Transportation Commission formed anew

The Traffic Safety Commission met for the final time Thursday night, after which it was abolished along with the Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission to prepare for a new Transportation Commission forming after the first of the year.

The City Council approved the move at its meeting on Nov. 18 with staff support.

"There was a feeling that we wanted to have a commission that was a little more all-encompassing," Jim Olson, the city's engineering services manager, said.

Combining the two traffic-related commissions will allow the city to work on more long-term transportation planning, Olson said. The commission will deal with all transportation-related issues, including safety, planning, funding and advocacy for bicycles, mass transit, parking, pedestrians and all other modes of transportation.

Mayor-elect John Stromberg said the commission will allow the city to be more proactive in planning for public and alternative modes of transportation.

"Creation of this commission coupled with the update of the transportation systems plan from a multi-modal point of view is a very important and good step for the city," he said.

Stromberg will likely delay appointing the nine-member commission until February, when he has had a chance to determine how to connect the commission's work to land use planning, he said.

The consolidation brought the number of city commissions down to 10; the city also has numerous other permanent committees and boards and various ad hoc committees that are formed on a temporary basis.

The Public Arts Commission was the last commission formed, in 2002, said City Recorder Barbara Christensen.

Commissions are rarely abolished, and new commissions are formed periodically.

"It depends on the needs of the community at the time, and our needs change over the years," she said.

The purpose of forming the Transportation Commission was not to reduce the overall number of commissions, but there is a limit to the number of new commissions that the city can handle, City Administrator Martha Bennett said

"In general, if you've got an issue of citizen concern, creating a commission is a good thing to do," she said. "There's only so many staff and there's only so many citizens, and you know when you've reached the point where you've overtaxed them when you can't get people to apply."

An overarching transportation commission will serve as a place for any unforeseen transportation issues that may arise as well, negating the need to form temporary committees.

Had the Transportation Commission been formed a year ago, for example, it is likely there would have been no need for creation of the Siskiyou Safety Ad Hoc Committee, formed in response to the death of Southern Oregon University student Gladys Jimenez in February, Bennett said.

Applications for the Transportation Commission are available on the city's Web site and are due by Dec. 19.

Staff writer Julie French can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or

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