Thursday, May 7, 2015



Mass transit - Karen McCulloh



Should the economic development portion of the half-cent sales tax be used to off-set the cost of the Metropolitan Planning Organization?

There is a lot of confusion about the costs of the MPO. For the first year, Manhattan’s involvement is around $25,000. In the coming years a long-range traffic study is required. This is a very good thing because we need to do some serious planning for future traffic patterns within the city and connecting us to Pott County and Fort Riley. A northerly ring road might be in the equation or even a second bridge across the Kansas River. These would be extremely expensive and need federal funding. There have been grants available from KDOT for traffic planning and this will also be a part of the duties of the Regional Planning Director so it isn’t clear what the final price tag will be. The present MPO set up will see costs shared with other cities and counties and this is a good idea.

Should the city help fund a fixed-route bus system in Manhattan?

We need to do a comprehensive traffic study for all modes of transportation. Air, roads and public transit. We have studied the public transit possibilities for several years with a KDOT directed committee. We looked at several other models including Ames, Iowa and all the other Big 12 school (they all have some form of fixed route). We must have a partnership with K-State on this activity. ATA carried 157,435 passengers last year so one can see the need is there. The request of ATA bus for $15,000 works out to $ .35/Manhattan citizen and should have been granted. I am delighted to see the city has finally granted right of way so we can have bus signs.

Should the city increase, decrease or maintain the efforts to facilitate bicyclists’ use of city streets as a mode of transportation?

The more we can encourage bicycles the better off we are in needing less road repair and parking and in having a fit, healthy citizenry. My son did his graduate work at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and everybody rides bikes there. And their winters are much snowier and colder than here. We must make the route safe and well marked. This leads into the fourth question of spending more dollars and I would point out that as with the ATA bus service we are taking about relatively few dollars here. The city and county are spending millions on the airport—just the off-ramp is costing them $3,000,000. Dollars spent on bikes and busses would be in the thousands not millions.

Should the city devote more funding to develop walking and bicycle paths around the city?

…This leads into the fourth question of spending more dollars and I would point out that as with the ATA bus service we are taking about relatively few dollars here. The city and county are spending millions on the airport—just the off-ramp is costing them $3,000,000. Dollars spent on bikes and busses would be in the thousands not millions.

Should the city spend $11 million (or more) on expanding the airport and airport services?

We have significant city debt. I feel most of the debt has reliable streams of income but I think now may be the time to step back and re-evaluate what future spending should be. I am very concerned about deficits at the state level which will turn into increased property taxes at the local level. We also need to see what the outcome of federal sequestration will have on matching monies for airport expansion and operation. Before we plunge in to any more spending we need to have a clear picture of where the state and federal government cuts will lead.

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