Last Call for Comments on 2019 Transportation Projects

Almost $10 million of federal funding is being programmed for Duluth area transportation projects in 2019, and you have the opportunity to review and comment.

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The programmed projects include:

  • Bridge preservation on the Blatnik bridge and the Mesaba Avenue bridge over Superior Street in downtown Duluth;
  • Mill and overlay of Highway 39 in Gary/New Duluth;
  • Resurfacing of Maple Grove Road (from Midway Road to Westberg Road) in Hermantown;
  • Pavement reclamation and storm sewer repairs on E 8th St/E 9th St in Duluth’s East hillside; and
  • Duluth Transit Authority operations (approx. $2 million in FTA funding programmed for continued public transit operations.

Additional project details are described in a post from March 5th, when they were first proposed.  As noted in that post, because federal funding is public money, the public has the right for their comments to be recorded and reported on these projects. 

The MIC will be taking official public comment on all projects included in the 2016-2019 Duluth Area TIP – from July 12 to August 13th

You may leave your comments in the section at the end of this blog post, and you are welcome to stop by the ARDC offices and speak with MIC staff directly during a couple of “Open House” days from 9am to 5pm on Thursday, August 12th and Friday, August 13th.

Look the projects over – do you have anything to say about them?<br></br>

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.

 

New Federally Funded Projects for 2018

An average of $86 million in federal transportation dollars is spent on transportation projects throughout the northeast region of Minnesota. RoadConstruction

How that money is allocated

These funds are allocated according to a federal formula and managed by the state.  Most of this money (about $78 million) goes to MnDOT and is used to maintain the freeways, state highways and bridges in the region.  Approximately $5 million goes towards county highways, local streets, and transit in the,the MIC area.  A small allocation is also made for non-roadway projects, such as paved trails, through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).

Separate processes are conducted for the Duluth metro and the rest of the Arrowhead region.  The MIC administers the urban-area share of the funds and the Northeast Minnesota Area Transportation Partnership (NE MN ATP) is responsible for administering the rest.

Both the MIC and the NE MN ATP solicit, evaluate and select the specific roadway, transit and trail projects that will utilize the funds in those areas.  These processes have been underway since the start of the year.

Programming those funds in the TIP

As the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for this area, we are now finalizing the roster of all transportation projects slated to receive federal funding in the MIC area for the next four years.

This list is called the “TIP” (Transportation Improvement Program) and it must include all federally-funded transportation projects in the Duluth metro for the coming four years.  As projects in the current year get built, we add new ones to the outer year.  This time around, the outer year is 2018.

MIC Projects

It is our job to work with local communities to determine how our (increasingly scarce share of) federal transportation dollars are spent.

In a selection process that began in January, we solicited applications from local jurisdictions.  These potential projects were then published for public comment, evaluated and prioritized by the MIC’s Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) and recommended by the MIC Policy Board, submitted for consideration to the NE MN ATP, and, in June, approved for inclusion in the draft version of the Duluth Area TIP 2015-2018.

The following Duluth-area projects are being proposed for 2018 funding by the MIC:

 Decker Road Preservation

Resurfacing of Decker Road from Piedmont Avenue to Mall Drive.  Repairs to storm water, curb and gutter and sidewalk systems. ADA improvements and bike lanes/shoulders.

Jurisdiction: City of Duluth

Project Cost:             $1,412,500

Federal funds:          $   900,000

Local funds:              $   512,500

Highway Ramp Reconstruction

Reconstruct US Hwy 2 / I-35 southbound freeway ramps

Jurisdiction: MnDOT

Project Cost:             $495,670

Federal funds:          $383,720

State funds:              $ 95,930

Regular Route Bus Purchase

Purchase of three regular route vehicles to maintain existing fleet to safety, comfort, and efficiency standards.

