ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – Every five years the Chemung County and Elmira metropolitan planning organization review the state of transportation for the county. Months of community outreach are done as they make a plan for the next twenty years.
It’s a requirement if the county wants to receive federal infrastructure funds. The planning work is funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Right now, community representatives are working on plans for 2040 and they’re finding some inspiration in nearby Ithaca.
At a recent workshop about pedestrian and cyclist safety, Nicolette Wagoner was one of about a dozen people sitting around a conference table. Wagoner directs the Elmira Chemung Transportation Council.
On the table were county maps. Every time someone mentioned a place, a consultant would mark it with a bright Post-it note. Some of the other people around the table were from the arts council, local schools, and the police chief was there.
During a discussion on bicycle safety, several participants mentioned Ithaca as an example.
“Ithaca’s done is a ‘Streets Alive’ festival,” Wagoner explained, “where they close off blocks of a street…where they’ll actually teach, anyone, how to ride a bike. I think we have some, definitely have some educational opportunities.”
People around the table got excited about the possibility of doing the same thing in Elmira.
Pedestrian safety was also a big worry; especially around the large performing arts venue in downtown Elmira. One person described walking across the wide boulevard in front of the Clemens Center as a ‘near-death experience.’
To that, Wagoner said “We need to be designing Elmira for people, not cars.”
The Transportation Council has more workshops planned. Its representatives will also be at public events all summer asking people for their input.
The deadline to finish their plan is the end of this year.