(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) -- Over the next 20 years, St. Joseph will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on transportation needs. The question is where will the money be most effective. All possibilities are being explored in the development of a new long-range transportation needs plan being created by the St. Joseph Metropolitan Planning Organizaton
"Transit, bike pad, freight movement, roads, bridges, any kind of transportation you can think of," said Chance Gallagher, a transit program manager.
The group has been looking for public input over the past several months. Already nearly 900 people have completed surveys.
"We've reached out to stakeholders, industry, to hear what their needs are," said Jim Meyer, a senior transportation planner for AECOM, an engineering firm enlisted to help with the process.
An open house Thursday at city hall provided another opportunity to show some of the early planning for the future.
One of the major focuses will be on public transportation and the city's bus system, which is in the process of seeing an entire new fleet of vehicles. New routes and easier access are among the items on the checklist.
"With the improvements we've been making we hope to bring in choice riders, people that just don't want a car anymore and they want to ride the bus," Gallagher said.
Adding to St. Joseph's hiker/biker trail and parkway system is another area being looked at. However, the future of the I-229 double decker bridge will play a major factor in any plan, which is still undetermined.
"There's one section of the plan that is the fiscally constrained part where we need to know how much projects are going to cost," Gallagher said. "We can put them on the first list and hopefully check them off in the first 5-10 years. That one is not one you can put on there yet. There's just not a dollar sign to that yet."
The draft of the plan is expected to be finalized in the next two months. In September it will go up for 45 days of public review.
The framework for the next 20 years of transportation needs should be in place by January.
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