Future transportation plan seeks input

By Mike McDaniel - bio | email | Twitter

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Whether you prefer street, rail, foot or bike, face it, transportation keeps us moving. To keep up with "us", a long term plan is now needing some updates.

"It actually determines where our transportation future goes," said Metropolitan Planning Organization Division Manager Christine Brown.

The MPO, consisting of Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest and Lamar Counties, is asking for input as to what direction folks want to see in their future transportation and not just major corridors like the western loop project around the Hub city or that soon to be implemented truck route.

"We're interested in pedestrian bike pathways, we're interested in intelligent transportation systems, we're interested in rails," said Brown, who also adds every 5 years the organization's 30 year transportation plan is updated.

"The best plan is a plan the people are allowed to provide input into," said Brown.

And it's up to those who use transportation to push for projects and new ideas, an important process Brown says sometimes yields little input.

"A lot of people do not realize that a lot of your transportation issues, a lot of the construction projects that you see that receive federal funding in this area would not happen if it is not on this plan," said Brown.

"We're going to each and every organization that we can possibly reach that have an interest in the transportation system," said Neel-Schaffer Engineer Vijay Kunada.

That public outreach led to the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association meeting Thursday morning where folks pitched around several issues, from bike paths and sidewalks, to late night transit systems and better infrastructure. But there's always that one 'green' problem.

"There's not enough money to do everything you need.so, we're trying to the best we can with the money that's available," said Neel-Schaffer Planner L.P. Ledet.

Lack of funds won't, however, stop an idea or project from being put into the plan, it just may take some time to get to, just a realization from a plan hoping to pave the way for transportation into 2035.

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