Communities small and large need an access network for their non-driving and health-aware residents to get them from home to destinations within their city limits and beyond. Not everyone can or wants to drive their car everywhere they go. And with today's ecological and health consciousness, walking and bicycling routes are now even more important than before the automotive craze began.
Streets and parking lots are expensive to maintain and city budgets are feeling the strain. Increasing the number of walkers and bicyclers reduces the number of automobile trips. Reducing automobile trips reduces traffic congestion, the need for large parking lots, air and water pollution, stress, and even diabetes and heart disease rates. Self-powered transportation such as walking and bicycling means those traveling this way are getting great exercise, and exercise is known to reduce stress, increase emotional well-being, and of course promote physical fitness.
These are the reasons that the Lafayette County, Missouri Health Department and the University of Missouri Extension began the Lafayette County Live Healthy, Live Well project. The project has successfully pursued grant funding to assist communities within the county with the preparation of Connectivity Master Plans. Lexington, Higginsville and now Odessa, Missouri (pictured above) have their own Connectivity Master Plans that are based upon existing conditions and desirable connections throughout the city. Connections and top priorities are informed by the valuable input of citizens and key stakeholders from the community.
With these highly graphic Connectivity Master Plan posters in hand, cities can promote targeted sidewalk building/renovation projects, create trail connections in the most beneficial areas, and enhance Safe Routes to School. Best of all, these posters fold down neatly to 8.5" x 11" size to be inserted into grant applications for the funding of construction projects.
Not only do these plans unify the community on where its priority connections are (or should be), and promote self-powered transportation and safety, but they help the community get the job done. With a plan in-hand, communities have a solid foundation for negotiations on what amenities (sidewalks, trails, crossings, road widths, etc.) should be included when county, state and federal roadway officials begin their renovation or expansion projects within city limits.
A Connectivity Master Plan is a very low entry fee investment that reaps big rewards for city officials and their citizens.