Montana Department of Transportation

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Whitefish Transportation Plan

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the purpose of this Transportation Plan / Corridor Study?

The purpose of this transportation planning effort is to evaluate the community’s transportation system, and ascertain what is needed to make the transportation system work over the course of the planning horizon (year 2030). Considerable work has been performed through other projects in the community, most notably the recent re-evaluation of the US Highway 93 urban corridor through the “Whitefish – Urban” design project. However, due to growth pressures and the need to link to the various planning efforts occurring throughout Whitefish, it was decided that the entire community needed to be examined as a whole when examining transportation conditions and future needs, and not just to focus on limitations of the urban center. The purpose, then, is to develop an urban Transportation Plan that coordinates with the desires and direction of the community as a whole, while still providing a safe, functioning, and multi-modal transportation system that can accommodate existing and future travel demands. The end product of this important planning effort will be a useable Transportation Plan that can help guide infrastructure improvements in the community, coupled with setting a course for improvements to the urban core of Whitefish.

How are community leaders and agencies involved in the study?

The planning process will be collaborative in nature, involving area elected officials, agency representatives, transportation organizations, user groups and landowners to ensure local perspectives are represented. A Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) will be formed to facilitate ongoing participation and guidance by key stakeholders, agencies, and organizations. The CAC will meet with the project team no more than four (4) times over the coming year (2007) to provide input, share ideas and review and comment on draft plan recommendations.

Who is the project management team?

The Montana Department of Transportation, in partnership with the City of Whitefish, is the agency lead for this study. Robert Peccia & Associates (RPA), a regional consulting firm headquartered in Helena with a branch office in Evergreen, will assist the MDT and the community in completing the planning effort by the end of November, 2007.

How will the results of the study be used?

The results of the study will be used to guide transportation infrastructure needs within the community over the planning horizon. It will also assist in setting the course for improvements to the downtown urban core related to multi-modal access and community desires for transportation facilities. Study recommendations may be integrated into MDT’s and other local affected planning agencies transportation plans and programs based on funding availability. The results of the study will also provide information to support efforts to identify funding for future projects.

MDT and the project team will collect and consider all public comments received to better understand the public view of potential issues. The team will then determine the next steps that best meets the study purpose and has the support of cooperating organizations, regulatory agencies, stakeholders, and the general public.

Who makes the decisions regarding the study?

The project team consists of individuals representing MDT, the City of Whitefish, and RPA. Community input, traffic, engineering, environmental, and economic information will be analyzed by the project team and recommendations will be formulated. MDT and the City of Whitefish will subsequently make the final decisions regarding recommended improvements based on available funding.

How can the public/community contribute to the study?

The general public is invited to participate in the process through public open house events (yet-to-be scheduled but anticipated to begin in late March, 2007) and ongoing project information review and input. This project web site has been developed to provide on-line opportunities to comment on the needs of the region’s transportation system and later, on the draft plan recommendations. Dates, times, and locations will be announced prior to the events through the local media and the project mailing list.

Those with a specific interest in the project are encouraged to join the project mailing list. They can do so by submitting their name and contact information to Sheila Ludlow at the address or e-mail shown below, calling the recorded comment line at (800) 714-7296, or completing and returning the project comment sheets that will be included in the project newsletters to be distributed to everybody in the 59937 zip code at appropriate points during the projects development.

To keep the public informed about the study, project information is being published on this web site, in local media venues, and in newsletters. The public may also provide input or questions by contacting any of the listed contacts.

How will Study recommendations be evaluated?

Decision-makers will inherently be faced with tradeoffs during the transportation planning process. The study is designed to determine impacts – potentially both adverse and beneficial – of various transportation issues in the community and the downtown corridor. Consideration of planned and on-going land development, the environment, and community values, as well as sound engineering standards, will shape many of the recommendations and study findings. The determination of the various plan recommendations will involve comparing the tradeoffs among the various ideas, as well as a review of the public comments pertaining to the draft plan recommendations. MDT and the City of Whitefish will consider these comments and evaluate all relevant information as may be deemed appropriate. Final transportation and corridor specific recommendations will reflect the outcome of this process and the identification of truly appropriate courses of action for the community transportation system.