The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 26, 2002


MAGIC briefed on transportation planning bureaucracy

It was back-to-school night on April 11 for MAGIC representatives when members of Metropolitan Planning Office's (MPO) Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS) presented a panel billed as "Transportation 101" at MAGIC's regular April meeting in Stow. Their presentation was intended to clarify transportation acronyms (one existing glossary of transportation acronyms is 14 pages long) of documents, agencies, timetables, and procedures.

New draft for MPO planning process

CTPS fortified their presentation with a handout draft of "The Boston Region MPO and Transportation Planning Process" for the 101 cities and towns and over 3 million people included in the MPO, which includes nearly half of the state's population. Very briefly, and quoting from the draft handout, federal law establishes the requirements and guidelines for transportation planning in urbanized areas. An area must maintain a 3C process (comprehensive, continuing, cooperative) in order to get federal funding and the body responsible for implementing the federal law in the Boston area is the MPO. The MPO is a cooperative board, consisting of 14 voting state, regional and local entities and three non-voting entities, the FHWA, FTA and the Regional Transportation Advisory Council, which conducts most of the regular business of the MPO.

CTPS was created in 1974 by the MPO to provide technical and policy-analysis supportt. CTPS is responsible for two planning documents the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) and the TIP report. The UPWP describes planning projects for a given fiscal year, and is circulated for review before comments are incorporated in a second draft prior to a final review. The TIP describes and prioritizes all transit and highway projects and approves those to be implemented from available funds in a report due by October 1 of each year. The TIP vote comes from MPO. The MAGIC area had only two projects on this year's TIP list and members are keenly interested in the decision process.

Prioritizing transportation projects

Barbara Lucas, chief transportation planner for MAPC, affirmed the need to develop criteria for prioritizing projects and stated that these criteria which will be derived from policies) are in a draft form which will be used to develop this year's TIP list. She said, "This is going to be an art, rather than a science, as this is developed."

School population down in Boxborough

· Carlisle, represented by Tom Lane of the Planning Board, said Carlisle is "just trying to figure out how to pay the bills," a sentiment shared by other towns.

· Boxborough thought it would have to dip into surplus monies. The town has seen enormous growth in recent years, but only one housing permit has been issued since last July and the school population is down. Don Wheeler, representing Boxborough, anticipates a fall town meeting to conduct the business that can't be done until firm figures are available from the state, and added, "I don't see more than zero from the state."

·Lexington representative, Richard Canale, said "We may run out of money before town meeting." Lexington has articles on "mansionization" and is currently trying to figure out how to manage the town bylaw that authorizes free disposal of garbage. The town will pay back owed monies, he says, but doesn't know how to reimburse residents. "It's a mess and everybody's got an idea for a solution," according to Canale. He reported that Lexington also has zero new growth.

· Lincoln's Town Meeting passed a modest override, which was driven primarily by school costs. Lincoln also passed the Community Preservation Act.

· Stow is still building an addition to the high school. It is updating its master plan.

· Littleton has two big developments along Nagog Pond.

MAGIC glossary

CTPS Central Transportation Planning Staff

FHWA Federal Highway Administration

FTA Federal Transit Administration

MAGIC Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination

MAPC Metropolitan Area Planning Commission

MPO Metropolitan Planning Office

RTAC Regional Transportation Advisory Council

TIP Transportation Improvement Plan

UPWP Unified Planning Work Program

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito