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Metro Grand Rapids long-term transportation plan accepted by federal agencies MIBIZ FILE COURTESY PHOTO

Metro Grand Rapids long-term transportation plan accepted by federal agencies

BY Thursday, June 11, 2020 02:27pm

GRAND RAPIDS — A regional plan outlining multimodal transportation projects and funding priorities for the next 25 years in Kent and eastern Ottawa County has been accepted by federal agencies — a necessary step for the region to get federal transportation funding.

The Grand Valley Metropolitan Council submitted the 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan after nearly two years of planning, research, public input and cost analysis. The plan addresses road conditions, traffic congestion, safety, freight movement, passenger rail, air travel, non-motorized transportation and public transit. 

Without an MTP, federal transportation funding could not be allocated in the region. The council is the federally designated body responsible for updating the plan every four years. 

Council staff determined five priorities over the life of the plan: maintaining the system in a state of good repair, congestion management, non-motorized options, safety and transit. A financial analysis showed $5.7 billion in local funding is expected for the duration of the plan, while $557.6 million in federal and $3.4 billion in state funding is expected. An additional $4 billion is expected for transit.

“This transportation plan represents the most comprehensive assessment and long-range guide ever produced for our region,” GVMC Executive Director John Weiss said in a statement. “Our planners used innovative methods to obtain three times the volume of public input compared to the 2015 survey. That input came from all jurisdictions covered by this plan. The planning work was truly inclusive.”

Part of the transportation plan included a survey asking respondents to rank various aspects of the transportation system and prioritize their top three investments. Out of 867 responses from Kent and eastern Ottawa counties, the top transportation priority is roadway pavement condition, followed by using technology to reduce traffic congestion and delays, and widening busy roads and interchanges. The lowest priority for use of funding was to increase the frequency of passenger rail service and freight train operation.

The Federal Highway Administration notified council officials June 5 the plan conforms to federal regulations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Transit Administration and the Michigan Department of Transportation also reviewed the plan as part of the confirmation process. 

Requirements for the MTP to conform to federal guidelines include ensuring proposed project costs do not exceed resources, public input from stakeholder agencies, ensuring no population is adversely impacted by the project and establishing air quality standards. 

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