The Barton County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan steering committee has been formed and will meet for the first of five times Tuesday afternoon to discuss the future of active transportation county-wide.
A project funded by Be Well Barton County, the steering committee is comprised of community members from across Barton County and includes: County and city personnel; bicycle, running and walking enthusiasts; other officials; and private business owners.
“The Barton County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan encourages a cohesive vision and promotes wellness,” said Sue Cooper, Be Well Barton County program coordinator. “We aspire to create a safe environment for people of all abilities.”
The plan will serve as a tool and resource that may be used by the county and cities for planning and development and help to explore current and future areas of land use and identify routes that foster connectivity, she said. “We also want to encourage public policy that promotes walking and bicycling to community destination points.”
“The plan will serve as tool and resource that may be used by the county and cities for planning and development of walking and biking projects and policies,” Cooper said. Through these meetings and a series of public forums, the committee plans to arrive at a finalized plan in 2016.
This work is important, Cooper said. “Any implementation by the county or cities of the master plan could mean increased wellness for families as well as encouraged natural transportation, and safer walking and biking routes.”
And, Cooper said, it is meaningful because it draws together representatives from all over the county to work on a unified goal.
Following a review of public comments and suggestions, the final plan will be presented to the local units of government for consideration. Updates will be provided through media outlets as well as Golden Belt Community Foundation’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Martin A. Shukert, principal of RDG Planning & Design of Omaha, Neb., has been hired to draft the plan. Shukert is also working on the Flint Hills Nature Trails Master Plan as well as the local Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway plan. However, he said this master plan will be infinitely more detailed.
“Our Great Bend/Barton County document will cover the entire county and communities,” he said. This will encompass city streets, the county roads (including the routes that have previously identified) and the connections between them.
There is a lot to this, Shukert said.
Among the things under consideration is a plan for an integrated system that includes specific recommendations for infrastructure, pavement treatments, signage, and other specifics. These involve a phased development program with attention to pedestrian movement, and recommendations on the other aspects of active transportation, including education, encouragement, evaluation, and enforcement, Shukert said.
Operating through the GBCC and falling under the Central Kansas Partnership, Be Well has been around for three years. It is funded by a Kansas Health Foundation grant aimed at promoting health lifestyles in all of Barton County.
For more information, call Golden Belt Community Foundation at 620-792-3000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.