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BAY AREA KICKS OFF NEW TRANSPORTATION PARTNERSHIP

 BAY AREA KICKS OFF NEW TRANSPORTATION PARTNERSHIP
 OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Local, regional, state and federal transportation and air quality officials will unveil a new partnership tomorrow to foster better cooperation among government agencies and deliver up to 16 fast-track projects to curb traffic congestion, improve mass transit, clean the air and streamline working arrangements. The kick-off meeting will be held Friday, Jan. 24 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Oakland's Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter Auditorium, 101 Eighth St.
 "In polls and at the ballot box, Bay Area residents are telling us they want an end to smoggy skylines and traffic gridlock. We need to chip away at the institutional gridlock that has impeded progress in the past. We've taken a major stride toward that end today by marshaling 32 of the key transportation and air quality agencies to work together on common goals," said Metropolitan Transportation Commission Chairman Steve Weir.
 The venture, dubbed "The Partnership," follows closely on the heels of two federal laws that will require stronger ties between various transportation and air quality agencies. The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, signed into law in December, allows Bay Area officials unprecedented latitude in deciding where and how to spend new federal dollars. With this opportunity comes the challenge for state and local transportation officials to agree on the objectives and priorities of their transportation programs. Recent amendments to the federal Clean Air Act also place a greater emphasis on coordination of transportation and air quality planning.
 With these new federal mandates in mind, chief executive officers from the region's mass transit operators, congestion management and ridesharing agencies, along with representatives from MTC, the Association of Bay Area Governments, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Caltrans, the state Air Resources Board, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are joining together in the effort.
 Perhaps the most visible part of the new initiative is a program called "JUMP Start" -- the Bay Area's Joint Urban Mobility Program. Running the gamut from a regionwide toll-free transit information line and new bus and ferry service to roving tow-truck patrols to aid stranded motorists and automatic collection of bridge tolls, 16 initial JUMP Start projects are up for endorsement by The Partnership at tomorrow's meeting.
 Other projects will be added over time, according to MTC Executive Director Lawrence D. Dahms, whose agency will provide staff support to The Partnership. "The projects were selected because they can be up and running in approximately two years or less, they offer significant improvements to the region's mobility or air quality, they have a budget or are likely to receive funding in the near-term, or they will lay the groundwork for stronger working relationships," said Dahms.
 On hand to lend his support to the new venture will be Federal Highway Administrator Tom Larson, who has expressed his hope that other regions can profit from the Bay Area's experience. "This kind of intensity has been missing from the transportation planning process," Larson told representatives from the 32 participating agencies. "The rest of the country will be watching your progress. My hope is that your efforts can serve as a model for the nation."
 Federal Transit Administrator Brian Clymer, although unable to attend the kick-off meeting, expressed his agency's strong commitment to the new partnership. "The Bay Area's partnership breaks new ground in its approach to multi-agency cooperation, which will be essential if mass transit is to make the most of the new dollars available in the federal transportation legislation," said Clymer, who will be represented at the kick-off meeting by Federal Transit Administration Deputy Roland J. Mross.
 In addition to the 32 participating agencies, The Partnership will be guided by a blue ribbon advisory committee consisting of federal and state transportation leaders, national urban transportation industry leaders, environmental and business leaders as well as representatives from the research community.
 The Partnership will keep the public informed of its progress through quarterly progress reports.
 -0- 1/23/92
 NOTE TO REPORTERS: Larson, Weir, Dahms and other officials will be available for interviews with the news media in the Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter Auditorium at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24. Fact sheets on the 16 proposed JUMP Start projects will be available at Friday's meeting.
 /CONTACT: Catalina Alvarado, 510-464-7783, or Ellen Griffin, 510-464-7847, both of Metropolitan Transportation Commission/ CO: Metropolitan Transportation Commission ST: California IN: TRN SU:


DG -- SF004 -- 2973 01/23/92 16:02 EST
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