Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Our most important cause at COTA is focused on ways to honor and support our United States military veterans. The courage, skill, discipline and sacrifice of our nation’s service women and men is to be commended and COTA is proud to join our community in celebrating their service. America’s veterans are some of the toughest people, and simultaneously are some of the kindest, the most giving members of society. It is thanks to their history of service that we enjoy the quality of life we do.
As we look ahead to Veterans Day Nov. 11 and its observance Nov. 12, it is fitting that we will celebrate the opening of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum this Saturday, Oct. 27. A community effort led by the Columbus Downtown Development Corp., the NVMM has been designated by Congress as the national museum for our country, and we are fortunate to have this new facility and its leadership right here in our great state. COTA is proud to demonstrate our support of both our military veterans and the museum at the celebration on Oct. 27. In fact, our Board of Trustees has approved offering veterans free fares that day and on Nov. 12.
The newly imagined, 53,000-square-foot museum on West Broad Street across from COSI will stand as a living monument to all 21 million United States veterans including the estimated 110,000 in Columbus, honoring their choices, their stories and their extraordinary generosity.
Also, on Nov. 9, the Central Ohio Transit Authority will honor our employee veterans with a ceremony including a keynote from Lieutenant General Michael Ferriter, President & CEO of the new veterans museum. We are fortunate to count at least 142 self-identified veterans amid our 1,150-employee COTA workforce. That is more than 12 percent, nearly double the 7 percent of the U.S. population identifying as veterans, according to the Pew Research Center. We take pride in our service members at COTA who continue to serve the community by providing invaluable skills to ensure the public has mobility options to thrive.
Following our breakfast ceremony on Nov. 9, we will join military veterans and organizations across our region to walk in the City of Columbus Veterans Day parade alongside a specially wrapped bus designed by our Veterans Committee here at COTA.
When you see the newly branded COTA Veterans Bus around town during the coming year, please take a moment to think of the people who inspired it. They represent the best in all of us.
With deepest gratitude,
Joanna M. Pinkerton
Mobility in the Community
Cornell R. Robertson, P.E., P.S. Franklin County Engineer
Mission: To provide for safe and efficient movement of people and goods from place to place within Franklin County.
What changes do you see on the horizon related to public transportation and Franklin County’s infrastructure? I feel we are on the verge of a change to public transportation that will be as dramatic as the change from horses to automobiles. Technology and innovations in connected, autonomous, shared vehicles, public transit, rail, air, hyperloop, etc. are evolving at a rapid pace. We should not be afraid or resist these innovations, but embrace them instead. There will be opportunities to increase capacity and increase safety of transportation, but it will take work and participation by all. As the Franklin County Engineer, I am committed to leading the Franklin County Engineer’s Office as an agency of action, as an agency of innovation, and as an agency of collaboration.
What are complete streets and why are they important to quality of life? Complete streets are streets designed for safe and efficient travel by multiple modes of transportation as well as for users of different ages and abilities meeting current transportation needs and those anticipated in the future. When designed properly, complete streets increase safety, reduce congestion, increase efficiency, optimize land use, enhance aesthetics, promote good development, create jobs and improve public health.
What’s the most exciting project your office is working on in the next five years that impacts how people get around Franklin County? In the near future, I want to establish a Franklin County Transportation Improvement District (TID) by collaborating with the Franklin County Commissioners, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, municipalities, townships and businesses. A TID promotes intergovernmental and public-private partnerships to optimize transportation resources and leverage additional transportation investments. The communities within Franklin County already work well together and formalizing such collaboration through the establishment of a TID will allow us to apply for additional funding that is currently out of our reach and will make us more competitive for grants.
What’s the greatest challenge you see for mobility in the coming decades? A funding pothole has formed. The revenue streams to maintain roadway and bridge infrastructure are decreasing while construction costs continue to increase. The State Gas Tax was last increased 13 years ago, and the Federal Gas Tax was last increased 25 years ago. There may come a time in the near future when we need to increase roadway user fees and index them to keep up with inflation.