Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Improving Walkability in Martin County!

Communities across Martin County are taking steps towards more pedestrian friendly communities after participating in walkability workshops conducted by Minnesota Department of Health and Region 9 Development Commission. Community groups which included representation from schools, childcare, seniors and county commissioners came together in both Trimont and Truman to learn about the importance of active living and pedestrian walkability in their communities.

Areas of concern were identified during the walking audit portion of the training, including gaps in sidewalk continuity, poor sidewalk conditions, dangerous street crossings and problem areas around school buildings.  In Trimont, the walk included discussing the downtown area, and included crossing County Highway 4 near Trimont Elementary. The group continued walking and discussed possible development opportunities in the community. This included a grocery store that is being sited just south of town. The group discussed the importance of considering walking and bicycling access to the store. There was also discussion of safe access from the Trimont Healthcare Center. In Truman, the walking audit included the Senior Living Community, community park, school zone area and downtown. During the walking audit, MNDot was in the process of upgrading Highway 15 which runs through the community. It was noted that the Martin County Commissioners requested MNDot pave four foot shoulders to allow for pedestrian travel, to which MnDot agreed.

Upon returning from the walking audit, each community group identified barriers as well as opportunities for improvement.

Some potential next steps for Trimont include:

·         Create pedestrian plan, bike plan, or active living plan.

·         Build partnerships with stakeholders County and create a discussion about a bike path to connect both communities

o    MnDOT is already scheduled to service this section of Hwy 4 around 2020 (time frame could still change)

§  Create plans now so that they are taken into account when MnDOT is ready to work – major reduction in cost

·         Explore Safe routes to school

·         Coordinating with development of new grocery store so that there is access for pedestrians and bikes

o    Possibility of creating a route in the area by the senior living facility that runs parallel to Hwy 4

o    Opportunity to try developing Main St instead of putting new grocer on Hwy 4

In Truman, possible next steps include:

·         Create pedestrian plan, bike plan, or active living plan.

·        Better markings for crossings, repair and complete sidewalks, look at ADA compliance in downtown area

·         Explore Safe routes to school

·       Traffic calming strategies near school and downtown area (Ciro Street).
These workshops were part of our work with the Martin County Senior Project, an innovative project aimed at improving the health of seniors across Martin County.

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