Road clear for metro team |

Road clear for metro team

by Andy Bourelle

Officials hope to have approval very soon for the Tahoe Metropolitan Planning Organization.

“We’re hoping to get the designation within the next month,” said Steve Teshara, co-chair of the Lake Tahoe Transportation and Water Quality Coalition and member of the group that has been working on the project.

There are no more roadblocks in the way of the TMPO. The Board of Douglas County Commissioners voted Nov. 5 to support the TMPO, indicating that all of its questions finally had been answered.

“We’re very pleased to have Douglas County on board,” Teshara said.

Teshara said the formal process of getting permission from the Nevada and California governors is under way.

A special workshop was held two days before the Douglas commissioners’ regular meeting, where the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Highway Administration addressed Douglas County’s fears.

Douglas County Community Development Director Bob Nunes recommended, based on the earlier meeting, that the commissioners support the TMPO.

The vote was 3-2.

The opposing commissioners said the designation would create too much government. “Why add another layer to something we’re already doing?” said commissioner Kelly Kite at the meeting.

Lake Tahoe’s ability to form an MPO comes as a result of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century signed into law in June by President Clinton. For months, an MPO Implementation Working Group has been meeting to define the organization’s structure, develop necessary documents needed and address other issues related to the organization.

Supporters say the TMPO should be able to bring, at a minimum, $150,000 in planning funds and $300,000 in project-implementation funds each year.

If approved by the governors, the TMPO could be created as well as a Tahoe Transportation Commission.

At least 75 percent approval from local governments was needed. Douglas County had been the only agency vocal against the designation.

The TMPO board will be made up of the 14 voting members of the TRPA governing board and one representative from the U.S. Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. The TTC would be made of the six local government members of the Tahoe Transportation District, one member of the Truckee/North Tahoe Transportation Management Association, one member of the South Shore Transportation Management Association, one at-large TTD member, one representative from the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, one representative of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California and one at-large citizen. One member each from the Nevada and California departments of transportation will be non-voting members of the TTC.

The commission is expected to be a management team for developing programs and projects, providing direction for plans and the implementation of projects.

The commission is not intended to be an implementation body but to coordinate with NDOT, Caltrans, TTD, USFS, the counties and other jurisdictions for the implementation.

– Tribune News Service reporter Sharon Carter contributed to this report.

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