An efficient transportation system can be compared to the circulation system in human beings. Both are important aspects of human life. Transportation routes just like routes and attitudes are the life lines of economies. The economic growth is directly related to efficiency of its transportation structure. Many local governments are creating motivated plans to improve, maintain and expand their transportation structure. In the process, some have overestimated the benefits of such projects; tax payers have incurred huge expenses as a result.
The viability of the Metropolitan Transportation Plan 2035 for Pocatello, the contents of the plan, comparison with the facts on population growth, present and future transportation needs will be analyzed in this study. These facts will determine whether the plan is too motivated or within the best interest of the people of Pocatello
The city of Pocatello put in place a long range transportation plan to be applied by 2035. The Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP 2035) was “designed to meet the needs of the Pocatello metropolitan community as it advances into the future” (Bannock Transportation Planning Organization 2). The MTP will be adjusted after every four years to ensure that it meets the developing transportation requirements of the city.
MTP is a good roadmap for the transportation system in Pocatello. The plan sets the goals for the future by building an image for the transportation system. In addition, the plan has techniques that detect and solve present transportation problems. Finally, MTP identifies good strategies that should be followed to improve the transport system.
Pocatello is a city located in the South East of Idaho, USA. It is the largest city in Bannock County and is ranked fifth largest in the state after Idaho Falls. The city is home to Idaho State University and a factory for ON Semiconductors. According to the survey conducted in 2010, Pocatello has a population of 54,255(City Data). The population was 51,466 in 2000. This means that in 10 years, the population of the city had grown at an average rate of 278.9 people per year. Pocatello has a successful business community and was ranked by Forbes as one of the best places to conduct business. “The population of white people is 86.8% (47,088), Asians (1.5%), 1.15% Asians, 7.2% Hispanic, American Indians 1.4%, Blacks 0.9%, and 0.72% African Americans, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders 0.2%, and 4.46% as other races” (City Data).
Population growth is the key indicator of the importance of MTP. “The population of Bannock County is expected to grow from 74,674 in 2010 to about 100,523 in 2035” (Bannock Transportation Planning Organization). This population increase will lead to more human, bicycle and vehicle traffic. If the present transportation system is not improved gradually, there will be too much traffic in transport system. This will affect the economy by slowing movement of labor, goods and services.
The plan is to improve the highways and other non-motorized ways by focusing all community advantages towards improvement of the system. The plan will allow the local communities to handle the impact of economic growth and population increase without affecting movement. Communities will be involved in the process of maintaining and creating transit routes. The biggest challenge to this plan will be to ensure that the applied projects do not become useless. All the projects are created based on projected future population growth which might not occur. Pocatello recorded a negative population growth of -0.6% in 1990; it is possible that the population might not grow in the future. This means that the existing transportation systems may still be usable longer into the future even without expansion.
The economy has also been affected by the global recession which started in 2007. Households are affected by decreasing savings, high loan interests and increased unemployment. “The average annual household income in Pocatello is $34,326” (City Data). The average family earns $41,884 which is low compared to other states. As the economy recovers slowly, it may take a while before families are able to have enough to spare on additional family cars.
Despite these uncertain projections, the MTP is still a well-developed roadmap that if will improve the transportation system of Pocatello if applied carefully. The MTP focuses on 5 key areas of action. These are community development, transportation safely and efficiency, environmental protection, increasing movement choices and creating livable communities. The plan proposed to create and maintain excellent transportation organization while protecting the community and the environment. This is a commendable inclusion in the plan since the environment is often overlooked during expansion projects.
The plan has service standards which will be used to amount the presentation of the transport system. The standards will be used to identify problems areas and determine sections that require improvements. It is important for a project of such magnitude to have a system of measuring performance. “These values are available for highways, transit routes, bicycles and all pedestrian routes. Highway values should be above level D of service while transit routes will serve a maximum population density of 3000 per square mile” (Bannock Transportation Planning Organization 4). All bicycle and pedestrian routes should be available to sidewalks with direct connections to public areas such as schools, parks.
Communities will be involved in determining the importance of projects. A series of public meetings will be used to collect public opinion for which projects to undertake. This is because there is limited financial resource available for the project compared to the total number of 81 projects identified. The cost of upgrading the transportation system to the recommended service standard is $126 million (Bannock Transportation Planning Organization). To handle this financial problem, only 10 projects were identified and listed in order of priority. The project will use the services of professional city planners and land developers to make the best routes to supplement the existing ones. This will reduce land waste and increase links between areas such as residential areas, public services and commercial centers.
Environmental conservation is part of the fears dealt with in the plan. Improvement of the bicycle and pedestrian routes will encourage more residents of the city to cycle and walk (Imran 506). This will reduce the number of people using vehicles to run such small shops such as a visit to buy vegetables. Imran states that “an efficient transport system improves movement by increasing transport options and reducing time wasted in traffic” (507). This will increase environmental conservation by reducing air pollution which caused by car exhaust emissions.
The future of Pocatello is dependent on its ability to adapt to changes that will occur in the future. Population growth is an essential part of city area development. Economic growth is one of the biggest reasons of population growth. As more opportunities for employment arise, more people move into city areas to take up jobs. These people who arrive put pressure on social services and organization. Transportation is just one of the first systems to downfall. To counter this, many metropolitan cities have put in place devices for maintaining, upgrading and creating new transportation systems. The MTP is an example of a plan that is set as a futuristic goal for Pocatello’s transport system.
As showed in this paper, it is important to ensure that the plans are set on realistic projections of future transportation needs. The planners should include all stakeholders during the planning process. They should also conduct a possibility study on each project to determine its possibility. All projects should be analyzed for their effect on the environment. The goal is to create transportation systems that will use good and safe materials for the environment which will leave a small carbon print.
The Metropolitan Transport Plan 2035 has all the parts of a good plan. The four year time frame put in place for validating the projects will be used to correct any projection errors that were made earlier. Finally, the Metropolitan Transportation Plan 2035 is an excellent plan for Pocatello.
Bannock Transportation Planning Organization.2035 Metropolitan Transportation Plan
Amendment.5 December, 2011. Web. 24 September 2012
City Data. Pocatello, Idaho. 2010. Web. 24 September 2012
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