SDDOT, city seek input on transporation master plan

Information on transportation needs and issues is being solicited from area residents as part of the Vermillion Area Master Transportation Plan study.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation, in collaboration with the city of Vermillion, gave locals a chance to give their input at a meeting Thursday, Oct. 27, in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

"(The plan) is essentially a fairly high-level blueprint for what we want for transportation improvements within the region," explained, Bill Troe, transportation planner with the URS Corporation, which is working on the project on a consultant basis.

The first step in the process is to look at issues within the city limits of Vermillion, plus the surrounding three-mile area.

"What are those things that we see on a daily basis that we want to be addressed?" Troe asked. "Do we have congestion in certain places? Do we have some safety problems in areas where you just don't feel comfortable driving or making a turn, because you can't get a really good sight distance or something like that.

"We want to get a good handle on what those current transportation issues are," he said.

Troe said information regarding those issues is being gathered from "a cross-section of the community" including city council members, officials from the University of South Dakota and average citizens.

Another area of study is where growth is projected to occur over the next 20 years.

"We want to put together a plan that has a balanced budget with what we anticipate for the transportation needs in the region," Troe said. "The bottom line is … we're going to have to be making choices, establishing priorities. We're not going to be able to afford to everything that we want to, or that we even need to.

"So we're going to have to be, in this process, going through and prioritizing those improvements that we want to make," he said.

Troe said there currently are five main goals to the transportation plan:

  •  Provide an efficient multi-model transportation system that effectively moves people and goods.
  • Provide a safe and secure transportation system.
  • Maintain the existing transportation system.
  • Manage the transportation system's impact on the social and natural environment.
  • Provide a transportation system that supports and enhances the area's economy.

"A lot of times when people are working through a plan like this, all we focus on is, 'What else do we need? What else do we need?'" he said. "And we kind of lose sight of the infrastructure that we've already put on the street or the environment, and that has to be maintained."

Information has been gathered since the summer, with completion of the plan projected for next summer, Troe said.

He added that people need to remember that the plan is long-range.

"A lot of the improvements that we may be looking at aren't something that we're going to be able to do over the next five, or even 10 years," Troe said. "But development in the region is going to continue, and we want to make sure that something we anticipate wanting 20 years from now … that development doesn't encroach into it, and we have issues associated with conflict between roadway improvement and the existing development at that time."

As part of the study, an Internet survey of transportation needs and travel patterns within the city limits also is being conducted.

To participate in the survey, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/vermillion_transportation_survey.

For more information on the project, visit http://vermilliontransportation.blogspot.com.

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