By Roger Pugh
The local task force charged with working with the consulting firm hired by Piedmont to create a new comprehensive plan for the city began looking at the transportation and economic development elements of the new plan Tuesday.
“Probably, outside land use, transportation is the most important element of the plan,” Rick Leisner of Jacobs, told the task force. Jacobs is the consulting firm working with the city on the plan.
He noted roadway considerations in the plan take into account that increased automobile access needs to be designed into all school facilities, better intersection control and signalization is needed as demand is defined for all public intersections, and a divided roadway section for Piedmont Road from the Northwest Highway to Edmond Road will be best for safety and image appeal arriving into Piedmont.
The task force also modified another recommendation to say that all roads require good maintenance as related to traffic.
The plan recommendation goes on to say bar ditches and natural drainage adjacent to streets and roads is part of the rural character desired by residents. Finally among roadway considerations, the plan says roadway improvements need to be supported by land developers paying a fair share of cost due to traffic impacts.
The task force requested Jacobs to look at putting a loop into the plan off Piedmont Road at the south end of town to limit the number of driveway cuts along Piedmont Road as that area develops commercially.
Leisner said the plan does contain access management to reduce the number of ingress and egress points. He said the plan notes that the reduced number of driveways permits more landscaping to enhance roadway aesthetics and helps pedestrian traffic by reducing pedestrian contact with turning traffic.
The task force also discussed making major and minor arteries friendly to bicycle traffic.
Leisner noted that it is time for Piedmont to start connecting streets in developments to other nearby developments whenever possible.
“This helps police and fire with ingress and egress,” he told the task force. He noted this goes for both residential and commercial development.
Task Force member Vernon Woods said he would like to see the city move to streets developed on half mile grids, rather than on one-mile or section line grids.
Leisner pointed out that in the core of the community, the plan does call for minor arterial streets throughout sections.
The task force agreed to have City Manager Jim Crosby and the city staff work with Leisner to work on street classifications for the plan. Crosby invited Woods to meet with that group to ensure that Woods’ grid vision is integrated into the plan.
While looking at the Economic Development aspect of the plan, Jacobs recommends that the city work with other smaller metro cities and other groups and the State to promote job and income growth throughout the OKC region.
Among other things, it was also recommended that Piedmont conduct a detailed Market Analysis for the city and its trade area and to work with work with the Economic Development Authority and property owners to develop a commercial/retail recruitment program.
The plan draft says strategic investment for economic development should be made in three areas. Those are along the Piedmont Road corridor, downtown Piedmont and in an area adjacent to the Northwest Highway in west Piedmont for a light industrial and research and development district.
For the latter district, Leisner encouraged the city to find a way to move its city limits close to the Northwest Highway.
Leisner also suggested that Piedmont might want to “get on the radar screen with regional health care providers.”
He told the task force he anticipates the group is within four to six weeks of having the planning document completed. At that time he said the city could begin the adoption process for the document.
Task Force members said they would like the Piedmont Planning Commission to first consider the final document before it is presented to the city council for final approval.
Task Force member Charles Coffman, a member of the city council, said he would like to see the planning commission look for city code that needs to be changed to fit the finalized document, and have as many of those changes ready for consideration when the plan goes to the council.