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Jax Daily Record Friday, Feb. 11, 201112:00 PM EST

Legislators asked to keep hands off transportation trust fund

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by David Chapman

Staff Writer

With no heavy action items on its February agenda, North Florida Transportation Planning Organization members spent most of their monthly meeting Thursday listening to policy and legislative updates.

Howard Glassman, Florida Metropolitan Planning Organization Advisory Council executive director, provided several updates about policy positions heading into the upcoming legislative session.

At the state level, Glassman said the top priority has been one North Florida TPO board members advocated in December, and that is for legislators to keep their hands off the State Transportation Trust Fund for nontransportation purposes.

Glassman said that while funds from the trust fund are often diverted to other budget areas, minimizing the takeaway was key. He said $213.6 million was diverted last year for nontransportation purposes.

“We need to keep an eye on that and keep diversions at a bare minimum,” said Glassman.

The advisory council assists metropolitan planning organizations across the state to carry out urbanized area transportation planning by serving as a forum for policy discussion.

In addition to the legislative policy positions, North Florida TPO members also received general and legislative updates about the port from Chris Kauffman, Jacksonville Port Authority chief operating officer, and an update on the Florida Statewide Passenger Rail Commission study from Brad Thoburn, Jacksonville Transportation Authority strategic planning director.

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