The Austin Chronicle

CAMPO Approves 2040 Plan

By Michael King, May 11, 2015, 8:30pm, Newsdesk

Just after 8pm, CAMPO's Transportation Policy Board approved the 2040 Plan without the amendment language requested by Austin's City Council. Mayor Adler withdrew the motion to amend after assurances it could be made later if the Federal Highway Administration is consulted concerning potential consequences to funding.

The board did include advisory language, proposed by District 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen, that "all possible options" be studied before moving forward on the South MoPac expansion. Board members responded that's already part of the plan, and only one member voted against the addition.

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt was the sole abstention on the Plan vote (no nays), saying that she doesn't believe the plan as it stands is sufficiently forward-thinking on the need for more mass transit or even recognizing that existing road projects simply cannot accommodate projected regional growth, depending on "people driving in cars alone."

Most of the discussion of the proposed Council amendment - to include language that the South MoPac expansion include the words proposing "up to, and including two lanes" additional in each direction, as giving more downward flexibility to planners - turned on whether the Federal Highway Administration would consider that a change substantive enough to re-open the planning process and freeze current funding or projects in the meantime. Jose Campos of FHWA said he could not give a definitive answer without consulting his colleagues, and that was enough to raise red flags with many board members.

After exhaustive discussion, Adler finally offered to withdraw the amendment (it had been seconded by Kitchen) after assurances that it could be added later after confirmation with FHWA. So there was no vote on the amendment, and then Kitchen proposed her corollary amendment making explicit the intention to "study all options." After minimal discussion, that passed easily, and the "Final Draft of the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan" was quickly adopted, unanimously except for Eckhardt's abstention.

For more on the CAMPO action, follow @PointAustin, and see this week's print edition.

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