In the news

Climate Action on Transportation and Energy Policy

April 13, 2022

Dear Constituent:

Last month, the Columbia City Council wrote this official letter to the CATSO Coordinating Committee.  The letter criticizes CATSO's Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) for being "poorly constructed, silent on important transportation planning considerations, and inaccessible to the public."

As I discussed in a previous newsletter, CATSO is a powerful intergovernmental body of planners and engineers, with the authority to program federal funds for transportation projects. The LRTP determines how the City of Columbia, Boone County, and Missouri Department of Transportation will spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars annually for the next 30 years in the Columbia area. 

Unfortunately, this arcane document is still firmly rooted in the 1960s transportation philosophy of expanding a network of massive highways out into rural areas.  For example, the westward extension of Broadway from Scott Boulevard across Perche Creek to Route UU and the eastward extension of Stadium Boulevard from Highway 63 to I-70 (combined cost of more than $100 million) are among dozens of wasteful and unnecessary projects.

I wish to thank Columbia's Climate and Environment Commission for bringing these deficiencies to the City Council's and the public's attention with their recent Memo to Council and Statement on CATSO 2050 Long-Range Transportation Plan. In addition to the LRTP's failure to address climate change or mobility justice, their statement highlights the misalignment between the plan and Columbia's community-driven goals to reduce vehicle miles traveled, and calls out CATSO for including "effectively meaningless" goals, objectives, and performance measures.

The letter (signed by all seven City Council members) asks the CATSO Coordinating Committee to develop a Major Amendment to the LRTP that includes community input on transportation needs, new mode share goals that reflect public opinion, and a project list that prioritizes walking, biking, and transit. In the long term, City Council requests that the next version of the CATSO LRTP will be a new and fundamentally different community plan.

The letter will be discussed at the next CATSO Coordinating Committee meeting on Thursday, May 26th at 2:30 pm in City Hall. If you care about the way Columbia's Long-Range Transportation Plan impacts our adaptation to climate change, please attend this meeting and hold CATSO accountable for their decision on how to spend taxpayer dollars.

We also need to switch away from fossil fuel energy sources as quickly as possible. City Council will soon set a new goal for our electric utility to attain 100% renewably generated power. I believe the target date should be 2030 - if you agree, please sign this Sierra Club petition telling the City Council that Columbia needs 100% clean energy by 2030.

This will be my final constituent newsletter.  It has been a privilege to represent the citizens of Columbia on City Council for the last nine years, and a pleasure to engage in so many important public policy discussions with you.  This email address will remain active for another week or two, after which you can contact me at ian@americawalks.org and 573-239-7916.

I wish new Fourth Ward Council Member Nick Foster the very best for his term. I will provide Nick with these constituent email lists so he can continue the conversation with you.  There will always be an option to unsubscribe.

Cheers, Ian