Ten years after a meeting between county, state and intra-governmental agencies set the tone for state spending in transportation, Casa Grande plays host to what has become the Rural Transportation Summit.
Taking place at the Francisco Grande Hotel and Resort Jan. 16-18, the summit, according to RTS coordinator Bill Leister, is one of the best networking opportunities for top transportation and elected officials for the entire year.
“Anyone and anything remotely related to transportation is going to be there,” said Leister of the summit, which is expecting between 275 to 300 committee members, elected officials and other various representatives. The event will be capped off by the State Transportation Board’s monthly meeting at 9 a.m. Friday, an event that Maricopa Transportation Manager Brent Billingsley says is a must-go for residents of the city.
“This is the closest (the State Transportation Board) is going to be to Maricopa this year,” Billingsley said. “Now is the time to get folks out from Maricopa to talk to the power players. This is the opportunity of the year to get in front of ADOT and make our case.”
Billingsley, who has attended every RTS since its inception, having served with CAAG before working for the city of Maricopa, hopes to present on Maricopa’s progress on its pilot transit system, which is scheduled to kick off in April. There will be several group and breakout sessions scheduled throughout the day Thursday, including presentations on two key topics of great interest for many: re-authorization and the statewide planning initiative.
The latter, Leister said, is a state-directed plan to prioritize projects for the next 20 years before going to voters to raise funds through a half-cent sales tax increase that would pay for the list of needs.
Re-authorization refers to the renewal of the federal highway and transit bill that is needed in 2009 when the current bill expires. ADOT Director Victor Mendez, United States Department of Transportation Deputy Administrator James Ray and National Association of Regional Councils Executive Director Fred Abouselman are scheduled to host a two-hour symposium on the topic Thursday morning.
For more information on the event, call Leister at (520) 827-1021, or visit www.caagcentral.org/trans/summit.html.