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Growth: Land Use and Transportation Plan process underway

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Growth: Land Use and Transportation Plan process underway
Jamestown North Dakota 121 3rd St NW 58401

The process of planning how Jamestown will grow for the next 20 to 30 years kicked off Tuesday with a joint meeting of the City Council and the Jamestown Planning Commission. Members of the team that will prepare the Land Use and Transportation Plan for Jamestown presented information on the process to the two groups.

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"After 50 years of population stability, you are now looking at population changes," said Marty Shukert, principle planner for RDG. "It is a different world and different opportunity."

Shukert said he anticipated continued growth for Jamestown without the major population boom seen in the energy towns of Williston and Dickinson.

"We try to plan for the growth we will likely have," he said. "We expect Jamestown to experience steady and more gradual growth. We need to plan the transportation to serve the future development and improve linkages within the city."

Recent projects such as the planned CHS Nitrogen plant and the Dakota Spirit AgEnergy ethanol plant are anticipated to add hundreds of jobs to the area and could have an impact on the city's population.

The transportation portion of the LUTP is being led by Bob Shannon of KLJ Engineering.

"We try to connect people to places," he said. "That includes all forms of transportation including bicycles, cars, trucks and dial-a-ride."

Shannon pointed out concerns with getting across the railroad tracks in Jamestown.

"We have to ask where the developments will go," he said. "Where do the people go for work and shopping? Does it involve crossing the tracks?"

Adding additional elevated crossings might be considered as an option.

"An overpass over the railroad tracks may be considered," Shannon said. "Does the city have the budget and citizen support to do that?"

Shannon said the company produces computer models that forecast the current amount of traffic on each street in Jamestown. They then plug in the locations of new housing developments and new employers to forecast which streets will have heavier traffic.

"We look at all the scenarios," he said. "We know that the average home has nine trips to or from it each day so we can forecast where the increased traffic will be."

The plan may also consider a reduction in lanes on First Avenue.

"First Avenue carries between 7,000 and 10,000 cars per day," he said. "But a four-lane street should handle up to 20,000 cars."

It may also warrant a reduction in traffic signals.

"Traffic signals are a double-edged sword," he said. "They increase rear-end accidents but decrease other types of accidents."

A recent traffic study in Jamestown determined four signal lights on First Avenue should be eliminated. The City Council has taken no action on the study at this time.

The overall LUTP is broken into three parts. The first analyzes existing conditions and defines the community vision and should be done by January 2014. The second part includes two studies with one showing the long-range plans for land usage in and around Jamestown and the other showing planned transportation infrastructure.

The final step, completed by March 2015, includes specific details to make the plans operational.

Shukert said some of the next steps involve getting more input from individuals in the community. Group meetings with community stakeholders are scheduled for November. Each stakeholder group would focus on a separate topic such as the arts, real estate professions or financial leaders. Each group would have up to a dozen people and meet with Shukert or his staff.

Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen said she hoped the public would become involved in the plan.

"The city took on an extra expense of engaging the public," she said. "It is important it is supported."

The LUTP has a cost of about $340,000. Combined funds from state and federal agencies account for about $220,000, with $120,000 paid by the city. An estimated $65,000 of the cost was to increase the public input to the plan, according to Reed Schwartzkopf, city engineer.

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at knorman@jamestownsun.com

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