Frequently Asked Questions
- What is an MPO?
MPO is short for Metropolitan Planning Organization. MPOs were formed in 1962 when Congress enacted the federal aid highway act that initiated a requirement that a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive (3-C) transportation planning process be established for all urban areas over 50,000 in population in order to qualify for federal transportation funds. Statewide and metropolitan transportation planning processes are governed by Federal law (23 USC 134 and 135). Applicable state and local laws are required if Federal highway or transit funds are used for transportation investments. Federal planning regulations are codified in 23 CFR 450. NC General Statute 136-66 provides additional transportation planning requirements and is consistent with Federal Law. Subsequent Federal Aid reauthorizations have added to the planning requirements of the MPOS. There are 17 MPOs in North Carolina.
- What is an RPO?
RPO is short for Rural Planning Organizations. RPOs are a counterpart to the MPOs (Metropolitan Planning Organizations). In July 2000, Senate Bill 1195 became part of Article 17 General Statue 136-210 through 213, which stated that the NCDOT will develop a plan to establish RPOs. The purpose of these organizations is to work cooperatively with NCDOT to develop Comprehensive Transportation Plans (CTP) in non-metropolitan areas and assist the Department in carrying out other transportation planning activities.
RPOs consist of groups of counties, between 3-15 counties, and must have at least 50,000 population. MPOs cannot be a member of RPOs. Not all municipalities in an RPO must be a member, but the county must be a member. There are currently 20 RPOs in North Carolina.
- What is a corridor study?
A corridor study is the first step in planning for the future of a transportation facility. By defining the corridor's needs, the corridor plan will help focus planning efforts on the most significant problems and act as catalyst for discussion about how best to invest in the corridor.
Such a study is often a targeted analytical approach that addresses specific needs of a corridor or particular geographic area. Corridor studies are used to achieve various goals. The content of a corridor study will vary based on the actual corridor itself and the study’s purpose, but generally, a corridor study would include:
A reason for conducting the study, including the main issues affecting system performance;
A clear definition and justification for the study area boundaries, including a description of corridor resources and potentially affected stakeholders;
A budget, schedule, and list of expected products arising from the study. Products that may come out of the study include:
- Goals, objectives, and evaluation measures for the corridor;
- Alternative strategies to address identified problems;
- An analysis of forecasted impacts of these alternative strategies in terms of environmental, transportation, and financial impacts; and
- An evaluation of how each alternative strategy addresses the specified problems of, and goals and objectives for, the corridor.
Together, these components are used to define a concept and scope for a transportation improvement or set of improvements, including the mode(s), facilities, and general location of the proposed improvement
Taken from Shortening Project Delivery Toolkit. Guidance on Using Corridor and Subarea Planning to Inform NEPA. Federal Highway Administration. April 5, 2011
- Why does it take so long to build a road/project after it is identified?
After a project is included on the Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)/Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP), it may take many years for the project to be funded. Here are some of the steps involved in the highway construction process:
Congestion and need are evaluated by NCDOT
Traffic studies and other planning is conducted
Alternate route studies are collected
Preliminary relocation studies are collected and evaluated
An environmental impact study is prepared
Preliminary engineering is accomplished and public hearings are held
Location of the corridor is approved
Design and detailed plans are prepared
Right-of-Way personnel contacts property owners
Real Estate market studies, evaluations, appraisals and detailed relocation studies are conducted
Comprehensive appraisal and evaluation review by Right-of-Way representatives is conducted
Negotiations begin. Needed property is acquired by agreed settlement with the owner. Relocation assistance is provided when applicable
Payment is made to the property owner and the title is transferred
Condemnation of property is instituted, if necessary
Appeals are made, if necessary, with regard to real property tax reimbursement
Appeals are made, if necessary, with regard to relocation benefits
The highway project is advertised to contractors to submit their bids
The bids are reviewed by department members and contracts are awarded by the North Carolina Board of Transportation
The highway is built and then opened for public use
Generally a project is built 7-12 years later once it is funded. This time could be shorter or longer depending on the complexity of the study.
- Do municipalities or counties have to pay for comprehensive transportation plans (CTP)?
RPOs assist the MPO in developing CTPs for local areas. Local areas provide assistance and funding to carry out some data collection and public involvement activities. Minor revisions to plans are considered and processed at no charge.