MORPC Matters: Federal funding advances regional goals, but only with local collaboration
By Maria Schaper
Published in This Week Community News
Health and safety, sustainable neighborhoods, economic prosperity, energy resilience, natural resources and innovation. These are what we all desire for central Ohio.
Are these attainable in a rapidly growing region? Can we achieve one without trading in another?
The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission leads the region in working through these questions to identify regional transportation strategies and projects to move us closer to these goals through the development of the 2024-2050 Metropolitan Transportation Plan.
This plan will lay the foundation for billions of dollars in federal, state and local investment in central Ohio and will establish eligibility to bring in competitive grant funding available through the bipartisan infrastructure law passed last year. These funds will be dedicated to improving, maintaining and operating public transit, highways, bikeways, sidewalks and related facilities.
By focusing on making transportation safer for all people; increasing access to jobs, education and amenities; reconnecting historically disadvantaged communities; and strengthening mobility options, these projects will impact our everyday quality of life.
Many agencies and local governments conduct studies on and implement improvements to the transportation system; however, MORPC is the principal public agency conducting regional transportation studies for central Ohio.
The agency serves as the federally designated metropolitan planning organization for the Columbus urbanized area. This means MORPC is a steward of federal transportation dollars and must facilitate regional collaboration to ensure these funds are being utilized for local priorities that also advance regional goals.
As part of its ongoing transportation planning process, MORPC brings together local governments from central Ohio. It coordinates with the Ohio Department of Transportation, area transit agencies and the Licking County Area Transportation Study, more commonly known as LCATS.
Independently and cooperatively, these entities collect data and complete technical analyses to identify transportation needs. MORPC then prioritizes and coordinates strategies and projects to meet transportation needs through 2050 via the MTP development process.
MORPC invites the public to weigh in on regional goals, objectives, performance measures and targets, evaluation criteria and, ultimately, the strategies and projects included in the MTP. Public engagement opportunities include comment periods, interactive web maps, public open houses and specially scheduled meetings and presentations throughout the 18-month plan development process.
While MORPC leads a continuous planning process, this plan officially is updated every four years. We encourage you to get engaged in this important plan by following its progress and providing your input. Learn more about the regional goals, objectives, strategies and projects included in the 2020-2050 MTP and how to get involved in the development of the 2024-2050 MTP by going to morpc.org/mtp2050.
Maria Schaper is associate director of transportation planning 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.