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tag meeting

By Loreth Beswetherick Who will pay what portion of the potential $60 million bill attached to Whistler's comprehensive transportation strategy will be thrashed out at a Transportation Advisory Group meeting slated for Sept. 1. Municipal staff will present a proposal for a budget breakdown at the September gathering. Groups that will end up bearing a portion of the costs will include the municipality, the Ministry of Transportation and Highways, B.C. Transit, the mountains and the Whistler Resort Association. If everything outlined in the transportation strategy is implemented between now and 2001, the bill could run up to an estimated $60 million. Municipal staff have determined about $45 million in one-time capital costs would be required for items identified in the strategy, including new roads, trails, traffic signals and a cabriolet lift to shuttle skiers from parking lots to the base of the hills. Ongoing annual costs as components of the plan are phased in over the next decade would make up the difference. A budget breakdown is just one of the items that needs to be finalized before the TAG strategy goes public in the fall. Another is the "trigger points" — points where critical congestion is reached and a new aspect of the transportation plan kicks in. Those trigger points have been quantified and will be tabled Sept. 1. The TAG strategy itself has been modified subsequent to input from a December 1998 public meeting and those changes will also be tabled at the landmark TAG meeting. It is anticipated the TAG strategy will be made public by October this year. The TAG goal is to reduce traffic on the roads by 15 per cent by 2010 or sooner. The more effective the transportation demand management, the longer it will take to reach the trigger points and the cheaper the strategy should prove to be. TAG commissioned the $400,000-plus study of Whistler's transportation needs in 1996 with a view to developing a comprehensive vision, or strategy, for transportation in the valley.

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