Much Ado About the RTP

I must say, the update of the Regional Transportation Plan is turning into quite the little contretemps. A few weeks back the Federal Highway Administration made it clear they thought Metro was departing planet earth.

Now apparently, it’s ODOT’s turn. As reported in the Tribune (scroll to the lower part of the piece) ODOT distributed a letter (PDF, 87K) at JPACT last week reminding Metro that only ODOT gets to set standards for state highways and that the progression of congestion in the Metro area is a problem:

Businesses outside and inside the Portland-Metro region cannot move their freight through, around or out of the region in an efficient manner with a significant adverse impact on the Oregon economy.

and

Further deterioration of the State System is not acceptable.

Stuart Foster (chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission) seems to be quite excited.

The interesting thing is that I don’t see the RTP as an endorsement of congestion. It is rather a description of a strategy for connectivity that is less focused on freeways, in part because freeways are subject to the ‘triple convergence’ phenomenon of induced demand. Metro is looking for a better way.

Change is hard. But that doesn’t make it wrong.

Interestingly, change may apparently be harder for transportation officials than land use officials. The Metro Policy Advisory Committee (primarily focused on land use) voted to ‘endorse’ the RTP policy chapter, while JPACT (focused exclusively on transportation) used the weaker language of ‘accepting’ it. We’ll have to see which version the Metro Council uses in their resolution…

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