Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
ECICOG seeking transportation plan input
WASHINGTON — Officials from Iowa’s 10th Regional Planning Affiliation, in collaboration with the East Central Iowa Council of Governments and local government representatives, are working on a new “Active Transportation Plan” or ATP, for the area’s trails, bike lanes and sidewalks.
Once complete, the plan will serve as a guidebook for local governments considering investments and priorities in their communities’ walking and biking infrastructure. It may also serve as a helpful citation for grant applications and funding opportunities.
“It’s a toolbox, in a way,” ECICOG Transportation Director Mary Rump said. “It’s trying to help people understand where they are now, what options they have available to help them improve right now … we’re going to be looking at it from a regional scale, but it’s also helping those cities figure out where they are so they can kind of make connections to that.”
Rump said the groups had extended the feedback-gathering period before starting their analysis, after they received far more survey responses than anticipated. That survey was scheduled to close in late May, but will now stay open until at least mid-June.
The survey is only intended for residents of Washington, Benton, Cedar, Iowa and Jones counties, as well as others from non-metro areas of Linn and Johnson counties.
“I’m pretty happy with the response that we’ve gotten so far, but I’d be thrilled to get even more,” Rump said. “What we’re really looking for is feedback from people who are living and working and using the network in our region … responses from outside our region (are) not super helpful to us.”
The group’s findings will have implications beyond recreational trail and sidewalk use.
Rump said walking and biking paths were dual-use infrastructure, meaning they could be just as important to a family on a weekend outing as for someone commuting to and from work.
That versatility grows with more development, potentially making he paths and trails a powerful equalizer filling transit gaps.
“These trails can have a transportation component, if a network exists,” she said. “For people who don’t have a vehicle, if we can create this interconnectedness with our walking or biking facilities, they have an opportunity to go where they need to go … without that network, they’re kind of forced to drive.”