Island County joins solo transportation planning group

State, county, municipal and other entities on Wednesday officially formed the Island Transportation Planning Organization, a group intended to ensure that Island County allocates federal transportation funds most effectively county-wide.

The group chose Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson as its chair and Langley Mayor Tim Callison as its vice-chair.

The group plans to meet monthly, said Doug Cox, the county’s transportation planner and its liaison to the group.

“Since our regional transportation planning organization (RTPO) was dissolved last year, we’ve been working to get this up and running,” Cox said. “This was our stab at trying to continue the status quo.”

The group consists of representatives from Island County, the cities of Langley and Oak Harbor, town of Coupeville, Island County Public Transportation Benefit Corp., ports of Coupeville and South Whidbey, state Department of Transportation, Island County Economic Development and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

Island County for 24 years was part of an RTPO with Skagit County, but last year Skagit County voted to withdraw from it, leaving Island County “alone and ineligible under current law to form an RTPO,” state Rep. Dave Hayes, R-Camano Island, said last month. Hayes is sponsoring House Bill 2815, which would allow Island County to create its own RTPO.

That bill has passed out of the house and had a public hearing in the senate on Feb. 24.

If HB 2815 is enacted, “the new ITPO will become the RTPO,” Cox said. “The way we set it up is consistent with an RTPO.”

For information go to www.islandcounty.net/PublicWorks/RTPOMinutesandAgendas.asp.