As our region grows, we are all experiencing increased traffic congestion. This affects our personal lives, our commutes to work, the movement of freight, and the financial success of our businesses.

Metro recognizes this problem, and as the lead agency responsible for regional transportation planning, is working to address it.

Transportation planning is perhaps one of the most important components of a vital, successful working region. Our regional economy, as well as our quality of life, depends on the improvements we make to our transportation system.

Funding transportation improvements, however, is a challenge. Federal and state agencies are telling us that the money we have been used to getting over the years no longer exists.

City, county and state experts say that they don't have enough funding for maintenance. This means that we must be smarter and more efficient with the money we do have, making fiscally responsible and targeted investments in roads, highways, and public transit.

We will not be able to build the future with past spending models and yesterday's solutions. Instead, we will need to exercise leadership for developing new funding sources, while still working hard to get our share of existing funding.

Metro is currently up-dating the Regional Transportation Plan to shape planning that serves the livability of our communities.

We are focusing our planning and advocacy work on achieving a safe and environmentally sound transportation system that supports economic prosperity.

As part of the plan update and in an effort to be responsive to the needs of residents, we recently conducted a public opinion survey on transportation planning (See story, page 5A).

The new version of our plan incorporates the findings of this survey and provides a more balanced approach to transportation planning - planning that serves everyone.

As part of that balanced ap-proach, we support im-provements to and ex-pansions of the road network. We understand that driving will continue to be a necessary mode of transportation for many Washington County residents.

The decisions we make now on our Regional Transportation Plan will affect our region for years to come, and we especially encourage you to provide feedback. That will help us as we plan for a safe, environmentally responsible transportation system that includes roads, supports economic success and - most importantly - supports you.

-Kathryn Harrington and Carl Hosticka are Metro Councilors who represent Washington County.

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