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Sun, May 26

New website gives residents convenient tool to help shape regional transportation planning

Chris Bridges, administrator of the Central Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO), shows a new website that is available to get residents’ views about important road issues. The goal of the online tool is to generate more public engagement in the ongoing regional transportation-planning process. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

Chris Bridges, administrator of the Central Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO), shows a new website that is available to get residents’ views about important road issues. The goal of the online tool is to generate more public engagement in the ongoing regional transportation-planning process. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

Drivers with a gripe about a congested road or an idea about how to improve traffic flow now have an easy way to get their views noticed in the regional transportation-planning process.

A new website went live last week that allows anyone to offer feedback on the plan that will set the course for regional roads over the next 25 years.

The site is available at cympoengage.com/en.

“You can now provide your thoughts on the plan easily by completing four short interactive exercises,” said Chris Bridges, administrator of the Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO).

He said the process could take as little as two to five minutes.

The easily accessible and convenient public-comment tool is a part of CYMPO’s goal to get more community involvement in the ongoing planning process.

That feedback can help to shape future transportation matters. For instance, in the last round of planning, Bridges said resident concerns about the need for wildlife corridors brought about a new committee that advocates for the preservation of interconnected ecosystems in the CYMPO region.

In the previous regional-transportation update that took place about five years ago, Bridges said the entire months-long process generated about 100 public comments – many of which were from official sources.

With the new online option, Bridges said CYMPO is hoping to get feedback from 1,000 residents or more.

Previous plans have depended largely on public meetings to get feedback on transportation issues. Bridges said those meetings tend to be attended by 25 to 30 people, and most are staff members from the involved governments.

For the 2045 plan, he said, consultants likely will conduct just one public meeting, nearer to the end of the process.

Along the way, residents will be able to give their feedback anytime they like. “We will have this website up 24/7 for months,” Bridges said

In addition, he said CYMPO would be attending upcoming community events such as job fairs and home shows to get out the word about the website.

The questions on the website will be changed at least once, Bridges said, based upon the feedback to the first round.

The current questions allow participants to drop a pin on an interactive regional map to specify the location of their comments or concerns. “People can even attach a photo” to further explain their concerns, Bridges said.

Other website features ask for participants’ transportation preferences, important regional corridors, and suggested changes to existing conditions.

“A lot of people have a lot going on in their lives,” Bridges said, noting that the website should allow busy residents to offer their feedback in their own homes, and on their own schedules.

The new round of regional transportation planning got underway after the CYMPO Board approved a $268,433 contract with the AECOM consulting firm in September 2018.

Bridges expects completion of the 2045 draft plan by late 2019, and to have the plan approved and in effect by 2020.

The most recent plan, which covered transportation needs through the year 2040, was approved in 2015. The CYMPO region – including Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Dewey-Humboldt and Yavapai County – is required to update its 25-year plan every five years, Bridges said.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2034, or cbarks@prescottaz.com.

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