TMACOG: Planning for the futureWritten by Anthony L. Reams | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The economic future of our region depends on both our natural resources and our built infrastructure. TMACOG works to plan the best use of our resources and build on those with economic potential.
Our long range transportation plan (currently the 2035 Plan) is created in partnership with governments, with business and industry, and with the commuters who live here. This is our list of projects that we want to complete and that we think we will have funding for. Nothing is guaranteed, but with a plan that we all agree on we are more likely to reach our goals. As the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), TMACOG is required to maintain a long range plan and to review it every four years so that our region can get its fair share of federal gas tax dollars. This plan allows us to direct federal funds to improve roads, bridges, public transit, and bikeways. The 2035 Plan also sets our region’s future transportation direction. The Veterans’ Glass City Skyway is an example of a plan that pays off. The bridge came out of TMACOG plans dating back to the 1980s. Our current plan, the 2035 Plan, was reviewed in 2010 and will be updated in 2011 based on input from public meetings and committee recommendations.
It is a consensus among local leaders that one of our region’s strengths is freight transportation facilities. Our plans for the future call for reinforcing those facilities and – importantly – connecting them into an efficient logistics hub. We are looking at five interconnected freight facilities in this area:
- Toledo Express Airport – with air cargo, rail accessibility, and Ohio turnpike access
- The Port of Toledo – with water access to European ports
- A regional distribution corridor – with more than 10 major distribution centers serving the Midwest
And two intermodal rail hubs:
- The Norfolk Southern Airline Yard facility in central Toledo – connecting Toledo by rail to Chicago, Detroit, and east coast ports
- The new Northwest Ohio Trans-Shipment Terminal near North Baltimore – with direct rail access to all the major east coast ports from Florida to New York
Projects that are priorities in our current long range plan improve access to the entire region, not just to these individual points of commerce. All priorities would improve safety for everyone and tie freight facilities together more efficiently.
Some of the work that we see going on now at the Interstate-75/ Interstate-475 interchange is just the beginning of a comprehensive re-construction of area highways. That project will continue with construction across north Toledo to I-280. Other plans for further in the future include a priority project to widen I-75 to six lanes from Perrysburg south to the Hancock County line. A wider, safer I-75 in our region will improve traffic related to the Northwest Ohio Trans-Shipment Terminal near North Baltimore. A re-built I-475/US 23 interchange is also a high priority. We know that we can’t pave our way to a successful intermodal system so making rail transportation more efficient for both people and goods is part of long range plans. There are more than 30 projects on TMACOG’s list of priorities. You can see the whole plan at www.tmacog.org/onthemove.htm.
From TMACOG’s perspective, we see northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan as a big region with common interests. This is true of our intermodal initiative as well as our other resources including fresh water. We’ll see what the future brings, but recent discussions that TMACOG has facilitated about a regional water authority seem to have momentum. Neighbors in Lucas and Wood counties and the immediately contiguous counties have begun to talk about how to use our water supply as a common resource and asset for the region. We are having a non-political, non-partisan conversation about how to manage our greatest natural resource for the benefit of the people and as a tool for sensible economic development. Roads and water – routes to regional development and economic progress.
Anthony L. Reams is president of Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG)