January 27, 2021 — Gena McCullough, Planning Director/Assistant Executive Director, reported that chapters of the Connect 2050: Quad Cities Long Range Transportation Plan are currently available for review on the Bi-State website, including those related to the metropolitan planning area (MPA) profile, passenger transportation, non-motorized transportation, and freight. Pending chapter include system planning considerations, a summary of the transportation system, and roads as well as the supporting appendices. Three addendums will follow the plan adoption, including model documentation, congestion management plan, and the Federal Highway Administration directed performance requirements in a technical addendum.

 

Ms. McCullough went on to highlight the following areas.

Goals. Transportation provides for the movement of goods and people to contribute to a resilient Quad Cities metro area. Six overarching goals provide the basis for transportation to be enhanced in the Quad Cities. They relate to residential and commercial/industrial development, transportation resilience, centers for learning, culture and recreation, government and public facilities/installations, and urban design. It was suggested that equity be added to the core goals, which will be brought to the Transportation Policy Committee for consideration.

Roads. There are 2,000 miles of roads in the metro Quad Cities with 125 miles of interstate, and about 40% eligible for federal funds. The river crossings of the Mississippi River carry 171,500 vehicles per day. Related to traffic safety and intersection crashes, speed and younger drivers contribute to the highest number of severe injuries and fatalities. Those with the highest percentage of severe injuries include motorcycle, pedestrian, and unprotected persons’ crashes. The impact of crashes may be addressed using engineering, enforcement, emergency response, and or education.

Passenger Transportation. There are 3 public transit systems providing 25 fixed routes within the Quad Cities. They use a total of 104 vehicles and 3 passenger ferries. There are 3.9 million annual unlinked rides per year provided in the metro area during 12-13 hours of daily weekday service in the Iowa Quad Cities and 17 hours of daily weekday service in the Illinois Quad Cities.  There are two paratransit providers and two regional transit providers (River Bend Transit and RIM Transit) serving rural to urban passenger needs. Passenger rail service continues to be in the development stage. The completed passenger rail station in Moline is awaiting rail construction to allow implementation of service from Quad Cities to Chicago. The Quad City International Airport provides commercial air service to 11 destinations.

Non-motorized Transportation. Quad Citizens and visitors have 214 miles of existing bicycle facilities to use for commuting and exercise with more miles planned for the future. Two national trails cross the metro area at the Government Bridge, the north-south Mississippi River Trail and east-west American Discovery Trail. Nineteen road corridors have been identified as Complete Streets corridors to encourage use by all users both motorized and non-motorized. As noted, bicycle injuries result in a higher percentage of severe injuries with 37 occurring in the last five years. The plan calls attention to these incidents to facilitate discussions on how our transportation system can be improved to reduce pedestrian crashes. There are also hundreds of miles of sidewalks in the Quad Cities. In the last 5 years, Bi-State staff have inventoried sidewalk repair and snow removal programs, shared best practices, and highlighted potential improvements through the development of 9 safe-routes-to-school plans. In the last 5 years, there have been 83 of these types of pedestrian-vehicle crashes. Work to reduce severe pedestrian and bicycle injury crashes will continue.

Freight Transportation. Advances in planning for freight include the 2015 freight plan, Mississippi River rail bridges study (2020), and the designation of the Mississippi River Ports of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois as a statistical area for data collection by the Corps of Engineers. Since the last plan update, the Davenport transload facility west of the Davenport Municipal airport and part of the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center was completed and became operational.

Next Steps. Pending chapters are expected to be drafted in February. Public involvement on the draft plan will begin in March. The Policy Committee will review the plan and consider a recommendation to the Commission. The Commission will consider adoption of the plan at their March 24 meeting.