Mesa leaders are asking residents to head online to lend their thoughts on the city’s transportation outlook — input Mayor Scott Smith says is invaluable to creating a plan for the future that suits changing philosophies.
“We’re taking a more holistic approach recognizing that transportation and land use and economic opportunities really go hand-in-hand,” Smith said.
He said it’s more than “how do we get people from point A to point B?” — an issue that has limited the scopes of previous updates.
The transportation and transit plans, just like the city’s general plan, are updated every 10 years. The general plan update, under state law, must be updated every 10 years and face approval by residents.
Mesa updates the other two plans in anticipation of incorporating them into the general plan.
Smith said the wider angle the update is taking requires even more volume and more depth of input from residents: lifestyle, location, how the city can maximize accommodation and prosperity.
“We’re really trying to look at transportation in a way that’s more 21st Century than the way we’ve done it before and that’s why we’re asking for the kind of input we are,” he said.
And, Smith said, things have simply changed and moved forward from the last update. The Mesa section of the Loop 202 is finished, the light rail is in town and extending and the new universities are opening.
“We are looking at a really different picture than we were 10 years ago,” Smith said.
Mesa senior transportation engineer Mark Venti, on the front lines of the plan’s development, said the survey is part of a wider effort to gain input from the community and will be accompanied by public meetings and input from staff of several city departments, various boards and commissions and other experts.
The transportation plan is due to be approved or disapproved by the city council in late November or December, Venti said.
“We have a lot of ground to cover between now and then,” Venti said.
One of the ways city engineers like Venti are bringing the holistic approach touted by Smith to concept are by using a mantra they call “complete streets” as a guide.
“It’s a street that instead of just being for traffic — for vehicle traffic — it also includes bike lanes, it includes sidewalks ... and aesthetically pleasing features like benches and trees,” Venti said. “It’s a very livable type of street.”
Venti said the Fiesta district is an example. He said recent efforts and plans for the area reduce the amounts of lanes for traffic but add more access for bicycles, pedestrians and transit.
Smith said that he expects a transportation plan that reflects a return of residents to urbanization, instead of the suburban flight that has highlighted the past years of growth.
“People are moving back into the city,” Smith said. “You don’t have the rush to the furthest subdivision like you did and really we need to see if that’s changed priorities.”
To take the city’s Transportation Plan survey, visit www.ThisisMyMesa.org/Transportation.aspx.
More information on the plan and participation is at www.ThisisMyMesa.org.
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