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Beloit Transportation Academy - final class!

The third Community Transportation Academy wrapped up in Beloit in mid-April. We met at the Center for Entrepreneurship (CELEB) downtown. There were seven presentations on a number of topics to improve transportation networks in Beloit. We invited some guests to view the presentations and respond; special thank you to the MPO director TJ Nee, Public Works Director Scot Prindiville, Celestino Ruffini from Visit Beloit, and others for joining us!

Image: Martu Kollie presents to the group

Sam Schowalter, a freshman at Beloit College, opened with a presentation called “The Most Dangerous Road in Beloit” about Milwaukee Road, where there have been 2 fatalities in one short stretch of the road. He tracked vehicle speed, which averages over 40mph, and proposed a number of design changes, including a road diet, to address the issue.

Image: a pair of slides from Sam's presentation

Martu Kollie, a graduating senior at Beloit College, shared what she learned in the Academy and how it could be applied to alleviate traffic congestion and safety issues in her home city of Monrovia, Liberia.

Image: photo of traffic congestion in Monrovia from Martu's presentation

Pablo Toral, Beloit College professor, Rudolfo Abarca, lifetime Beloit resident and member of the Plan Commission, offered a vision for multi-use trails linking parks around the city. They cited studies showing the economic benefits of park access and included a list of potential funding sources.

Image: side-by-side maps of Beloit showing park locations and proposed bike trail from Pablo and Rodolfo's presentation

Beloit residents Betsy Brewer and Jeff Johnson proposed ideas for re-designing the Mill Street public parking lot for walkability and sustainability. The lot is located in downtown Beloit and is adjacent to a large redevelopment project along the river. Their proposal includes adding permeable pavement, green infrastructure features such as trees and bioswales, and solar panels.

Image: photos showing issues in the Mill Street Lot from Jeff and Betsy's presentation

Rick Barder, leader of the Stateline Spinners bike advocacy group, offered a number of suggestions for improving safety at Willowbrook Road, including the installation of a roundabout.

Image: satellite view of Willowbrook and Milwaukee

Kieran Conley, Beloit resident, proposed implementing a bike share program in Beloit to help people connect with public transit. 

Image: cover slide from Kieran's presentation

Tia Johnson, school board member, Harmony Shepherd, a social worker in the Beloit school system, and Rodolfo Abarca want to improve public transportation access for public school students in order to improve attendance and provide more independent travel options for adolescents.

Image: cover slides from Tia, Rodolfo, and Harmony's presentation

My favorite part of each Academy is getting to know the people, so the final session is always a little bittersweet for me. While each city is unique in its local politics and personalities, there are common threads that weave through each Academy. Everyone wants more community connections, safer streets (especially for children), and resilience for the future.

Image: Betsy Brewer and Jeff Johnson present to the group

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