ACOG lays out 2030 transportation plan
by Asia Scudder and Gene Perry
In October the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) held a public meeting to share its long-range transportation plan for central Oklahoma. ACOG is a volunteer association of city, town, and county governments within Central Oklahoma that is responsible for coordinating regional development and aiding local governments in planning for transportation needs.
It is predicted that by 2030, 1.3 million Central Oklahomans per day will need to travel to work, to school, to visit friends, or to go shopping, etc. Their travel will total over 40 million miles per day. We are sure to see many economic, lifestyle, and technological changes between now and 2030, but moving people and goods from point A to point B will still be a crucial task.
The 2030 OCARTS plan was developed as a long-range transportation plan required by federal law. ACOG is responsible for a 2,085 square mile area known as the Oklahoma City Area Regional Transport Study (OCARTS) area. The plan that is adopted must be affordable, include input from both citizens and providers of transportation, and provide for ongoing monitoring of demographic changes that impact growth and modes of travel.
According to a non-scientific survey conducted by ACOG in May, 83 percent of Oklahomans drive to work, but respondents did indicate interest in using more mass transit if better services were available. Sixty-three percent of respondents like the idea of rail services being made available as a preferred way to travel, 34 percent said they would prefer bus travel, and 59 percent said they prefer to drive. (See a pdf of the complete survey results here.)
Invitations to complete this survey were publicized in local media, and more than 1,800 people responded. The percentages cannot be assumed to be representative of the overall population because respondents were self-selected and not random, but they nevertheless demonstrate strong interest in transit.
Despite this interest, a large majority of funds will continue to go to roads under the long-term plan. The distribution is planned to be 87.1 percent for expanding and repairing streets and highways; 11.2 percent for urban and rural transit; and 1.7 percent for pedestrian and bicycle improvements. Even as most funds are going to roads, the Oklahoma road system is deteriorating. According to Transportation for America, 17.7 percent of Oklahoma roads were in “poor” condition, compared to a national average of 5.8 percent.
In 2001, the state received high-speed rail corridor designation for a route connecting Texas up to Norman, Oklahoma City, Edmond, and Tulsa, making it eligible for federal assistance through competitive grants. The state applied for a TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant in August for a commuter rail system linking Oklahoma City to Midwest City/Tinker Air Force Base.
Lines connecting OKC to Edmond and Norman were also considered for the application, but officials had not done enough studies to meet grant requirements by the deadline. According to the meeting summary of the August Regional Transit Dialogue steering committee meeting, Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said the “lack of readiness on the Norman and Edmond corridors is a wakeup call” for transit planners. She said work also needs to be done to establish a transit hub that would connect commuter rail, buses, and other modes of transportation somewhere in Oklahoma City.
A downtown OKC streetcar system has also been mentioned as one of the projects to be included in MAPS 3, along with 57 miles of new public bicycling and walking trails throughout the city.
More details of the 2030 OCARTS plan can be viewed at http://www.acogok.org/Programs_and_Services/Transportation_and_Data_Services/2030plan.asp.Tags: transportation, urban development