Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Transportation and Legislation: How do they relate?

Idaho is currently the fastest-growing state in the nation – with Ada and Canyon Counties leading the charge. While this growth is an exceptional testament to how wonderful the Treasure Valley is, it will also add an increased strain to our transportation system.

As I’ve said before and will say again, transportation is essential to the health of our economy. Without a well-functioning system, our economy, our quality of life, and the choices available to get around all suffer.

Based on conservative estimates, the region is more than $5.4 billion short of meeting transportation needs between now and 2040 – that’s an average of about $235 million per year, a little less than $1 per day per person living in Ada and Canyon Counties.

Each year, the COMPASS Board of Directors takes positions on transportation issues before the Idaho State Legislature that are of importance to COMPASS member agencies.

The 2019 positions, consistent with previous years, focus primarily on the transportation funding shortfall facing the Treasure Valley, in addition to legislation to allow the use of high occupancy vehicle lanes:

·         Transportation Revenue
The COMPASS Board of Directors supports increasing and diversifying dedicated revenue for state and local transportation systems, including for transit and alternative transportation modes. 

·         Extend “Surplus Eliminator” Provision for Transportation
The COMPASS Board of Directors supports extending the “surplus eliminator” transportation funding mechanism and maintaining a 60/40 state/local share of those funds.

·         Local Option Sales Tax Authority
     The COMPASS Board of Directors strongly supports local option sales tax authority legislation. 

·         Regional Public Transportation Authority Funding Alternatives 
The COMPASS Board of Directors supports a voter-approved property tax funding mechanism for Idaho’s Regional Public Transportation Authorities. 

·         High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes
The COMPASS Board of Directors supports statutory authority to allow utilization of high occupancy vehicle lanes on state and local highways. 

·         Safe Routes to Schools
The COMPASS Board of Directors endorses state support for safe, community-oriented non-motorized transportation. 

Yes – a funding shortfall of $235 million per year is significant. But I strongly believe that through the collaboration of COMPASS member agencies, the Idaho Legislature, and the public, reducing, and one day eliminating, this shortfall is absolutely achievable.

To read the full text of COMPASS’ state legislative position statements, as well as COMPASS’ 2019 federal position statements, follow this link:

To learn more about the transportation funding shortfall facing the Treasure Valley, I urge you to review the financial plan for our recently adopted regional long-range transportation plan, Communities in Motion 2040 2.0.

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.