The TPB’s 2019 Citizens Advisory Committee met for its second meeting on March 14. The TPB appointed the new committee in January. Here’s a little bit about the committee and what they’re planning for the year.
The CAC’s two main charges are to promote public involvement in transportation planning for the region and to provide independent, region-oriented citizen advice to the TPB on transportation plans and issues. In all, the CAC is made up of 15 voting members—five each from Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia—and nine non-voting alternate members, from each of the three state-level jurisdictions.
Those who are serving on the committee this year provide a wide range of perspectives from all over the region. Some are long-term transportation enthusiasts who want to connect with and inform their communities about the transportation planning process. Others are interested in making the region more accessible to people who rely on non-traditional ways of getting around, like slugging, or from the further reaches of the region via bus. All of them place a high value on public participation and want to ensure that they represent their communities and provide important advice and input to the TPB.
This year’s CAC chair is Robert Jackson from Virginia. He explained that the experience serving on the CAC is “a journey not a sprint.” He explained that it takes a long time for new members to learn about the process and the region. “It takes time to learn about people’s views and come to consensus,” he said.
One new CAC member for 2019 is Audrey Derissaint-Nwaze from Maryland. She said that the Washington region is at a point where it will be making important decisions about the future of how people get around in the region. For this reason, she is excited to be a new member of the committee so she can, “represent families and members of the various communities in our jurisdictions and their various unique needs.”
Meredith Howell from the District of Columbia is now serving her third term on the CAC. She first heard about it from a co-worker and realized she could learn more, be engaged, and make an impact on regional planning in the Washington region.
Her advice to new CAC members is to listen and take it all in. “Try to be in listening mode. There’s a lot to take in. Ask questions when you don’t understand, and read all the handouts between meetings,” she advised.
The CAC has a successful track record of advising the TPB from a regional citizen perspective. The 2018 committee provided important input into the TPB’s long-range plan, Visualize 2045. Committee members provided suggestions for ways that the TPB could improve its public outreach. In 2017, the CAC worked on providing comments and input on the work of the TPB’s Long- Range Plan Task Force. The task force’s work led directly to the TPB’s aspirational initiatives. The CAC was able to provide comments that the task force and then the board could consider.
In the past, the CAC has pushed for more attention to walking, biking, and transit, and led the effort to launch the TPB’s Transportation/Land-Use Connections (TLC) program. In 2012, the CAC urged the TPB to adopt a regional policy endorsing “Complete Streets” and the TPB worked with its members to develop and adopt such a policy.
This year, the committee is interested in looking at how the region will move the aspirational initiatives towards reality. Jackson said he wants to be sure the committee’s work can line up with the TPB’s work and to be sure to provide useful input. “The federal funding process is very important to the region and to quality of life. This is a good way to learn about the process and you can make an impact on it.”