Collaborative approach guides successful regional planning

Developing a regional transportation plan is no simple task. The process to draft the next Regional Transportation Authority plan involves time to prepare a plan that citizens in the greater Tucson region ultimately will support at a future election.

Members of the RTA’s Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) are working on a second RTA plan to identify a 20-year slate of projects that will continue project implementation beyond June 2026, when the current RTA plan and tax to fund it will expire. The committee is asked to think regionally when members select which projects are worthy investments for the future economic vitality of the region.

Committee member Ted Maxwell said, “It’s so important to remember our role on the committee is to provide transportation infrastructure for everyone in our community. Not just for our individual needs. It is a daunting task, but it is an important one.”

The process to develop a draft plan is still in full swing:

  • A new plan has not yet been drafted. Projects are still being submitted for consideration.
  • Citizens can continue to share their input on transportation priorities at
  • The public will have plenty of opportunity to weigh in once a draft plan is ready for review.
  • The RTA’s tax revenue funding source provides the most flexible funding option for the public to use in determining what they would like to see in a plan they can support. The RTA tax is collected across Pima County within the RTA’s state-established special taxing district.
  • Pavement management, for example, is not part of the current RTA plan. Public sentiment will guide if regional pavement management is included in a second RTA plan.
  • While the RTA is the largest funder of regional transportation projects annually, the RTA tax revenues are limited when compared to long-term needs.
  • The CAC knows it has the challenging role to consider public input and feedback as the committee deliberates how to narrow down submitted transportation priorities to match a finite budget.

“At the core of the 2006 plan development, which was foundational, was making sure the public could give us their feedback on the draft plan as part of a transparent process, so they knew they would have a say before the draft was presented at an election,” said Rick Myers, co-chair of the 2005 RTA CAC. “And it worked. Plus, regional collaboration from RTA Board members was necessary for the public to see we were working in unison for a common goal and that our focus was on understanding what the public would support vs. what we assumed were priorities in the minds of those future voters.”

Core steps in the plan development process:

  1. Establishment of a citizens’ advisory committee (CAC) with members selected by the RTA Board from a pool of regional applicants. Education of the committee to learn about the history of the RTA, the success of the current RTA plan, each jurisdictions’ transportation priorities, federally required performance measures, and more.
  2. Establishment by the CAC of guiding principles and goals for plan development. Public feedback on the guiding principles and goals and public outreach for citizens to share their transportation priorities.
  3. WE ARE HERE – Review of transportation projects submitted by RTA member jurisdictions for plan development. Technical guidance provided by the RTA’s Technical Management Committee, made up of public and private sector members. Determination of plan elements and categories of each element by the CAC. Establishment of a budget based on anticipated sales tax revenues for the 20-year plan period. Creation of a draft plan of projects that matches anticipated revenues.
  4. Extensive public outreach to allow the public to weigh in on the contents of the draft plan. Plan adjustments by TMC and CAC committees and a CAC recommendation of a draft plan to the RTA Board.
  5. Seek review and endorsements of plan from regional stakeholders.
  6. RTA Board approval of the draft plan. Set an election date for voter consideration of a new 20-year plan and tax option to fund the regional plan.