Thursday, August 2, 2012

Multi Modal Plan Gets Green Light

by Tracy Chamberlin and Missy Votel

After more than 75 public meetings and three years on the ground, Durango’s Multi Modal Transportation Master Plan is a done deal. City Council unanimously approved the plan at its regular meeting July 17.

“It’s a significant step forward,” said councilor Dick White, noting that he campaigned on a platform of sustainability. “I commend the effort that’s gone into it.”

Fellow councilor Christina Rinderle echoed White’s sentiments. “It’s such a great asset. I can’t say enough about the collaboration,” she said, adding that she has already noticed changes around town, such as the newly revamped Florida Road. “It’s a complete street, with bike lanes, medians, sidewalks and trees,” she said.

The lone voice of caution came from councilor Paul Broderick, who referred to the plan as “lofty” and warned future councils about the costs associated with it. “If we were to add up all the costs of this plan, there wouldn’t be enough numbers on the calculator,” he said. “We need to be careful. Policy can have unintended consequences and huge costs.”

Mayor Doug Lyon defended the plan, noting that it is not set in stone, but rather a blueprint which could help facilitate future funding. “It’s a roadmap to the future and a good set of aspirations,” he said. “If we have the plan on a shelf, we can go out and get money to implement it.”

At the urging of the community, the city began work on a Multimodal Master Plan in 2009. The vision of the plan is to create a fully connected public transportation system that anyone can access with ease.

“The rule of thumb is if a middle school-aged child can walk or bike independently through Durango,” said Multi modal Coordinator Amber Blake.

Among the ideas  to achieve these goals are: bicycle boulevards, low-volume, low-speed streets; signed bike routes; extended bike lanes at intersections; additional bike lanes and “buffered” bike lanes; curb ramps; and facilities such as transit stops, bus storage, bicycle and vehicle parking and multi-use trails.