Cities all over the world are transforming their streets to make paths for the growing number of bicyclists and pedestrians. While it does sound ideal to create a more interconnected community, many smaller communities believe they don’t have the necessary funding to create multimodal roads. As a result, these types are a low priority when it comes to improving infrastructure systems.
What most municipalities don’t realize is that possible funding sources are sitting right in front of them in the hands of state departments of transportation. You just have to provide your case to them that your community is ready for changes. That’s where the Transportation Master Plan steps in.
We’ve worked with smaller communities in West Tennessee to develop master plans, which are later included in various grant applications to show the necessary planning process underwent to requesting construction funding. Some grants will even help fund the planning process. So what does the program entail?
To establish specific goals, our planners identify opportunities for land use throughout the city limits. A city-wide inventory provides planners with potential attributes and challenges regarding pedestrian pathways, bicycle lanes, and vehicular connections. Areas are analyzed to determine possible pedestrian linkages, improve cross sections, and create multimodal connections to local parks and other city resources.
Interacting with local residents is the best way to understand what a city’s needs are and how to prioritize those needs. Methods of gathering public input include online surveys, interviews with select key stakeholders provided by the city, and multi-day design charette workshops. Topics of discussion can include safety concerns in various areas of the city or the frequency of family members riding bikes. Understanding the everyday lives of residents and analyzing data from the earlier inventory allow the team to prioritize the order the projects to pursue and develop a conceptual master plan for the city.
As projects are identified and prioritized, applicable funding sources can be determined through a phasing and implementation plan. With the loads of quantitative data gathered, the master plan can be utilized to show grantors how the city can benefit from the proposed projects. In the State of Tennessee, municipalities can apply for a variety of grants, depending on the project’s scope. Grants can be awarded from the Transportation Alternative Program, Surface Transportation Program, Local Parks and Recreation Fund, and more.
Though it may seem like an overwhelming process, master planning can prove beneficial for a city’s future. Providing opportunities for bike and pedestrian accessibility can lead to more foot traffic to downtown businesses, less vehicular congestion, and a stronger sense of community between residents.