Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System organization replaced with non-profit

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska The Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System, or FMATS, has been dissolved.

The Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System has been dissolved and replaced by nonprofit organization FAST Planning. (Courtesy of FAST Planning)

FMATS last Executive Director Jackson Fox, decided to dissolve the organization and replace it with the new one called Fairbanks Area Surface Transportation Planning, or FAST Planning. On April 5th, Governor Mike Dunleavy approved the entity change. Fox is the Executive Director of the new organization. More than a name change, the new entity is an independent organization, meaning it is not directly tied to any local government. FAST Planning also has nonprofit status. Fox explains what these changes mean.

"There's a couple advantages with us being a corporation," started Fox. "Again, we serve all the local governments in the Fairbanks North Pole areas equally, so there is no one local government that has more control over the organization than any other now that we are an independent entity. Second, because we have nonprofit organization status, we can apply for federal grants to leverage more transportation dollars for the area."

The 2000 census officially declared the city of Fairbanks as an urban area. When a city reaches the population of an urban area, the federal government mandates a Metropolitan Planning Organization must be formed. Formed in 2003, FMATS allocated funds for transportation projects in the Fairbanks and North Pole areas. Department of Transportation and borough employees were originally tasked with running the organization. In 2008, the program was given full-time staffers and an office at Fairbanks City Hall.

Fox says FAST planning has taken on all the responsibilities FMATS had. While it is independent, the three local mayors and other portions of local government sit on the Board of Directors for the organization. This allows local government to express which projects they wish to see get done and when.

Last week, FAST Planning applied for their first federal build grant. They applied for $8 million dollars to reconstruct Cowles Street from 1st Avenue to the front of the hospital.