Olsson Associates

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Olathe plans for the future with a transportation master plan

Monday, May 18, 2015

Angie Przybylo, Marketing

Potential solutions rendering for Olathe's transportation master planTo build or not to build?

Many city and county officials have faced this question of whether the time was right to use a key tool to address this issue for their communities—a transportation master plan. Faced with growing development and an influx of residents, the City of Olathe, Kansas, used Olsson’s services to plan for the community’s future. Currently in its final stages, the transportation master plan that Olsson helped create will guide the transportation policy and investment decisions to help Olathe meet the mobility needs of residents and businesses.

Assessing Olathe’s needs

In the past decade, the population of Olathe has risen significantly. In addition, the amount of non-resident traffic that passed through the city has also increased tremendously, stretching the current transportation system. Over the next 25 years, Olathe’s land use, population, and employment are expected to continue to rise.

Traffic and transportation are consistently identified by Olathe residents and Olathe city council members as a primary issue of concern within the community. Given the public’s interest and understanding that massive community progress was underway, the City of Olathe began taking a closer look at its transportation network, which includes all modes of transportation—cars, buses, bikes, pedestrians, and freight. They quickly determined a transportation master plan would be a great benefit to help guide its decisions.

Transportation master plan provisions

Olsson came on board and provided key components to create the plan. These components included the following:

Identify and evaluate traffic safety issues, including high-crash locations and key bottlenecks. The team explored methods to enhance the street network, including access management, complete streets, context-sensitive solutions, road “diets,” roadway connectivity, traffic calming, and visual appeal standards.

Partner with Johnson County Transit to evaluate the potential for service expansion. As part of this project, the team evaluated the Olathe taxi coupon program and ridesharing and recommended improvements.

Plan for land use. The team looked how traffic would integrate with emerging industrial areas, potential redevelopment areas, and potential Greenfield development areas. The team also investigated how traffic would circulate around public schools and any resulting parking impacts caused by increased traffic.

Establish performance measures. Using an outcomes-based planning and decision-making framework, the team considered the economic, environmental, and equity benefits and impacts of the transportation plan and investment decisions.

Identify gaps and deficiencies in bicycle and pedestrian systems. The team developed a cost-effective policy to provide active transportation networks using both existing streets and trails. The team also prepared a list of projects that could be designed and constructed as future capital projects.

Engage affected agencies. The team was diligent in engaging city council and planning commission representatives, members of the public, and other key groups in developing the plan. The team also coordinated plan elements with representatives of the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), Johnson County, Gardner, Lenexa, and Overland Park. The team also consulted with key stakeholders such as major area employers, the Olathe Chamber of Commerce, and the school districts.

Analyze community demographics. In analyzing the makeup of the community, the team was better able to assist with developing the future-year travel-demand model and to better understand transportation/mobility needs of special populations (e.g., senior citizens, students, low-income persons, etc.) within the community.

Develop a future-year (2040) travel-demand model. This includes working with the city to produce future population and employment forecasts by traffic analysis zones. The team also tested alternative scenarios using the model.

Recommend a prioritized list with estimated costs. The team suggested a ranked list of both near-term and long-term improvement projects with estimated costs that considered system preservation, system management, travel demand management, capacity expansion, and new roadway construction. The team also identified gaps and deficiencies in the freight system and provided recommendations to increase freight reliability and reduce delays.

Use recommendations for the future. The team’s recommendations will lay the foundation for Olathe to develop its Capital Improvements Program (CIP) and to seek funding from MARC, KDOT, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other sources. The team also identified and reviewed potential means to innovatively finance recommended projects.

Heading into the home stretch

Olsson is currently finalizing the final report for the project. Once the plan is adopted by the City of Olathe, the city will prioritize projects to include in its CIP. Approval and adoption should be completed by mid to late summer. This will set the stage for the city to position itself as a visionary leader in transportation within the Kansas City metropolitan region and in the United States.

How you move between your destinations is just as important as where you live, work, and play. To achieve your goals for a balanced transportation network within your community, or if you have further questions, please contact Todd Frederickson at 913.748.2563 or tfredericksen@olssonassociates.com.

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