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June 10, 2013

Birmingham’s multimodal plan nears end

More input needed, city says

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

Birmingham’s multimodal transportation plan is now available to view online. The Web version of the plan is packed with raw data and expert recommendations, including graphs, like this one, of suggested bike paths in the city’s neighborhoods.

BIRMINGHAM — The city is making progress with its multimodal transportation plan, and Birmingham officials are looking for input from residents on the plan’s preliminary draft.

After an extensive planning process, which included consultant research, data aggregation, and numerous community visioning workshops and meetings, a draft of the city’s long-awaited multimodal transportation plan has been released. According to a statement from the city, it will be used to “improve and expand opportunities for pedestrians, bicycles and transit users (and) respond to the growing demand for alternative forms of travel and promote safe and comfortable transportation options.”

The draft, now available to view online, includes a detailed report, an appendix, a network map and a downtown map, compiled by The Greenway Collaborative Inc. of Ann Arbor, the city’s multimodal consulting firm. The online version of the plan allows residents to submit comments and questions, which city officials will review.

The documents detail the firm’s recommendations, with the city’s input, on public policy concerning transportation, physical environment alterations, community program ideas and more.
According to City Manager Robert Bruner, the city has taken great strides throughout the planning process to ensure that residents had their ideas and concerns heard by those at city hall.

“All the public input we have received has been taken into account and incorporated into the plan. We believe the recommendations in the plan are really based on what we’ve been hearing from the public throughout this,” said Bruner. “If there’s anything we’ve gotten wrong or anything we’ve missed, we want to hear about it before the plan is finalized — not after.”

Bruner said that once comments are collected online, through June 28, the next step will be to hold a public hearing on the plan at the July 10 meeting of the Planning Board. Once the board approves it, the plan would then move forward to the City Commission, which would hold its own public hearing on the topic. The goal, he said, is to make sure no Birmingham resident is blind-sided by any policy or design changes, though many of the changes likely won’t be immediately noticed.

“This is a very long-term plan. There are short-term recommendations, medium- and very long-term recommendations. The next actual project that people will actually see a difference will be when we resurface Lincoln Street next year, but that’s been in our capital improvements plan for years,” he said. “So folks aren’t going to notice a lot of the changes immediately as a result of this plan, but it will just help us plan how we’ll do that project once we get there.”
Planning Director Jana Ecker said Birmingham, with its size and density, is an ideal place to implement a design concept that makes roadways accessible for all types of users, including bikers, public transportation customers and more.

“The city’s vision is to offer meaningful choices in the realm of transportation. The multimodal plan must be realistic about the fact that people currently use motorized vehicles to meet the vast majority of their transportation needs and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future, but must simultaneously acknowledge the growing demand for other safe, convenient and comfortable travel choices,” said Ecker, in an email.

To view the current draft of the plan, visit www.greenwaycol lab.com, then click “projects,” and select “Birmingham Multi-Modal Transportation Plan.” There, you can see all of the provided documents and submit feedback via a comments section.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.