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Travel survey hits the road this week

Jeremy Heiman
Special to the Post Independent

Participating in a survey this week could make you a lucky winner of $50 worth of groceries from City Market.

RRC Associates, a Colorado research company, will mail out survey questionnaires to 4,000 residents and 300 employers between Parachute and Aspen this week. The survey is intended to update the Local and Regional Travel Patterns Study first done in 1998.

The purpose of the travel patterns study is to give officials in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys a more detailed understanding of how, why, when and where people are traveling around the region.



This information will be used to gauge progress toward local and regional transportation goals, and to decide how to make future investments in roads and mass transit.

“We encourage people who get a survey to respond,” said David Becher, senior research analyst for RRC Associates. “The results will improve transportation planning in the region. Their effort and time is definitely appreciated.”



How do people get to work?

The survey will ask residents how they travel (car, bus, bike, walk, etc.) to and from work, and other characteristics of their travel patterns. They will also be asked why they have decided to commute in the way they do.

“This really started with Garfield County wanting to update their transportation plan,” said Colin Laird, director of Healthy Mountain Communities. “They’re trying to get a handle on the state of roads and transportation in the county.”

Becher said he thought the questionnaire could be filled out in 10 to 15 minutes. Each person’s answers will be confidential.

To win a $50 gift certificates for groceries, there’s a detachable coupon to send in with the questionnaire. To determine the winners, 10 coupons will be drawn out of a big bowl.

The 2004 version of the survey has some new targets, Laird said.

“We’re trying to get a better sense of truck traffic, especially delivery trucks,” he said.

Another new goal is to learn more about the flow of traffic within communities, to help determine whether feeder bus routes ” to bring riders to main routes ” would be helpful.

Results help in funding projects

Laird said study results might prove useful in the future when applying for state or federal transportation assistance.

“Any time you can show there’s a strong need for transportation improvement, it helps when you have this kind of information to show to state or federal officials,” he said.

RRC Associates is distributing the survey on behalf of Garfield and Pitkin counties, and the cities of Rifle, Snowmass Village and Aspen.

Also working on the survey will be Charlier Associates, a Boulder transportation planning consultant, and Healthy Mountain Communities, a regional nonprofit based in Carbondale, created in 1994 to work on quality of life issues in the Parachute to Aspen region.

Charlier and Associates and RRC Associates will analyze the survey to get results that can be used for several kinds of transportation planning.

For example, the 1998 Travel Patterns Study turned up the fact that only 39 percent of workers in the Parachute to Aspen region lived in the same town where they worked.

This information was used as evidence before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to argue for local telephone calling between all communities in Garfield County, said Randy Russell, Garfield County long range planner. Local calling was approved.

After the surveys are collected and analyzed, Becher said, RCC, Charlier and Healthy Mountain Communities will present the results to local officials, publish a report and post the data on the Internet, Becher said.

The Colorado Department of Transportation will receive the results as well.

RCC has more than 20 years of experience with surveys that pertain to master planning and transportation planning all over Colorado.

Contact Jeremy Heiman: 945-8515, ext. 534

jheiman@postindependent.com


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