Dubuque, Iowa: Pedestrian planning makes sense in Dubuque

Introduction

Officials from Dubuque, IA, decided to develop a comprehensive pedestrian plan to seek input from all 29 schools in the district, a process patterned after one they successfully used when developing the city’s Bike-Hike Trail Vision plan.

“We want to include the community so they can be involved in the process,” said Chandra Ravada, Co-Director of the Transportation and Planning Department of the East Central Intergovernmental Association.

Activities

Many stakeholders are involved in the Dubuque SRTS process.The 18-month project received a $49,000 non-infrastructure Safe Routes to School (SRTS) grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) to conduct the study for the elementary and middle schools. The first meeting was held in May 2008. The Dubuque Metropolitan Area Transportation Study added $10,000 to fund studies at the high schools. High school traffic passes by the elementary and middle schools, he said, which impacts the traffic and safety issues at those schools. It’s those interconnections that make a comprehensive plan necessary.

“We need to ask: What’s impacting your project?” Ravada said. Solving problems will entail more than installing sidewalks, he noted. Dubuque has some unique topographical issues: it is hilly and has a river. In addition, even if a sidewalk is installed, parents may worry about safety along a route. Parents may perceive that a sidewalk built next to a busy road is unsafe, he said, or they may worry about the location of sex offenders along a route.

The composition of the SRTS Steering Committee reflects the many interconnections that affect pedestrian planning, and it includes experts from engineering, planning, the city attorney, law enforcement, the schools’ administration and parents.

Officials know that fewer students bicycle or walk these days, and they said they hope that the public input they seek will help them find out what motivates parents to drop off their kids at the door and what changes could lead them to allow their kids to walk.

City engineers will hear what traffic signals, sidewalks and streets need tweaking to enhance safety. The Police Department will receive recommendations about speed limits, crosswalks and enforcement issues.

Milestones

Ravada said the study will include two surveys: one is the survey from the National Center for Safe Routes to School for children and parents and the other is a survey for teachers and faculty. Another piece of the process will include providing maps to students, so they can highlight what they perceive as their ideal routes to school. According to news reports, students will be Case Study “We need to ask: What’s impacting your project?” – Chandra Ravada, Co-Director of the Transportation and Planning Department of the East Central Intergovernmental Association. The many stakeholders involved in the Dubuque SRTS process. asked to map their route to school and answer questions about the problems they face, such as traffic signals that are too short, bushes covering sidewalks or loose dogs.

Officials also will gather information on traffic counts, sex offender locations, speed limits and lighting. All of this data will be compiled, then presented for review and additional community input at public meetings. Representatives from all 29 schools will be included in the discussions. The goal will be to develop projects to meet the needs of each specific school, Ravada said. It also will include prioritizing those projects. Some schools may need infrastructure projects, while others may need only non-infrastructure projects.

“They’re showing a lot of enthusiasm,” Ravada said of school system officials.

Another facet of this process will be to identify other areas from which to seek funding, Ravada said, such as from the federal and state Enhancement Fund, the state’s Governor’s Safety Fund or the City Fund.

“It’s our job to look at other sources, too,” Ravada said.

Contact

Chandra Ravada
Transportation Planner
East Central Intergovernmental Association
3999 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 200 Dubuque, IA 52002
Phone: (563) 556-4166
Email: cravada@ecia.org