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Before CAMPO’s TIP vote, pointed words from Eckhardt

Thursday, May 10, 2018 by Caleb Pritchard

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Policy Board on Monday night approved its latest Transportation Improvement Program. The vast majority of the $435 million collection of projects across the organization’s six-county jurisdiction will begin construction before 2021. Staff had whittled the list down from a larger tranche of requests totaling up to $1.5 billion. Included in the final TIP was $500,000 for the travel demand management programs proposed by the city of Austin, the Capital Area Council of Governments and the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The CAMPO board also considered whether to commit another $500,000 to future TDM programs, which seek to encourage alternatives to single-occupant vehicles. Sparks flew during that discussion when Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long tried to maneuver against the notion. At times speaking over CAMPO Chair Will Conley’s attempts to interrupt her, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt pointed out that the combined $1 million for TDM programs represented a small fraction of the roads-heavy TIP. “It’s very frustrating to me, this persistent positioning that it’s not worth trying to get people to move to a mode other than single-occupant vehicles,” Eckhardt declared. “It is in our long-range plan to look at different modes because we will not be able to address our transportation needs in this area if we persist in single-occupant vehicles. It says it in our long-range plan approved by this body, and yet this body is reluctant to invest in anything that would move us to something other than single-occupant vehicles.” In the end, the board unanimously voted to support the TDM funding commitment.

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