Tuesday, March 24, 2009

SEWRPC Certification Report Delayed, Official Says

Federal officials conducted their quadrennial certification review of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission in October, and the report was to be done this month, but Carlos Pena from the Madison office of the Federal Highway Administration sends this update in answer to an email inquiry:

"The draft of the report has been distributed for review by all the required channels. However, given the short period for implementation of the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the limited resources available to some of the reviewers we anticipate the final report to be ready for distribution sometime within the next two months."

Federal certification permits SEWRPC to approve certain federal transportation spending in its seven-county region.

SEWRPC is already reviewing and approving some stimulus-funded projects.

The 2004 review found deficiencies in SEWRPC's outreach efforts, leading to the creation in 2007 of an Environmental Justice Task Force, a SEWRPC-staffed body that is supposed to serve as a contact point for low-income, minority and disadvantaged communities not well-served by SEWRPC.

The Task Force has had a rocky relationship with SEWRPC, which has declined suggestions that the agency allow it a role in the hiring of an executive director in 2008 and delay the pending water supply study recommendations until socio-economic analyses could be added to evaluate water diversions and related recommendations on Task Force constituencies.

Coincidentally, the Task Force meets today at the Mitchell Airport Conference Room, at 4 p.m., with SEWRPC covering parking fees for any attendee.

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