Long-range transportation plan coming out of the oven

Mike Tooley
Guest Columnist

After more than a year of effort, comments from people in nearly every county in Montana, and careful evaluation of Montana’s transportation needs and priorities, we are ready to publish our draft long-range transportation plan update, TranPlanMT.

The update process for this 20-year policy plan allows MDT to assess Montana’s transportation system and effectively plan for our transportation future. We’ve identified goals and strategies to address trends, issues, needs, priorities, and funding sources and outlined these elements in the document.

Last May, we came together with transportation partners, user groups, safety professionals, and local and tribal governments to launch the TranPlanMT update effort and ask our customers about transportation needs and priorities for Montana in the coming years.   We received input through public surveys, in-person meetings, and more than 600 online comments.

Now, we’re offering you a chance to review the work we’ve done to date and tell us if we got it right!  From now until July 12, we invite you to visit http://www.mdt.mt.gov/tranplan, review the TranPlanMT summary and supporting technical volumes, and provide feedback to help us finalize our planning effort.

Moving forward we want to focus on continuing strong programs, building on past successes, and finding cost-effective solutions to our most pressing transportation issues. Your feedback will help us address our six key priority areas — safety, system preservation and maintenance, mobility and economic vitality, accessibility and connectivity, environmental stewardship, and business operations and management.

This past April, our legislature and Governor Bullock passed and signed the Bridge and Road Safety and Accountability Act, a highway user fee increase, to help fund transportation investments across Montana. Even so, needs are still anticipated to outpace available funding. Aging infrastructure, increasing demand, and funding limitations will continue to require smart management and innovative solutions to meet growing system needs.

We know safe and reliable roads, bridges, rest areas, walkways, transit facilities, and airports are vital to our customers and that’s important to us. We will continue working with community and regional leaders to preserve Montana’s critical transportation infrastructure.

TranPlanMT is not a document that’s going to sit on a shelf. It will help us manage Montana’s transportation network for the next 10, 15, and 20 years. We’re proud of the partnership between our staff, transportation partners, and you as we set the direction for Montana’s transportation policies. Let’s keep moving Montana forward, together!

(Mike Tooley is director of the Montana Department of Transportation.)