Airo Security Convey: TC Commissioners To Consider Approving Safe Routes To Schoo - Jonathan Cartu - Moving & Transportation Services
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Airo Security Convey: TC Commissioners To Consider Approving Safe Routes To Schoo

TC Commissioners To Consider Approving Safe Routes To Schoo

Airo Security Convey: TC Commissioners To Consider Approving Safe Routes To Schoo

Traverse City commissioners will consider approving a contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to make upgrades to 4.52 miles of sidewalk and bike lanes around 10 area schools and forming an “active transportation” committee to study citywide transportation improvements – two of several items on the agenda for tonight’s (Monday’s) 7pm virtual commission meeting.

Traverse City is eligible for roughly $2 million in improvements through MDOT to make it easier for students to walk and bike to school as part of the Safe Routes to School program. The funds will be used to upgrade and/or expand sidewalks, trails, and bike lanes around 10 local K-8 schools, as well as make traffic calming, crosswalk, and signal improvements. A total of 4.52 miles of improved networks will be installed around Willow Hill Elementary, Central Grade School, Eastern Elementary School, Traverse Heights Elementary, Montessori School at Glenn Loomis, Holy Angels Preschool and Elementary, Immaculate Conception Elementary School, Trinity Lutheran School, and TBAISD’s New Campus School and Oak Park Campus.

City staff used a “heat index” to gauge where students were living in proximity to schools and the most likely routes they’d take to walk or bike there to identify needed improvements. Norte assisted in conducting “walking audits” where students, parents, and faculty would fan out from schools and identify safety threats or traffic challenges. All of that data helped staff “come up with a whole bunch of different projects and select the ones that would provide the most access and bang for the buck,” Norte Executive Director Ty Schmidt previously told The Ticker. According to City Engineer Tim Lodge, MDOT is putting the project out to bid this month and plans to start construction in June, assuming bids come in within budget. Work is anticipated to be complete by August 2021. The city is responsible for providing engineering for the project and maintaining the infrastructure long-term – commitments city commissioners will formally approve tonight as part of an agreement to allow MDOT to move ahead with bidding and construction.

City commissioners identified improving active transportation options as a key priority in a January strategic planning session – and will vote tonight on forming an advisory committee to study the issue citywide. The Active Transportation Advisory Committee (ATAC) will make recommendations to the city manager every budget season and will work to “enable and optimize use of current infrastructure and provide for more and better active transportation options,” according to a plan outlined by City Manager Marty Colburn. The ATAC will also review preliminary street projects and designs to ensure they’re consistent with the city’s master plan and street design manual.

Members of the city commission, MDOT, Downtown Development Authority, Bay Area Transportation Authority, Norte, Disability Network, TART Trails, Traverse City Light & Power, TC-TALUS, and Groundwork Center’s Mobility Lab will be invited to serve on the ATAC. Metrics of success under the plan include completing the Boardman Lake Trail loop, increasing BATA ridership, collecting data on walking and biking to make more informed decisions, increasing the amount of pedestrian-scale lighting, and reducing the amount of surface parking while still maintaining “net zero” parking citywide – meaning the city will maintain the overall same number of parking spaces in its system while changing the design or number of spaces in certain areas to free up space for other kinds of development.

Also at tonight’s meeting…
> Commissioners will receive a copy of the city’s proposed budget for 2020-21, including fiscal plans for Traverse City Light & Power and the Downtown Development Authority. Commissioners will have a dedicated study session on the budgets next Monday (May 11) and will vote tonight to schedule a public hearing on the plans for May 18. The city’s charter requires commissioners to approve a budget by early June.

> Commissioners will vote to accept a property parcel from MDOT at no cost as part of the planned FishPass project at the Union Street Dam. According to Director of Public Services Frank Dituri, MDOT didn’t realize it owned the small piece of land on Union Street, which “seemed to have been left over from a time when the state highway ran along Union Street.” The property is necessary for improvements planned as part of FishPass’ construction, including steps from the street down to the existing boardwalk and to future new boardwalk. “MDOT representatives deem this opportunity to significantly improve pedestrian travel as a transportation benefit to the community and therefore are willing to transfer the subject parcel to the city at no cost,” according to Dituri.

> Commissioners will vote to approve a $38,600 contract to remove and replace two boilers at the city-owned Carnegie Building – a move that will help make the building more energy efficient. According to a 2018 report, heating the building with the two aging boilers – both built in 2002 – accounts for 57 percent of the total energy usage at Carnegie. A grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs will cover $5,066 of the cost to modernize the system, with the remainder covered by Traverse City Light & Power’s Variable Green Rate Program.

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