MORPC Matters: We’re advancing multimodal transportation goals via attributable funding

September 15, 2022

By Thomas Graham
Published in This Week Community News

Historically, transportation funding in central Ohio has prioritized automobiles over other modes of transportation, but the incredible growth that is projected for our region will require support from a range of diverse mobility options.

MORPC’s Attributable Funds Committee has recognized the need to promote multimodal transportation infrastructure and is taking impactful steps toward ensuring all central Ohioans can benefit from our transportation investments.

MORPC-attributable funding represents a portion of federal transportation funding that is allocated to projects in the region at MORPC’s discretion. The AFC is tasked with evaluating and selecting projects for funding every two years and is in the process of soliciting applications.

The recent bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act significantly has increased the amount of funding available for MORPC to allocate toward regionally impactful projects. MORPC committed $68 million toward new funding requests in 2020 and, with additional funding now available, will commit more than $120 million toward new requests in 2022.

However, the presence of additional funding does not guarantee a more equitable and inclusive transportation system. The region must prioritize multimodal transportation goals to ensure equitable access to transportation in greater Columbus, and the AFC is doing that.

Over the past year, MORPC staff worked alongside the AFC to revise the Policies for Managing MORPC-Attributable Funds, adopting significant changes.

Standalone bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects, including trails, shared-use paths and sidewalks, are eligible for MORPC-attributable funding, and the AFC has committed an unprecedented $15 million to $45 million toward advancing these projects through this round of applications, allowing for truly transformative improvements to central Ohio’s system of active transportation infrastructure.

In addition to the increased available funding for standalone bike and pedestrian infrastructure, MORPC remains committed to ensuring all roadways are built to accommodate bikes, pedestrians and transit users. MORPC continues to require all projects receiving attributable funding to comply with our Complete Streets Policy, originally adopted in 2010 and updated in 2021.

This policy requires bike and pedestrian accommodations, such as sidewalks and shared-use paths, to be included in all MORPC-funded roadway projects. Additionally, the policy requires proper accommodations for transit users, such as transit shelters, to be included in these projects.

As central Ohio continues to welcome new residents to the region, there will be many challenges to ensuring all people in the region have access to safe, efficient and equitable transportation options. Changes to the Policies for Managing MORPC-Attributable Funds and revision of the Complete Streets Policy over the past year represent a significant step toward accommodating the region’s growth in a fair and equitable manner.

The regional collaboration that contributed to these recent changes to MORPC-attributable funding exemplifies the capacity of Central Ohio to reconsider priorities, adapt to changing needs and position our region for long-term success. To learn more about MORPC-attributable funds, go to morpc.org/mafft.

Thomas Graham is a senior planner at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. MORPC’s purpose is to bring communities of all sizes and interests together to collaborate on best practices and plan for the future of the region.

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