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CAMPO Board to sett priorities for Technical Advisory Committee

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 by Kimberly Reeves

CAMPO’s Transportation Policy Board could determine next month what the priorities of its Technical Advisory Committee will be, a decision that would likely drive more of the broader priorities on future project decisions.


The Technical Advisory Committee, long established, has languished a bit between administrations, be it Sen. Kirk Watson to County Judge Sam Biscoe as TPB chair or Joe Cantalupo or Maureen McCoy as CAMPO director.


Last night, Travis Commissioner Karen Huber and member Gordon Derr, assistant director of Austin’s Transportation Department, led the discussion on how to move the committee forward into a new era, with a presentation of 21 early objectives, intended to guide discussion on the committee’s priorities in its new era.


Executive Director Maureen McCoy noted the committee had been working since early summer to consider and establish priorities for the committee, which reviews project proposals before they reach the full policy board. McCoy described it as a work plan, although it might be more aptly described as a filter of various projects.


Derr suggested what would be the current commission’s top priorities:


  • Which areas should serve as activity centers and how should they be defined?
  • How should the federal Surface Transportation Program – Metropolitan Modal (or STP-MM) be prioritized in future funding cycles?
  • How should regional transit funding be dealt with in an equitable way, one that satisfies parties across the region, be it Capital Metro or others?
  • What concerns should the commission express on ancillary issues, such as rail safety funding or the need for bicycle-pedestrian facilities? How are regional priorities developed in those areas for future guidance? and
  • How should the Federal Transportation Administration’s Urban Area Transportation Funding (known as 5307 funds) be prioritized?

Legal issues appear to remain around the use of 5307 funds and whether CAMPO has any discretion over their use. Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt expressed her concern over a legal clarification on the issue.


A survey to go out to CAMPO Transportation Policy Board Members, on the committee’s transportation funding priorities, was still in the works, said Commissioner Karen Huber. Huber promised the survey, which would allow the board to prioritize concerns, as well as add to priorities, would be sent in coming weeks.


Chair County Judge Sam Biscoe, after some discussion, agreed to set a committee workshop session on Jan. 10, just prior to the Transportation Policy Board’s meeting. The policy board will be posted to consider the committee’s priorities, but Biscoe and others indicated it might be just as likely the full board would take additional time to consider a list of priorities.


McCoy admitted the staff had been a transcriber more than a filter on committee member suggestions. Suggestions such as an additional tax for transportation, which Mayor Lee Leffingwell questioned on context, will likely need additional clarification before being considered by board members.


Board member responses are expected back by Jan. 3.

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