Transportation Planning for the Future
FY 2017 DOCUMENTS
FY 2016 DOCUMENTS
FY 2015 DOCUMENTS
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South Alabama Rural Planning Organization (RPO)
Objective: Improve State Department of Transportation consultation with rural Local Officials responsible for transportation
In January 2003, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a new rule to guide the consultation process between state transportation officials and non-metropolitan local officials. The new rule implements the congressional intent of the 1998 TEA-21 law to enhance the participation of rural local elected and appointed officials in the statewide transportation planning and decision-making processes. This rule was carried forward in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). SAFETEA-LU authorizes the Federal surface transportation programs for highways, highway safety, and transit for the 5-year period 2005-2009.
Highlights of the rule include:
• Each state must have developed and implemented a documented process for local official input into statewide transportation plans and investment programs by February 2004.
• By February 2006 and at least every five years afterwards, states must seek feedback from local officials regarding the consultation process. States are also directed to seek comments and input from state associations of counties, municipal officials, regional development organizations and other non-metropolitan officials.
• The consultation process must be “separate and discrete” from state processes to obtain input from the general public, giving more weight to local government officials in recognition of their significant transportation responsibilities, including ownership of roads, bridges and transit systems.
In order to meet these requirements, the Alabama Department of Transportation set up Rural Planning Organizations with the Regional Planning Commissions of Alabama. Transportation planning within the South Alabama Rural Planning Organization study area falls under the auspices of the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission (SARPC). The South Alabama Rural Planning Organization Transportation Study was created in 2007 upon execution of an agreement between the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission and the Alabama Department of Transportation. In Fiscal Year 2007 (October 1, 2006), the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission began developing a Rural Planning Organization (RPO) in order to conduct a transportation planning process for the rural areas of Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile Counties. This includes the incorporated and unincorporated areas of these counties that are not a part of a Metropolitan Planning Organization Study Area. Specifically, this includes all of Escambia County, that part of rural Baldwin County that is not in the Metropolitan Planning Organization study areas of the Eastern Shore or Pensacola, which includes the municipalities of Bay Minette, Robertsdale, Foley, Silverhill, Elberta, Summerdale, Magnolia Springs, Perdido Beach, and Gulf Shores and rural portions of the County , and that portion of Mobile County that is outside of the Mobile Area Transportation Study Area, This includes the towns of Dauphin Island, Mount Vernon, and Citronelle, and rural portions of the County. All SARPC member governments that are not voting members of an MPO are members of the RPO.
The purpose of the RPO is to enhance and improve the rural transportation planning consultation process between ALDOT and those local governments responsible for transportation planning in the rural areas. The RPO gives the rural governments of the SARPC region a united voice in addressing safety issues, long range transportation needs and transit needs. Although the RPO does not have the ability to allocate funds for projects, it does give the rural governments a means to recommend to the State Department of Transportation a list of their transportation needs and influence State and Federal funding for transportation projects in the rural areas of Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile Counties.