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County asks help for rural transportation planning

Here's a chance to be 'at the table' to help decide the future of area transportation

Karen Buehrig is concerned about widening rural roads to accommodate increasing vehicle traffic; she wants safe paths for bicyclists, runners and walkers; she wants the efficient and safe use of transportation in the air, on water and rails; and she wants public transit to serve where it is needed.

Buehrig has the interests of rural county residents - such as those in Estacada, Sandy and Boring - at heart when she helps develop the county Transportation System Plan (TSP) for unincorporated areas for the next decade.

The process of planning transportation, which started about three months ago, is expected to take nearly two years because Buehrig wants everyone in the county to have opportunities to be a part of the process.

Buehrig, the county's transportation planning supervisor, wants to hear their views, their preferences and their needs to guide decisions they'll all have to live with for at least 10 years.

The TSP, Buehrig said, also addresses land uses, and is directed partially by the development expected in rural areas. But it also considers the needs of other county services such as tourism, social services, economic development and recreation.

Speaking at a recent Boring Community Planning Organization (CPO) meeting, Buehrig said she needs help from local residents to decide what the county should invest in before the next TSP process starts in 2021 or later.

To get people's ideas, she has advisory committees and is gathering information from surveys of area groups and individuals.

'These (surveys),' she said, 'are trying to give us a feel for whether or not we're moving in the right direction. We want to know what the transportation system should be doing and how it should be funded.'

She and her staff are asking the question: 'What are your priorities?'

In late January, there will be open houses around the county, with one likely in Eagle Creek. The open house forums will give residents a chance to state their preferences, frustrations and desires in an informal manner.

Beyond that open meeting, additional TSP open houses are being planned for spring and fall 2012.

Noting that transportation revenue has not kept up with the cost of improvements, operations or maintenance, Buehrig said funds come from federal, state, regional, county and city sources.

But there's a caveat to this story.

'The transportation-funding story,' she said, 'is that we anticipate a decrease in revenue and an increase in costs over time … So we're asking folks how they think the road system should be paid for.'

The planning Buehrig is directing also includes tapping the expertise of a transportation consulting firm at a price of $750,000 for the two-year process.

Filling that role is the experienced firm of Kittelson and Associates, with offices all over the United States and Australia. Kittelson is headquartered in Portland.

For more information, call Ellen Rogalin, community relations specialist, at 503-742-4274 or send an email to ellenrog

@co.clackamas.or.us. For information on the TSP, visit the county website at clackamascountytsp.com.