Creating a Comprehensive Transportation Plan for the City of Norman
A plan, or planning, involves looking ahead and trying to address future perceived needs, circumstances, or goals with coherent strategy or strategies assuring that the resources needed are identified and available and intelligently applied, when needed. Planning is the process by which a community assesses what it is and what it wants to become, and then decides how to make that happen. A transportation plan addresses the relationship between transportation and land use and helps implement community values and the ability to connect neighborhoods to destinations.
The City of Norman is embarking on a multi-year process to develop a Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) for our community called “Moving Forward”. The CTP will identify future transportation needs for the area, goals and policies, and short-term and long-term capital investments for improvements to existing roads, construction of new roads, bicycle, pedestrian, and transit facilities. It will provide a framework for a balanced transportation system that offers choices in how people travel, supported by a realistic approach to fund improvements.
The “Moving Forward” Plan, as the CTP has been named, will serve as Norman’s long-term vision for a range of transportation options and accommodations including personal and commercial vehicles, bicycling, walking, and public transit services. As an initial stage of the CTP, the City conducted a visioning process where a series of public meetings identified many issues to be addressed and the goals to be achieved by the CTP. Community input provided during 2011 and early 2012 helped to provide direction for preparing goals and policies and serves as the foundation and vision for drafting the City's CTP, which has been approved to proceed at the end of 2012 and should be in the final stages of completion by the end of 2013.
Two groups were appointed to guide the development of the scope for the ultimate CTP for Norman. It is expected that these groups would lead future phases as well. These include a Citizens Visioning Committee and a Steering Committee. The Citizens Visioning Committee assisted in developing a mental picture of what residents want Norman to look and feel like in the future and will continue that involvement during development of the full CTP. The Steering Committee serves as the liaison to the Norman City Council and keeps the decision-makers in step with the plan as it progresses. These two committees provide input and recommendations and help guide the community involvement for the CTP.
In 2011, an initial phase of effort involved the development of vision and goals for the CTP. A series of community listening sessions were conducted in Council Wards around Norman as well as with special interest groups during late October and November of 2011 to obtain input from residents and stakeholders in the community in an effort to establish goals and priorities for preparing the City's CTP. These meetings involved listening, conversation, and deliberation in exploring transportation options necessary to accommodate future growth and enhance the quality of life in Norman. Community input helped provide policy direction for decisions related to planning transportation facilities in the City. The primary goal of this process was to plan for a well-balanced transportation system that offers choices in how people travel and is supported by a realistic plan to fund these improvements. Guiding principles from which the project goals were developed included: 1) A Special Place to Live; 2) Mobility; 3) Maintain and Preserve Existing Infrastructure; 4) Fiscal Stewardship; and 5) Enhance Economic Vitality.
In November, 2012, the City hired a consulting team led by Freese and Nichols, Inc. (FNI), to lead the development of the plan, incorporating the vision and goals developed in the earlier efforts. FNI is a transportation, planning, and engineering firm founded in 1894 and has assisted cities in the planning and preparation of community plans, transportation plans, and infrastructure design for over 100 years. More information concerning FNI can be found at their website (www.freese.com).