When I was a teenager, I couldn’t have told you what road I was driving on, let alone which area roads need improvement or where money comes from to fix roads. I talked to a group of kids last night who were WAY different than I was at that age.
I sat down with the students that make up the Teen Advisory Council from the Chase Youth Commission. The Commission provides an opportunity for teens in grades 8-12 to get involved in community projects and create awareness around youth issues in the community.
So why was I talking to them? Because they’re the ones who are going to inherit the results of the decisions we make today. The Horizon 2040 plan we’re working on now includes a lot of recommendations on how to move our transportation system into the future. While many of us will still be around in 2040, some of us probably will no longer be driving. That means the young folks of today will be inheriting that responsibility.
So I sat down and gave them the lowdown on the issues we’re facing (deteriorating roads, no money to fix them, transit revenues that can’t keep up with demand, lack of sidewalks and bike lanes, etc.) and they had some great questions. For instance, questions asked included does SRTC get involved in creating legislation such as banning studded tires (no, as a government agency, we can only educate, not advocate), what is the expected life of a roadway (depends on the location, what it’s built out of, how often maintained, etc.) and do we work with City of Spokane Councilmembers (yes, Nancy McLaughlin currently serves on our Policy Board, as does Mayor Condon).
It sounds like these kids are going to be getting more deeply involved in transportation, as the City of Spokane has asked the group to designate a member to sit on an advisory committee for the update to the transportation chapter of the Comprehensive Plan. That member will get the “transportation beat” and also provide input back to me. Looking forward to working with any of those young people, they were all great.