The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 14, 2012

DATS to see minor changes


DANVILLE — With city department reorganization changes will come some minor changes to the Danville Area Transportation Study.

The changes won’t be with the structure, having two committees and its duties; but it will see by-law and city supervisory changes.

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer talked with DATS committee members Wednesday about city engineer David Schnelle now having the title of director of urban services with the city. This is part of a reorganization of city departments and what they oversee.

The city council hasn’t approved the entire reorganization yet, Eisenhauer added. He’d like to see all changes occur before the end of the year, with city council approval.

Eisenhauer said his desire is to have DATS Director Adam Aull and DATS’ duties and actions fall under the new Department of Urban Services. Planning and Zoning Manager Chris Milliken will be a direct supervisor with the planning and zoning areas.

DATS had reported to the Public Development Department and Director John Heckler.

Eisenhauer also still wants to see more emphasis on geographic information system opportunities, with the city and county and in which Aull is GIS manager, with computerized mapping and other work.

The DATS Metropolitan Planning Organization is a transportation policy-making organization made up of local government and transportation representatives.

The Federal Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1973 required the formation of a Metropolitan Planning Organization for any urbanized area with a population greater than 50,000.

Metropolitan Planning Organizations were created to ensure transportation project expenditures were based on a comprehensive, cooperative and continuing planning process. Federal funding for transportation projects and programs are channeled through this planning process.

DATS has director Aull, a city employee, to oversee the planning. But projects occur in the entire urbanized area, which includes Danville, Tilton, Catlin, Westville and Georgetown.

The DATS urbanized area met the requirements with the past Census by 996 people. The current urbanized area has 50,996 residents.

“That puts us the sixth MPO from the bottom. There are five smaller in the country,” Aull said.

Federal and state planning dollars help with projects, such as bike path, bus stop and school access studies and various road and bridge projects.

Aull said “we’re not a fast-growing community,” but because of the distance with partner villages and towns like Georgetown and Catlin, rural roads of major connections can be included in projects.

Recent changes with the MPO map included adding more land east of the airport for potential development and also including Kennekuk County Park and Kickapoo State Park for bike paths and the Rails to Trails projects.

In other DATS business, committee members discussed Danville Mass Transit seeking proposals for an electronic fare box system and CRIS Healthy-Aging Center receiving grant funding for transportation services.