The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization voted to adopt its regional transportation demand management plan on Monday despite concerns that the plan could end up favoring urban projects to the detriment of rural counties.
The plan was created to streamline the process for projects that promote mode choices for travelers while managing pollution and traffic congestion. However, in approving the plan, the Transportation Policy Board also passed a provision that would award extra points in the prioritization phase to projects that are not part of the transportation demand management program, but still offer a mixture of infrastructure and design elements that benefit the region’s transportation goals.
The recommendation was unanimously endorsed by the CAMPO Technical Advisory Committee before coming to the board, but Vice Chair Cynthia Long said the lack of details around the provision made her wonder if the provision would give an unfair advantage to projects more likely to feature transportation demand management strategies.
While supporting the concept of reducing congestion in general, Long said she was unsettled by the vagueness of the amendment, which failed to specify the criteria that would be used to award the additional points when scoring a proposed project.
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said the various transportation demand management strategies that she has pushed for in recent years are widely popular across the supposed urban/rural divide. Eckhardt listed congestion-priced toll lanes, park-and-ride lots, synchronized signalization and bus turnouts, among other efforts, as examples. What the amendment is not about, she added, is projects with bicycle and pedestrian paths.
“If that’s what folks are afraid of, that this is about tilting the scoring criteria for (non-transportation demand management) projects toward (bicycles and pedestrians), that’s not the intention here,” she clarified. “The intention here is that big infrastructure projects that have really large transportation throughput benefit also get a scoring benefit from showing how they’re braiding in (transportation demand management) and multimodal into their projects.”
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