Speak up for wiser investments in transportation

I learned from 1000 Friends Of Iowa that the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization are seeking public input on two important issues.

The DOT is finalizing the Statewide Public Transportation Study and will make recommendations to the state legislature in December. Officials want to hear from Iowans about:

   * Baseline level of service for public transportation in Iowa

   * Gap analysis between baseline service and public transportation demands of Iowans.

   * Transportation services needed to close these gaps.

   * The additional cost of these services.

   * Addressing Iowa’s energy conservation goals.

   * The range of possible funding concepts to address service needs.

   * Draft findings of the study to date.

You can comment on any of these issues at public meetings in Centerville, Sioux City, Des Moines, Iowa City, Bettendorf, or Waterloo on September 15-17 (event details are after the jump). Alternatively, you can submit comments through an online survey at www.iRIDE21.com.

Anyone with an opinion on how to improve Iowa’s passenger transportation should let the DOT know. You do not have to be an expert or policy wonk. Remember, public transit is not just for big city residents. An express bus or vanpool that takes people from a smaller town to work in a nearby larger city saves passengers money while reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Last year the weekly Cityview profiled Winterset resident Ann Pashek, who saves thousands of dollars a year through the Des Moines Area Transit Authority’s Rideshare program.

Meanwhile, the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is hosting the last series of public input meetings on the Horizon Year 2035 Metropolitan Transportation Plan. They need to hear from central Iowa residents who are concerned about land use, air quality and global warming.

Although reducing vehicle miles driven is a critical element of any plan to address greenhouse gas emissions, the DMAMPO’s plan for the next 25 years involves 341 projects that, if completed, would increase vehicle miles traveled in our region by 33 percent (by the DMAMPO’s own calculations). 1000 Friends of Iowa adds:

The study also indicated that despite increases in [vehicle miles traveled], cleaner vehicles and fuels will result in continued reductions in vehicle pollutant emissions.  Gasoline was used in their project model.  However, when ethanol was used the increase in CO2 was 66% higher.  DNR Air Quality Division has studies which conclude that emissions with ethanol are substantially higher.   It seems this plan will not reduce VMTs or promote cleaner air.

The DMAMPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) is hosting the final series of public input meetings to receive input and comments on the HY 2035 MTP final draft. You must tell the DMAMPO that Central Iowans want to concentrate more transportation dollars on alternatives which will promote the responsible use of our states resources, land water and air. This is the most important series of meetings, please mark your calendars, plan to attend and make your opinion count!

The DMAMPO meetings are on September 15 and 16 at the North Side Library in Des Moines. Event details are in the 1000 Friends of Iowa action alert, which I’ve posted after the jump. That also includes talking points as well as contact information for those who prefer to submit written comments to the DMAMPO. Anyone can send a comment; you do not have to have attended a public meeting.

On a related note, today is the last day to submit a comment urging the DNR to protect water quality in Iowa’s cleanest lakes and streams. Please take a minute to send an e-mail to the right DNR officials.

So much policy that affects our lives is made below the radar. If I weren’t involved with 1000 Friends of Iowa, I would never have heard of these discussions about transportation priorities. If I weren’t involved with the Iowa Environmental Council and the Sierra Club’s Iowa Chapter, I would not have heard of the debate over water quality rules either. I encourage you to join some non-profit organizations that are active on matters important to you. You will become much more informed than if you rely solely on the mainstream media.

Dear Friends,

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is inviting input from Iowans concerning the Statewide Public Transportation Study.

There has been some confusion about what the focus of these meetings is about so we’d like to stress these meetings aren’t about bike trails. The meetings are about public transit, or passenger transportation – moving groups of people, not individuals.

It is difficult for us to monitor the 17 MPOs and COGs across Iowa who do the local transportation planning. We do know the Des Moines Area MPO is planning another 341 projects that would increase Vehicle Miles Traveled by 33% by 2035, and that planning will likely increase greenhouse gas emmissions. This is your big chance to tell lawmakers to change the incentives. By attending and making your voice heard at one of these meetings, we can tell them collectively that Iowans want to reduce their reliance on the automobile by using a reliable transit system with dependable services.

Everyone is invited to a round of six public meetings to be held this week. Through these upcoming public meetings, the Iowa DOT is seeking input on:

   * Baseline level of service for public transportation in Iowa

   * Gap analysis between baseline service and public transportation demands of Iowans.

   * Transportation services needed to close these gaps.

   * The additional cost of these services.

   * Addressing Iowa’s energy conservation goals.

   * The range of possible funding concepts to address service needs.

   * Draft findings of the study to date.

Using information gathered at these public meetings and other sources, the Iowa DOT will finalize the study and submit the report making recommendations to the Legislature on Dec. 1, 2009.

If you cannot attend one of the meetings, you can still make your opinion known by completing the survey at www.iRIDE21.com.

September 15, 2009

Manhattan Restauraunt

24256 Iowa 5

Centerville, IA

5:30 – 7 pm

Refreshments will be served

September 15, 2009

Sioux City Public Library

Gleeson Room

529 Pierce St.

Sioux City, IA

5:30 – 7 pm

Refreshments will be served

September 16, 2009

Des Moines Central Library

1000 Grand Ave.

Des Moines, IA

5:30 – 7 pm

Refreshments will be served

September 16, 2009

Coralville Public Library

Room A

1401 Fifth St.

Iowa City, IA

5:30 – 7 pm

Refreshments will be served

September 17, 2009

Bettendorf Public Library

2950 Learning Campus Dr.

Bettendorf, IA

5:30 – 7 pm

Refreshments will be served

September 17, 2009

Waterloo Center for Arts

225 Commercial St.

Waterloo, IA

5:30 – 7 pm

Refreshments will be served

For those of you planning to attend the MPO meeting on September 16, 2009, the MPO has scheduled an additional meeting on September 15, 2009, 6:00 pm at the North Side Library.

The MPO Invites Public Input on the Horizon Year 2035 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (HY 2035 MTP)

Dear Friends,

Iowans want a transportation system that uses their tax dollars more wisely, recognizes the importance of farmland and natural areas, and reduces our impact on the environment.  Setting measurable goals for more bike lanes, buses and trains will reduce the miles our vehicles travel, emissions, and fuel usage. Asking for transportation systems that encourage infill development will serve as a means to lessen our demand on and for roads.

Unfortunately, if all 341 projects in the HY 2035 MTP plan are built out according to the DMAMPO’s own study “Trends of Transportation-generated Air Emission” vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is projected to increase 33% from 2005 until 2035.  The study also indicated that despite increases in VMT, cleaner vehicles and fuels will result in continued reductions in vehicle pollutant emissions.  Gasoline was used in their project model.  However, when ethanol was used the increase in CO2 was 66% higher.  DNR Air Quality Division has studies which conclude that emissions with ethanol are substantially higher.   It seems this plan will not reduce VMTs or promote cleaner air.

The DMAMPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) is hosting the final series of public input meetings to receive input and comments on the HY 2035 MTP final draft. You must tell the DMAMPO that Central Iowans want to concentrate more transportation dollars on alternatives which will promote the responsible use of our states resources, land water and air.This is the most important series of meetings, please mark your calendars, plan to attend and make your opinion count!

The meetings are as follows:

This Tuesday, September 15, 2009

6:00 p.m., North Side Library, 3516 5th Avenue

This Wednesday, September 16, 2009

11:30 a.m., North Side Library, 3516 5th Avenue

6:00 p.m., North Side Library, 3516 5th Avenue

If you are unable to attend a public input meeting, please share your comments with the MPO staff at:

Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization

Merle Hay Centre, 6200 Aurora Avenue, Suite 300W

Urbandale, IA   50322

Phone: 515-334-0075

Fax: 515-334-0098

E-mail: dmampo@dmampo.org

www.dmampo.org

Please attend and take advantage of these opportunities to let folks who are listening know what you think about the HY 2035 MTP final draft list of planned transportation improvements. To review the HY 2035 MTP final draft, visit www.dmampo.com.

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