Building Consensus and Moving Forward on the Regional Transportation Priorities

Dec 9, 2013

In recent weeks, dozens of Transportation Planning Board stakeholders have convened to work toward building consensus on the Regional Transportation Priorities Plan, a major TPB effort to identify the region's top transportation priorities.

Until recently, that effort had been led by Ron Kirby, the TPB's director of transportation planning, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on November 11. For close to four years, Ron oversaw development of the Priorities Plan, from its earliest days as an idea from the TPB's Citizens Advisory Committee, through multiple waves of public outreach, and finally to crafting the words in the Plan itself.

Ron played an instrumental role in focusing the Plan's attention on key transportation strategies for moving the region forward, especially proper maintenance of the existing highway and transit systems, with a particular focus on Metro's repair and rehabilitation needs. He also saw land use as a key way to manage demand on our transportation system, helping make the best use of existing infrastructure.

Steve Fernie/flickr

Those themes shone through in the latest public draft of the Plan, released in October. Since that time, the TPB has received comments from Board members, elected officials, activist organizations, and engaged citizens regarding the strategies and priorities in the Plan. Those comments have generally called for greater specificity regarding the urgency of funding adequate maintenance of the Metro system, the Plan's relationship with other regional plans, like Region Forward, the importance of ensuring accessibility for traditionally disadvantaged populations, and how the priorities in the Plan will ultimately be implemented.

Under Ron's leadership, staff worked hard to respond to those comments and to incorporate that feedback into the Plan. In the weeks since his death, staff have been working directly with stakeholders to solicit further input and advice in refining the Plan for final consideration by the TPB in early 2014.

On Thursday, December 12, the TPB will release for public comment a revised draft of the Plan that incorporates or responds to feedback received since the last draft was released in October. The new draft will sharpen the call for immediate action to maintain the region's highways and transit systems, to take steps to strengthen the public's confidence in government agencies and ensure fairness and equity throughout the region, and to pursue strategies for moving more people more efficiently now and in the future.

The Regional Transportation Priorities Plan was one of Ron Kirby's biggest professional endeavors in recent years, and was an effort he cared about very deeply. His staff and the officials who sit on the TPB are working hard to build consensus on the Plan and move it forward to adoption so that it truly is, as Ron wished, a resource that everyone can get behind and use to make the Washington region a better place.

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