Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 12, 2013

Grand Traverse road board, TC-TALUS work toward agreement

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The Traverse City Area Transportation and Land Use Study might regain a recently lost valuable funding source.

Officials from TC-TALUS recently met with Grand Traverse County Road Commission officials to discuss the relationship between the two organizations after road board members in January voted to stop paying more than $20,000 worth of annual dues to TALUS.

At the time the commission was the second largest contributor to TALUS behind the Michigan Department of Transportation, but road board members worried they weren’t getting a worthwhile return from the 22-agency planning group.

Road Commission Manager Jim Cook said many of commissioners’ concerns have been addressed, but the two entities need to iron out details about financial dues and TALUS’ organization and structure before the road board signs off on future funding.

“I think it’s going to happen, it’s just going to be a little different,” Cook said.

Officials from both organizations said TALUS can provide valuable services to the road commission like traffic modeling and analysis, and grant writing.

TC-TALUS Director Matt Skeels said possible funding sources also prefer to fund projects with regional support and coordination between multiple entities.

TALUS provides a framework for such support, but the group is less effective without the road commission, the region’s largest local transportation group, Skeels said.

Without them we’re struggling, financially and participation-wise,” he said.

Commission Chair Carl Brown said TALUS and its transportation studies can play a central roll in shaping potential roads projects, including the recently resurrected Hartman-Hammond connection proposal.

“That’s something TALUS would have to weigh in on,” Brown said.

Road Commissioner John Nelson, a longtime proponent of TALUS and a member of its board, said it’s “essential” for the commission to participate in the regional group. He has suggested commissioners vote on the funding question at their formal meeting in either July or August.

“It’s kind of in the road commission’s court now,” Nelson said.