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CAMPO aims for more inclusion in next transportation plan

Friday, September 18, 2009 by Kimberly Reeves

Most public meetings on transportation projects have a rather flat ending: someone explains; people complain; and nothing seems to be resolved.

This time around, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization has set up a process it hopes will be more inclusive. Instead of simply taking a somewhat finalized plan out to communities, CAMPO intends to present three distinct options for workshop participants to consider as a long-term transportation strategy.

The strategies are defined as the No Build, Trends and Concept strategies, which translate to an alternative with no additional construction, as well as an option that projects current growth trends across the next 25 years and one that strategizes more along the lines of the Envision Central Texas clustering concept.

Attendees will be able to see how the three options stack up against each other. Is one better for mobility but requires more land? Does another option offer a smaller price tag but carry greater inconvenience with it? The goal is for workshop attendees to measure costs and benefits against each other.

The regional framework also is what is defined as “high touch” and “high tech.” That means Twitter and Facebook and YouTube. It’s an approach new to CAMPO but one touted by Sen. Kirk Watson, chair of CAMPO’s Transportation Policy Board, during a news conference on Monday.

“We’re going to use a variety of techniques to get away from the more traditional approach, in the hope that we can reach out and get more involvement,” Watson said. “The intention is to protect the quality of life in Central Texas.”

The intention is to reach people where they live their lives, rather than expecting those people to come to CAMPO to participate in the process, Watson said. A survey already is posted on line. Watson encouraged people to re-post it.

The Transportation Policy Board instructed CAMPO to be more proactive with its next growth plan, which is intended to take the region out to 2035. Unlike prior efforts, this year’s options will be indexed, so that people can compare and contrast options in order to state a desired preference.

The public involvement process also is intended to be more interactive. The plan is expected to change through the course of the meetings.

This round of meetings actually is a mid-point for the process. The first round was intended to develop and refine a draft, based upon feedback targeted to needs and issues. This round of public participation is intended to respond to options created under the process. It will include solicited feedback and targeted surveys.

Rather than stand alone lectures, the current process will offer between 20 and 30 informational booths throughout the region at various events and venues, telling people what the goals are for CAMPO and focusing in on input, said Executive Director Joe Cantalupo. A speakers’ bureau also is intended to make an appearance “at as many places as they’ll invite us,” Cantalupo said.

For information, click over to the CAMPO planning process page.

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