No one said that creating a transportation system plan for Corvallis for the next 20 years was going to be easy.

A Thursday night City Council work session on the process showed where some of the challenges might lie.

First, the transportation plan process, which is scheduled to last until 2017, will occur at the same time that the City Council is working on a goal of creating a new vision and action plan for the city.

Should the transportation planning group, which consists of city officials, community members and paid consultants, use the old vision statement … or wait for the new one to be developed?

Councilors, who ultimately must sign off on the plan, also expressed concerns about when they would be brought into the loop and updated on plan proposals.

Members of the transportation plan steering committee already have appeared before the City Council and the Urban Services Committee, and Public Works Director Mary Steckel noted that the steering committee will brief Urban Services on a quarterly basis.

Councilors also offered thoughts on possible avenues for the transportation planners to explore:

• Ward 5 Councilor Mike Beilstein suggested the group look at ways to reduce parking demand.

• Ward 1 Councilor Penny York mentioned the health aspects of transportation, noting the impact of walking and air quality.

• Ward 3 Councilor Zach Baker brought up Highway 99W, which runs right through his South Corvallis ward. Improvements to the highway, Baker said, should take into account that residents in his ward want to calm the traffic, rather than make it move more quickly.

• Ward 7 Bill Glassmire had questions about Harrison Boulevard and the bus system as well as the larger question of the plan picking winners and losers among competing projects.

“Those are going to be the tough conversations,” Steckel said, with consultant Tom Brennan of Nelson/Nygaard adding, “those are great examples of why you develop a plan.”

One stiff challenge that the transportation plan must meet is the statewide requirement that it reduce vehicle miles traveled by 5 percent.

“A reduction of that size is often difficult to achieve,” said Terry Cole, Oregon Department of Transportation planner for Region 2, which includes Lane, Linn, Benton, Lincoln, Polk, Marion, Yamhill, Tillamook, Clatsop, Columbia and western Washington counties. 

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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