Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Transportation task force wants your input

The Ohio 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force wants your input on the state's transportation future, and they've developed a short online survey where you can have your say.

The survey, which is at the top of their website, will help the group develop a statewide transportation plan that:

* Balances the movement of people and freight
* Promotes safety and reduces congestion
* Creates jobs and encourages smart growth
* Builds sustainable communities
* Links all modes of transportation - highways, rail, aviation, water ports, and transit

The 55-member group, which includes industry experts and state leaders, is charged with preparing a report based on the input from surveys and from regional public meetings, and identifying possible methods of funding.

The first of seven regional public meetings was held in front of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission in Dayton on Thursday.

In testimony given at the meeting, task force member Roxanne Qualls, a Cincinnati City Councilmember and chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, emphasized the need for faster, cleaner, and more sustainable modes of transportation.

"We are confronted with new realities that demand new responses," Qualls said. "Global climate change is a reality. Failure to alter all of our accepted approaches to building, transportation, and energy generation to reduce our carbon footprint will push Ohio further and further behind in the global competition for jobs and investment."

Among Qualls' suggestions:

* Invest heavily in freight and passenger rail
* Change transportation design to recognize the value of urban density
* Look for cost savings by changing funding practices

According to Qualls, the state's transportation policy should be all about options, instead of being focused largely on road building.

"Transportation and development policies that have promoted and encouraged sprawl now impose a new 'tax' on those workers and residents who find their paychecks eaten up paying for gas, and have no alternative because of the historic lack of investment in public transportation," she said.

The task force report will be completed this fall.