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H-GAC TPC

Meeting Notes - Nov 20, 2009

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PUBLIC MEETING NOTES

Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council
November 20, 2009, 9:30 am

Houston Tomorrow publishes notes from public meetings to help local governments in their mission to provide transparency and to allow a greater pool of Houstonians to participate in important policy discussions.  These notes are not official meeting minutes, nor do they record every agenda item.

TPC agenda, November 20, 2009

Resolution for Approval of Amendments to the 2008-2011 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and 2035 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP)
Mr. Alan Clark of H-GAC provided a brief overview of Amendments #1 and #2 to the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).
***THE RESOLUTION WAS PASSED AND APPROVED BY THE TPC***

Reauthorization of the Regional Safety Council (RSC)
Mr. Jeff Kaufman of H-GAC requested that the TPC extend the Regional Safety Council’s charter through November 2013.  Per the background information provided by H-GAC, TPC approved the creation of RSC in October 2005 to advise the TPC on the development of its safety program and to promote safety with other planning activities.  As part of RSC’s bylaws, it is to go through a sunset review at this time - hence H-GAC’s request to reauthorize the Council’s charter so that it runs through November 2013.

Mr. Kaufman also introduced Tom Lambert, METRO Police Chief and Vice Chair of the RSC.  Mr. Lambert described RSC’s approach to traffic safety by saying, “We have law enforcement, medical professionals, transportation professionals, traffic engineers, community advocates, child-care advocates, all working together really in a problem-solving partnership.”  He then thanked TPC for its leadership and requested that they extend the RSC’s charter.
***TPC UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED TO EXTEND RSC’S CHARTER THROUGH NOVEMBER 13***

Resolution for Approval of Amendments to the TPC Bylaws
The Bylaws Committee requested that TPC members approve of proposed changes and recommendations to TPC Bylaws, which were emailed to TPC members on November 4th after being discussed and amended at the October 23 TPC meeting.

Mr. Steve Howard of H-GAC provided background information on the issue and reminded members that, “our reason for doing this primarily is the State Legislature passed a bill last session requiring that Metropolitan Planning Organization Bylaws have an ethics policy included in them.”

With that being said, Mr. Howard said the main modifications to Bylaws involved:
1.) a TPC Ethics Policy - as required by state law.
2.) a TPC composition change - raising the cap on TPC membership from 26 to 28.  One position would be filled by the Gulf Coast Rail District; the second would be unfilled until the 2010 census at which point the Bylaws Committee anticipates adding League City, which will have reached a population of 50,000 or more by that time.
3.) a cleanup of outdated language in Bylaws.
***TPC MADE A FEW SMALL SUGGESTIONS FOR CHANGES IN LANGUAGE BUT OTHERWISE APPROVED OF THE BYLAWS AMENDMENTS***

Resolution for Approval of Functional Classification Changes
Mr. Clark presented a letter from TxDOT requesting support to change the functional classification of six roadways described in this background document
***TPC MEMBERS UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED OF THIS RESOLUTION***

Resolution for Approval of Candidate Projects for Proposition 12 Funding
Mr. Clark provided background information on 2 Houston mobility projects that TxDOT’s Executive staff is recommending to use Proposition 12 funding:
1) Approximately $130 million to widen IH 45 from Kurland to S of FM 2351.
2) Approximately $313 million to acquire right-of-way and construct direct connectors at intersection of IH 610 and US 290.
***TPC MEMBERS UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED OF THIS RESOLUTION***

Status Report on Implementation of ARRA Stimulus Projects
Mr. Clark provided an update on a $5 million Clinton Drive rehabilitation project that the TPC added as a first priority on a local rehabilitation and maintenance list for American Recovery and Reinvestment Funds at its October 2009 meeting.  Mr. Clark also shared a letter describing the project.

The Clinton Drive project is a high priority due to the urgency of the PM2.5 air quality designation discussed at the October 2009 TPC meeting.  According to Mr. Clark, project plans for the project should be submitted to TxDOT for review by December 15, 2009 in order for the project to meet the letting deadline of March 1, 2010 for stimulus funds.

Regional Transit Framework Study
According to background information provided by H-GAC, a Regional Transit Framework study was initiated in September 2009 “to provide a detailed analysis of current and future transit system plans and recommendations for a regional decision-making framework to guide future transit policy decisions.”

For the November TPC meeting, Mr. Scott Miller of the consulting firm chosen to conduct the study gave a presentation documenting his team’s initial findings, including an interesting comparison of Houston’s public transportation options with other “peer regions”, including Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Miami, San Diego, and Seattle.  The study will conclude in August 2010.

Updates to the 2008-2011 TIP and the 2035 RTP
Finally, Mr. Clark cautioned the TPC on revenue forecasts that TxDOT and the State’s MPOs have been working on for the 2009-2019 period.  According to background information provided by H-GAC and draft revenue forecasts:

...the 2008-2011 TIP is significantly over-programmed based on actual lettings to date and anticipated revenue for the remaining years of the TIP.  The 2011-2014 TIP will show much lower levels of programming authority than the 2008-2011 TIP.  The financial situation will also impact the 2035 RTP.  As a consequence, staff will amend the 2035 RTP to reflect a new fiscal summary and new air quality conformity determination.

In other words, Mr. Clark anticipates significantly lower funds for MPOs to work with in the near future.

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