Wednesday, November 29, 2006

SACOG -Tall Order

On the 16th of November, W.E.T. River Trips had the honor of attending SACOG's (Sacramento Area Council of Governments) Metropolitan Transportation Plan in one of the 8 region-wide meetings at the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, California. As a state-wide rafting business that draws people in cars to the Placer and El Dorado Co, it was important that we were represented. The MTP is a 28 year plan for improvements in a six-county region based on growth in population, housing and jobs. Eight locations with simultaneous telecasting with our meeting taking the lead. Intel provided the technology to simulcast the voting procedures with instant results shown as we voted on small clickers that each of us were given. Approximately 2,000 members were strewn across the region all meeting at the same time. From Davis in Yolo Co, Elk Grove, Natomas, Downtown Sacramento, Folsom, Placerville in El Dorado Co, Rocklin in Placer Co and Yuba/Sutter Co, the various locations of the meeting that evening were all held at the same time. Channel 3 - KCRA helped facilitate the production end with one of their anchors at the helm.

SACOG's MTP - Tall Order is an ambitious attempt to answer burning questions: How would you design traffic flow in your neighborhood? in your city? in the Sacramento region? Last spring, community members weighed-in on projects throughout the region with community meetings trying to address traffic flow and traffic solutions. One of the first questions asked on our evening was regarding prioritizing the anticipated $36 billion budget. The majority of the regions showed "Smart Growth" as a top priority along with "Environmental and Conservation" while "Economic Viability" shifted from 2nd to 3rd positions depending on the voting region. Smart Growth is an absolute first priority since smart growth addresses environmental and conservation efforts. High density livability will curtail the suburban sprawl that seems to be occurring in our beautiful foothills and Sierra Nevada. Smart growth also satisfies economic viability by bringing retail to high density areas instead of placing them in outskirts where no one lives. Leave the wilderness and agricultural lands intact instead of building and destroying them.

Anyone who has to travel from the Placer or Eldorado Co areas into and through Sacramento and on to the Bay Area has felt the traffic crunch. Daily commuters from the foothill areas and the valley are creating a terrible environmental impact throughout the region. We have to come up with solutions to address our population and our growth needs. Alternative modes of transportation were highlighted in almost every region and project area along with light rail, bus transport, trolleys, pedestrian-friendly design and auxiliary freeway lanes. Problems were many as few at each table could agree with specifics on each project. Most projects were limited due to budget constraints though all could agree that we'd like to take the best ideas and combine them.

In the city of Sacramento, Mayor Fargo, along with city council members Steve Cohn and Lauren Hammond showed their support by attending this important meeting. Rutsy Dupree of El Dorado County was also there at the helm. Many familiar faces showed up as Ed Cox from Alternative Mode of Transportation sat just behind us. A well-known advocate for bicycling trails and routes, he is a passionate bicyclist himself. Chris Wilson from ESIA (East Sacramento Improvement Association) and myself, both current members of the RAC committe for the 65th St Transit Village and many other neighborhood groups were in attendance.

The Tall Order is most definitely a tall one. $36 billion is just a drop in the bucket to address this very large region. Adding bridges, auxiliary freeway lanes, re-routing traffic flow for the eight regions will only help to improve our traffic and help to improve our daily lives. Make your voice heard and participate in your region to help the Metropolitan Traffic Plan. Meetings will be announced in your community and bookmark the SACOG websites.

SACOG has set up a special website showing the regional results from this historic meeting. Visit and have a voice in this MTP project.

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