In 1975, RIC was designated as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Charleston Urbanized Area. Later, this was expanded to include the entire Metropolitan Area (Kanawha and Putnam counties), to match the air quality non-attainment area. All urbanized areas in the U.S., as a condition of receiving federal highway and transit funding, must have an official MPO, whose responsibility it is to carry out a coordinated, cooperative and comprehensive planning process. This includes development of various transportation plans and programs in cooperation with state and local officials, transit agencies and local citizens.
In July 18, 2012 the US Census Bureau released the Urbanized Area Delineation from the 2010 Census. The new Huntington Urbanized Area stretched into Putnam County; with the population increase the Huntington Urbanized Area is now designated as a Transportation Management Area (TMA). The RIC is the MPO for Kanawha and Putnam Counties, and now has several new planning requirements to fulfill in coordination with our partner MPO in Huntington.
Requirements of the planning process include development and 4-year updates of a long-range (25 year) transportation plan, an annual (or biannual) transportation improvement program, and a yearly unified planning work program. In addition, RIC conducts corridor, subarea and intersection studies to look at particular problem locations in the area. RIC also works with the Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority (KVRTA) to carry out transit planning. Plans are submitted to the West Virginia Department of Transportation and/or KVRTA and are intended to help guide their investment decisions.
Coordination and public involvement are key principles of the transportation planning process. RIC’s policy board, comprised of a combination of elected officials, officials from appropriate state and public agencies, citizen and minority representatives, must approve all plans and programs. RIC has a standing committee, the Transportation Technical Advisory Committee, which advises the policy board on transportation matters. Various ad hoc committees are created for special studies and sometimes for a particular focus area, such as the bikeway element of the long-range plan. Public meetings are held at key junctures during long-range plan development and during other studies. The public is also accorded an opportunity to comment on projects to be included in the Transportation Improvement Plan. More specific public involvement is detailed in our Public Participation Plan.
RIC updates its Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) every two years. On a request basis, RIC also helps its members with local transportation issues, such as problem intersections or access problems. RIC is responsible for reviewing applications for Transportation Enhancement Program and Recreational Trails Fund projects and often assists in the preparation of these applications. Staff also maintains a Geographic Information System (GIS), which supports RIC’s regular planning activities and also provide mapping and analysis for its members and local agencies.
UNIFIED PLANNING WORK PROGRAM
The Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) identifies the annual transportation planning activities that are to be undertaken by RIC in support of the goals and objectives established by local, state and federal transportation planning requirements. Updated annually, the UPWP summarizes the transportation planning activities of the RIC staff over the course of the fiscal year, beginning July 1 of each year.
CONGESTION MANAGEMENT PROCESS
The MPO’s Congestion Management Process sets forth planning objectives to effectively improve transportation system capacity while managing traffic congestion into the future. The CMP offers tools and methods for tracking transportation-system data such as travel times and traffic counts, and most importantly, offers a set of multi-modal solutions for addressing the growing problem of traffic congestion in our region. RIC partnered with KYOVA and the consulting firm Stantec to complete the Huntington Urbanized Area’s Congestion Management Process. During the last MTP Update RIC expanded the previous CMP to include all of Kanawha and Putnam counties in the Kanawha-Putnam Congestion Management Process.