4 May 2010, 8:54am
Laws and policies Roads Transit:
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MPO holding public meetings for 4 year plan

San Antonio-Bexar County MPO logoThe San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) will be holding three public meetings on its 2011-2014 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).  Essentially, this is the revolving list of local transportation projects that are proposed to be funded* over the next three four years (yes, I can count <g>).  The projects selected are typically a subset of those in the current long-range plan.  Obviously, what eventually does get funded depends heavily on what money eventually comes to this area, but this plan identifies the projects that are first in line to get whatever funding becomes available.  The plan includes allocations for all forms of transportation including highways, streets, transit, and bike and pedestrian amenities.

The MPO is the agency charged under state and federal law to control the transportation funding purse-strings for the San Antonio urban area, which in this case includes Bexar County and portions of Comal and Guadalupe counties in the Schertz area.  The TIP is required under federal regulations as a condition of receiving federal funding.  Projects not in the TIP cannot use federal funds, so this is an important process.

There will be three meetings, all with identical content:

  • Tuesday, May 4th from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 6th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 8th from 9:00 a.m. to noon

All three will take place at VIA Metro Center on San Pedro just south of SAC.  Visitors will also be able to check-out some new interactive systems and discuss the transportation planning process with the folks that make these decisions.

For more information and to see a draft copy of the TIP, click here.  Also, see the interactive site here (link added 5/4/10 10:35 am).

(* As I’ve discussed before vis-a-vis the US 281 project, the term “funded” in transportation parlance means that anticipated revenues during the plan timefame will be able to fund a project.  Until those revenues are actually allocated to the MPO, a project does not actually have money available to start work.)

No takers on US 281 comparison study

After last October’s contentious MPO meeting where a motion to remove all toll options for US 281 and Loop 1604 was voted down, MPO policy board members voted to have a study done comparing the toll and non-toll options for 281. 

Nobody wanted the job.

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MPO approves long-range plan; Tommy starts to get it

As reported here last week, the San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) policy board was scheduled to vote on the “Mobility 2035” long-range regional plan yesterday.  Toll opponents were angry because the plan included numerous projects in three corridors (I-35 North, Loop 1604, and I-10 West) pigeon-holed as toll-concession projects, also known as Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA) projects.  As I explained previously, because current projections show little to no gas-tax funds being available during the time span of the plan, those projects had to have creative funding “placeholders” assigned to them in order to continue planning work on them, those placeholders being CDAs.

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TURF: “MPO rams 37 toll projects down San Antonians’ throats”

Mobility 2035During my daily review of transportation news, I came across this the-sky-is-falling press release by staunch toll-opponent Terri Hall and her TURF organization.  As usual, TURF shows a continued lack of insight of what’s actually happening and peppers the article with their predictable array of tried-and-true rhetoric, fallacies, and mendacities as they denounce the large number of projects that are listed as possible toll and Comprehensive Development Agreement (CDA) projects in the new 25-year regional transportation plan.  Yes, there are a substantial number of toll-option projects in the plan.  However, the outright panic by TURF is premature and demonstrates their failure to see and comprehend the bigger picture and actually jeopardizes badly-needed future projects.

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29 Oct 2009, 2:43pm
Toll roads:
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Comments Off on Final thoughts from the MPO meeting

Final thoughts from the MPO meeting

After a couple of days of rest and deliberation after the marathon MPO meeting Monday night, I wanted to put down a few closing impressions.

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Results from the big toll road vote

After hour upon hour of citizens to be heard (well over 100 of them), and then several agonizing minutes of parliamentarian wrangling over whether the proposed changes had to have cost estimates to be legal, the MPO finally voted at around 11:20pm.  The first vote, to remove tolls from 281, was 13-5 against with one abstention; the vote among elected officials was 6-5 against.  The subsequent vote on removing tolls from 1604 went the same way.  However, in the surprise of the night (besides Jack Finger ending his comments with time to spare), the board voted unanimously to remove the CDA (comprehensive development agreement) option for Bandera Rd., essentially killing the prospect of tolls on that roadway.  That almost seemed like a consolation offering to Tommy, Terri, and the anti-toll crowd.  The final vote of the night– whether to build all eight ramps of the 281/1604 interchange instead of just the four already in the works– ended-up being dropped entirely after a board member pointed-out that the additional four ramps could not be built because they would have to be covered under a separate environmental study.  This would cause it to lose its federal stimulus funds because the project would not be shovel-ready by next March’s deadline.  In the end, I think everyone was too tired anyway to debate it.

Much more to follow in the coming days.

26 Oct 2009, 3:37pm
Toll roads:
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Tweeting from the toll-road meeting

Hey everybody, follow tweets from tonight’s long-awaited meeting to argue and vote on local toll plans, which starts at 6 p.m. at the Alzafar Shrine Auditorium. To join the tweeting, use the #sampo hashtag in your Twitter posts so that they’ll show up here.

UPDATE: Click #sampo to see all tweets from the start. Also, the half dozen posts at the top are actually earlier tweets that TexHwyMan reposted.

MUCH LATER UPDATE: Twitter only holds together hashtags for so long, apparently, since they’re gone now. Next time we do a tweetup, I’ll copy and paste the results after the chatter wraps up.

26 Oct 2009, 10:09am
Toll roads:
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T4 Plan a “pipe dream”

Today’s the big day for the “T4 Plan” (Tommy and Terri’s Toll Termination Plan).  The MPO board will vote tonight on whether to go foward with their proposal that removes the toll option from proposed expressway projects on US 281 and Loop 1604.  I was prepared today to summarize why this is a bad idea, but lo and behold, the Express-News Editorial Board did a fantastic job in an editorial in yesterday’s editions

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25 Oct 2009, 6:01pm
Toll roads:
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Are we on the Daily Show yet?

Tommy Adkisson

Tommy Adkisson

After years of activists challenging engineers about the scope and cost of adding lanes and overpasses to U.S. 281, the public last month got one of its few chances to hear those arguments hashed out in the open.

But mostly what we got was a Jon Stewart-like moment.

The punch line came as Metropolitan Planning Organization board members began pressuring Chairman Tommy Adkisson, who’s leading the charge to pull tolls from several highway projects (item 9c), to explain details about his proposed non-toll versions.

“Are these not TxDOT numbers?” he answered, according to a San Antonio Express-News report. 

As toll critic Terri Hall, who likely led Adkisson to the hot seat he’s in, nodded yes from the audience, MPO board member and TxDOT engineer Clay Smith said:

“No, no they’re not.”

Well, yes, yes they are. Well … sort of.

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Why the MPO vote to remove tolls doesn’t matter

Tommy Adkisson

Tommy Adkisson

The San Antonio-Bexar County MPO is scheduled to vote next Monday on whether or not to remove the toll option from the US 281 and Loop 1604 expansion projects.  This plan was put forth by new MPO Chairman Tommy Adkisson, Bexar County’s Precinct 4 Commissioner and an ardent toll road opponent.  Make no mistake—his plan is actually the brainchild of staunch toll road critic Terri Hall, the self-appointed director of Texans United for Freedom and Reform (TURF), and is based on the theory that she could just take plans and estimates from 2001, add the inflation factor since then, and have the magic estimate of what it would cost to build the original toll-free plan today.  This elementary formula skips a number of important steps and omits several ancillary items that were not included in those original estimates, such as design work, right-of-way acquisition, and utility relocation.

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