Tuesday, August 1, 2017

On Time and On Budget

How many times have you started a home improvement project and had it take longer than expected, cost more than expected, or both?

Too many times to count? Me too.

While that is frustrating at home and can result in extra trips to the hardware store, the judicious use of four letter words, and spousal arguments, the consequences are minor when compared to similar issues for projects that cost thousands, if not millions, of tax dollars.

If an agency wants to use federal funding to pay for a transportation project in Ada or Canyon Counties, they must submit a funding application to COMPASS. We also help our members apply for other types of grant funding from both public and private sources. While some requirements differ, funding applications of all types typically require certain kinds of information – the scope of the project, a project schedule, cost estimates, and more.

However, at times, an agency will have a need, but not have the information necessary to successfully apply for funding and not have the time, money, or expertise to pull that information together. When that is the case, one of several things can happen: (1) the agency simply does not apply for funding, leaving the need unmet; (2) they apply, but are unsuccessful when competing for funding; or (3) they successfully receive funding, but without a quality scope, schedule, and budget, are more likely to encounter unforeseen problems with cost, timelines, or other issues.

To help its members clear this hurdle, COMPASS created the Project Development Program in 2015. This program provides the expertise and funding to transform needs or ideas into well-defined projects with cost estimates, environmental scans (required for federal funding), schedules, and more. Projects that move through the program are poised to successfully compete for funding and to be completed on time and on budget once funded.

I’m pleased to say that you will soon benefit from the results of these labors.

To date, nine projects have received Project Development Program assistance; portions of three of those are proposed for funding in the draft FY2018-2022 budget of federally funded transportation projects, called the Regional Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP: 

Project Development Program Project
Resulting Project in Draft FY2018-2022 TIP
ü  Chinden Boulevard Corridor, Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Improvements, City of Garden City
ü  Install a pedestrian hybrid beacon controlled crossing at the intersection of Chinden Boulevard and 43rd Street
ü  Eagle Road Corridor, Bicycle/Pedestrian Improvements, City of Meridian
ü  Construct a lighted 10-foot wide multi-use pathway along the east side of Eagle Road from Franklin Road to Pine Avenue
ü  Five Mile Creek Pathway: Black Cat Road to Ten Mile Road, City of Meridian
ü  Design and build a multi-use pathway to extend the City of Meridian’s Five Mile Creek Pathway by approximately one mile, from just south of the city’s wastewater treatment plant to Black Cat Road

Not only are these projects recommended to receive funding – the first hurdle – but the work conducted through project development will help ensure that they will be completed on time and on budget, and provide you with new, safe transportation facilities. It is important to note that while all three of these projects are for bicycle/pedestrian facilities, the Project Development Program is open to all types of transportation-related projects; these just happened to be the first to receive funding.

Why am I telling you this now? The draft FY2018-2022 TIP that I mentioned above is currently open for public comment, along with proposed changes to Communities in Motion 2040, the regional long-range transportation plan for Ada and Canyon Counties. In addition to the three projects discussed here, there are over 100 other transportation projects proposed for funding in the TIP addressing all types of transportation (roads, buses, bicycle and pedestrian, and more) across all of Ada and Canyon Counties.

I encourage you to learn more about the TIP and Communities in Motion, review the proposed projects and changes, then submit your comments no later than Tuesday, August 15. Tell us if you agree with the projects proposed for funding and the proposed changes to Communities in Motion. The COMPASS Board will be provided with all public comments before making any decisions in October. 

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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.