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Sat, Dec. 07

CYMPO considers 'stopgap' plan for regional transportation

With general plans under way or in the works in several of its participating governments, the Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO) could be looking to buy two years or more before it undertakes its own full-scale updated plan.

At a workshop in Prescott Valley Thursday afternoon, members of CYMPO's technical advisory committee broached the topic of the pending update to the 2030 Regional Transportation Plan.

The document, which gained approval in 2006, is now at the five-year mark - a point that triggers the need for an update, under federal regulations.

But, at a cost of upwards of $300,000, the prospect of a full update to the regional transportation plan has not been popular with members of the CYMPO Executive Board.

In addition, technical advisory committee members pointed out this week that several of CYMPO's members, including Yavapai County, Prescott, and Chino Valley, are all either working on updates to their own general plans, or are getting ready to begin.

Those plans would be crucial to CYMPO's regional transportation plan, say committee members, because they would provide updated information on land use - a key component to traffic projections.

In January, CYMPO Executive Board members suggested pushing off the regional transportation plan update for as long as possible. Even though most of the money for the plan update would come from state and federal sources, board members questioned whether it would be money well spent.

That initially led CYMPO Administrator Chris Bridges to suggest a re-adoption of the original 2030 Regional Transportation Plan, with some minor population updates.

But that idea reportedly did not go over well with the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) and the Arizona Department of Transportation, leading Bridges to suggest in February that CYMPO should rather opt for a scaled-back plan that would cost $100,000 or less.

This week, however, Federal Highways Administration official Georgi Ann Jasenovec cautioned that even that approach would have a short shelf life.

"The FHWA's position is that we see this as a stopgap measure," Jasenovec said of the scaled-back version of the plan. She added that such a plan likely would last for only about two years.

"In the back of your minds, you should see this as a temporary measure," Jasenovec told the technical advisory committee. "In about 24 months, you should start looking at a full plan."

Jasenovec was basing her comments on the code of federal regulations, a portion of which governs Metropolitan Planning Organizations. If CYMPO fails to follow those regulations, she said it could jeopardize future federal grant money.

While the 2030 Regional Transportation Plan took nearly three years to complete, Bridges said a scaled-back version could be complete in about six months. "We could have it done by this fall," he said.

Meanwhile, Yavapai County is already working on its Comprehensive Plan - a process that could take about 12 to 18 months to complete.

In addition, Chino Valley Town Engineer Ron Grittman said a consultant already is on board to begin the town's new general plan. And Prescott City Council members pointed out this past week that Prescott also is preparing to begin its general plan update. Both municipal plans could take between 18 to 24 months to complete.

Yavapai County Public Works Director Phil Bourdon maintained that it would be "useless running a transportation model" until the individual general plans have updated information.

Bridges has suggested that the temporary scaled-back regional transportation plan would include: new population figures from the 2010 Census; addition of a sustainability/livability component; a status update on projects identified in the previous study; and a final report.

Although the compilation of the 2030 Regional Transportation included almost a dozen public meetings, technical advisory committee members have suggested just two for the scaled-back plan - one at the beginning, and one at the end.

The regional plan issue likely will go the CYMPO Executive Board at its March 16 meeting.

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