Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thoughts on Possible Changes for MPO's

I have given the earlier post some more thought and have come up with this.

In the terms of electing the "citizen members" in a greater number than "ex-officio" members, I think that that would present more problems than currently exist.

Lexington's MPO covers Fayette and Jessamine Counties containing three cities, Lexington, Nicholasville and Wilmore. The County Judge Executives of each county and the three city mayors sit on the Policy Committee, along with four LFUCG district councilmembers(each representing 3 districts) and the three at-large councilmembers. A representative of Lextran and the state Secretary of Transportation round out the voting committee members. Fourteen members in all.

Finding 15 or more interested "citizen members" who will volunteer their time for no pay, is a daunting task, as would be the chore of bringing these new members up to speed about transportation issues. This is not to mention that a committee of around 30 members, each with something to say, could make for some long, boring and/or contentious meetings. Even cutting back Lexington's representatives some would leave a body of about 20-25.

It could be done, but would have to be done carefully.

In thinking about giving the MPO more authority, I believe that the state laws would have to be changed. Zoning land, levying taxes and enforcing state and federal regulations all belong to other entities currently and most of them are not willing to share. I cannot see a simple way to resolve adding one more layer of government oversight to any of these differing positions.

I can understand requiring more focus on GHG, as well as traffic flow and movement as a means of recommending and funding solutions for the mobility of goods and people. Transportation planning should be about more than just getting from one place to another in the shortest amount of time, with the least cost to a single individual. Total cost to the community as a whole should be a part of the equation.

I fully agree with the idea of requiring neighboring regions to link up in their transportation planning efforts and their transportation services. Even though Lexington and Nicholasville are covered by the same MPO, getting the respective services to link up between them has been a monumental failure. Enlarging the MPO to include other cities(Richmond, Georgetown etc.) will only show how fragmented we still are.

Developing a multimodal regional plan would first mean that the foregoing problems are well on their way to being resolved and may have to be enforced from the federal level.

And lastly, a "fix it first" strategy has beentalked about since the bridge collapse in Minnesota and was to be a hallmark of the "stimulus plan", yet has been sidestepped from the beginning of the Obama administration. Lexington has not had any major repair situations of existing infrastructure, but there are still a goodly number of simple fixes which should be done before any major projects are started.

More on this as I get more information.

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