Pioneer Valley
Planning Commission

Pioneer Valley Transportation Authority Bus
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Transportation Planning Studies

A transportation planning study is a process that identifies existing and potential deficiencies. It analyzes and evaluates alternative solutions to these deficiencies in terms of their social, environmental, economic, and land use impact. Planning studies must result in a clear set of decisions to mark the end of the planning and the beginning of the project development stage. Recommendations are made to identify which project alternatives need further analysis and which can be reasonably promoted for more detailed evaluation. An important step in any planning study process is the early involvement of an advisory committee to add local perspective to the study. Extensive input from local officials and the general public is encouraged over the duration of the study process.

Transportation studies are typically conducted as part of the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) for the Pioneer Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization. Transportation studies are longer in duration than local technical assistance requests and are conducted according to PVPC's current public participation process.

Regional Transportation Plan

The TEA-21 legislation builds on the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 which emphasized the development and use of the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) in the planning process. TEA-21 encourages the involvement of public officials and private citizens in the development of the RTP. The RTP is envisioned to be the central mechanism for structuring effective investments to enhance overall transportation efficiency. This provides for the development, management, and operation of transportation systems and facilities for the region. The RTP is required to address both long-range and short-range needs. Each element is used to identify transportation systems conditions such as demand, capacity, deficiencies, improvement alternatives, financial constraints, and environmental benefits. The long-range element addresses at least a 20-year planning horizon, while the short-range element addresses a three- to five-year horizon. The RTP is scheduled to be updated at least every three years in non-attainment areas and every five years in attainment areas. This schedule ensures that the plans maintain validity and consistency with current and forecasted transportation and land use conditions and trends.

Transportation Improvement Program

The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is the central program management tool for structuring transportation programs. The TIP is to be fully consistent with the RTP and the planning process. In doing this, the projects identified in the TIP will concur with the goals, policies, and objectives of the RTP. The TIP is scheduled for update every year. Additional changes may be made to the TIP after the required public participation and an MPO meeting. The current TIP identifies a six-year listing of projects for implementation. The TIP must be fiscally constrained, and programmed according to a regional target (estimate of federal funds) which is provided by MHD. All projects, regardless of funding source, are to be identified in the TIP. Projects identified in the TIP are to be prioritized. Conformity to environmental regulations is key in determining the feasibility and priority of projects. Environmental analysis will also assist in identifying the funding source of projects based on federal restrictions. The TIP will also be available for public official review and comment. Included in this public participation is the update on the amendment process associated with the TIP.

Unified Planning Work Program

The Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) is a narrative description of the annual technical work program for a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive (3C) transportation planning process in the Pioneer Valley region. The UPWP provides an indication of regional long- and short-range transportation planning objectives, the manner in which these objectives will be achieved, the budget necessary to sustain the overall planning effort, and the sources of funding for each specific program element. Work tasks within the UPWP are reflective of issues and concerns originating from transportation agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. Many tasks are specifically targeted to implement provisions of federal legislation such as TEA-21, the CAAA, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Certification with Title VI

The state and the Metropolitan Planning Organization must annually certify to the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration that their planning process is addressing the major issues facing region and is being conducted in accordance with all applicable requirements. FHWA and FTA jointly review and evaluate the transportation planning process of each Transportation Management Area (an urbanized are of greater than 200,000) to determine if the process meets the requirements. The review must take place at least once every three years. FHWA and FTA certify the transportation planning process and/or specify corrective actions. Highway and transit funds may be withheld from the region if it is determined that the planning process does not meet the requirements.

Pioneer Valley Congestion Management System

The Congestion Management System (CMS) is an ongoing transportation planning activity directed at maximizing the mobility of people and goods. The CMS accomplishes this goal through a variety of tasks which identify existing and projected locations with traffic congestion and develops strategies to alleviate and better manage traffic operations in these problem areas. Congested locations are typically characterized by excessive travel delay, large vehicle queues, and traffic bottlenecks causing driver frustration and poor traffic operations. The CMS evaluates the existing federal aid transportation system performance and proposed strategies to aid in project and strategy implementation. Products of the CMS are suggested projects and strategies that increase the mobility of people and goods through improvements to the transportation infrastructure and changes to travel behavior. The CMS serves as a guide and technical support for local, regional, and state officials in making decisions related to investments in congestion relief projects and programs in a specific area.

Pioneer Valley Pavement Management System

A Pavement Management System (PMS) is a systematic process that collects and analyzes roadway pavement information for use in selecting cost-effective strategies for providing and maintaining pavements in a serviceable condition. The PMS is developed in cooperation with the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) and other entities, such as communities, receiving federal highway or transit funds. PVPCís regional PMS involves a comprehensive process for establishing the network inventory and project histories, collecting and storing the pavement distress data, analyzing the data, identifying the network maintenance activities and needs and integrating the PMS information into the metropolitan and statewide planning processes. The roadway network covered by the regional PMS includes all urban and rural federal-aid highways of the 43 cities and towns in the region. Once every three years, compatible with the three-year RTP update cycle, approximately one-third of the regionís federal-aid eligible roadways are surveyed and their pavement conditions are updated.

For more information, please e-mail Gary Roux.

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