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Sat, Dec. 07

CYMPO looks to scale back on transportation plan update

PRESCOTT - When the Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization conducted a regional transportation plan in 2005 and 2006, compilation of the document cost about $300,000.

As the organization is facing the prospect of updating its regional plan, local officials are questioning the need for spending that much money, or more, again - especially in light of state and federal budget deficits and shrinking revenues at home.

At their January meeting, members of the Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO) objected to the high cost of the plan update, even while acknowledging that most of the money for the update would come from federal and state sources.

"It reiterates to me that we're spending all of our money in all the wrong places," said CYMPO member Bill Feldmeier, who represents the State Transportation Board. "I suggest we buy as much time as possible."

At that time, CYMPO Administrator Chris Bridges broached the possibility of simply re-adopting the earlier 2030 Regional Transportation Study, with some minor population updates.

But by the time CYMPO met for its February meeting on Wednesday, Bridges said he had heard back from the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration on the matter. The direction: More work would be necessary to meet the update requirements.

"They were not happy about just re-adopting (the 2030 plan)," Bridges said after this week's CYMPO meeting. "But it will be significantly smaller."

Bridges estimated the "worst-case scenario" for the cost of the scaled-back update at about $100,000. Under normal circumstances, he said, the full updated plan would cost about $350,000.

Bridges said CYMPO likely would hire a consulting firm to do the scaled-back study. Along with population updates, the project also would include:

• Addition of a sustainability/livability component.

• A status update of projects identified in the previous study.

• Public meetings/open houses.

• A final updated report.

Bridges explained that regional transportation plans must to be updated every five years. The 2006 plan - called the 2030 Regional Transportation Plan - included projections and road-improvement plans for the next 25 years.

"What's really pushing this along is we're already at the end of our five years," Bridges told the CYMPO board in January.

Even so, board members maintained that the current economic downturn makes this a bad time to update a plan. "When you're in a transitory time, it's the worst time to make projections," David Nystrom, a CYMPO member and Dewey-Humboldt councilman, said in January.

To fine-tune CYMPO's intentions for its regional transportation plan, the group's technical advisory committee will conduct a work-study session at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at the Prescott Valley Town Hall, 7501 E. Civic Center Circle.

CYMPO, which oversees regional transportation issues, is made up of representatives of Chino Valley, Dewey-Humboldt, Prescott Valley, Yavapai County, Prescott, and the State Transportation Board.

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