Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Funding

10

Sep

Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Funding

At the last advocacy meeting, Barry Shiller brought to our attention an upcoming Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding.  Due to deferred maintenance, past borrowing, a decision to build the IWay and more, RIDOT claims they need an additional $300 million per year.  These hearings are to explain the situation and ask how we, the public, want to deal with this shortfall.  Obviously, one of our concerns is the state will likely chop “discretionary” funding, including bike programs.  here is a copy of the press release and the meeting dates:

Rhode Island, like many states across the nation, is facing a transportation funding crisis. That is why this past March, Governor Carcieri established the Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Funding to explore the State’s current transportation funding structure.

Since its inception, the Panel has been reviewing the State’s transportation funding structure, funding needs, as well as future funding options. The Panel is now looking for public input and is therefore announcing four public meetings that will begin on Monday, September 15. The meetings, which will be held at 7 p.m., will provide the general public the opportunity to voice their opinions on the State’s current funding structure and offer suggestions for improvement.

The Blue Ribbon Panel Public Meeting schedule is as follows:

Schedule:

  • Monday, September 15, 7 p.m., Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) Flanagan Campus, 1762 Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln.
  • Wednesday, September 17, 7 p.m., CCRI Newport County, One John H. Chafee Boulevard, Newport.
  • Tuesday, September 23, 7 p.m., University of Rhode Island (URI), Kingston.
  • Thursday, September 25, 7 p.m., Rhode Island College (RIC), 600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Providence.

We would encourage anyone who can to attenda local meeting and express your concern over the potential loss of funding for alternative transportation.

8 thoughts on - Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Funding

  • Robert Loblaw
    Sep 11, 2008 at 4:32 am

    How do you propose they come up with that money instead? Rather than voice your concern that they have no cash, why not a concerted effort to find out where we can get the money from?

    Seems clear to me that the bulk of the people in the RIDOT can be replaced with stuffed animals. They were too busy padding their budgets with flatscreen TVs for everyone to notice they ran 300M light? Fire them!

  • Sep 11, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Robert makes a good point. Who's idea was it to spend $500 million on "sky bridges" for Providence, $120 million for 1.5 miles of highway, OVER STATE OWNED LAND, between Rt 4 and Quonset (then leave 1.0 mile unfinished, probably another $90 million more), and nothing for fixing existing streets and maintaining bridges properly. Those are the guys to fire.

    You must attend a TAC meeting sometime. Bring a grande Starbucks caffeinated coffee to stay awake and listen to the doubletalk and newspeak about so called public works projects. Meetings are designed to bore and score, get heads nodding yes without discussion. The automotive lobbyists are there in full force, making sure their agendas are met. The only leverage groups that aren't represented are the PUBLIC at large, bicyclists and you.

    The should have made Providence and a few surrounding towns bikeable when they had the chance. The money was earmarked in separate accounts, but the state wasn't interested in THOSE projects. Now they don't have the matching funds to accept any program money, which were recently frozen by the Bush administration. The fish stinks from the head… blame goes right to the executive office.

  • Barry Schiller
    Sep 14, 2008 at 9:52 am

    In resposne to Alan's points above: The "IWay" now will cost about $630 million, even more than Alan suggests! At the time it was proposed, various estimates were that it would cost between 2.5 anf 4 times as much as rebuilding in place. The IWay was advocated for by Providence business interests, the rest of the state was pretty much asleep about the financial implications. Since we could not pay for the Iway as it was being built, we borrowed from future Federal highway allocations (called GARVEE bonds) that now have to start being repaid, putting us deeper in the hole.

    TAC meetings that Alan refers to above (I am a member of thi) can indeed be long and dull as the Federal transportation planning requirements and funding formulas are complex. But Alan's comments about the TAC is an insult to me personally as I invited him to speak to the TAC to help him make the group more aware of bike issues, and once we approved his request for art-related work on the Washington Bridge.

    I can assure him and everyone that there is indeed much discussion of controversial issues including: the GARVEE bonds noted above (I was the only one to vote against it), reuse of the old Jamestown bridge (for biking, walking, tourism, fishing) and bike access to the new bridge, the Quonset freeway, the level of bikeway funding, the "Intelligent Transportation System" center at RIDOT, traffic signalization coordination (or lack of in my opinion), the Apponaug bypass and Airport Road, sidewalk funding, widening Route 95, commuter rail extensions, and lots about the transit program. But the TAC doesn't design or review project details, if RIDOT does local projects without accomodating bikes (as required by a law we helped pass) than that should be taken up with RIDOT or local officials or legislators.

    All that said, the basic problem is that we cannot sustain a transportation system (both roads and transit) whose revenue source is a flat gas tax that not only does not rise with inflation, it actual goes down with infation as people buy less gas due to the hight prices. Though of course we need to seek a more efficient RIDOT (recall the faulty concrete inspection, the mess on the Barringotn-Warren bridges, the allowing of contractors to hack into RIDOT computers etc), nevertheless the reality is that Inevitably this funding stream must lead to serious shortfalls, and though RIDOT has put off dealing with this by the borrowing, (RIPTA could not do this) the day of reckoning is arriving. So either we let our highway and transit system deteriorate (hence weakening our economy) or we pay more.

