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Planners to focus on creating sustainable transportation

City aims for $225,000 grant to update its plan
 Posted: 2:00 AM June 22, 2009

Ashland Planning Commissioners will broach two of the hottest topics in sustainability Tuesday — energy use and transportation — and will discuss ways to cool the city's dependence on cars.

At their 7 p.m. meeting at the Civic Center, Commissioners will be briefed on the status of a $225,000 state grant the city has applied for to update its Transportation System Plan, developed in 1998 using data from the previous seven years.

City officials hope to use the Transportation Growth Management grant funds to create emission-free transportation options, according to the grant proposal.

"The city wishes to explore innovative ways to promote transit, bicycle and pedestrian trips to address a shaky economy and volatile fuel prices," the grant application states.

In addition to reducing greenhouse gases, the goals of the city's new transportation plan are to save Ashland residents money and improve their health, according to the application.

If the city receives the grant funds, it will match them 56 percent, by providing $125,000 for the transportation plan update. City officials should find out before July 1 whether or not Ashland recieved the funds, said Mike Faught, the city's public works director.

After providing their input on the city's grant application and transportation plan, commissioners will tackle Ashland's energy use.

Ashland already uses less energy per capita than any other city in the Northwest, said Dick Wanderscheid, the city's electric director — but he thinks Ashland residents can do better.

"I don't know that were sustainable," he said, "I just think we're ahead of everybody else. But I still think we've got more things we can do."

Wanderscheid will present commissioners with an overview of the city's 25-year-history of conservation and will outline steps he thinks Ashland should take in the future to use its resources more efficiently.

"I just think it's the right thing to do," he said. "It's good for customers because it lowers their power bills and water bills, and it's good for the planet."

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or