Going Where The People Are For Comments On Long-Range Plan

Construction work on Green Street in Champaign in 2017

Construction work on Green Street in Champaign in 2017, for the ongoing MCORE Project.

Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

It’s time to update Champaign-Urbana  long-range transportation plan. And the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission is sending its planners out to local festivals and concerts to gather input.

Planners with the Regional Planning Commission’s CUUATS unit (Champaign-Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study) made last week’s Neighborhood Block Party at Champaign’s Human Kinetics Park their first stopping place. And CUUATS planner Ashlee McLaughlin says people there had plenty say about what they liked and didn’t like about the local transportation network.

“It usually takes people a second to really think about their daily commute,” said McLaughlin. “It’s often something we take for granted. But once people start thinking about it, they can pretty easily pinpoint things that they like about their walk to school, or whatever it is, or things that they would like to see changed.”

The CUUATS unit is responsible for updating the transportation plan for Champaign-Urbana, Savoy, Tolono and Bondville every five years, as required by federal law. The plan tries to forecast the area's transportation needs over the next 25 years. McLaughlin says an up-to-date plan is vital for the area, because it affects which local transportation projects will be eligible for federal funding.

“Any infrastructure improvements that we want to get money for in the next five years needs to be reflected in this plan,” said McLaughlin, “so that the federal government can see that this is an identified priority, not only by the agencies, but also by the public at large.”

CUUATS personnel will be taking public input on the long-range transportation plan at a total of ten events this summer, in Champaign-Urbana, Tolono and Savoy. Staff members visited Tolono Fun Days this past weekend, and are scheduled to be at the Outdoor Concert at Hessel Park in Champaign on Saturday, July 7, from 2 to 6 p.m. Outreach will continue through the summer, with the final event being C-U Days at Douglass Park, Champaign on Saturday, August 11.

In addition to visiting local concerts and festivals, the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission is taking public comment online through their website. At ccrpc.org/voices and in Spanish at ccrpc.org/voces , you can fill out a survey, and leave specific comments about transportation — both complaints and compliments — on an interactive map of the area.

McLaughlin says past comments have ranged from complaints about a missing sidewalk to requests to establish high-speed rail service to Chicago and transit service to Willard Airport. She hopes this round of public comment-gathering will surpass the more than 2,000 different comments that were fielded for the last update of the long-range transportation plan in 2014.

Public comment is just one stream of data that goes into revising Champaign-Urbana’s long-range transportation plan. McLaughlin says other data comes from the state Department of Transportation, Amtrak, the U.S. Census Bureau, and local governments and agencies with jurisdiction over roads and highways.

Story source: WILL