Jurisdiction: Duluth Transit Authority

Bus Purchase Cost: $ 435,000

Federal funds:          $ 250,000

Local funds               $ 185,000

TAP Projects

In addition, the following Transportation Alternatives Program projects within the MIC have been forwarded for inclusion in the 2017 TIP projects list by the NE MN ATP:

 Construct 2 miles of sidewalk along Rice Lake Road

From Central Entrance to Arrowhead Road

Jurisdiction: St. Louis County

Project Cost:             $400,000

Federal funds:          $320,000

Local funds:              $ 80,000

Construct paved Lakewalk connection

Construct shared use path (Lakewalk) along Water St between 20th Ave East and 23rd Ave East

Jurisdiction: City of Duluth

Project Cost:             $231,809

Federal funds:          $185,447

Local funds:              $ 46,362

 

We want to know what you think!

Transportation projects are public facilities and services funded with taxpayer dollars.  Do you have any opinions about the importance of these proposed projects to our area?

Since they have been chosen for funding in 2018, is there anything you have to say about these specific projects?

 

Read the draft document

You can learn more details about these projects, as well as those lined up for years 2015, 2016 and 2017 from the draft TIP document, which is open for public comment from now until July 31.

 

Talk to us in person

Contact Senior Planner Robert Herling by phone at (218) 529-7573 or by email (INSERT EMAIL LINK), or…

 

Attend an Open House

You are invited to stop by in person to talk with us:

Wed, July 2, 7:00am – 1:00pm

Holiday Center (2nd floor skywalk level), 207 West Superior Street in downtown Duluth

Thurs, July 10, 8:00am – 5:00pm

MIC Office, 2nd floor skywalk level of the ARDC building, 221 W. First Street, Duluth.

 

Leave a comment at the end of this post

As we let you know on OpenMIC every year…there are three ways to have your say.

Public comments are being taken through Thursday, July 31, 2014.

 

The New Normal?

As the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for this area, it’s our job to work with local jurisdictions to identify, plan for and program how federal transportation funds get used in the region.  We’re already working to line up funding for construction projects that won’t begin until 2017.

Those funds, not surprisingly, have become a lot more scarce.

Last year, as part of developing the TIP, (Transportation Improvement Program), a document that allows Duluth Area communities to use federal transportation dollars, we were talking about divvying up about $7.5 million in federal highway transportation funds for local roadway projects throughout Northeast Minnesota.

This year, the funding allocation for the same area is about $5 million.  Of that amount, $2.1 will go for projects to improve roads and transit services throughout Duluth, Hermantown and Proctor.

Spending to Meet Performance Goals

So, working within the “new normal” of funding restraints, it’s more important than ever to decide on projects that will fix critical maintenance needs.  (Not to mention, new construction is pretty much off the table). These federal dollars do have strings attached: they need to be spent on projects that will meet performance goals, i.e., to improve safety and traffic flow, in measurable ways.

Every year, jurisdictions in the Duluth metro (the Cities of Duluth and Hermantown as well as St. Louis County) tell us which projects they’d like to use federal funds for and we work with our Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and Policy Board to decide which ones are the most important.

We Want to Hear from You

Transportation projects are public facilities and services funded with taxpayer dollars, and therefore local citizens have a right to weigh in on such decisions, along with the planners, engineers and elected officials.

This year, the following transportation projects are being proposed by the City of Duluth, St. Louis County and the Duluth Transit Authority for our area:

  • Mesaba Ave Repairs – Concrete and joint repairs from Central Entrance to I-35 and repairs to bridges over Superior Street and 2nd Ave West
  • East 4th Street Repairs – Mill & overlay, safety improvements and ADA improvements (pedestrian ramps) from 6th Avenue East to Wallace Avenue
  • DTA STRIDE Buses – Purchase of three STRIDE replacement buses to maintain existing fleet to safety, comfort, and efficiency standards

Do you have any opinions

…about the importance of these proposed projects to our area?

Talk to Us – Online, In Person or by Phone:

  1. Make a comment, below,  or
  2. Stop by our office at 221 West First Street, ARDC entrance on the Skywalk level, or
  3. Call me with questions or comments–Robert Herling at (218) 529-7573.

Although it’s only March 2013, NOW is the time to give us your input on these proposed projects before funding decisions are made for 2017.

You have three ways to let us know.

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.