MTD looking to annex 4 subdivisions

Board greenlights plans for Sawgrass, Stone Creek, Lake Park, Boulder Ridge

CHAMPAIGN — Large portions of four subdivisions could be annexed into the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District this spring.

The MTD board of directors Wednesday gave the go-ahead for MTD staff to begin planning for annexation hearings for the Stone Creek subdivision in southeast Urbana, Sawgrass and Boulder Ridge in northwest Champaign and the Lake Park development in unincorporated Champaign County near the intersection of First Street and Curtis Road.

MTD Managing Director Bill Volk saidannexation hearings would be scheduled for all the areas this spring and that they could be brought into the mass transit district by the end of June. Lake Park already gets MTD service from a bus line that runs down First Street, Volk said, "and I would imagine that there would be some sort of service, probably not this fall but certainly by the fall of 2015, for the other areas."

Part of the Sawgrass subdivision, west of Interstate 57 and south of Bradley Avenue, is already in the MTD.

Volk said he did not know how many homes or parcels were covered in the series of annexations, nor did he know the assessed valuation of the areas.

In its most recent annexation last August, the MTD board approved bringing 66 homes in the Prairie Meadows subdivision, south of Church Street and east of U.S. 45 in Savoy, into the transit district. That was done despite a petition signed by representatives of 59 of the homes that said they didn't want to be in the MTD.

MTD board members indicated Wednesday they were prepared for opposition this time as well.

Board member Brad Diel warned that "there will probably be some blowback" from residents of Lake Park because it is not in Champaign, Urbana or Savoy,

"I would be surprised if there was not," Volk said, adding that Lake Park is covered by the region's long-range transportation plan. "It is included in that so that as the community expands, then the district should expand to include all the areas."

Diel said, however, that he was "still very much in favor of taking all of these in."

And board member Linda Bauer said she supported it as well.

"I'd like to see us proceed. The MTD serves the community. These land tracts are now part of the community and are eligible for annexation," she said. "We have a very orderly plan for annexation, and we've followed that and also followed the guidelines for what makes an area annexable. I don't see any point in delaying."

Meanwhile, Volk said it appeared that the MTD would carry about 1.6 million passengers in February — a new monthly record that would be more than 15 percent greater than the previous monthly record of 1.39 million riders last October.

There already were eight days in February, Volk said, when buses carried more than 70,000 passengers.

"And I would expect that the remaining three days that we don't have numbers for, that they'll be over 70,000 as well," he said.

Board members approved a resolution expressing thanks to MTD employees for "the exceptional performance of district employees in maintaining safe and quality operations during this harsh winter season."

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Local Yocal wrote on February 27, 2014 at 10:02 am
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"Volk said it appeared that the MTD would carry about 1.6 million passengers in February — a new monthly record that would be more than 15 percent greater than the previous monthly record of 1.39 million riders last October. There already were eight days in February, Volk said, when buses carried more than 70,000 passengers."

A study has yet to be done on the impact of student fees affecting ridership. While residents still pay double what students pay for their yearly pass, students often take trips of 4 blocks or less. During an Alberta Clipper of sub-zero temps, that short of a trip might be understandable (though the time spent waiting for the bus is longer than the time spent riding on the bus), but the net result is the campus buses have become comical stuffing exercises like setting records for packing VW's and phone booths. Volk should ride the Green sometime. It is a very uncomfortable experience nowadays. You have to wonder, couldn't some of these passengers make the short walk? The walk would have been less time than the wait for the bus.