SCAG’s policy committees and 83-member Regional Council voted almost unanimously Nov. 3 to release the “preferred alternative” for the 2012 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS) on Dec. 1. Move LA’s technical analysis of the plan suggests that it’s a pretty good one, with a general shift in growth toward cities that have transit and the other infrastructure needed to support it, a much better mix of jobs and housing across all counties so that commutes aren’t so long, and most transportation funding going either to preservation projects, transit, or for some road-widening but with little funding going to new roads.
In sum, the plan is very much about smart growth and transit-oriented development and sets the region on a more sustainable course. (SCAG is the Southern California Association of Governments, the metropolitan planning organization for the six-county SoCal region, which is charged with adopting a regional transportation plan and sustainable communities strategy every four years.)
There was a tremendous showing at the meeting of advocates, including doctors, for bike and pedestrian improvements and “active environments” that provide the opportunity for more physical activity and that produce less air pollution. SCAG has more than tripled funding for bike and pedestrian improvements over the previous plan, the 2008 RTP. But bike and pedestrian advocates argue that the 2009 National Household Travel Survey shows nearly 21 percent of all trips in the region are by bike or on foot — while only 0.46 percent of funding goes to non-motorized transportation.
SCAG is different than other metropolitan planning organizations in California in that it has no funding of its own to dedicate to projects but rather builds the RTP/SCS using the transportation project lists prepared by the six county transportation commissions (CTCs). This gives the agency limited authority over the projects and priorities of its member cities — rather, the agency has to work by building consensus among its member cities and government agencies.
For more details on the plan see the analysis on the right side of our homepage. At this point in the process Move LA is focused on getting more ambitious transit, bike and pedestrian investments into Alternative C, which like the preferred alternative will go through the EIR process. That provides us with more time to build support among elected officials and agencies for an expanded Metrolink system and other transit improvements and expanded bike and pedestrian investments, as well as some of the other programs listed in the story to the right on our homepage.
The draft RTP/SCS and the programmatic EIR will be formally released to the public on Dec. 1, followed by a 45-day comment period. SCAG will hold workshops on the draft with elected officials during the month of January. The final RTP/SCS is scheduled for adoption in April.