RTA Next: Community partnerships will be a key component

The most important partnership we have at the Regional Transportation Authority is the one with the community, which contributes to our long-term planning insights and ensures our work reflects the will of the voters.

This partnership is strengthened in many ways including through the RTA Board’s establishment of a Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC), which is tasked with developing a draft regional transportation plan to address priority transportation needs. The CAC, with assistance from RTA staff and RTA member jurisdiction management staff, is preparing a draft plan for RTA Board review and eventual public review and feedback.

Community support and involvement are key components to the development of RTA Next.

The CAC members have poured their passion, perspectives and time into developing an initial list of named projects for RTA Next, a process to draft a new 20-year regional transportation plan for the region. The CAC’s role is one part of a public engagement effort to help determine priorities for improving the regional transportation system.

“Volunteering for these advisory committees is an enormous responsibility and a major time investment. I’m grateful to all our committee members for their commitment to improve the region’s transportation system,” said Farhad Moghimi, RTA’s executive director charged with leading this effort.

The CAC developed guiding principles and goals to consider as they draft the full plan for RTA Board and public consideration. The CAC goals include:

  • Manage and reduce congestion by using strategies and tools such as travel demand management and intelligent transportation systems
  • provide safe, reliable, healthy, and efficient regional mobility
  • improve transit ridership
  • reduce crashes among vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, and others
  • reduce wildlife-related crashes and provide wildlife connectivity
  • improve the conditions of existing infrastructure for all transportation modes
  • provide safer, more-connected bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and enhance health through active transportation options
  • improve quality of air, water, and wildlife habitat, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled
  • improve multimodal performance and access to key destinations including, but not limited to, activity centers, workplaces, medical care, educational facilities, and grocery stores
  • add multimodal functionality to key corridors

Once the committee has a draft plan that gets a nod from the RTA Board, cost analyses will be done to prepare the budget.

The RTA will conduct regionwide outreach for the public to review the draft plan and provide feedback. Further revisions may be made to the draft plan based on the feedback as directed by the RTA Board.

RTA member jurisdictions also will review and provide suggested revisions before a final draft goes to the RTA Board for approval. Upon approval, the RTA Board will set an election date, when the voters will have the final say.

“Because this is a collaborative and deliberative process, the outcomes of which must balance various needs and limited funding, not everyone will get all of what they sought in a final recommendation,” said CAC Chair Tom McGovern. “That’s OK. Because we want to build a plan that represents the needs and interests of the entire community.”

Even though we rely upon our community volunteers to create the draft, the process wasn’t intended to guarantee all participants will get 100 percent of what they hope for. The process was designed to assess the transportation system needs and desires from various parts of the community and focus on addressing priority needs.

A similar process was conducted for development of the current RTA plan, which voters approved in 2006. Before the final plan was placed on the ballot, several changes were made to the draft based on feedback from stakeholders and the public.

Since voter approval of the 2006 plan, the RTA has delivered nearly 950 projects to improve transit systems, bicycle and pedestrian facilities and intersections, and add roadway capacity. Thousands of community members have been deeply engaged in the implementation process of delivering nearly $1.4 billion of RTA investments to date.

We don’t know yet what the final RTA Next plan will look like before the voters have the ultimate say, but we know that a transparent and