PPACG: Public comment periods start on two regional transportation documents

       Thirty-day public comment periods start Nov. 14 for two documents related to the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) that had been approved the previous day by the board of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG).
       Both are tied in with federal requirements that affect funding for transportation projects in the region.
       PPACG is a regional planning agency; the board consists of elected representatives from member agencies in El Paso, Park and Teller counties.
       One of the documents contains proposed year-2040 “goals and performance measures,” modeled after those in the 2035 RTP that the PPACG board had approved in 2012. The 2040 version has 13 goals instead of the 17 for originally for 2035, but this is a result of removing redundancy, Brian Vitulli, a PPACG transportation planner explained to the board.
       The first six goals/measures relate to the basic aspects of maintaining a transportation system, with the seven others addressing economic, social, political and/or pollution issues, as follows:
  • “Goal 7 - Ensure transportation system investment benefits are equitably distributed to citizens with disabilities, low incomes and other special needs.”
  • “Goal 8 - Reduce transportation-related adverse impacts to communities, neighborhoods, natural environments, and areas identified for cultural and/or historical preservation.
  • “Goal 9 - Improve economic vitality and freight movement in the region by enhancing the transportation system.
  • “Goal 10 - Use transportation investments to incentivize infill in, and redevelopment of, existing communities.
  • “Goal 11 - Improve, protect and mitigate impacts of critical habitat and connecting corridors suitable for threatened, endangered, and imperiled species.
  • “Goal 12 - Minimize the amount of stormwater runoff and transportation associated pollutants that enter the region's streams.
  • “Goal 13 - Reduce absolute regional transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutant emissions.”
           During the board discussion on the RTP goals/measures, County Clerk Wayne Williams and Teller County Commissioner Norm Steen questioned the value of Goal 10, with Steen suggesting it could discriminate against rural areas that have fewer infilling opportunities. However, neither objected in the voice vote on El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark's motion to put the proposed goals/measures before the public as is.
           The second RTP-related item, which includes population density maps, is called the Small Area Forecast. According to a written description by Emily Lindsey, another PPACG transportation planner, the Forecast “is a routine planning process that occurs every three to four years at the beginning of each update of the RTP. The forecast uses the best available data and local planning knowledge to forecast where people may live and work through 2040. Once the Small Area Forecast is complete, it becomes input to the travel demand model, a technical tool used to assist in the development of the RTP.”
           An open house on the Forecast is scheduled Dec. 5 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the PPACG building, 15 S. Seventh St. (lower floor).
           Also released for public review at the Nov. 13 board meeting was the Air Quality Report. However, because it is a report (not an action), there is no comment period, according to PPACG spokesperson Jason Wilkinson.
           The report includes a listing of pollution regulations since 2007. Among these are updated emission limits for mercury, acid gases, and non-mercury metallic toxic pollutants for new power plants; new standards (proposed) to limit carbon pollution from new power plants; standards on greenhouse gases; and fuel efficiency standards requiring 35 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2020 for new auto fleets.
           To view copies of any of the above documents or to obtain more information, go to ppacg.org, e-mail jwilkinson@ppacg.org or call 471-7080 x102.

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