DANVILLE – Local officials continued talks Thursday about long-range transportation planning if the Danville Area Transportation Study and the area’s urbanized designation for the Metropolitan Planning Organization goes away with the 2020 U.S. Census.

The area’s urban designation is used for federal funding allocations, such as for buses, highways and other Community Development Block Grant funding, in addition to DATS planning and salary funding.

A 50,000 minimum population is required to retain an urbanized area designation. With population decreases in Vermilion County continuing, DATS could be dissolved.

Danville City Engineer Sam Cole said open dialogue is needed for long-term planning, such as if other villages and organizations, like CRIS Healthy-Aging Center, want to work with the city in gathering asset management data utilizing the city’s Geographic Information System.

Cole said they’d “love to have additional input on asset strategies.”

That could involve, for example, taking inventory of the square footage of streets and sidewalks and ranking them for improvements.

He said he wants to get away from Danville roads continuing to stay terrible as the city goes from project to project using its limited financial resources.

Cole said they need to determine the amount of money needed each year for a long-range plan to be better coordinated.

One of those ideas is using GIS more, which the other DATS members also could utilize for overall plans.

Cole, who has been with the city for about three months, also reported on a freight study by Hanson Engineering that is being reviewed by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The $100,000 study was funded by an $80,000 freight study grant from IDOT and the city matching $20,000 in motor fuel tax funds.

The study was to identify existing freight bottlenecks, barriers to additional freight growth and opportunities to increase freight-related development, growth and jobs in Danville and the surrounding area.

Cole said challenges remain, but one opportunity would be for a grain transfer facility, which could be a private endeavor.

In other business, the committee talked about upcoming IDOT projects and IDOT doing a road inventory, the city pushing back the Denmark road project until next winter partly due to trying to find more cost savings, Vermilion County having several projects in the design phase, Catlin officials expecting its railroad overpass study to be completed next month, CRIS picking up vans for medical rides and a CRIS facility study wrapping up and Danville Mass Transit bus route changes starting Jan. 1

“We are getting ready to make route changes,” said DMT Director Lisa Beith. “We are very focused on getting people to work.”

Beith said they’ll be making changes with routes and bus stops, times and operating days.

She said they’re looking to be closer to KIK Custom Products on Hegeler Lane for a bus stop, incorporate service to Lynch Road employers on Saturdays and have more frequent service.

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