City’s transportation plan in early phases

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — It might be called a transportation plan, but the scope of the city’s newest planning endeavor covers much more than just vehicular travel.

An extension of the Impact Jasper Comprehensive Plan, the city’s new transportation plan will address one of the main goals set forth in its parent document: detailing and establishing a guide for the future of all transportation-related matters in the city.

Late last month, the Jasper Board of Public Works and Safety approved a professional services agreement that will lead to the creation of a transportation plan in collaboration with Lochmueller Group of Evansville. The contract cost was $87,922, and additional expenses will not exceed 5% of that number.

In addition to engine-driven modes of transportation, pedestrian and bicycling analysis will be part of the plan, and existing connectivity networks for those means of travel will be assessed and improvements will be recommended.

“Whether that’s through sidewalks or trails, or other things we might need,” explained Darla Blazey, the city’s director of community development and planning. “We talk about, in the comprehensive plan, becoming a bicycle-friendly community. And so, we have the network, but just having the network doesn’t mean we’re bicycle-friendly. So, they’ll make some recommendations on programming that might include bike lanes on existing roads — not just trails and sidewalks.”

Through the plan, the city is also looking into implementing a Complete Streets policy ordinance. Complete Streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities.

Still, roads and cars will also be covered in the plan’s findings and recommendations. Blazey explained that the final version of the transportation plan will examine the city’s current road network and assess the most highly-traveled and trafficked areas, as well as potential new connections that could be made in the community.

It will, from a safety standpoint, look at areas that play host to a high number of traffic accidents, and it will determine what could be done to help mitigate those issues. Connectivity to the potential Mid-States Corridor will also be factored into the plan.

“I think it’s important that we look to the Mid-States Corridor,” public works board member Nancy Eckerle said in March. She said finding that connection is something many communities don’t do until after the fact, and “then you’re kind of stuck.”

To fund all the potential projects that could come from the plan, Lochmueller Group will identify funding sources on local, state and federal levels to pay for projects in the plan. When it’s all said and done, the plan will also contain a checklist of sorts for the next decade.

“We’re going to have a prioritization list, too,” Blazey said. “So, it’ll help the street department. It’ll help — depending on who is in charge of the trails, any of those connections that we do — look at funding sources. And then look at what projects do we tackle first?”

Early phases for the transportation plan include sharing existing information with Lochmueller, as well as reviewing public input gathered throughout the comprehensive planning process, which took place in 2019. Those who would like to voice their opinions can send Blazey an email at dblazey@jasperindiana.gov or call city hall at 482-4255.

Blazey said it’s anticipated that the plan will be finalized and presented for approval by the end of the year.




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