Thursday, April 22, 2010

AATA Board approves selection of transit master plan consultant

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AATA Board approves selection of transit master plan consultant | Railway Track & Structures

The Ann Arbor, Mich., Transportation Authority (AATA) board of directors took another step forward this evening in the process of exploring the possibility of countywide public transit. The board voted 6-1 to approve conducting contract negotiations with planning consultant Steer Davies Gleave (SDG) to develop a transit master plan for Washtenaw County.

"Washtenaw County is facing a number of challenges that require a long-term transit planning solution. Urban sprawl, job attraction and retention and environmental sustainability are all greatly impacted by our transit choices," said AATA Board Chair Paul Ajegba. "With the help of SDG, we will create a transit master plan that will allow us to prepare for our future needs rather than facing challenges only as they come to us."

Projected changes in population density, demographics and job growth patterns over the next 20 years include an increase in the senior population of almost 450 percent in Washtenaw County townships and an increase in total population of 38 percent.

"Our projected population changes and job growth patterns mean increased traffic congestion and travel times, fewer parking spaces and more frustration for commuters if we don't start planning now," said AATA CEO Michael Ford.  "And our aging baby boomer population will need viable transportation options to ensure they can have access to the services they need on a daily basis."

It is expected that SDG will first begin the development of a transit master plan by working with AATA staff to create a community dialogue about public transportation in Washtenaw County

"It's very important that all Washtenaw communities provide input so that a common vision for public transit can be established," said Ford. "If the community doesn't first decide where it wants to go and how their public transit systems should look in the future, it's very hard for us to create a plan that tells them how to get there."

Information gathered from public discussions will then be combined with demographic data and transit modeling statistics to create a transit master plan that will guide the development of a long-term plan for public transportation as well as provide short-range (three-to-five-year) implementation plans.

AATA staff interviewed three planning firms before selecting SDG as its transit master plan consultant. During the selection process, Ford commented that SDG's response to integrating transportation into the lives of the community was a refreshing take on transit solutions for the region

"Their creative response to Washtenaw County's current transit situation was fresh and compelling," said Ford. "SDG's experience and technical knowledge, combined with their enthusiasm and commitment to producing a plan that can be easily understood by the entire community made them the perfect choice."

SDG is an independent transportation planning consultant with more than 30 years experience in master planning, sustainable transportation solutions, and transportation modeling with offices around the world, including New York, Boston, London and Sao Paulo.

AATA will use federal formula funds, dedicated to planning purposes, to fund the development of the transit master plan, which is estimated to cost up to $400,000.

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