Lexington planners ask for public input on the future of Jessamine County transportation

Published 11:04 am Tuesday, April 9, 2024

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The Lexington Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) came to the Jessamine County Public Library at the end of March to present the upcoming long-range transportation plan, explain the process, and ask for public input from locals.

This long-range plan guides the development of regionally significant transportation projects and services and how federal highway and public transportation dollars will be utilized over the next 25 years. Since so many people travel between the counties every day, this plan includes Fayette County and Jessamine County.

There’s a large list of transportation and infrastructure projects in Fayette and Jessamine Counties. With safety at the forefront, the efficient movement of people and goods to a secondary place next, and the realistic ability to pay for the projects with federal, state, and local dollars– this is how the Transportation Committee decides on what projects to commit to the 25-year plan. To be clear, every project must be able to be paid for realistically, or else they cannot be included in the 25-year plan.

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Lexington Area MPO Senior Planner Scott Thompson states this process is lengthy. The planning staff, which he is a part of, must go through a process of data analysis, safety, transportation trends, and population projections. The staff must consider the above and hear public input but ultimately bring the plan’s final draft to the Transportation Committee, which comprises community leaders from Nicholasville, Wilmore, Jessamine, and Fayette Counties.

A big question asked throughout this process is, “What is the demand and how do we take a very long list of projects and a set amount of dollars and make sure that we’re implementing the ones that have the most impact on the populations, right?” Thompson said.

The goals for the 25-year plan were developed early on. The Transportation Committee uses them to score the projects. “Safety is a big priority, and there’s a couple of initiatives around that,” Thompson said. Under safety, initiatives include moving towards zero traffic fatalities and ensuring streets that are safe for everyone and useful for all users.

The second initiative is access and equity. “Car ownership is expensive, some people just can’t do it, and they should be able to move safely and efficiently throughout communities without a car,” Thompson said

Resiliency is important too, ensuring that people have options to get around in case of collisions or shutdown roadways– this means transportation systems need to be well-connected and there needs to be multiple options for people to get around.

Quality of life is another important goal, “recognizing that these are communities where people live, and kids play, and people play. There needs to be an awareness of that. And that comes back to safety as well,” Thompson said.

Lastly, there is the goal of sustainability. “That word really translates across a lot of what we do, from material choices to energy use to air quality and congestion. These are all things that contribute to a less sustainable planet. So we want to focus on how we can improve sustainability throughout the project process,” Thompson said.

Projects throughout Jessamine County include the multi-use pathway that will connect U.S. 68 to U.S. 2827, making it much safer for children to get to school. Before this, children would have to walk on the side of the sidewalk-less road.

Another project for Jessamine and Fayette Counties is the legacy trail. According to Thompson, this multi-use trail will stretch from Georgetown to Wilmore. Much of the trail is completed in Fayette County, with pieces of the trail throughout Jessamine County that just need to be connected to be completed.

Another exciting transportation project in the 25-year plan is creating a transit station at Brannon Crossing.

Director of the Metropolitan Planning Organization Chris Evilia requests that Jessamine County residents submit public comments about transportation issues they experience around the county. “Our policy is we’ll take it any way we can get—mail, online, in-person, calling, and even ‘passenger pigeons, ‘” Evilia said. The deadline for public comment is Monday, April 15.

“After this plan is completed and we have this larger group of projects adopted, we have something called the transportation improvement program, or TIP,” Thompson said. The TIP is the implementation part of the equation, and the 25-year plan is the planning part of the equation.

Comments may be submitted through the following formats:
US Postal Service:
Lexington Area Metropolitan Planning Organization
101 East Vine St, Suite 700
Lexington, KY 40507
Email: lexareampo@lexingtonky.gov
Social Media Facebook: @LexingtonAreaMPO
On Wednesday, April 10 6-8 p.m., the Metropolitan Planning Organization of Lexington will be back at the Jessamine County Public Library to explain the long-range planning process, and to take public input.

According to Evilia, the process of choosing projects for the 4-year TIP will start right after the 25-year plan is adopted and will be finalized in August or September.