I received some feedback from Judge Ed Emmett’s office regarding this post about H-GAC’s Friday Transportation Policy Council (TPC) meeting, at which funding in the 2011-2014 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) will be discussed and voted on. There’s some context missing from what Houston Tomorrow and Bike Houston wrote about this.
Let me start by pointing you to the TPC agenda item concerning the TIP. The original allocation of funds, with $79.8 million in “unprogrammed” monies remaining, was determined by the TPC to be short of their goal for project type Mobility, which includes “added capacity roadways; traffic operations/Intelligent Transportation Systems, transportation systems management, roadway rehabilitation/maintenance, grade separations/interchanges and freight rail projects”. To meet their goal of 78% allocation for Mobility, all unprogrammed funds plus an additional $12.8 million were designated for that type, with the extra money coming from the Alternative Modes type (“bicycle, pedestrian and transit improvements”); a third type, Air Quality, had no flexibility in its allocation, and the Planning/Studies type was already at zero. Alternative Modes is still getting $38.9 million, or 11.2% of the $345.6 million total, down from $51.6 million, which would have been 14.9%.
What Judge Emmett told me was as follows:
- The $79.8 million in “unprogrammed” funds came from a variety of sources, including the federal and state governments. This is money that was going to be spent but hadn’t been attached to anything yet.
- The TPC had decided to set ranges for the share of each project type’s allocation. Mobility’s range is 75-83%, Alternative Modes and Air Quality is 9-13% for each. The original TIP had Mobility below that range, and Alternative Modes, which Judge Emmett referred to as “hike and bike trails”, above it.
- No Alternative Modes project that already had funding lost funding as a result of this. There were some projects that had been approved but not yet funded that were pushed back to the 2015 TIP. These projects will retain their approval – in other words, they will not have to got through the approval process again and as the Judge put it “will be at the front of the line” for funding.
- In addition, as noted on page 3 of the agenda item, if there are any Mobility funds left over, unfunded but approved Alternative Modes projects would be eligible for them.
- The TIP covers a three year time frame, and most of the Alternative Modes projects that have been approved for funding have already had those funds allocated, and this is why there’s little of such funding allocated after this year.
I hope all this helps you understand it a little better, as I now do. I appreciate Judge Emmett taking the time to answer my questions. Please note that none of this is intended to discourage you from attending the TPC meeting on Friday if you were thinking about it. By all means, if you think the target ratios for Mobility and Alternative Modes are wrong, if you think that there are approved but unfunded Alternative Modes projects that shouldn’t have to wait till 2015, or if you have some other opinion about any of this, you should attend. That’s what it’s all about.