Long-range transportation planners are working long hours in the Upstate this week, as committees from both the Greenville Pickens Area Transportation Study (GPATS) and the Anderson Area Transportation Study (ANATS) move closer to completing research projects that will impact Upstate roads for decades.
Safety was the No. 1 concern raised by residents in surveys and meetings as part of the Horizon 2040 process, said traffic engineer and consultant Alison Fluitt. That was followed in order by bicycle/pedestrian accommodations and public transportation concerns.
The GPATS committee will prioritize the more than 200 recommendations made in the study, which includes renovations to 108 highway corridors and 131 intersections in five counties — Greenville, Pickens, Oconee, Laurens and the northern portion of Anderson.
“We’ll not be able to fund everything; we’ll not be able to fund half of everything,” Fluitt said, noting that the cost of all recommendations stood at $1.35 billion while the total revenues expected between now and 2040 totalled only $417 million.
Most of the recommendations involve widening roads to accommodate more traffic. A few suggest new roads.
The committee will use the surveys to craft a plan that will address the region’s demographics of the future, which suggest that public transportation will be a growing priority. Between 2000 and 2014, the regional population was an aging one, with poverty up 50 percent in those 14 years, according to the study.
“I think we’re on the verge of the biggest transportation change since the arrival of the automobile,” Fluitt said, pointing toward the area’s transportation needs of the next 23 years. “How are people going to get around in 2040? Will our older residents be driving cars? Will the cars drive them? Will they get around in buses? Other forms of public transportation? We need to plan for those changes.”
Those recommendations will be prioritized in the final report, which is likely to be compiled in mid-October, said Greenville County Transportation Planning Manager and GPATS committee member Keith Brockington.
About 50 residents attended the final Horizon 2040 regional workshop in Greenville on Tuesday, raising the number of in-person participants to about 300 and the number of survey respondents to more than 2,000 — well above the expected level.
“It’s hard to get people inspired when you’re talking about the year 2040,” sFluitt said following Tuesday’s meeting at the TD Center, “but if you want something funded in the future, it has to start here.”
Low turnouts are the norm for long-range planning meetings, so much that Fluitt, whose Kimley-Horn consulting firm conducts long-range traffic studies throughout the Southeast, called the GPATS participation “the most robust we’ve had in terms of participants.”
Anderson Area Transportation Study committee member Mike Gay said that program remains open for the rest of this week, as the survey is available on the city website (www.cityofandersonsc.com). Results of the survey will be compiled next week and forwarded to the ANATS Policy Committee, which is expected to discuss the plan in a late September meeting.
How much will be spent per county by the South Carolina Department of Transportation remains to be determined.
“We wanted to give residents as much time as possible to respond,” Gay said of the plan, which will address Anderson County’s projected transportation needs through 2040.
Among intersections known to be part of the plan, Gay said, are the S.C. 187 and Whitehall Road crossing, where an X-shaped configuration will be renovated, and an intersection in downtown Belton where South Main and Campbell’s Street meet.
Federal regulations require long-range planning studies every 10 years. Both the GPAT and ANAT studies are due this year.
Meanwhile, the South Carolina Department of Transportation launched a a new website Wednesday, one devoted to its 10-year plan for the state’s highway system. The website will feature project lists for three of the four major programs — highway safety, structurally deficient bridges, and interstate widening — that comprise the DOT’s 10-year plan.
In an unrelated announcement, the Upstate Transportation Coalition announced the launch of a new website Wednesday, one that will address the region’s public transportation needs.
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