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Brookings tackles transportation needs

It’s been almost 20 years since the city of Brookings updated its Transportation System Plan and the new one is likely to include a bunch of new elements, reflecting how the city has grown and changed in those years.

The city has received a $190,000 grant — it must provide a $35,000 match — to hire a firm to conduct a study to determine what transportation will be needed in the future. A major component will include bicycles, ADA improvements and best routes for students to get to school and for ambulances to leave the city, said Donna Colby-Hanks, planning manager for the city.

The firm the city selected is Parametrix, a Portland-based engineering, design and environmental firm that specializes in traffic solutions. Its subcontractor, Alta Planning and Design, works around communities to make bicycling and walking safe and healthy activities.

Transportation plans

Brookings’ transportation plan was first crafted in the late 1990s, when the city expanded its Urban Growth Boundary to include parts of Harbor; the plan was adopted in 2002.

“Then, the focus was basically vehicles,” Colby-Hanks said. “It didn’t have a bicycle component. It really needs to be expanded.”

The grant is from the state Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Land Conservation and Development division — an amount city officials were able to negotiate to its benefit.

“They originally offered $100,000 and we realized we needed more,” said Public Works Director Loree Pryce. “We talked to them about the need and ODOT supported the extra work. The originally grant amount wouldn’t have satisfied the amount of work needed here, and they recognized the need.”

The study is needed to determine future transportation needs 20 years into the future, which will enable the city to apply for grant funds for other projects, and repair elements of the system that don’t work. Among them might be intersections with limited visibility, nonexistent sidewalks and bicycle kiosks and maps.

It will take a year and a half to do the study, Colby-Hanks said.

Some improvements are obvious, Pryce added. The shoulder along Highway 101 from Fifth Street north is narrow, making bicycling dangerous. Many sidewalks throughout town abruptly end due to town codes that allowed developers to wait to build curbs and sidewalks until more construction took place on any given block. A section of road along Oceanview Drive in Harbor has no shoulder for bicyclists.

“We want to get as many miles of designated bike path as we can,” Pryce said.

This study would not delve into the minutiae of the work the city has scheduled to take place on Railroad Street. Part of that work will include building a multi-purpose path for pedestrians and bikes along an already well-traveled part of town. That work is already planned and funded.

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