    I am going to the Sept 15 hearing in Lincoln, if noone from the bike community attends I will report on what happens.

  • Sep 15, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Not too concerned for Barry's hurt feelings (he's got thick skin), as speaking before the TAC is tantamount to a public lynching. There was no appreciation at all for bicycling issues; to quote the chairperson, "What do you expect us to do about it." If TAC truly has no power, why meet? Things they agree on don't happen. So, what is Barry saying? RIDOT is out of control? Barry and I are saying exactly the same thing, except for minor details. And I don't get paid to bring up these issues.

    The series of blue panel meetings to which Barry refers are for public commentary on how to deal with the Transportation funding shortfalls.

    "Rhode Island, like many states across the nation, is facing a transportation funding crisis. That is why this past March, Governor Carcieri established the Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Funding to explore the State’s current transportation funding structure."

    Schedule:

    Monday, September 15, 7 p.m., Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) Flanagan Campus, 1762 Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln.

    Wednesday, September 17, 7 p.m., CCRI Newport County, One John H. Chafee Boulevard, Newport.

    Tuesday, September 23, 7 p.m., University of Rhode Island (URI), Kingston.

    Thursday, September 25, 7 p.m., Rhode Island College (RIC), 600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Providence.

    I've been putting together a list of things to improve funding, too. Mostly it has to do with eliminating fraud and corruption, firing privatized agencies and six figure employees, opening state job to bidding, closing casino, restoring the middle class, and placing a moratorium on all new road building. Should none of these things happen (don't hold your breath), the next step would be a grassroots effort to recall various elected executives. This was done successfully in California.

    Do you realize, this state never completes what it starts? Or maintains what it builds? There are 4000 miles of roads in RI, probably half of which dead end somewhere, 15% of which are dirt or totally broken pavement. Why are they even repairing the Henderson? It's a bridge to nowhere, orginally designed as a cure to the bottlenect of Rt 6 (Red Bridge), which was long ago obviated by i-95.

  • Margherita
    Sep 19, 2008 at 5:30 am

    FYI — The TAC meeting time on the 25th at RIC has been re-scheduled from 7 PM to 6:15. I think they do these things so people will either not be able to get to the meetings or will arrive too late to enter their comments. As one of the very few masochistic souls who actually stays to the bitter end at these things, I'm pretty disgusted with the cavalier attitude towards public input — towards Barry's input, too, I would add. Barry does a great job of presenting the need for alternatives to the present mindset, and in return, he gets nothing but pro forma attention, and often rude responses at that! Perhaps if more of us showed up with consistent messages and STAYED, they would have to pay more attention!

  • Sep 19, 2008 at 7:18 am

    Margherta, you go, gal. Right on. Reschedule must have to do with the Blue Ribbon Panel on same night, same general location.

    But attending every meeting and staying 'til the cows come in won't do anything at all, because the TAC is stacked with automotive lobbyists and construction interests, who make sure nothing interferes with prioritizing huge projects with lots of slop to sop up. Small projects, like bikeways and lane striping, are too small, generally. This is why you're getting a $15,000,000 (maybe more) Geo. Redman Bridge, instead of a $500,000 (or less) Bold to India Point Bridge. Even bikeway construction has some juice, it seems. Most goes to ENGINEERING, little to actual construction, even though their built over already engineered rail beds. If a builder told you your new driveway would cost $170 a foot to lay, you'd be looking for another builder. But, since it's all about OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY, nobody complains. Wake up, it's YOUR tax money.

  • Barry
    Sep 20, 2008 at 8:36 am

    The 6:15pm to 7pm TAC part of this Thursday's meeting is just for routine administrative stuff, the public presentation and public comment on items of substantive interest will be at the "Blue Ribbon" meeting that begins at 7pm in Clarke Science 125. Despite what Alan says, public input does (sometimes) matter. If not for public advocacy we would not have an East Bay bike path (and thus none of the others) , we would have a freeway across the Scituate watershed, we would have a much smaller transit system. Every time I ride on one of our bike paths (as I did yesterday witha friend who is just getting interested in biking) I remind myselk why it is wortthwhile to stay active, and I encourage all who can to come this Thursday evening and speak up bfor bicycling, – in my opinion, for both more paths and better on-road conditions.

  • Sep 21, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Despite your attendance, RIDOT has no choice but to build bikeways and stripe roads, as it’s the law. Doesn’t appear TAC has anything at all to do with it, since striping is a town matter, and bikeways and bridge access a federal and state mandate. EBBP is directly because of George Redman’s advocacy, not TAC. Until Providence willfully complies, you’d do better spending your time finding lawyers who’d bring a class action suit against any mayor and municipality that doesn’t, rather than registering disregarded public opinion with a board that’s not empowered to do anything.