County supports transportation idea
Douglas Commissioners agreed to support the designation of the Tahoe Basin as a Metropolitan Planning Organization provided the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency plays by their rules.
Commissioners, after dragging authority members before the board for a third time this year, gave the county’s engineering staff a laundry list of conditions for Douglas support.
The conditions include streamlining the new process, no significant increases in costs due to new staff or planning, the money raised by the Tahoe Metropolitan Planning Organization must be used for engineering or implementation of projects, the Tahoe Transportation District would serve as the Tahoe Transportation Commission with an exception of a few additional members, no formation of a separate citizens committee, and the TTD and TTC may only have one technical advisory committee.
“If we’re going to support it, it must follow these guidelines,” Commissioner Don Miner said.
Under conditions which Jim Baetge, TRPA executive director, and the commission agreed upon, the TMPO would consist of the TRPA’s voting members plus a voting member from the U.S. Forest Service.
Eric Teitelman, county engineer, told the commission a Forest Service member was necessary on the board to access specific federal funds.
Lastly, Commissioner Steve Weissinger, who currently serves on the TTD board, insisted only one technical advisory committee serve the two transportation organizations.
After the discussion, Miner suggested there were at least 74 different acronyms for Tahoe transportation.
“I’ve got some four-letter words for those three-letter acronyms,” Commissioner Bernie Curtis said.
Teitelman will take the Douglas demands to the next TMPO steering committee meeting later this month.
Should the committee not adhere to the conditions, Teitelman will bring the issue before the commission for a fourth time at the Oct. 1 meeting.
Baetge told the commission without the TMPO, the basin’s governmental entities would never be able to implement the 10-year goals outlined in last summer’s Presidential Summit.
The MPO designation would, according to Baetge, allow Tahoe to compete with Western urban centers, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, for federal dollars. He said the basin would certainly get more funding as a MPO, but, how much more would depend on the success the MPO in competition.
The MPO designation would also give the California side of the basin $188,000 in air quality funds each year and $250,000 to Nevada for air quality mitigation, according to Baetge.
“I feel like committing to this is a little bit like jumping off a cliff,” said Commission Chairman Jacques Etchegoyhen. “Only I don’t know if it’s two feet down or 100.”
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