How much will it cost?
The last time Maitland updated its citywide traffic study, SunRail wasn’t a thing. Downloadable mobile apps, let alone on-demand ride service ones, didn’t exist. And the city’s downtown was still just a dream yet to be realized.
Twelve years later, SunRail shuttles commuters throughout Central Florida. The city has signed an agreement to subsidize Uber rides. And, on Monday, the largest single piece of development that will become downtown Maitland – Maitland City Centre – broke ground.
Now the Maitland City Council is debating how to update its 2004 Maitland Area Transportation Study into this decade.
“It’s been a long time and a lot of things have changed, and I think it’s time to have that information,” said the city’s CRA manager Charles Rudd during discussions with the City Council on May 23.
The current price tag for an updated study is just shy of a quarter of a million dollars. On Thursday, June 9, the city’s Transportation Advisory Board will take a stab at prioritizing what should come with that price, and whether the update would be worth the $230,000 cost.
As proposed, the study covers a narrower portion of the city than the original MATS did, but in a wider scope, said Jane Lim-Yap, associate planner for Kittelson & Associates, the firm contracted to do the study. The study focuses on the Maitland Avenue corridor, and the multiple modes of transportation used surrounding it, from the rails to the sidewalks and bike lanes. If started now, the Maitland Avenue Corridor Study could fold into the broader downtown master plan update now in progress.
“What the city would get out of this study is a thorough understanding of what the issues are, what the challenges are, and what the opportunities are focusing on Maitland Avenue, because that’s one of the key corridors that the downtown master plan is looking at as a key corridor for improving walkability and overall mobility in the area,” Lim-Yap said, “but at the same time looking at what influences it and what impact it would have if we have any changes to it.”
Motivation for the proposed study came from the city’s struggle to realize the last unfulfilled goal of the 2004 MATS: to decrease Maitland Avenue from four lanes to two. Maitland Councilmembers have struggled to come to a consensus whether putting the road on a diet is a good idea or not. The study, Rudd said, would give the Council the updated data needed to make the right decision.
“It’s right now a lot of opinions on both sides,” Rudd said. “And so [the study]’s to provide you with current data… so you can make an educated decision.”
Acting City Manager Sharon Anselmo said money to fund the study is already budgeted for in the city’s fiscal year 2016 Capital Improvements Program.
“It addresses visioning and community engagement. It’s not a road diet study, it’s a much broader study,” Anselmo said. “The price goes up the more community engagement that you have.”
The Transportation Advisory Board will meet tonight, June 9, at 6:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers to discuss the study, what it covers, and how much it should cost.