Updated Transportation Master Plan highlights active transportation

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo Inc. / mikdam

Chatham-Kent’s Transportation Master Plan is getting a bit of an overhaul.

The 2020 document is meant to update and enhance the previous Transportation Master Plan (TMP) from 2008, not replace it. The 2008 TMP was created to consolidate and update all transportation plans created prior to the 1998 Chatham-Kent amalgamation.

The master plan provides a long-range guide for transportation-related projects and forms a basis for future planning and development.

The 2020 TMP update has been two years in the making with several public meetings held along the way to get community feedback. Councillors got a presentation about the update during Monday night’s council meeting.

The update reaffirms or updates sections from the 2008 TMP such as road networks, transit, active transportation, the municipal airport, land use and development as well as tourism.

There were several new sections added for 2020 including autonomous vehicles.

“As part of the Municipal Alliance for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles in support of the provincial effort to pioneer autonomous vehicles/connected vehicles research and integration, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent is a part of the collaborative effort to complete the Windsor-Ottawa autonomous vehicle corridor, the longest preferred corridor for the controlled testing of autonomous vehicles in the world,” stated the report.

The updated TMP also includes a section dedicated to complete streets, which are defined as multi-modal streets for everyone, designed and operated to provide safe access for all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorists of all ages and abilities.

“Corridor improvements to be carried out in the municipality should adhere to the complete streets approach whenever possible and feasible, to provide safer streets while supporting increased mobility for Chatham-Kent’s citizens,” read the report.

This ties into the promotion of active transportation and alternative modes of travel, which is described as being an important element of the master plan.

“Connectivity and the demographics of our aging society should be key considerations in the selection of facilities for pedestrians and cyclists… A multi-use pathway or paved shoulders, as an alternative to roadway widenings that accommodate bicycle lanes, would benefit more people by accommodating pedestrians, cyclists and walkers or scooters that may become more prevalent in our aging society.” stated the report.

Councillor Marjorie Crew said she was appreciative of how inclusive the updated plan was.

“I was really impressed to see the aging community being considered… and our efforts to make this an age-friendly community,” she said. “I think that we need to also embrace the fact that we need to have an active community because we need to have a healthy community. This Transportation Master Plan update really sets a roadmap for a future for people to age comfortably and help them remain active at home, in our community. It also sets the framework for the future. Young people need to have ways to get out.”

The plan identified several active transportation projects that were to be implemented in the short term to expand and prove existing cycling networks including upgrading the Mud Creek Trails from north of Tweedsmuir Avenue to Indian Creek Road in Chatham, expanding current cycling and pedestrian routes in Mitchell’s Bay, Erieau and Rondeau, along with introducing several new cycling projects in Wallaceburg.

Another review and update of the 2008 TMP will be required within the next 10 years.

You can view the complete Transportation Master Plan update by clicking here.