Claire stood as the representing member of WalkBikeBerks at a recent FHWA review of RATS. Her thoughtful comments are provided so that you too may participate in the transportation planning process. Please do not miss your opportunity to write to Kathy Dimpsey of the FHWA and express your comments for the official record. (See the closing of Claire's notes.)
I attended the meeting of the Federal Highway Administration last Wednesday, October 22nd, at 633 Court Street. The purpose of the meeting was to review the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the City of Reading. The first hour of the meeting was open to the general public. However, I was the only person representing the general public. Everyone else present in the first hour also stayed for the second hour, which was only open to public officials. If for no other reason, I feel it was good that at least one person spoke about the importance of including walkers and bikers in all transportation planning. I truly think that walkers and bikers are not even on the radar of many transportation planners. Although I was able to speak for several minutes about the many benefits of sidewalks and bike lanes, I did sense that a few people wanted to get of to the "real" transportation problems concerning roads. In order to make public officials aware of the financial value of including walking and biking issues as part of the transportation plan, I mentioned the 2010 proposal, which is a plan that other cities are seizing in order to take full advantage of an opportunity to apply for $50 million for improved pedestrian crossings, bike lanes, and sidewalks. To my amazement, no one seemed too interested. People at the meeting were talking about prioritizing and lack of federal funds for transportation problems, but from the enthusiasm shown about the 2010 proposal, I might as well have said $50, instead of $50 MILLION. Ann Arbor is one of the cities applying for this funding, and my son attended a meeting there last week about this very proposal. The mayor conducted the meeting, the university community provided huge support, and many people from the general public attended the meeting. Reading seems to be lacking the support, enthusiasm, and/or expertise to be included in this unbelievable, golden opportunity. I don't understand the lack of interest in $50 million. For anyone who is interested in seeing the plans of other cities who have submitted proposals for the 2010 goldmine, the following link shows the plans of about 50 cities.http://www.railstotrails.org/whatwedo/trailadvocacy/2010Campaign.html The rest of the meeting addressed Route 222 construction, bridge repairs, strobe lights in traffic signals, the R-6 railroad extension to Reading, and safety issues connected with railroad crossings.Before I left the meeting, I was given a book about Smart Transportation for Michele. One of the officials (sorry, I didn't get his name) apologized for not reading Michele's statement at the meeting, but he assured me that her statement would be included in the official notes.If anyone wants more information about the meeting, he or she can contact Kathy Dimpsey at Kathy.Dimpsey@dot.gov. Kathy is a Transportation Planning Engineer for the U.S. Department of Transportation; Pennsylvania Division. Kathy said that the public has 60 days to submit comments regarding Reading's transportation plans, and these comments will also be included in the official report.