Study to address transportation plan for city


JASPER — City of Jasper officials are looking at how people move about the city and how that movement can be made easier.

“We are looking at the overall way people commute through the community,” said Darla Blazey, the city’s director of community development and planning.

A transportation study is going to be conducted next year. The city is now looking for a consultant that will put the plan together. A request for proposals will be sent out in December, Blazey told the Jasper Board of Public Works and Safety Tuesday morning.

The study will look at the city’s transportation system overall to develop an improvement plan for the future. It will determine the community’s transportation needs and how to address them.

“We identified quite a few needs in the comprehensive plan,” Blazey said. “So now we need to go further into researching those.”

Many aspects of transportation will be examined. Some of those are:

• Determining which major thoroughfares see the most traffic, and if those need to be upgraded.

• How the trail system will connect around the city, and if that still makes sense.

• How the Mid-States Corridor will connect to Jasper if it runs east or west of the city.

• Having a public transportation system for people who do have a car but need a way to get to work, to appointments and to other places in the city.

• The idea of having a trolley or transportation system for visitors needing to get from hotels to other parts of the city.

• Connecting to other communities through a countywide trail system, as well as connecting to Ireland via a bicycle or pedestrian trail.

• Determining if the city should have an ordinance encouraging future streets be developed as “complete streets,” which have different spaces designated for vehicle, bicycle and foot traffic.

• Deciding where more sidewalks can be laid and how current sidewalks can be improved.

“So we’re exploring all kinds of options,” Blazey said.

The city’s comprehensive plan identifies the need to develop a transportation plan. Blazey met with a group earlier this month to start the work. The hope is to select a consultant in February, she said. Money has been designated in the 2020 budget for the plan.

Some public input will be sought.

“We will still have public input on this plan,” Blazey said. “But it won’t be as extensive as it was for the comprehensive plan. We did talk about a lot of these needs as part of the comprehensive plan. A lot of those things came out in the surveys we did with the community and through the focus groups.

“But there will be public input in this plan, to make sure we are addressing everything.”

The board of public works and safety also:

• Heard from Street Commissioner Jeff Theising that the traffic sign reflectivity study was conducted last week by two street department employees. The study found that of the almost 5,000 signs in the city, 72 signs failed the reflectivity test, Theising said; those will be replaced. Of those, 27 were stop signs, four were one-way signs, six were speed limit signs and the rest were other types of signs, he said. Federal law requires that every two years, signs must be tested and assigned a grade for reflexivity: adequate, marginal or fail. The person looking at the signs to make that determination must be age 60 or older. Employee Bryan Jaent rode with Larry Vonderheide as he drove around looking at the signs five nights last week, Theising said.

• Rejected the lone bid for a two-post column lift, which lifts vehicles, because it did not meet bid specifications. The board told Theising to talk to another company about purchasing the lift; the company submitted a bid, but it was after the submission deadline, Theising said.

• Purchased 100 traffic cones from J.A. Larr & Co. of Indianapolis for $1,665.

• Gave the fire department permission to seek proposals from companies that provide self-breathing apparatuses, also known as air packs. So many different companies offer many features, Fire Chief Kenny Hochgesang told the board. He and City Attorney Renee Kabrick agreed that it would be best for each company to submit the features it offers so that they can determine which features are most important for the fire department.

• Opened numerous bids for bulk materials that will be used next year, like rock, concrete and gas. All of the bids were taken under advisement.

• Approved using the Buehler Plaza area and three shelter houses for the annual Sips, Samples and Songs, which is scheduled for Sept. 12, 2020. The fundraiser benefits Anderson Woods. Bridgette Bartley, one of the organizers of the event, said there will likely be food trucks at the event this year, to help the local vendors who donate food, but have a hard time keeping up with the demand of the crowd. Last year, about 1,000 people attended the event, she said. Organizers will be able to start setting up Sept. 11. They hope to be able to do all the setup Saturday morning and not Friday, Bartley explained.

• Approved Cupid Dash organizers’ request to use the Jasper Youth Sports Complex area from 8:30 a.m. to noon Feb. 22 for the annual 5K, which will start at 10 a.m.

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