An Nicely Presented Plan
The MPO and consultants presented four alternative versions for the Vision 2070 Plan. Participants voted with their cell phones on components of the plan.
The plans were well developed with excellent presentations. The plans noted that transportation, land use, and economic development all needed to be coordinated.
The region is growing by 10,000 people each year and that growth is projected to continue. The MPO has about 800,000 people now with 500,000 more people projected by 2070. If that rate continues the metro population will double to 1,600,000 by 2100.
1. Add a north south road. The plan as shown does not add a major north south road during the next 50 years. This means that future growth must be accommodated by the existing Rt 41, Rt 301, and I-75. This would result in very bad congestion.
The plan should include a new major north south road east of I-75. The right of way should be identified and slowly acquired. The road right of way should be very wide - enough to permit a major road with substantial natural landscaped side and center medians. It should have room for possible rail and utilities including power lines, sewer, water, and gas. The road right of way should also be wide enough to provide substanail open space and environmental corridors, connecting to our major natural areas.
This effort should be a Statewide effort, essentially planning for a major corridor paralleling and to the east of I-75. The lowest cost and least politically difficult time to plan for and acquire the right of way when the land is distant from sewer and water and is still valued as farmland. It is much more expensive if we wait until development requires the acquistion and development of the new road and it has to be acquired close to developed areas.
2. Add a road connecting the islands to the mainland. Congestion on the three roads connecting the barrier islands to the mainland is increasing. The MPO should study a potential fourth connection on the University Parkway alignment. This connects the barrier islands to a major road with connections to the Airport and I-75. The road should be a parkway with wetland and park space on both sides of the road connection, providing a beautiful waterfront drive connecting our most important amenity to the rest of the region.
3. Develop a grid road extension plan. The plan does not identify section line roads to be connected, extended and realigned. This is critical. The MPO, the Counties, and the municipalities should work together to create a detailed map showing all proposed new completions of the grid and all realignments.
The connections do not have to be built until they are needed but they should be incorporated into all municipal and county comprehensive plan maps so that they can be created when the area is developed. And of course putting them on transportation and land use maps help ensure that developers understand what is planned and helps local governments to not forget to get the right of way when the area is developed.