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Metro Transit buses (copy)

Madison Metro Transit System buses make their way up State Street. 

Under changes approved by the City Council Tuesday, Madison’s local government will have a more consolidated approach to transportation policy and planning.

The ordinance change eliminates all existing transportation-related commissions and committees, seven in total. In their place, the ordinance creates a nine-member Transportation Policy and Planning Board in addition to a nine-member Transportation Commission.

It also calls for the hiring of a director of transportation, a position the city has not had since the early 1990s. The city’s current Department of Transportation consists of the Traffic Engineering, Parking, and Transit divisions with the Traffic Engineer & Parking Manager and the Transit Manager filling in director responsibilities.

“I hope that these changes will result in better and earlier public engagement on transportation projects and a more coherent and cohesive planning process for not just road construction but the future of Bus Rapid Transit and the future of our relationships with outlying communities,” Ald. Rebecca Kemble, District 18, said.

Kemble said the idea for changes came up in discussions about cooperating more with surrounding communities that use city of Madison services and laying groundwork for the future possibility of a Regional Transit Authority. The Republican-led state Legislature effectively abolished regional transit authorities in 2011.

The ordinance changes are a result of recommendations from the Transportation Ordinance Review Committee, which was created in February 2016 to figure out how to modernize the city’s transportation-related ordinances to better serve its transportation system.

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"This committee was set up to construct a transportation department and committees for the future city that we will be becoming so we looked out into growth and what was needed," Ald. Denise DeMarb, District 16, said. 

The new board and commission will be replacing the following bodies:

  • Transit and Parking Commission
  • ADA Transit Subcommittee to the Transit and Parking Commission
  • Parking Council for People with Disabilities
  • Contracted Services Oversight Subcommittee
  • Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission
  • Long-Range Transportation Planning Committee
  • Joint Transportation Subcommittee

The changes will take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.