City needs your ideas on streets

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board July 11, 2012 08:23 am

The news that Baker City is beginning work on updating its 16-year-old transportation plan might sound like one of those bureaucratic exercises that are as exciting as listening to a lecture delivered in a language you don’t understand.

We’re not going to try to convince you that the city’s finished product will pull you in like the latest from Stephen King or Craig Johnson.

But unlike famous authors, the city, along with the engineering firm it has hired to write the plan, will incorporate reader suggestions.

The city, in fact, is all but pleading for your help with what amounts to the plot.

Even if you didn’t attend this afternoon’s kickoff meeting at City Hall, and you can’t make the bicycle tour that starts Thursday morning at 10 o’clock (meet at City Hall, 1655 First St.), you’ll have ample chances over the next year or so to tell the city what you think its transportation system lacks.

One thing that isn’t exactly in abundance here, of course, is traffic.

Considering our version of rush hour resembles a tranquil Sunday in a Portland suburb, you might wonder why Baker City even needs a transportation plan.

Well, for one thing the state thinks we ought to have a plan if we intend to keep applying for grants and loans that make major projects financially feasible for a small town.

But it’s also valuable for city officials — including the seven elected city councilors, who have the final say on such things — to have an idea of what their constituents think is important.

In Baker City we needn’t fret over such things as billion-dollar light rail extensions or even more expensive bridges over the Columbia River.

And our street system is pretty much in place.

We’d wager, though, that most locals could come up with a list of improvements, such as adding bicycle lanes or sidewalks, that make it easier, and safer, to get around town.

The sooner city officials learn about those needs, the more likely it is they’ll end up in the final plan, and the more likely they’ll actually get built.