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Effort would help region’s planners keep in touch with public

Updated: June 16, 2013 6:32AM



PORTAGE — Transportation planners with the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission want to do more to reach out to the public .

The revised outreach plan being considered by the Transportation Policy Committee would use sites like Twitter and Facebook to provide information to the public and alert them of upcoming meetings.

Steve Strains, NIRPC’s deputy director, said the new plan also considers finding locations for meetings away from NIRPC offices that can provide easier access for the disabled.

While the commission considers new locations after the lease to their office in Portage expires, Strains said the plan will also include offering webcasting committee meetings.

Bruce Lindner, director of the Porter County Aging and Community Services, said the original plan worked well, but all the new changes improved public outreach.

Committee chairman Shawn Pettit of Merrillville also commended the changes but said the staff can only do so much to encourage public participation. Unless it directly affects someone’s pocketbook or property, Pettit said, it’s rare to see the public take an active role.

The committee also discussed a recent bill signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence that would allow more flexibility in using transportation funding.

Mike Jabo of DLZ Indiana said House Bill 1067 would allow local governments using federal funds for a project to exchange funds with the state. Jabo said a number of details on the new law are still under consideration by INDOT, but it could be used to help speed up a project and possibly reduce costs.



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