ANDERSON – The routes that Madison County residents take when they travel around the area will be part of a study to be conducted through the Madison County Council of Governments.
A pilot program of the Heartland in Motion Transportation Study will begin with 100 households in December. A larger study will follow in February and involve up to 1,650 households in the region.
The Council of Governments (MCCOG) is the federally-mandated metropolitan planning agency for all of Madison County and portions of Delaware and Hancock counties, including the towns of Daleville and Fortville.
Robert Wertman, transportation planning supervisor, said people can sign up to be a part of a survey by telephone or online starting in 2014.
“People will be asked to keep a travel diary of how and where they travel,” he said. “Every member of a household will be asked to keep a travel diary.
“It will provide demographic information,” Wertman said. “Families have different travel patterns than a retired couple.”
Households participating in the study will be given a gift card to local businesses.
The study will include residents who drive from the region and return to the study area.
Resource Systems Group and the ETC Institute, independent research firms will conduct the study. The study will cost $365,000 with 80 percent of the funding coming from the Federal Highway Administration and the remaining 20 percent from MCCOG funds.
Jerry Bridges, executive director of MCCOG, said a study has not been done in the region since the 1970s.
“We’re looking to replicate travel patterns to determine mobile behaviors,” he said. “We want to know the reason for travel of the local population.”
Bridges said the information gathered from the study will be used to determine needed highway improvements and upgrades for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
Wertman said the study period will start in February and last through the end of March with the results known by May.
As driving preferences are determined, COG will work with the Indiana Department of Transportation if improvements to state highways are deemed necessary or alternative roadwork is needed such as adding center turn lanes, he said.
Bridges said the second component of the study will look at alternative means of transportation.
The study will ask people if they drive to the Indianapolis area alone, about commuter rail options and if they would be willing to ride an express bus service based on length of travel time and cost, he said.
“It’s not just traveling to Indianapolis for work, but also for entertainment and recreation,” Bridges said. “There is an increased integration with Indianapolis with the Madison County region.”
Between 20 and 25 percent of Madison County residents travel to Indianapolis or Hamilton County for work, he said.
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