Public transportation around the Manhattan community is a rarity. However, the Flint Hills Metropolitan Planning Organization could change that. The organization held an open house on Sept. 17 at City Hall in the Manhattan City Commission room. FHMPO staff and consultant team members discussed one-on-one with community members who had questions or concerns about their plan.
Stephanie Watts, transportation planner for FHMPO, was eager to introduce the plan, which extends to the year 2040. The meeting was the initial involvement with community feedback, in order to begin creating goals.
“What we are hoping to do is to just get a feel from the public, you know, where would you like your transportation system to go and what are the needs that we need to be addressing as part of this,” Watts said.
The FHMPO goal is to provide a variety of modes of transportation including automobiles, transit and bicycles, as well as walking. The efficiency and safety of the public area is the essential focus of the organization, as the sources of funding towards these projects are the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Highway Administration. The funds are distributed by the Kansas Department of Transportation to the six FHMPO’s across Kansas.
“At the end of this process, we will put together a document of this transportation plan that shows the existing conditions, where we are today and where we want to go,” Watts said.
This document, though required by KDOT, is also an opportunity for FHMPO to set its goals and plan how to achieve them. Regional Planner for the Flint Hills Regional Council Jeff Adams described how this plan encompasses Pottawatomie, Geary and Riley County. He added that universities are an integral part of how transportation is used in cities and that is something Manhattan has to look at.
“The reason why it’s not just the urbanized areas is that there is this idea of growing in the future,” Senior Transportation Planner Jocelyn Hoffman, said.
K-State is growing in how it views plans of student transportation and campus efficiency. Adams encourages students to visit the Flint Hills Region website so they can post comments and concerns.
“We’ve got a great opportunity, but we need college student feedback,” Adams said.
The community members that were present discussed one-on-one with many of the FHMPO members before and after the presentation. Watts stressed the importance of future feedback from the public. This meeting was the beginning of that.
“We wanted to make sure that we gave plenty of opportunity for the public input, since this plan really is for the public to know that these are the projects that are coming your way over the next 25 years,” Watts said.
Meetings similar to this will be planned in the future for continual input from the community.