Monday, July 24, 2017

Changes? Again?

It’s that time of year again – time to update the region’s five-year budget of transportation projects, called the Regional Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP. Once a year, we add new projects and make changes, when needed, to existing ones. The draft TIP includes projects budgeted for fiscal years 2018-2022.

Right now, we are requesting your feedback on projects in the draft FY2018-2022 TIP. You can learn more, see the entire list of projects, and comment online here. Comments will be accepted through Tuesday, August 15, 2017.

This year, though, we’re not just requesting your feedback on the draft TIP, but also on several proposed changes to the list of funded projects in Communities in Motion 2040 (CIM 2040) – the regional long-range transportation plan for Ada and Canyon Counties.

When a long-range transportation plan, such as Communities in Motion, is developed, the plan includes projects that are planned and have funding identified to pay for them. This ensures the plan is realistic, and not simply a wish list.

But, as you can probably imagine, no matter how careful the planning, things change. When there are changes to which projects have funding, we must amend the plan to reflect these changes.

The proposed changes to CIM 2040 come from three agencies:

Valley Regional Transit (VRT)
VRT is proposing to design and construct a park and ride lot and bus shelter in the City of Middleton. This lot will replace an existing park and ride facility located in the parking lot of a local business and is one of four identified for expansion or upgrade in the #5 unfunded priority (regional park and ride, near term) in CIM 2040.

Ada County Highway District (ACHD)
ACHD’s long-term funded projects in CIM 2040 were based on its 2012 Capital Improvements Plan – a 20-year plan of infrastructure improvements throughout Ada County. This plan was updated in 2016. As part of that update, some projects were removed and others were added or changed. The proposed amendment to CIM 2040 mirrors those changes.

Idaho Transportation Department (ITD)
ITD is proposing to add projects based on additional funding not anticipated in 2014. Through this funding, ITD proposes to widen State Highway 44 from Star Road to State Highway 16, US Highway 20/26 from Star Road to Locust Grove Road (divided into four discrete projects), and State Highway 21 from Technology Way to Surprise Way.

The State Highway 44 and US 20/26 projects would fulfill portions of the #2 (State Highway 44) and #3 (US 20/26) unfunded priorities in CIM 2040. While other portions of these needs would remain unfunded, these projects are a significant step toward meeting the region’s priorities. State Highway 21 is not included in the list of unfunded priorities in CIM 2040; at this time, ITD is evaluating options for future safety and congestion improvements.

ITD is also proposing to remove a project that had been shown as “funded” in CIM 2040. Required environmental studies for that project, widening State Highway 55 in Nampa from 10th Avenue to Middleton Road, have not yet begun. Without this work, which takes several years to complete, it is premature to assume the project will be funded within the life of CIM 2040. As we update CIM 2040 (CIM 2040 2.0), this project will again be evaluated.

I encourage you to review the details regarding these proposed changes to CIM 2040, and review the projects in the DRAFT FY2018-2022 TIP, and submit your comments no later than Tuesday, August 15. The COMPASS Board will be provided with all public comments before taking action on both items in October. 

Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho

COMPASS is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization responsible for transportation planning in Ada and Canyon Counties. The COMPASS Board comprises 39 members representing the cities, counties, highway districts, educational institutions, state agencies, and other entities within the two counties. COMPASS plays an important role in making decisions about future long-range transportation needs in the Treasure Valley, taking into consideration environmental and economic factors that affect the quality of life.