After nearly a decade, Olathe is updating its transportation master plan.
The city’s massive growth over recent years has prompted the city to take a harder look at its transportation network, which includes routes for cars, buses, bikes, walkers and freight. The city’s population was 113,000 in 2004 and is about 130,000 today.
To kick-start the process, city staff held a public meeting recently at the Olathe Community Center.
Several residents showed up for the workshop to voice their concerns and suggestions.
After group discussions, most of them agreed maintaining the city’s trails, relieving traffic congestion on Santa Fe Boulevard and improving transit were a must.
Others pointed out that closing gaps in the sidewalk system and improving road conditions also were important.
Using the residents’ input, and after conducting research, city staff and hired consultants will come up with a draft over the next several months. After another public meeting in the spring, they hope to have a final plan ready for city council approval by next summer.
“Our staff can identify the technical concerns, but Olathe residents help us with transforming our future,” said Thomas Dow, the city’s transportation manager. “It’s important to hear what people want out of their transportation, so we can try to do something about it.”
Not only will the plan help identify appropriate projects for the next couple decades, but it will allow the city to apply for grants to fund those projects, Dow added.
In addition to public meetings, the city plans to meet with the Olathe Chamber of Commerce and seek input from representatives of the city’s Hispanic community.
Staff members may also set up display boards about the plan in the city’s libraries and a survey has been put up on the city’s website for people to provide input.
Coming up with a transportation plan is a tad tricky for an expanding city like Olathe, which is drawing more and more major businesses and residents each year. Projecting future growth and contemplating the transportation needs that might come with it requires a lot of creativity.
“Growth is a good challenge for us,” Dow said. “You have to find that balance of maintaining existing infrastructure, while also planning for what may come.”
Many residents at the meeting said they couldn’t wait to see the final results of the plan.
Resident Troy Eisenbraun is hopeful the city will take his suggestions into consideration.
“I’d like to see better bike access to Heritage Park,” he said. “I would spend more time there with my daughter if it was easier to ride there. It’s a great place.”
Another resident, John Lapsley, would like to see the bus system improved within the city.
All the input pleased city staff and the consultants.
“Transportation is more than just being stuck in traffic,” Dow said. “This is our footprint to the future. I’m excited residents are taking the time to care.”
On the Web
For more information about the transportation master plan, and to take the city’s survey, visit OlatheKS.org/TransportationMasterPlan.