Is the region’s transportation system helping to create the walkable, vibrant, energy-conserving, affordable communities we will need to be sustainable in the future? Or is it producing more sprawl and dependence on the automobile?
Citizens have an important opportunity to address such questions during the federal certification review of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), which is happening this month. A public meeting for comments will be conducted on Feb. 7 at 5 p.m. at the NOACA offices, 1299 Superior Ave. in downtown Cleveland.
NOACA is the federally designated transportation planning agency for Cuyahoga, Lorain, Medina, Geauga, and Lake counties. Every four years the agency must be recertified by the U.S. Department of Transportation. This is mostly a bureaucratic process that reviews whether long lists of federal planning requirements are being followed. But it’s also a chance to ensure that the major transportation planning issues facing a metropolitan area are being addressed.
The Federal Highway Administration says, “Transportation planning should reflect the community's vision for its future. It should also include a comprehensive consideration of possible strategies; an evaluation process that encompasses diverse viewpoints; the collaborative participation of relevant transportation-related agencies and organizations; and an open, timely, and meaningful involvement of the public. Transportation planning requires a comprehensive, holistic look at the needs and the future of the region and its inhabitants.”
Do you think our region is doing this? Do we have a real strategy for investing hundreds of millions of transportation dollars (perhaps the largest flow of capital dollars flowing into the region) to redevelop our cities and create the livable places we want and need?
For instance, cities throughout the world are promoting bicycling to achieve dramatic improvements in urban livability. What is NOACA’s strategy for increasing the mode share of bikes in Northeast Ohio to some reasonable goal of perhaps five percent?
Or what is the strategy for reducing carbon emissions from transportation? In the big picture, there’s nothing more important than reducing the risks of climate change.
So come to the meeting on February 7 to tell federal officials what you think.
If you are unable to attend the meeting in person, you can still send comments until February 14, 2013, to these officials:
- Andy Johns, Federal Highway Administration, 200 North High Street, Suite 328, Columbus, OH 43215 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Susan Weber, Federal Transit Administration, 200 West Adams Street, Suite 320, Chicago, IL 60606 (email@example.com)
Update: For a great discussion of the billion-dollar transportation issues we should be worrying about, see Angie Schmitt's op-ed in The Plain Dealer on Feb. 3.