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|OCOG seeks input on long-range transportation plan|
Ouachita Council of Governments will host a series of public meetings next week to gather input about the future needs of the area's transportation system.
OCOG officials along with Alliance Transportation Group, a consulting firm in Lake Charles, will seek community input to update OCOG's long-range Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP). OCOG must update its MTP every five years to receive federal and state transportation funding.
The MTP is a 25-year plan that includes the basic framework for the region's transportation system development.
JD Allen, vice president of Alliance Transportation Group, discussed the MTP update with OCOG Monday during its regular meeting.
He said public input is necessary during these "visioning workshops." The public's views and input regarding the area's transportation system will be used to develop the MTP. The transportation system includes highways, public transportation system, pedestrian facilities, bicycle facilities and freight operations throughout the Monroe urbanized area.
Allen said his group has already begun gathering data for the MTP update.
"We've gathered quite a bit of data from the locals and from planning partners in both Monroe and West Monroe to help us develop the model that will tell you where traffic will be in 20 to 25 years in the future," Allen said. "The Feds require you during MTP updates to go out and talk to a significant list of people, agencies and organizations about how users use the system and what their concerns are."
Next week's public meetings will be held 6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 6-8.
Tuesday and Wednesday's meetings will be held at the Monroe Civic Center in the Ouachita Jackson room.
Thursday's meeting will be held at the West Monroe Convention Center in the Ouachita room.
"We'll invite the public in and have a workbook for them to go through to lead us on how they use the system," Allen said. "This is not one of those meetings where we come in and tell them what they need to know and then ask if they have any questions. We really want the public's input on how they use the transportation system. So far we've got a lot of interest from the bicyclists."
The state Department of Transportation and Development is footing the bill for Metropolitan Planning Organizations throughout the state to update their MTPs.
"They don't do that in other states," Allen said. "The MPOs have to do this and pay for it themselves, but the new (DOTD) secretary is interested in finding out how people use the system, what they want and what they need."
"We want people to start to visualize what the system needs to look like 15 to 25 years from now when their needs change," Allen continued. "Our needs change as we get older. So, we need to look that far in the future when we're doing this plan to see what people's needs are going to be and how they're going to change and then feed that into our planning process."