Updated transportation plan open for public comment

The 2023 plan emphasizes improvements between vehicles and nonmorized transportation options

The City of Homer released the new draft transportation plan at the end of August and it is now available for public review. The new plan contains particular focuses on nonmotorized transportation options within the city.

The last transportation plan for the city was released more than 20 years ago and it was time for an update and new comprehensive plan, according to Jan Keiser, director of Homer Public Works Department. The first “Master Roads and Street” plan for the city was conducted in 1986.

“When we conducted that one, the problem in Homer (was) that subdivisions were being built without connections between them. That was a problem with road construction, waterlines, ditches and culverts,” Keiser said.

The focus at that point was an effort to create connectivity with the city infrastructure for vehicles. There was very little attention on nonmotorized transportation: paths, trails and sidewalks, she said.

“There wasn’t much concerted effort in putting those kind of features into place. There also wasn’t much discussion related to the Americans with Disabilities Act or trails (or) nonmotorized routes for real transportation. It was more about recreational opportunities,” Keiser said.

Before the 2023 plan was released, the city put more effort into public outreach for what people might be interested in related to transportation alternatives. The city held several public discussion sessions at various venues in the community as well as hosting focus group conversations with industrial truckers. A survey was conducted by the city in 2022 with 289 responses that indicated the transportation plan should prioritize safety, general maintenance and connectivity, according to survey results from the City of Homer.

“What we heard overwhelmingly is that we need alternatives to motorized transportation, a very different stance from what we heard several decades ago; it’s not just about cars anymore,” Keiser said.

The draft transportation plan takes that particular community interest and breaks it down into four goals and objectives that represent the community’s commitment to building a safe, sustainable and accessible transportation system that meets the needs of all members of the community.

There are four goals listed in the draft plan:

Increase safety of interactions between different modes of travel;

Provide a connected network of local and collector roads that balances transportation modes that includes walking and biking in addition to vehicle traffic;

Maintain the walking and biking facilities so they are usable year-round; and

Provide expanded transportation options for residents and visitors, which could include building transit stops or park-and-ride facilities.

Many of the goals will need follow-up actions to achieve them. Actions might include public education meetings, new signage or new equipment at crosswalks to make them more visible.

“We’ll need to look at where conflicts (between) bicycles and vehicles are happening and what we need to do to improve those,” Keiser said.

One particular feature in the plan is the intention to connect Fairview Avenue between Homer High School and Main Street.

This has been a community priority and would help alleviate traffic from Pioneer Avenue during school pickup and drop-off times.

The city will host an open house community discussion session on Sept. 26 from 6-8 p.m. at Kachemak Bay Campus, 533 E Pioneer Ave. Homer.

A paper copy of the draft transportation plan is available at Homer City Hall.

Comments on the plan can be emailed to homer.transportationplan@kinneyeng.com before Oct. 10.