Naked City

CAMPO and ECT to meet in the middle?

The Transportation Policy Board of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization will meet Monday, June 6, 6pm, at UT's LBJ Auditorium, and items on the agenda include the pending adoption of CAMPO's Mobility 2030 Plan, under consideration since mid-April. Adoption of the long-range plan requires revision every five years, and CAMPO reports it is currently subject to a June 12 federal deadline to adopt the current version or have it declared "lapsed" by the U.S. Department of Transportation, threatening federal funding and approval on all new regional projects. Executive Director Michael Aulick and the CAMPO staff are recommending that the TPB approve the plan – but they will also recommend that CAMPO move toward a revision of the regional plan that would encourage less regional sprawl and more dense development overall, and in theory require less massive highway construction over the next 25 years – even if, as everybody expects, the regional population continues its steady growth.

If the board agrees, CAMPO staff would: a) review alternative land-use scenarios for more compact and sustainable regional growth; b) develop priorities for both near-term improved mobility and longer-term sustainable growth; c) consistently consider alternatives to tolling as a highway funding mechanism; d) establish a funding program within transportation plans for "development best practices."

CAMPO has been under continuing public pressure to modify its current transportation plans, most noisily from groups opposed to toll roads. But more long-term opposition has also come from environmental groups and regional planners, who say the plan is self-defeating because it will structurally reproduce the sprawling growth patterns that have generated highway congestion in the first place. That was the thrust of a presentation delivered at City Hall last week by Liveable City speakers Sherri Greenberg, Michael Oden, and Bill Spelman, who said the CAMPO plan as currently drafted will result in a "Perpetual Congestion Machine." They recommended against approval of the plan – but failing that, they said CAMPO should at least begin researching alternative land-use scenarios that could eventually lead to less dependency on massive highway construction.

Aulick and several CAMPO staffers attended the forum, and though Aulick said the federal deadline made a plan rejection inadvisable, the staff recommendations – issued a couple of days after the forum – clearly derive in part from ongoing Envision Central Texas discussions. Moreover, also on the agenda is a resolution proposed by Austin state Reps. Eddie Rodriguez and Elliott Naishtat that describes the background and areawide development of the ECT plan, and that would direct CAMPO to develop an alternative plan based on the compact land-use scenarios endorsed by the ECT public survey. The resolution would ask for the new plan to be presented to the TPB by December of 2005, and to be comparable to the current plan by such standards as reduced congestion and vehicle miles traveled.

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transportation, Envision Central Texas, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, CAMPO, Michael Aulick, Bill Spelman, Sherri Greenberg, Michael Oden

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