Background on Metropolitan Planning Organizations
Federal law requires the formation of an “MPO” for any urbanized area with a population of more than 50,000. The Roanoke Valley Area Metropolitan Planning Organization was created in 1979 to plan and budget the use of federal transportation dollars in the Roanoke region. There are currently 14 MPOs in Virginia. The U.S. Department of Transportation recognizes the Roanoke Valley Area MPO as the entity responsible for transportation-related planning within the Roanokeurbanized area boundary.
he population of the Roanoke Valley Area MPO Study Area is approximately 225,000, and covers the Cities of Roanoke and Salem, the Town of Vinton, and the urbanized portions of the Counties of Bedford, Botetourt and Roanoke. The MPO study area is required to include the Census Urbanized Area (currently based on the 2000 Census, but soon to be udated to 2010 data), and the area that is expected to be urbanized in the next 20 years.
Financial support comes primarily from federal transportation funding, with matching funds provided by the six member localities and the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Planning and administrative staff is provided by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, which also serves as the fiscal agent.
Key Functions of the Existing Roanoke Valley Area MPO
The Roanoke Valley Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) develops three key documents that are the backbone of transportation planning and programming in the region — the Long- Range Transportation Plan, the Transportation Improvement Program, and the Unified Planning Work Program.
Roanoke Valley Area MPO as a Transportation Management Area (TMA)
- The Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) guides the region in creating a more efficient, responsive and environmentally-sensitive transportation system over the next 20+ years. The plan examines transportation trends/issues and offers a list of specific projects for addressing the region’s mobility needs.
- The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is a four-year schedule of all federally-funded and regionally-significant transportation projects to be implemented in the MPO region. It functions like a budget and projects can only be funded if they are consistent with the goals of the Long-Range Transportation Plan. The TIP is updated each year.
- The Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) is a one-year schedule of all transportation planning activities that will be performed using state and federal planning funds. Project suggestions can originate from any of the participating members of the Roanoke Valley Area MPO, as well as the public. The MPO Policy Board, with advice from the Transportation Technical Committee, makes the final decision on which projects are included in the UPWP.
- The Unified Planning Work Program includes: Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning, Greenway Planning, Elderly/Disabled Mobility, Corridor Studies, coordination with RIDE Solutions, transit planning, public involvement, and local technical assistance
The U.S. Census Bureau announced in 2012 that the population of the Roanoke Valley Urbanized Area is now 210,111, and includes part of Montgomery County. The Roanoke Valley urbanized area grew by about 11% in land area and the population grew by 6.4% to 210,111. Long Range Transportation Planning is conducted by the Roanoke Valley Area MPO as designated by federal law, and this increase in population caused the Roanoke MPO urbanized area to be designated as a TMA (Transportation Management Area). Because a small part of Montgomery County is also now part of the urban area, Montgomery County is now represented as part of the Roanoke Valley Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The Office of Management and Budget defines the criteria for designation and the US Census Bureau uses 2010 Census data to make the designations.
What is a TMA?
A Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) with an urbanized area boundary population of 200,000 and above is designated as a Transportation Management Area by the Secretary of Transportation.
What happens when an area is designated as a TMA?
The MPO area has additional rights and responsibilities relating to long range transportation planning as outlined by federal law.
Transportation plans/programs within a TMA must be based on a continuing, comprehensive and cooperative transportation planning process carried out by the MPO in cooperation with the State and transit operators.
The transportation planning process must include a Congestion Management Process.
The FHWA and FTA must certify the transportation planning process no less than once every four years.
The MPO will receive federal funding allocations for surface transportation projects and planning. The MPO board will designate how this funding is allocated in the Roanoke MPO area. Click here for a more information on projects approved May 23, 2013
MPO activities are directed by a 15-member Policy Board that establishes regional transportation policy, approves the Long-Range Transportation Plan and the Transportation Improvement Program, defines committee duties, and adopts an annual planning work program. The voting members of the Policy Board include representatives from the six member localities, as well as the Greater Roanoke Transit Company, the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission, the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, and the Virginia Department of Transportation. In addition, ex-officio (non-voting) members include the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Federal Transit Administration.
Two standing committees assist the Roanoke Valley Area MPO Policy Board:
- The Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) is responsible for making recommendations to the MPO Policy Board on all transportation plans and programs in the region. The TTC also develops and reviews documents, amendments, and reports.
- The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) provides a citizen’s perspective on the impact of transportation plans in the region and advises the MPO Policy Board on the public participation plan. The CAC is currently being re-organized and we do not have an online listing.
Public participation plays a key role in the planning process. Federal regulations stress enhanced public involvement. In order to comply with these mandates, the Roanoke Valley Area MPO developed a Public Involvement Policy.
The purpose of the plan is to identify a proactive public involvement process for the planning efforts undertaken by the MPO. This includes, but is not limited to, adherence to state and federal regulations regarding public notices and public hearings, complete access to information barring legal or fiduciary restraints, input to key decisions, development of demographic profiles for respective study areas of the MPO, and development and deployment of innovative public involvement strategies.
The Roanoke Valley Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (RVAMPO) fully complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related statutes and regulations in all programs and activities. For more information, or to obtain a Discrimination Complaint Form, see www.rvarc.org or call (540) 343-4417.