By SAMANTHA SUNDLY/Montana State News

The Bozeman City Commission heard a special presentation by Jeff Key on the updated city Transportation Master Plan (TMP) on Monday. The new plan was initiated in November 2015, surveying community members on their priorities for the city’s road and bikeways in order to recommend transportation improvements in Bozeman.

Survey results revealed an overwhelming community priority, with 73.3 percent of participants providing a “strongly agree” rating to the sixth TMP goal of environmental sustainability.

Surveys were released Dec. 7, 2015 on a Bozeman Online City Hall forum, eliciting 393 responses on citizen’s priorities for improving Bozeman transportation. The survey questions focused specifically on Bozeman citizens’ agreement or disagreement with the TMP’s seven transportation goals.

According to the Bozeman Transportation Master Plan website, these goals include:

maintaining existing transportation; improving efficiency, performance and connectivity of a balanced transportation system; supporting and promoting coordinated land use and transportation planning efforts; providing a safe and secure transportation system; supporting economic vitality of the community; protecting and enhancing environmental sustainability, providing opportunities for active lifestyles, and conserving natural and cultural resources, and promoting a financially sustainable transportation plan that is actively used to guide the transportation decision making process.

Bozeman has been developing its major street network since the 1960’s, which Key admits hasn’t changed much since the last transportation plan in 2007. The most recognizable alteration came when community members questioned the need for certain roadways, such as the 1997 proposal to extend the new Oak Street to reach the Highland Boulevard extension of Main Street.

City transportation plans for improvement are necessary for a community that Key points out is “growing two-fold in population.” Key notes that the northwest and southwest areas of the Bozeman community are most in need of a strengthened roadway system. The Transportation Master Plan lays out a 24-year plan with a $55 million budget to maintain and update Bozeman’s transportation system. As of right now Key identifies 11 committed projects, with the funding for these projects becoming available in the next five years.

Joe Gilpin, another member of the TMP project, also spoke on some of the issues that the TMP is directly trying to solve, including the lack of sidewalks and crosswalks on some major streets.

Gilpin said the priority is to make transportation accessible for bicyclists and pedestrians, saying “comfort is a priority.” Gilpin said he wishes to see an uptake in biking and walking around the community, especially for those who commute from less central communities, such as the Valley West area off of West Babcock Street.

Meeting attendees were also informed of the TMP’s third information meeting, which is scheduled for March 2. According to Key, the goal of these meetings is to unveil the preliminary findings of the surveys and research, and to receive input and comments. Past meetings have gathered anywhere from 30 to 60 community members, and the TMP members even provided information on their findings and progress at the Christmas Stroll in 2016.

– edited by Emily Schabacker

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