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Talent studies its transportation needs

TALENT — Good things come in threes, according to the adage. For Talent, that translates to studies to help keep people and vehicles moving.

An overall transportation-needs update is already under way, while two studies — a look at how Interstate 5's Exit 21 works, and conceptual plans to accommodate traffic in future growth areas — are beginning.

"There are a couple things that are really coordinating well to take care of things for the next 20 to 25 years transportation-wise," said Ian Horlacher, a senior planner with the Oregon Department of Transportation. In addition to the three city-focused efforts, a separate Highway 99 corridor plan that includes Talent will soon be released.

ODOT is funding and managing all three projects, but city workers will contribute time.

The update of the Transportation System Plan, which is an element of the city's comprehensive plan, is under way, with completion expected by summer of 2014. Talent's TSP was last updated in 2007.

"Generally what a TSP does is look at the areas that are failing in terms of traffic patterns and congestion issues," said Community Development Director Zac Moody. "An initial review of traffic counts shows we don't really have any (congestion issues)."

Without major traffic issues to deal with, Moody hopes the study will look at bicycle, pedestrian and public transportation. Continuity issues, such as gaps in sidewalk routes, bike-lane requirements and connections to Bear Creek, will be considered.

"We will be proactive rather than being reactive," said Moody.

David Evans Associates of Portland is preparing the plan with help from another Portland firm, CH2MHill. A technical advisory committee and a citizens advisory committee have been formed for the project. Data and input from Rogue Valley Transportation District also will be used to help shape the plan.

At least two public meetings and perhaps an open house will be held, said Moody. A link to information should be on the city website early this year.

Conceptual planning will address the road systems needed to service two urban reserve areas on the north end of town that are slated for development. The areas, dubbed TA4 and TA5, are adjacent to Highway 99 north of Colver and Suncrest roads. They were designated for addition to the city in the Regional Problem Solving program.

Data from the TSP will be used to help with planning for the areas. Work is just beginning on the growth plan, with completion targeted for summer 2015.

At least one review committee will be formed. There will be four open houses and at least two public Planning Commission and City Council sessions on the work. The Rogue Valley Council of Governments is part of the management team.

An Interchange Area Management Plan for Exit 21 is just getting under way, with ODOT determining the scope of the project.

"We'll be looking at how it's going to function for the next 20 years, and all uses in and around there and how it's going to impact access," said Horlacher.

Impacts of Brammo's manufacturing plant at the former Walmart location and potential development of commercial property along West Valley View Road near the exit will be considered, said Horlacher.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.