Baltimore Business Journal – March 15, 2019
By Holden Wilen, Reporter
Baltimore’s transportation department hopes to issue a request for proposals within the next two months to help the city create a long-needed comprehensive transportation plan.
Michelle Pourciau, Baltimore’s director of transportation, has made creating a plan her top priority since being appointed to her position by Mayor Catherine Pugh in 2017. She provided an update on her effort Thursday at a meeting of Transit Choices, a coalition of businesses, universities, community groups and other stakeholders focused on improving mass transit in Baltimore.
Porciau’s wants the city to have a vision looking out to 2045 that will reflect shared mobility like Uber, Lyft, bikeshare and scooters; Baltimore’s demographics; land use and travel patterns. She said Baltimore faces challenges without a desperately needed strategy. Pourciau previously said Baltimore is a “city in crisis” during a Greater Baltimore Committee event in October.
“If you don’t where you’re going and you don’t know how to get there, then you don’t know what you need to get there,” she said Thursday.
The city’s transportation department recently completed creating what Pourciau called a “baseline” to be used for drafting the plan. Neighborhood and community groups throughout the city have developed hundreds of their own outlines for what they want in their areas, the city collected them all to develop the baseline. Pourciau said her department focused on 99 neighborhood plans that have been accepted or adopted by the city within the last 10 years and involved specific transportation recommendations.
The department was able to create a database and searchable map that will allow people to look at the recommendations all over the city.
“The goal was to document everything that has been done previously and then take that information to create an atlas of current conditions,” Pourciau said.
The map is searchable by neighborhood, council district, agency and issue. Pourciau said she has been meeting with members of the Baltimore City Council and her department is embarking on a public outreach campaign. The blueprint will be developed with the help of an outside consultant eventually contracted through a public procurement process.
“The RFP should be on the street within the next month or two,” Pourciau said. “We’re holding our breath. We decided to do a RFP to have competition from anyone who wants to come in and compete for it and not use one our on-call [consultants].”
Pourciau also displayed a heat map that showed where most of the current neighborhood plans are located. A vast majority are in southeast and East Baltimore. West Baltimore has fewer plans, while far northeast and the southwest have no existing plans.
“I’m not coming to any conclusions,” Pourciau said when asked by audience members about inequities shown in the map. “I’m too new to town to tell you what’s happening in your neighborhoods. My conclusion is the Department of Transportation has not had a robust planning department in many years.”
“Nothing in my mind tells me there isn’t a need for a plan in every single part of the city,” she continued. “How we invest is the tricky part.”