Council Hearing on Transit: A Walk Bike Listening Guide

On Thursday January 11th Metro Council had a committee meeting about the Mayor's Transportation Improvement Plan ahead of voting on whether or not to add it to the ballot. Overall they voted overwhelming in favor: 29 in favor, 1 no, and 1 abstaining. This was a unique opportunity to hear the administration respond to some direct questions about what the plan includes, including it's flexibility, provision of sidewalks, and what it means for bicycles. Since the whole thing is two hours long, we prepared a listening guide that highlights some of the moments we thought were most interesting.


Questions Council Member Brett Withers (32:48)

  • Councilmember Withers asks about provision of sidewalks and bikeways in the plan, in particular around transit corridors.
  • Response is “we’ve been getting a lot of attention as you know on that subject”...
    • In capital cost estimate for light rail corridors we're estimating 30 miles of new sidewalk on light rail and reuse/rehab or existing sidewalk
    • At LRT stations we have lump sum estimates that include sidewalks improvements, although the sidewalks are not quantified separately. But money is there for adjacent to and around stations
    • $9.5 M a year in discretionary money across the city, which could be used for sidewalks, bicycle improvements, intersection improvements across the city
    • Money is budgeted for rapid bus corridors, particularly where there are gaps; at neighborhood transit centers; and as part of expansion of shelters

Question from Councilmember Freddie O’Connell (57:03)

  • Question: How does the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) provide detail on bikeways and pedestrian improvement? Is it compatible with WalkNBike? How does financial piece impact other modes people might use to get around the city?
  • Answer: There will improvements at bus stops and transit stations for non-motorized transportation
    • Transit centers might be different depending on the location
    • $9.5 Million again in “discretionary” funds for local transportation could be used for bikeways, pedestrian facilities across the city
    • At Park and Ride lots there would be adequate safety measures for all modes, we would do our best to ensure the safety of pedestrians.
  • Freddie follows up about more infrastructure parts -- protected bikeways. Response is that we don't have those details, but there are allowances that would allow for them as needed

Question from Councilmember Mina Johnson (1:15:55)

  • Question: If we want to change financial plan in future, is it possible? What’s the mechanism for changing the plan?
  • Answer: there is some, especially in bus network. As demand grows, density grows, or neighborhood characteristic changes the service can be adapted. Money is allocated to allow for flexibility. 

Question from Councilmember Burkley Allen

  • Flexibility Question: Is there enough flexibility that as technology changes we can change the the type of transit?
  • Response (1:17:10) Yes within reason. As technology evolves, when final design plans come out propulsion system, types of cars etc will change. We will adjust to put in most efficient and practical service at the time.
  • Sidewalk Questions (1:20:01)Do we have any money for greenways? Will bridge improvements be complete streets?
  • Response: Intention is that corridor improvements would include include complete streets concepts, but that level of design detail is not yet done

Question from Councilmember Angie Henderson (1:46:45)

  • Question on Sidewalks: I see that light rail improvements includes 36 miles of sidewalks at $7M (pavement) only? That seems far too low -- according to WalkNBike calculation that'd be $114M. Why the discrepancy?
  • Response: The $7M is based on a typical cost, but does not include utility, curb & gutter, grass strip etc. These are accounted for separately.  That's only pavement cost, and is not all inclusive. Additional study is needed to get all inclusive number.
  • Councilmember Henderson asks for that additional information
  • Angie votes no @

Councilman Swope (1:50)

  • Question: Are we locked into this plan?
  • Response: If technology comes along or something indicates it won't work, we can make changes. Material changes would have to come back to council and go through the same process. But the plan was written to allow for flexibility, but a completely different concept would need to be re-approved


Vice-Mayor David Briley Closing Comments (1:54:06)

  • “Since the very get-go I have complained about this being called a Transit Plan, as I believe it is part of a Transportation Plan. I would like to ask for a commitment from the administration that as we proceed that we will consistently look at this as part of a multi-modal transportation system and always be thinking about how will incorporate AV, how we will incorporate bicycles, how we incorporate pedestrian life into the implementation of the plan as we go forward.”
  • Rich Riebling responds “we concur”.