The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.
For more than 13 years, the Regional Transportation Authority has delivered hundreds of transportation improvements across the region.
Projects are funded by a half-cent excise tax collected by the state established RTA’s independent taxing district within Pima County. In 2006, voters approved a 20-year regional transportation plan and the tax to fund those projects. This local investment of $1.2 billion to date has meant jobs through tough economic times and has led to public and private sector investments in urban redevelopment and new commercial and residential development along major transportation corridor improvements.
The RTA governing board established a 35-member citizens’ advisory committee to start the process to develop a new plan and budget that again can serve the people in our region over a 20-year period. This citizen-driven process is under way now to ensure there is a seamless transition from the current RTA plan to the future plan.
The plan development process will include extensive public input along the way. In the current phase, we plan to distribute a public input survey on guiding principles drafted by the citizens’ committee. The RTA also is conducting regionwide presentations about the process and has reached more than 3,000 people so far.
After public input, the committee will adopt the final version of the guiding principles to serve as a regionally focused guideline for jurisdictions within the RTA district to consider as they submit their project lists to the RTA by July 2020.
Once lists are submitted, the citizens’ committee, with support from the RTA’s Technical Management Committee, will use those guiding principles as they select projects for a draft plan. All the RTA committee meetings are open to the public, and the public will be further asked to review and provide input on the draft plan when it’s ready. Revised drafts will be shared with the public before a final draft is presented to the RTA board for approval. Once the RTA board approves the plan, it will set an election date.
Federal and state transportation funding coming into our region continues to be stagnant. The RTA district’s funding mechanism offers a key funding source to meet regional transportation needs, and the RTA’s project delivery record speak volumes as to its ability to get things done.
That’s why 35 citizens, including myself, are sitting at the table together to develop a new well-balanced plan that meets our needs across the region.
Built on a foundation of collaboration, the RTA’s efforts of working together will again be needed among RTA member jurisdictions, the citizens’ committee and all of you. We look forward to getting your input on the survey and throughout the process. You can connect with the RTA plan development process at www.RTAmobility.com to learn more about the history and future of the RTA or request a presentation.
I believe we can all start by agreeing that current RTA plan improvements — such as the Twin Peaks Road and interchange, Tangerine Road, Sahuarita Road, Valencia Road, Houghton Road, the Ina Road interchange, expanded transit services, bus pullouts, new signalized pedestrian crossings, new sidewalks, bikeways and new traffic signal technology — have truly improved our regional mobility, safety and multimodal capacity.
Imagine our region without these improvements for a minute. Hard to imagine, right? That’s why it’s important to become engaged in this process to ensure that we—the citizens—once again develop a new plan that will carry our community into the next two decades.