Residents prioritize transportation spending at second public meeting

Halen Doughty
Transportation plans on display at the Gonzales Public Safety Center, derived from citizens' surveys and feedback.

The Capital Region Planning Commission held the second public meeting in Gonzales to gather input on proposed construction projects throughout the area.

The open house at the Gonzales Public Safety Center featured visual displays of the results from the first survey, which asked respondents to rank their transportation priorities.

Another discussion will follow as plans are finalized. Those surveyed overwhelmingly agreed reducing traffic congestion is the top issue, with most agreeing safety is a close second. Maintaining existing systems rounded out the top three.

Director of Planning with CRPC Kim Marousek says after showing the public what the priorities were from the first meeting, the goal of Tuesday's meeting is to prioritize spending.

"Understanding what needs are out there and that we have limited resources, what are our highest priority issues," she said.

Other displays featured growth projections for the region. Marousek said it's about understanding what our needs are today and what the expanded need will be in the future. The survey was up at for input on how federal dollar should be allocated.

CRPC Director of Transportation Ravi Ponnapureddy said the main goal of the surveys and meetings is to gather feedback from the public to see how they want to spend the limited dollars available for transportation infrastructure.

"We have more needs than what money we have. So what are the different mechanisms the public will support to raise funding so we can solve more issues," Ponnapureddy said.

Ponnapureddy said these findings will be instrumental in showing elected officials where the public's priorities are and what revenue-raising measures they can get behind, as state leaders will have the final say in which projects can move forward. That's why he's encouraging everyone to complete the next survey.

About 2,600 people completed round one of the survey. CRPC hoped even more residents would provide feedback on the second survey, which closed Sunday, September 17.

"How do they want to spend the dollars that we have? We give them $100 to play around with where they can interactively put them in different categories," Ponnapureddy said.

The next meeting will give residents a chance to approve the final plan before CRPC presents it to lawmakers. Ponnapureddy says they want to gather input from the public one last time so elected officials can be sure their constituents support the proposal.

Move 42 seeks to reduce congestion, improve safety, and add pedestrian and bike lanes. The goal of the transportation initiative is to expand capacity on roadways to meet the growing demand, as the parish population is expected to double in the next 25 years. The coordinated effort between CRPC and the state department of transportation kicked off in June of 2016 and should wrap up by 2042.

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