The Warner Robins Metropolitan Planning Organization will hold two public information meetings Thursday to get feedback on the area’s long-range transportation plan for 2040.
The long-range Warner Robins Area Transportation Study, required by the federal government, is used to identify multi-modal transportation needs 20 years into the future. It takes into account anticipated population growth.
Atkins, a global engineering and consultant firm, began working with the city on the long-range plan last November. After several studies, stakeholder input and public feedback, people will have a final opportunity to learn about and comment on the 99-page draft version of the completed plan before it is finalized by Oct. 27.
The first public input meeting will last from 3:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the Georgia Military College Warner Robins Campus on Duke Avenue. A second meeting will be held from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Central Georgia Technical College on Cohen Walker Drive, according to a news release.
“If (people) have a specific transportation need or they think that something’s not being addressed or if they like how something is being done as far as transportation in the area, then I think it would be great for them to come out so we can hear what their comments are,” said Jessica Bird, transportation planner for the city of Warner Robins and its Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The study area includes the cities of Warner Robins, Perry, Byron and Centerville as well as Robins Air Force Base and a chunk of eastern Peach County along Interstate 75. In 2010, the total area’s population was 149,480, a number that’s expected to increase by 2040, according to the plan. Houston County’s population alone is expected to climb from about 139,900 people to 221,200 by 2040, according to the report.
“Nobody really knows exactly what’s going to happen (in 2040), but any kind of increase (in population) over the years obviously adds more cars to the roads,” Bird said. “So, if you don’t do anything to the roads that you have ... you’re going to start seeing (traffic) congestion in areas that you haven’t seen before.”
The addition of bicycle and pedestrian paths also are part of the plan as a result of public feedback, Bird said.
“I know a lot of people are frustrated because they live in a subdivision that has sidewalks, but once they leave their subdivision, they can’t go anywhere because the sidewalks don’t connect,” Bird said. “So, I would say connectivity is probably a very big issue.”
The public also has long expressed a desire for public transit, something Warner Robins City Council members recently said lacks funding. In 2010, the city’s urbanized area was “among the nation’s largest by population with no reported transit service,” according the draft plan.
A 2012 public transit study looked at creating bus lines and projected about 1,542 weekday riders.
No initial steps have been taken by the city to offer public transportation. However, the long-term draft plan says a business group is trying to find private and public funds that could be used to start up such a service.
The complete draft 2040 long-range transportation plan is available on the city's website for review.
To contact writer Laura Corley, call 744-4334 or follow her on Twitter @Lauraecor.