The MPO Wants You To Think About the City of the Future



Residents of Sarasota and Manatee Counties still have until November 30th to contribute to the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Long Range Transportation Plan, a region-wide survey on the shape of our community’s transportation future. While state organizations like the Florida Department of Transportation only plan the construction of roads, bike lanes, highways, and public transportation in five year increments, the MPO is federally mandated to organize all local transportation initiatives produced by metropolitan areas with more than 50,000 residents into a cohesive 25 year vision for transit and urban design. They are required by law to update this plan every five years, to reflect the changing needs and attitudes of the community they serve.

Which is to say, the MPO is an organization that thinks about the future. In 25 years, the amount of available dry land in Florida will have already begun to change. Will future Floridians drive vehicles powered by internal combustion? When they go back and forth to work, will they use boats, bicycles, or some other combination of wheels, rotors, wings, and sails? Will this future focus more on highways that favor inter-regional commerce? Which neighborhoods will be kept quiet, sheltered from dangerous traffic flows? Will there be adequate public transit to serve laborers who don’t own their own vehicles? Will working class communities have sidewalks on roads that lead to their children’s schools? Will human beings even drive their own cars, in 25 years? No one can know for sure, but change itself is inevitable.

Corrine Tucker, Sarasota-Manatee MPO’s Public Involvement Coordinator, understands that roads are political. You want to make sure that the conversation isn't one sided. Everyone's got an agenda except for the community—that's why these types of surveys are so important, especially on a longer scale,” she tells SRQ Daily.

Having driven the first round of the LRTP survey to a rousing success, and included more than 2000 residents in the study, Tucker is happy to report that there is less than a 5 percent difference in participation between all of the zip codes in the region. This next part of the LRTP is longer, and more detail-oriented, and yet almost 200 residents of Sarasota and Manatee have already participated. It’s more than the MPO expected, but Tucker still wants more participation from the public. “Transportation isn’t a problem . . . until it’s a problem,” she says wryly. But crisis thinking will only lead to short term solutions, and the LRTP survey represents a rare opportunity for the community to imagine the shape of our future cities, before they come to be.

Take the Survey Here!

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