forward because they involve difficult choices about how to raise more money for federal transportation programs.

Election-year politics

“We’ve just been caught up partially in election-year politics and partially in this whole battle that seems to trump and override our issue, which is the budget battle,” said Pete Ruane, president and CEO of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association. “That’s going to be part of this debate every single time until they finally make some tough decisions about how to fund these programs.”

Congress has now bought itself until just before the July 4 recess to come up with a final agreement on a transportation bill — or enact another extension.

Hopefully, over the next 90 days Congress will work something out and maybe by the end of the year we’ll have a long-term bill.  But it’s also likely the issue won’t be settled until after the general election in November.

Everyone agrees on the broader goals of transportation policy and spending, which are economic growth and personal mobility. A long-term solution needs to be developed in a bipartisan fashion — and spearheaded by the administration — regardless of who is in power.

Co-writing credit: Rondi Watson


Carless in Duluth

It’s no secret that we Americans are in love with our cars.

They demonstrate our status and standing in society.

The way we’ve invested in roads and highways and the way we’ve developed our cities pretty much mandates that you need to own a car to be able to access jobs, food, education and recreation.

Driving a car has become the default mode of travel for almost all people for every trip of any distance.

And here in Duluth, perched on a steep hill with prominent winters, it makes sense that people want to drive.

So why would a person choose not to?

Video documentary and panel discussion

Carless in Duluth, a video documentary about people who walk, bike, or take the bus instead of driving, will premiere on:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
6:00 pm
Teatro Zuccone
222 East Superior Street, downtown Duluth

Following the video, there will be a panel discussion with engineers, planners, and other experts in the area.  Afterward, an informational tabling session will be held in the atrium where food and drinks will also be available.

Area bike and ped projects, and lots of them

The event, hosted by the Healthy Duluth Area Coalition, follows a series of public meetings that were hosted throughout Duluth about one month ago.  At each meeting, residents were given the opportunity to learn about ongoing and upcoming bicycle and pedestrian projects happening all over the city, including the Cross-City Trail, the Duluth Citywide Sidewalk Study, and the Duluth Traverse Mountain Bike Trail, and gave their feedback about their interest in these projects as well as other potential ideas. Over 50 residents participated in these meetings.

The Carless in Duluth premiere and transportation forum on March 20th will conclude this series of public outreach events. Organizations including the Duluth Transit Authority, the Metropolitan Interstate Council, City of Duluth Engineering, and the Bike Cave Collective have already confirmed their participation in this event, with pending confirmation from the Northern Lights Express, COGGS, and the UMD Cycling Club.

Check it out – it’s free and open to the public.