Posted on November 7, 2023 at 6:00 am
Do you ever wonder how transportation and construction projects are chosen to be built or funded? Or have you considered how transportation in Spokane County manages to function and flow daily?
The Spokane Regional Transportation Council (SRTC) is one of the organizations in Spokane County that helps manage transportation for our community.
SRTC is federally designated as the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). All urban areas with a population of at least 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. Without the SRTC, there would be no central forum in the region to coordinate and collaborate on transportation topics and regional transportation projects.
We serve as the table—or central meeting place—where different jurisdictions come to discuss transportation projects, funding, and more.
SRTC has a Board of Directors comprised of elected officials from the cities, county commissioners, business representatives, tribal representatives, and other important government agencies in our area. We have a team of planning staff who support the Board’s decision making by collaboratively researching, analyzing, and creating plans. SRTC also has a technical committee and a citizens committee that both make recommendations to the Board on important voting decisions. Additionally, the public is invited to comment on plans at any time, with periodic requests for input on specific projects.
As a regional planning agency, it can sometimes be hard for the small number of staff at the SRTC to cover all the bases regarding analytical work, planning for deliverables, and making required recommendations, while also going out into the community to make sure all voices are heard.
This is one of the many reasons why SRTC is recruiting for the Transportation Equity Working Group. The intent for the Equity Working Group is to be a space dedicated to Spokane’s marginalized and historically excluded communities—those who have been denied a voice in the past.
The stated role of the Working Group is to provide important input on how SRTC’s outreach and engagement strategies are working, how effective our techniques are for identifying transportation projects and programs that have positive and equitable impacts, and to share potential opportunities to grow and improve what we’re doing as an agency to better ensure that the burdens and benefits of the transportation system are being fairly distributed.
Groups that have been historically excluded are an integral part of what makes Spokane Spokane. Our community includes people who have low income, are experiencing disability, are nonwhite or Hispanic, and who are otherwise from a group whose voice is underrepresented in local and regional governance. These voices are valued and welcomed at the SRTC table.
We are currently recruiting potential participants to come share their voices about transportation topics that directly affect our region and how federal funds are spent.
The only requirement to join the Equity Working Group is a willingness to participate. You don’t need any extensive prior knowledge about transportation to volunteer in this group.
While we have an initial framework for the goals of the Equity Working Group, as we recruit citizens who come with their own unique backgrounds, passions, and skills, this group and its focus have the potential to evolve. We know there are some areas where the group can make an immediate impact, but we also hope that over time members will feel empowered to take initiative over how the group operates and where they want to provide input on agency operations.
The group is currently anticipating to meet twice monthly beginning January 2024, and interested folks would be welcome to attend meetings in person, by phone, or via computer using online meeting software (e.g., Zoom).
If you like maps and want to learn more about equity statistics in Spokane County, you can explore our Social Equity Mapping Tool.
You can call, email, or visit the SRTC, Monday–Friday, 8am–5pm, with any transportation questions or public comments.
Savannah Hayward is the Communication and Public Relations Coordinator for the Spokane Regional Transportation Council (SRTC). At SRTC, she takes on a variety of different roles and projects, including equity efforts with her colleague Michael Redlinger. Hayward loves working in the public sector, where she can help do important work and make a difference in her community. She graduated from Whitworth University in May 2023 with a degree in Strategic Communication.