Transit program requires acceleration |

Transit program requires acceleration

Andy Bourelle

Lake Tahoe’s bistate planning agency would like to move forward as quickly as possible on implementing a Metropolitan Planning Organization designation for the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Both governors of California and Nevada and local government agencies representing at least 75 percent of the affected population must approve the MPO.

“There is a rush to get this done before the end of the year,” Gabby Barrett, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency staff member, told the TRPA Advisory Planning Council at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

Because the approval of the state governors is needed, Barrett said, TRPA staff wants to have their approval before the end of the year. Both governors are leaving office, and it will be difficult to start the approval process over.

Discussion of the MPO designation, which will address transportation issues and potentially make more federal funds available for transportation planning programs, will be on the TRPA’s regular governing board meeting Sept. 23 and likely will be agendized for action at the board’s October meeting. The planning commission indicated it would like more information on the MPO at its October meeting, in order to make a recommendation to the governing board when it is an action item.

Lake Tahoe’s ability to form an MPO comes as a result of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century signed into law by President Clinton in June. 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.

Based on those meetings, TRPA is considering establishing the Tahoe MPO board, 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. Also, a Tahoe Transportation Commission could be created, made up of the nine voting members of the Tahoe Transportation District, one representative from LTBMU, one representative from the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California and one appointed resident.

The TTC would serve as a management team for developing projects and providing direction for the strategies and the use of funds. Also, the commission will be the forum for residents, public agencies and others to comment on transportation plans.

Barrett explained to the planning commissioners that the TTC would have the ability to establish committees and subcommittees to fulfill the federal and state public participation requirements for the MPO designation.

Several members of the planning board expressed concern that too many committees could complicate the already burdensome bureaucratic process.

“The subcommittees of the TTC, I think, are real stumbling blocks,” said board member John Doughty.

“I don’t think we need to add any more burden to the review process,” said board member Stan Hansen.

Overall, Barrett said, the planning process for implementing the MPO is going well and more information would be available at the upcoming meetings. TRPA’s report on the MPO was a non-action item on the planning commission’s agenda.

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