By STEVE POGGIALI
Erie Regional Planning
A Regional Transportation Planning Organization is an organization that identifies local transportation needs, conducts planning, assists local governments and supports the statewide planning process in non-metropolitan regions of the state. A state is provided the opportunity to designate RTPO’s as a method for formalizing the engagement of officials from areas with an urbanized population of less than 50,000 as they incorporate rural transportation needs into the statewide planning process. The Ohio Department of Transportation has created a process whereby a Metropolitan Planning Organization can receive additional funding to mentor rural areas through the steps to becoming an RTPO. Currently, there are five designated RTPO’s throughout the state and ODOT has approved the Erie MPO to become a mentor for the counties of Huron, Ottawa, Sandusky and Seneca. There would be no cost to the counties as ODOT would compensate Erie for all of the work completed for the RTPO designation.
The process would begin by the Erie MPO forming a Regional Planning Organization and then completing the following steps:
· Work with and execute a Memorandum of Understanding with the five-county area to focus on transportation planning
· Develop a committee name and structure for the RPO
· Develop a two-year pilot program scope and submit it to ODOT for approval
· Complete the two-year pilot program
· Develop a regional long-range transportation plan approved by the RPO committee
· Submit the plan to ODOT for acceptance
· ODOT submits a request to the Governor for the RPO to be formally designated as an RTPO
Earlier this year, Regional Planning staff spoke to the commissioners of Huron, Ottawa and Sandusky counties as well as Seneca Regional Planning about the possibility of them becoming an RTPO with Erie County collaborating with them on the process. However, as of this date no decision has been made by our neighboring communities about partnering to become an RTPO and engaging in cooperative transportation planning to create a long-range transportation plan for the five-county area.
Steve Poggiali is director of Erie Regional Planning, 2900 Columbus Ave., Sandusky, 419-627-6671 .