Urban area agency asking for help

SANDPOINT – The Urban Area agency is asking the community to reach out and get involved by taking surveys on a variety of transportation issues.

Prior to the start of the meeting, council was briefed on updates to the urban area planning process by Director of Public Works, Amanda Wilson. During the presentation, Wilson said the agency is looking closely at transportation conditions from a “transportation” perspective with the help of the community.

Wilson told the board that the agency has reached out to the community in several ways, including surveys, to determine needs and priorities. Outreach efforts included setting up a stall in Jeff James Town Square during the Farmers Market last weekend. Over 100 community members stopped by the booth to ask questions and learn about the Urban Area Transportation Plan and the recently adopted Sandpoint Multimodal Transportation Plan.

“Comments so well received in that regard,” Wilson said.

Through community outreach and workshops, Wilson told the council that five main goals had been set.

“The first objective is therefore to improve local and regional multimodal connectivity. Second objective, to improve the safety of the multimodal network. Objective 3, identify projects with the greatest potential for implementation. Goal four, plan for population and traffic growth. And then, last but not least, a very important goal five – to support cross-jurisdictional collaboration, especially cross-jurisdictional collaboration,” Wilson said.

As the planning update was presented to council, Wilson was keen to remind them that the entire effort is a “cross-jurisdictional” effort with multiple cities and counties, including the cities of Dover, Kootenai, the Idaho Department of Transportation and the Independent Highway District.

“We have all met regularly and are in the next phase of the project evaluation workshop,” Wilson said.

After feedback collected over the weekend, the team met again on Monday to ensure that priority projects were indeed priorities, urban capital improvement projects and how to assess and determine projects priorities. Wilson told the board that all of these factors come down to developing priority scoring criteria and refining project details.

“The next steps are to finalize this prioritization and concept development. They’re going to do detailed modeling in certain areas of concern, and then they’re going to recommend policy recommendations and come up with the final plan,” Wilson said.

However, before moving forward with the final planning process, Wilson encouraged the public to review information about the plan on the city’s website and complete the survey, also available on the website.

“Please complete the survey. It contains some very important questions that will help inform the future plan as well as additional details on the goals and objectives and some of the existing data we learned today and the draft priority project. I therefore cannot stress enough that we are looking for feedback,” Wilson said.