The Washtenaw Area Transportation Study (WATS) is holding three meetings to hear area residents’ transportation concerns.
WATS is a multi-jurisdictional agency responsible for transportation planning in Washtenaw County. The agency is mandated by Federal law to provide a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive transportation planning process, which guides the expenditure of state and federal transportation funds in Washtenaw County.
WATS annually establishes project priorities for federal Surface Transportation Program Block Grant funds (also known as STP urban funds) and but National Highway Performance Program (NHPP funds). It is the WATS Policy Committee Members, not MDOT, that makes the final decision as to how the approximately $4.5 million a year directly allocated to the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti urbanized areas will be spent. In addition, WATS continually monitors the current condition of the county’s transportation system, including roads, bicycle and pedestrian paths, bridges, and public transit.
The three meetings are:
Jan 17, 4 – 6:30 p.m. @ Chelsea District Library
Jan 18, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. @ EMU Student Center
Jan 18, 5 – 7 p.m. @ Ypsilanti District Library
“If you don’t like coming to public meetings to talk about transportation challenges that you face, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), post them on my agency’s facebook page. We can’t work to develop projects if we don’t know what you need,” stated Suzann Flowers, WATS Facebook page Transportation Planner.
The following are the next steps in their process after contacting WATS.
- I will collect all comments and keep them for our 2045 LRP planning document
- Once this portion of the plan is complete, we will map comments like yours to show where concerns were raised by the public
- Since our agency does not build projects we would share your comment with the appropriate agency, for example, I am familiar with this intersection personally and know that it is the jurisdiction of the WCRC but also with Webster Township.
- We will share all comments collected with members of our Technical and Policy Committee members. Our Policy Committee are the governing board for our agency and they would make final decisions on where funds will be spent.”
It helps to understand the process. WATS acts as a facilitator, a bridge between public concerns (in my case the terribly busy and terribly marked intersection) and awareness by government officials of those concerns. In short, somebody is listening and that’s an encouraging start. But then Suzann surprised me with the next paragraph.
“As for fixing the issue, the best way to start the conversation is with the local jurisdiction,” Flowers stated. “While they may not maintain the roadways the WCRC sits down with every Township yearly to discuss what challenges they are having and what roadways/intersections, etc. need to be fixed or further studied. It should be stated as well that townships that want improvements may be asked to provide funds to support the project.”