Advising PDOT

As I’ve mentioned before, this year I’m sitting on PDOT’s budget advisory committee. We met last week to digest the results of the outreach and to review staff’s preliminary recommendations on cuts.

The meeting opened with a review of the public outreach. There was a lot of discussion about whether there was a bias from an over concentration of alternative mode users and advocates among the respondents. Nonetheless, three conclusions unified the entire group of respondents:

  • Roads should be maintained to minimize long-term costs (6.22 out of 7)
  • Public transit is just as import as cars (6.15)
  • Maintaining existing facilities is more important than building new ones (5.61)

A more interesting piece of data was the contrast between outreach and inreach. PDOT and Bureau of Maintenance employees were also surveyed. The employee responses showed some marked differences from the public: employees showed much less support for alternative modes and favored shifting resources to roads.

I would be very curious to see how this split between PDOT and Bureau of Maintenance employees. That split was not available to us, but the data does show that the number of Maintenance employees participating in the survey was about double that of PDOT.

The proposals to cover the $8M budget gap included better accounting and management of labor services, cuts in services that do not appear to be highly valued, seeking funding from other budgets for services that are not truly transportation related, and raising fees in some cases (e.g., parking tickets).

One very interesting idea was to let surface quality of low traffic residential streets deteriorate a little bit more than we do now (but not to the point that long-term life is impacted). There was support in the task force for this. It was felt that this actually had a traffic calming benefit and having these streets too smooth encourages faster traffic and cut-through traffic.

My sense is that the $8M will get covered without major disruption to PDOT’s mission, but we’ll know more after the next meeting of the task force as more analysis on the potential gap fillers is available.

On a separate but related note, over at Commissioner Sam, they have a map (PDF, 1.7M) showing how PDOT capital projects (not the operating budget discussed above) are distributed around the city.

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