Earlier this year, the TPB charged its newly reestablished Long-Range Plan Task Force with identifying a limited set of regionally significant projects, programs, and policies above and beyond those already in the region’s Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan that could help make significantly greater progress toward achieving regional transportation goals. At that time, the board called for a list of approximately 6-10 such initiatives that it could highlight and work to rally support for including in the long-range plan.
At its most recent meeting, on June 7, the task force began the process of winnowing down a list of more than 80 different ideas it identified in brainstorm sessions held during its meetings in April and May. Those brainstorms followed the task force’s initial work of looking at existing regional transportation goals and identifying the region’s challenges in meeting them. As the group works to refine its brainstorm list, it is looking at grouping projects, programs, and policies into “bundles” of mutually supportive initiatives.
At the meeting, members took on the daunting task of looking at the long list and refining it. To help organize the many suggestions, staff created several draft “bundles” grouping together projects, programs, and policies that helped support each other—meaning that the combinations of initiatives would generally be expected to have a greater impact on mobility or congestion than the initiatives would on their own. Before the meeting, task force members had a chance to go through the bundles and identify their favorite and least favorite bundles. Then, at the meeting, they were asked to use red and green cards to register their votes for their five favorite ones and five least favorite ones.
That task was tough. Some bundles were small, others large, and had different groupings or pairings. Some projects, programs, or policies were grouped in multiple bundles but were combined with different ideas. The permutations affected the way some of the members decided to vote.
Task force chairman Jay Fisette said he saw this as a good first step to begin winnowing down the list. “These bundles are not in their final form,” Fisette told the task force. “They can still change. This is the process to winnow down the list while keeping the work moving.”
At one point, the group’s discussion turned to the topic of funding to maintain Metrorail in a state of good repair. Task force members agreed it was an important and urgent need in the region. Members noted that the issue is already an important part of the CLRP and explained that the task force was looking at improvements above and beyond the CLRP.
Task force members could not agree if Metrorail funding should be one of the 6-10 initiatives to be analyzed or if it should be considered separately as something that is vitally important for the region. Fisette suggested that they set it aside and discuss it again at a subsequent meeting.
In the end, the voting process proved to be a useful exercise by identifying bundles with the most and least support at this stage. But there is still more winnowing left to do. At its June 21 meeting, the task force will continue its work and take the current list and refine it more to develop a smaller list of bundles. The task force hopes to find consensus on a smaller set of bundles to recommend to the TPB for further analysis later this year.