NEW LEXINGTON — Perry County Transit held its final Perry County Transportation Coordinated Plan meeting on Thursday morning. Mobility Manager Lisa Leckrone and Jenny LaRue gave the public highlights and results for the Locally Developed Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan and the Perry County Ohio Individual Transportation Survey.

The coordinated plan for transit in Perry County was initially established in 2014. The Ohio Department Of Transportation (ODOT) requires annual updates to the plans. The plan was updated and approved in 2017 and continues to be updated this year.

Leckrone stated that the plan expires in the year 2022 and that an annual update to projects must be submitted to the statewide mobility manager this upcoming Nov. 22. She added that she had been making notes for every public meeting regarding the coordinated transit plan to prepare for future updates.

“It’s an exciting time of year for transportation because we are reaping some benefits,” Leckrone stated during the meeting.

The coordinated plan was made available by Leckrone and LaRue for individuals to see aspects of the plan that have been changed. Vehicle updates and partners were added to the extensive, 51-paged plan outline. Partners who use public transportation do not have to be public entities, according to Leckrone. Other public and private agencies have been added as partners including Buckeye Hills Regional Council, Genesis Perry County ER and Perry County Think Tank on Poverty.

“Those are the additions we have at this point,” Leckrone stated.

Leckrone commented that many future changes will need to be made due to outdated census data taken in 2010. The current coordinated plan uses data taken in 2010. Leckrone and LaRue emphasized the need for complete participation when it comes to census population numbers because it helps determine the amount of state and federal funding that could be utilized for the County’s transportation plan.

“We know that… we are going to have a census next year,” Leckron stated. “So our plan will totally change.”

The commissioners approved the formation of a Complete Count Committee in early October giving the Perry County Think Tank on Poverty the authority to organize a training session for members of the community. A Complete Count Committee is scheduled for Nov. 8 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the library in New Lexington. The training session will help locals better understand the census and its importance. The committee’s responsibility is to make sure that everyone in the county is counted. The census this year will have a total of nine questions.

“I know it’s going to be informative,” Leckrone commented. “The important thing is to make sure that everybody is counted because those are dollars you can gain.”

Mayor of the Village of Crooksville Fred Redfern was in attendance at the meeting held at Job and Family Services. His village missed out on $165,000 to $170,000 in potential funding due to a lack of participation in the one in every 10 years census. He stated during the meeting that 20.2 percent of his residents did not participate in the 2010 census.

“This year… I have not identified what the problem was in the last census,” Redfern stated in the meeting. “But this time, we have a Complete Count Committee and it’s going to be part of their responsibility to see everyone is counted.”

Leckrone and LaRue steered the conversation back to transit and its plan for future projects. Leckrone stated that her and LaRue have a set of goals outlined in the coordinated plan packet. The first goal highlighted was Sustaining a Mobility Management Project for a conjunction of services in Perry County.

“My grant was approved so I will be around for another 12 months for the year 2020,” Leckrone reported.

The next goal for Leckrone and LaRue is to continually progress to increase pedestrian safety as well as road safety. The outline that Leckrone gave to those in attendance outlines New Lexington, Somerset and Roseville as primary villages for focus.

In New Lexington, a road safety audit was completed giving Perry County Transit insight into its traffic patterns. There are around 20 businesses between Railroad Street and Panther Drive. With the amount of local businesses catering to residents, there are no sidewalks on Carroll Street as it was not designed to accommodate pedestrian traffic.

Pedestrian traffic was observed and recorded in the road safety audit. McDonald’s and Wendy’s employees were observed walking along the road after parking in the Kroger’s parking lot. People walking with strollers and shopping carts were seen walking along the road. New Lexington Middle and High School students were also observed walking along the road to school during the school year. There are short term and long term solutions in the works to help hinder the opportunity for an accident to occur involving signage and highly visible crosswalks at high priority locations.

The third goal outlined in the transit plan detailing the need to provide a wide variety of transportation options for locals who are elderly and/or disabled. Needs being addressed include promoting access with walkways, paths and sidewalks for people to travel on. The inclusion of walkways and paths can allow any form of pedestrian transportation including bicycles, strollers and wheelchairs.

The fourth goal in the plan is to provide safe and dependable transportation for people who struggle with substance abuse. Aspects that need to be addressed is the need for transportation for services offered at Perry behavioral health as well as medical, dental and employment needs. The implementation to achieve this goal will include working with and coordinating with clients to make sure that they have access to what they need.

The last goal is to work with ODOT in order to widen state Route 13 and 93 within Perry County. With this plan, Leckrone hopes that the widening of the roadways will allow bicyclists to travel along those routes. Widening the roads can be possible with the repaving of state routes in 2022.

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