Even Small Towns Need Transportation Plans

A plan to oversee transportation as population grows from 14,000 residents to an expected 25,000 in the next 10 years has been adopted by Somerton, AZ. We provide a roadmap for readers on considerations, implementation, strategies and evaluation criteria


What Happened?

City officials in Somerton, Arizona, have devised a 20-year transportation plan to better handle increased traffic demands while benefiting community activity. The Arizona Department of Transportation is calling for upgrades to roads and transit resources so motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians can maneuver the city more easily.

So What?

Somerton officials expect the plan to combat anticipated traffic growth from 2013 to 2023, when the city’s population is projected to grow from 14,000 to 25,000 residents. The plan consists of several transportation projects to address current and future needs for long-term sustainability and efficient use of infrastructure.

The 20-year transportation plan aims to update the 2006 Transportation Master Plan and a more recent Pedestrian Master Plan to improve safety and mobility through improvements to roadways, trails, bike paths, pedestrian walkways and transit services.

Necessary Data

The plan calls for a review of strategies by the public and local organizations, followed by an inventory of current and future conditions. Municipality leaders will create maps of Somerton detailing the current condition of transit resources, prioritizing where improvements should start and be carried out over the next 20 years. Leaders should also have access to a summary of all projects and studies completed during the last 10 years that relate to transit performance and improvements.

When developing strategies to deploy a long-term improvement plan, officials should:

  • create databases of existing topographic features
  • reference socioeconomic data for greater insight into up-to-date breakdowns of population makeup and patterns
  • study existing roadway networks, multimodal transportation facilities and traffic counts

Look To The Future

Planning future projects and improvements also requires officials to forecast the conditions and deficiencies the community will face moving forward. To predict future demands, leaders must focus on:

  • future land use patterns
  • future levels of service
  • street standards
  • non-motorized needs
  • transit needs
  • deficiencies

Leaders can then introduce the plan, providing data and support for each project, to the public for comment and coordination. Once other individuals and organizations are on board with the strategy, a series of evaluation criteria can be developed to gauge the effectiveness of the projects over time. Criteria can include:

  • cost
  • level of service/delay
  • multimodal compatibility
  • right of way needs
  • mobility
  • engineering challenges
  • public support
  • network continuity
  • safety

Similar Projects

The Evansville Metropolitan Planning Organization in Indiana recently drafted a new transportation improvement strategy to span from 2013 to 2016 in Vanderburgh, Warrick and Henderson counties. The various projects outlined in the plan are expected to be funded by federal, state and local sources. Several of the projects are short-term plans to improve upon infrastructure and roadways, while others are multipronged deployments spanning several years. The three-year plan is projected to total more than $229 million in improvements across the three counties.

EfficientGov.com has been closely monitoring transit projects across the country that aim to improve safety and mobility while driving economic activity and development.

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