The Philomath City Council took the first steps toward the eventual adoption of a new transportation system plan during a joint meeting last month with the planning commission.
John Bosket, senior project manager with DKS Associates, and Valerie Grigg Devis, senior region planner with the Oregon Department of Transportation, provided city officials with an overview of the process involved with adopting a transportation system plan, often referred to simply as a TSP.
The city’s current TSP dates back to 1999. The new plan will develop a fiscally realistic forecast of what Philomath may look like through 2040.
“Most jurisdictions probably update their transportation system plans maybe no more than 10 years after they adopted the last one,” said Bosket, adding that the horizon for such plans can stretch to 20 years. “Usually that depends on how much has changed in your community.”
Land-use decisions, for example, might impact the need for an updated TSP, Bosket said. Some cities hold off on the process simply because of cost.
Cities are required to adopt TSPs, which basically serve as an extension to a comprehensive plan. TSPs are also used by cities to integrate their plans into the statewide transportation system. Many cities use TSPs as part of grant applications.
“The real goal is to make sure that the land use that you want over your 20-year planning horizon and your transportation system investments are in alignment, so you’re hopefully spending your money in the right way and in the right places,” Bosket said.
Philomath is just one jurisdiction currently going through the TSP update process.
“Corvallis has already kicked off theirs … and I just came from Lebanon and they’re kicking off theirs,” Grigg Devis said. “Benton County just received grant money for their TSP update and also Linn County will be updating theirs, so it’s extremely timely that you’re coming to this process.”
The process takes roughly two years to complete, although Bosket said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Philomath update moves along at a faster pace because of other entities doing the same work in the region. A timeline shows possible adoption of a new plan by 2017.
“We’re not just looking at motor vehicles here,” Bosket pointed out. “We want to look at all major modes of transportation in the city so we’ll be looking at bicycle travel needs, pedestrian travel needs and transit travel needs as well.”
Bosket divided up the update into three phases, beginning with understanding the process and identifying goals and objectives. By next summer, the hope would be to move on to discussion and evaluation of various options.
Two committees are part of those discussions. A technical advisory committee includes representatives from other agencies and provides a regulatory review. Agencies participating include the City of Philomath, Oregon Department of Transportation, Benton County, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, the Philomath Police Department, Philomath Fire & Rescue, the City of Corvallis and Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments.
A citizen advisory committee guides the process along the way with a local perspective and makes recommendations to the city council. Representatives provide input on behalf of community groups such as the Philomath School Board, Philomath Area Chamber of Commerce and Philomath Community Services, among others.
Meetings have not yet been determined for either committee.
Three public events will also be staged during the project, including two open houses and an information kiosk to be set up at next summer’s Philomath Frolic and Rodeo. The events allow opportunities for the public to talk to city staff and consultants about the project, review information and provide input.
Other forms of public feedback will also be available, such as an online commenting area or if appropriate, a brief survey.
When asked if any particular issues should be addressed, city officials threw out a few topics for discussion. Councilor Jason Leonard mentioned a safety concern about student pedestrians leaving the high school, going up 21st Street and crossing the highway instead of walking down to 19th Street and using the traffic lights.
Bosket responded by saying that there could be educational component as part of the TSP, for example, outreach with the school to change behaviors.
Planning commission member Shon Heern brought up bicycle system connectivity needs, primarily in the northern and western sections of town that could help students get to school more safely.
Councilor Doug Edmonds mentioned safety issues associated with 19th Street and “the big hill in the middle of the road” and whether the TSP could deal with that type of situation.
“It certainly could; it’s something we could note,” Bosket responded. “The solution may be fairly expensive, that’s the challenge. … But we could definitely have that conversation as part of this plan.”
For information and updates on the Philomath TSP project, go online to: www.PhilomathTSP.org.