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MTC PROPOSES INNOVATIVE, $214-MILLION PLAN TO SPEND NEW FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION, AIR QUALITY FUNDS

 MTC PROPOSES INNOVATIVE, $214-MILLION PLAN
 TO SPEND NEW FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION, AIR QUALITY FUNDS
 OAKLAND, Calif., July 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is slated to release for public comment Wednesday, July 22, a $214-million program for tapping new funds made available through 1994 from the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, or ISTEA. That law, enacted last year, gives metropolitan regions like the Bay Area new powers to direct transportation investments to fit local and regional needs from two new flexible funding pots: a Surface Transportation Program and a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement account.
 Wednesday's action will take place during a special meeting of MTC's Work Program Committee, set to begin at 9 a.m. at the Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter Auditorium, 101 Eighth St. in Oakland, across from the Lake Merritt BART Station.
 "We've managed to strike an amazing balance between various modes. For the first time, we have the flexibility to look at how a project serves this region's transportation system, not just how it fits some rigid funding formula developed back in Washington," noted MTC Work Program Committee Chairman Robert Schroder. The list will be incorporated into the 1993 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which MTC is scheduled to adopt by September of 1992.
 The three-year, $214-million program of projects, whittled down from a list worth over $560 million, was developed through a regional consensus-building process initiated last March. "These projects are the first tangible results of ISTEA. We went out and beat the bushes to make sure we got a broad cross-section of projects to choose from, and local agencies delivered," said MTC Executive Director Lawrence D. Dahms.
 In all, some 300 projects are recommended for funding. Notable examples include: the purchase of three locomotives for CalTrain; the next carpool lane segment for the Nimitz freeway in Alameda County; TransLink universal fare collection equipment for AC Transit; traffic signal and local arterial improvements throughout the region; rehabilitation of the BART transbay tube; funding to complete San Francisco's Muni Metro turnback; clean fuel buses for transit agencies in Napa, Contra Costa and Sonoma counties; transit transfer centers in San Leandro, Richmond, El Cerrito, Hayward, Livermore and San Jose; preliminary engineering for an intermodal freight facility at the Port of Oakland; roving freeway tow-truck patrols; bicycle and pedestrian trails in Antioch; a childcare center at a San Jose transit hub; a regional Traffic Operations System with changeable message signs and ramp meters to ease traffic congestion; and numerous local street repaving projects.
 Assisting MTC in developing a process to evaluate projects was a working group of the region's transit operators, cities and counties, local congestion management agencies (CMAs), seaports and airports, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the state Air Resources Board, and the state Department of Transportation (Caltrans). The group developed an innovative ranking system that grades projects based on their ability to meet four goals, with the maximum score being 100 points: maintain/sustain the metropolitan transportation system, or MTS (30 points); improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the MTS (30 points); expand the system to meet demand (15 points); and address external factors (25 points).
 This last category rates projects according to their ability to improve air quality, support land use goals, promote energy conservation, cause a modal shift away from the single-occupant vehicle and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The consideration of external impacts of transportation projects reflects a fundamental change in response to the mandates of ISTEA, according to MTC's Legislation and Finance Manager Hank Dittmar.
 "This is a radical departure from the days when many of the major decisions were made strictly by formula. Now Congress is telling us to look at the big picture, to invest in projects that are efficient, multimodal, and in sync with environmental and land use goals," said Dittmar.
 Even projects for automobiles are evolving, according to MTC Planner Kristina Younger, who has been developing the new funding priorities. "People are listening. What would have come in as plain arterial widening projects are now coming is with provisions for timed signals, bus bays, bike lanes and sidewalks with curb cuts for access by pedestrians and people with disabilities," said Younger.
 The Bay Area is reportedly one of the first regions in the nation to tap these new funds. Besides the flexible monies, MTC's Draft 1993 TIP includes previous programming actions of approximately $10.5 billion from other state and federal funding sources. A public hearing on the 1993 Draft TIP is scheduled for Sept. 11 at MTC offices in Oakland. MTC is expected to adopt the TIP on Sept. 23.
 MTC is the transportation planning and financing agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
 -0- 7/20/92
 NOTE: A list containing projects recommended for the Draft 1993 Transportation Improvement Program is available from MTC Public Information (telephone 510-464-7847).
 /CONTACT: Ellen Griffin, 510-464-7847; or Catalina Alvarado, 510-464-7783, both of MTC/ CO: Metroplitan Transportation Commission ST: California IN: TRN SU:


MM-DG -- SF005 -- 0828 07/20/92 14:42 EDT
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Date:Jul 20, 1992
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