ELYRIA — A regional transportation plan is in the works, updating goals for Lorain and surrounding counties for the next four years.
The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, or NOACA, is in the midst of creating its 2019-2022 Coordinated Plan, last updated in 2015. Representatives gave a presentation Thursday evening at the Lorain County Transportation Center, which was attended by two county commissioners and several nonprofit representatives.
Mobility manager Sarah White explained the plan will include current services available in Lorain, Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga and Medina counties, as well as gaps or improvements needed.
“We will include work done by MOVE Lorain County,” she said. “Because both plans’ goals and strategies align well — which you would expect from a region that has very similar needs. Our plan will also look at regional needs, we’ve heard that a lot of issues with cross-county travel. So maybe they’re able to get around their county, but maybe going from Geauga to Lake for an event or a doctor’s appointment has been a real challenge. So we want to take a look at that.”
The plan will help NOACA prioritize federal 5310 dollars, of which a portion of Lorain County qualifies for, White said. Section 5310 funding is used for transportation services for seniors and disabled individuals, with the majority of the money going toward vehicle replacement. Municipalities and nonprofits are able to apply for the funding.
“NOACA is given authority by the federal transit administration to administer funds for the Cleveland Urbanized Area, and part of Lorain County is in that area,” she said. “So we want to make sure that anyone who is applying to NOACA for section (5310) funds can do so by being in this plan.”
In 2015 the region’s top objectives were reducing costs for riders and providers; improving frequency and weekend/evening service; operational efficiency; access to underserved areas; and increased awareness of transit options.
Other objectives were to improve last-minute transportation options and connections between counties. During a discussion in the second half of the program, similar concerns came up.
A part of the coordinated plan, NOACA is administering a survey to help identify special transportation needs for providers in Northeast Ohio. The survey will be available through the end of April. To take NOACA’s transportation provider survey, visit survey monkey.com/r/coordplan provider.
The plan is expected to be done by the end of June.
MOVE Lorain County
Mobility and Opportunity for a Vibrant Economy, or MOVE, submitted its proposal for a $100,000 Ohio Department of Transportation grant in November, MOVE consultant Shannon Pearson said, and will know in May whether it has been awarded funding. The grant would be for a mobility management program in association with United Way of Lorain County.
She said whether or not they get the grant, MOVE is working on a transportation database in conjunction with United Way’s 211 system, specifically cataloging nonprofit and service agency transportation available to residents.
United Way 211 is a free, confidential service that connects callers with services in their area. Pearson plans for the database to be cross-county, as the 211 service is part of a national program.