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Mark A. Simmons, Published August 19 2013

Letter: Here’s opportunity to set transportation priorities

Ever complained about traffic? Ever wondered who decides what roads or paths get built or improved? Here is your chance to help set priorities for the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area. The Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council of Governments (Metro COG) is developing Metro 2040, an update to the Long Range Transportation Plan for the FM metropolitan area. This letter is a call to everyone to get involved in Metro 2040. Here’s why:

• Metro 2040 affects all of us. As a multimodal plan, Metro 2040 represents the transportation needs for all transportation users. Metro 2040 will identify investments in roadways, MATBUS, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and technology investments such as roadside message boards, traffic management systems and improved signal timing.

• Metro 2040 matters. It will guide the selection of projects, allocation of future transportation funding, and outline policy needs to manage transportation in the F-M metropolitan area over the next 25 years. While the plan looks forward 25 years, it also sets priorities for the near term, influencing investment decisions today.

• Transportation planning really does make a difference. In the past 25 years, almost every major transportation corridor in the F-M metropolitan area has seen significant transportation investment, including millions of dollars of improvements in bicycle and transit systems. Significant local, state and federal investments have been made to major arterial roadways in Fargo and West Fargo such as Veterans Boulevard, 45th Street, 25th Street, Sheyenne Street, and the list goes on. In Moorhead and Dilworth, investments have shored up transportation needs on corridors such as Main Avenue, Eighth Street, 20th Street and 34th Street. Metro COG has worked with city, county, and state partners over the years to build a strong track record in identifying and funding transportation projects that support the health and vitality of the region. However, there is much more to be done.

• Our region is growing substantially. Looking ahead to the year 2040, Metro COG’s forecasts show population increases of 42 percent and employment increases of 36 percent. Metro 2040 will outline the transportation investments and strategies necessary to accommodate this new growth.

• Metro 2040 will require hard choices. New transportation investments don’t come without their costs. Widened roads come with potential impacts to existing businesses, the threat of higher taxes and special assessments, and potential increases in air and noise pollution. Recent decisions have shown that investments in bicycle and public transit infrastructure must be balanced against the needs of roads and automobiles.

Metro 2040 is your opportunity to get involved and help us make the right choices to create the kind of mobility you want in the future. Your opportunity to get involved starts now. Visit www.metro2040.com to learn more about opportunities to get involved.

Simmons is chairman, Metro COG Policy Board.