ABAG All Staff Meeting
December 8, San Francisco
At the invitation of ABAG President Julie Pierce and Acting Executive Director Brad Paul, I addressed the staff at ABAG about the impending consolidation of our two staffs into a single integrated organization serving both boards.
December 14, San Francisco
I just wanted to express my appreciation for the robust attendance and dialogue at our Commission Workshop last week on the subjects of Regional Measure 3, the ABAG/MTC staff consolidation, and the development of a more energetic regional housing policy through a stakeholder-based, consensus-building process we have named the Committee for Sustainable and Affordable Accommodations (CASA).
U.S. DOT Finalizes MPO Coordination Rule
December 15, Washington DC
In the waning days of the Obama Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation has finalized a controversial rule that could require the merger of more than 140 metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) throughout the United States. Short of merger, the affected MPOs would be required to adopt joint plans and transportation improvement programs, which could prove cumbersome, costly, and litigious. As noted by the maps we previously shared with you, MTC would be affected by this rule due to our planning boundary’s vanishingly slight overlap with adjoining MPOs in Yolo and Santa Cruz counties.
In an effort to soften the blow, the final rule contains two major changes from the draft regulation: (1) the implementation date for the final rule has been delayed to 2024, and (2) the Secretary of Transportation would have the ability to waive implementation of the rule in certain metropolitan areas under specified conditions. While this additional flexibility is welcome, the exception language still would transfer the venue for determining MPO boundaries from a joint decision of state and local governments to an unelected cabinet officer in Washington DC. That is a worrisome development for MPO governance. Republican Congressional leaders have stated that they intend to pass legislation early in the 105th Congress that would repeal so-called “midnight” regulations issued by the outgoing Administration. This MPO coordination rule conceivably could be included in that package.
Golden Gate Bridge Board Meeting
December 16, San Francisco
I attended the board meeting of the Golden Gate Bridge District to urge its directors to award the contract for construction of the suicide net for which the Commission has been a major funding partner with Caltrans and the Bridge District. The board approved awarding the contract by unanimous vote.
Future of the Interstate Committee
December 19-20, Washington DC
I attended the second meeting of the special Transportation Research Board (TRB) committee overseeing the congressionally-mandated study of the future of the Interstate Highway System.
These maps provide three different views of the recent presidential election. The first map shows county-by-county results in the traditional red and blue colors. From a transportation perspective, one clear takeaway is that you could drive coast-to-coast without ever setting foot in a Clinton county. The second map comes courtesy of the Brookings Institution, and it tells a dramatically different story. While Secretary Clinton carried 2,000 fewer counties than Mr. Trump, her blue counties represent nearly two-thirds of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).Finally, the third map introduces some nuance to the stark contrast of the two other pictures. It depicts county-by-county results like the first map, but shows the margin of victory in a range of red and blue colors. The most striking thing to me about the third map is how many purple counties there are, where the vote margin was +/-10% for either Trump or Clinton. In other words, our closely divided county once again proved just how closely divided it is. My Christmas wish: that we can start emphasizing the “close” part more than the “divided” one.