Sustain Charlotte’s Impact 704 Academy continues with a deep dive on transportation

Sustain Charlotte’s second Impact 704 Academy sessionMore than 50 people gathered for Sustain Charlotte’s second Impact 704 Academy session Thursday night to learn about transportation challenges — and plans — in Mecklenburg County. Attendees heard from experts at the Charlotte Area Transit System and the Charlotte Department of Transportation and listened to a panel discussion featuring local transportation advocates.

This free event, sponsored by Southminster, began with light refreshments catered by Plant Joy and time for networking.

Following a welcome by Sustain Charlotte Board member Ray Addison, participants heard from Jason Lawrence, director of Planning for CATS. Lawrence talked about CATS’ vision for transit and land use integration and the evolution of the region’s public transit system, which strives to adapt to fast growth and acknowledges the importance of integration into the city’s land use, transportation and sustainability policies. He also touched on the regional transit plan, called CONNECT Beyond, and the importance of collaboration across the region in order to meet the needs of residents today and in the future.

Jason Lawrence with CATS presents during Impact 704 Academy

Jason Lawrence with CATS presents during Impact 704 Academy

Next, we heard from Hannah Bromberger, the Strategic Mobility Division manager with CDOT. That’s the city department responsible for planning for local streets, roadways, and rights of way. In her work, Hannah guides foundational transportation policies that move the city forward with regard to mobility, safety, and equity.

Hannah touched on the plans that guide the department’s policies, with an emphasis on the recently-adopted Strategic Mobility Plan and its goal of reducing the share of people driving to work alone in cars to 50% by 2040. The plan is the first strategic plan for the city that incorporates transportation in one cohesive mobility strategy that includes bike lanes, greenways, and a pedestrian framework.

Now that the Strategic Mobility Plan has passed, Hannah and her team are working on turning policy into action by establishing a prioritization process that includes safe and equitable goals tied to measurable data. During spring 2023, the priority investment workbook with defined projects and timelines will be shared with the public for input and engagement.

Following the presentation, Jason and Hannah took questions from the audience that included inquiries about transportation taxes, the bicycle network, and commuter rail plains.

Panelists take questions during Impact 704 Academy

Panelists take questions during Impact 704 Academy

Then, the group participated in a panel discussion with Gerry Kingsley, a longtime bicycle activist and former Bicycle Advisory Committee member; Maureen Gilewski with CharlotteEAST; and Ukamaka Aneke, a local college student and transit advocate. All are active members of the Charlotte Regional Transportation Coalition, and each talked about the transportation issues they advocate for and what inspires them to take action.

Meg Fencil, Sustain Charlotte’s director of engagement and impact, reminded attendees that we all have a role to play in achieving safe, effective, and equitable transportation options.

The Impact 704 Academy program is designed to help attendees make a difference in our community and get more involved in local sustainability efforts. Participants can also earn an academy completion certificate by meeting attendance requirements and completing a Take Action! mini-project by the end of February 2023.

The next Impact 704 Academy program, which will address land use and smart growth, will be Thursday, Dec. 15 from 6-8 p.m. at Camp North End. Previous attendance is not required. However, you would need to attend all three sessions (at least two in person) as well as complete a mini-project to receive an academy certificate. You can read a recap of the first session and watch a replay of last night’s program here.

Register today for December’s program. We hope to see you there!

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