By Lonnie Huhman, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Washtenaw Area Transportation Study held a series of public input sessions late last month to help in its long-range planning.
Meetings were held in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Chelsea and Whitmore Lake. WATS representatives on hand talked about and took feedback about goals, emphasis areas and locations.
WATS transportation planners Suzann Flowers and Nick Sapkiewicz said the meetings were a chance to hear from the public about what’s working, what’s not working, talk about what’s been done and then take that feedback to those who organize local and regional transportation and road projects, such as cities like Dexter and Chelsea and the county road commission.
Sapkiewicz said they heard from many that pavement condition was of high importance. Flowers said they heard from some, especially at the Chelsea meeting, about improving, expanding and extending the routes for the public bus system. In Ypsilanti, they said they heard community members want to see more investment in projects.
They said safety, bridges, congestion are also areas needing to be addressed in future planning.
WATS is a multi-jurisdictional agency responsible for transportation planning in Washtenaw County and is mandated by federal law to provide a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive transportation planning process, which guides the expenditure of state and federal transportation funds in Washtenaw County.
It annually establishes project priorities for consideration by the Michigan Department of Transportation when programming transportation funds, and continually monitors the current condition of the county’s transportation system, including roads, bicycle and pedestrian paths, bridges, and public transit.
Flowers said they also heard from some for the need for more bike trails and non-motorized options, from safety measures to connectivity. She said there was also talk to have the rail service, possibly Jackson to Ann Arbor to Detroit, into a daily commuter option with stops in places like Dexter and Chelsea.
She said many of the projects community members will see around the county are federally funded, in part, so the public should know their input is wanted. She said getting a county-wide input is important so they understand the needs of all.
“Implementing an effective and equitable vision for Washtenaw County’s transportation system depends on a well-informed, ongoing discussion with the public,” WATS said in one of handouts at the public meetings. “WATS facilitates this continuous dialogue to inform decision-makers on country transportation on issues.”
To learn more about WATS or to contact them with feedback, go to www.miwats.org or call 734-994-3127.