1 APPENDIX A PLANNING PROCESS FOR RURAL AREAS OF THE STATE Background SCDOT Statewide Transportation Planning Process Consultation Cooperation with Local Officials in Non-Metropolitan (Rural) Areas SCDOT first began enhancing statewide planning process local consultation procedures in response to directives Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act 1991(ISTEA). At that time, rural project identification, evaluation, prioritization were responsibility SCDOT. Consultation with local ficials took place as a function public involvement activities associated with statewide long-range plan State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). A revised process was ultimately implemented following directives Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) adoption STIP in A working committee including representatives from South Carolina s ten Council Governments (COGs) FHWA Division Office assisted SCDOT in developing revised process. The fundamental change in process began with a partnership between SCDOT ten regional COGs, which have representation from all 46 counties in state. SCDOT created a Rural System Upgrade Program referred to as Guideshares, which includes federal-aid construction program for areas outside metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). Rural Guideshares were allocated by COG regions based on rural population. SCDOT initially prepared a list potential needs based on travel, congestion, safety data for each region in state. The COGs used listing as basis for discussion with local ficials, economic development groups, members legislative delegation. Through se meetings, additional projects were also identified. The COGs developed steering committees made up local government staff to evaluate rank potential projects. Rural project priorities were endorsed by COG boards forwarded to SCDOT Commission for final approval. The COGs facilitated all public involvement activities for projects programmed in STIP. In 2003, SCDOT Commission adopted Statewide Multi-modal Transportation Plan. The planning process utilized COGs to develop regional plans that collectively provided basis for establishing statewide priorities. Today each COG has functions similar to that MPOs. A portion SCDOT s State, Planning, Research (SPR) funding is allocated to COGs to facilitate an ongoing rural planning process. Each COG is required to submit a Rural Planning Work Program (RPWP) outlining planning emphasis areas planning projects for year. To help ensure ongoing communications between SCDOT ten COGs, Partnering Sessions are held on a quarterly basis, or as needed to discuss relevant
2 issues. In addition, SCDOT hosts an annual COG/MPO Workshop, which fers a technical agenda for staff responsible for day-to-day planning functions. Planning Process In accordance with U. S. C. Title 23, Section 135, Statewide Planning, federal law specifies that each State shall carry out a planning process that provides for consideration projects strategies that will (A) support economic vitality United States, States, metropolitan areas, especially by enabling global competitiveness, productivity, efficiency; (B) increase safety system for motorized non-motorized users; (C) increase security system for motorized non-motorized users; (D) increase accessibility mobility options available to people for freight; (E) protect enhance environment, promote energy conservation, improve quality life; (F) enhance integration connectivity system, across between modes throughout State, for people freight; (G) promote efficient system management operation; (H) emphasize preservation existing system. Each COG, in partnership with SCDOT, is responsible for implementing a planning process that fully complies with federal planning requirements established by SAFETEA-LU. Through this process, each COG establishes regional goals objectives, identifies current condition system, provides research data analysis, identifies prioritizes needs for input to Statewide Multi- modal Transportation Plan STIP. Transportation Subcommittees Each COG maintains a regional advisory committee with representatives from local government, providers, special interest groups. The COGs are encouraged to include representatives from SCDOT, MPO staff if appropriate, representative from Department Health Environmental Control ( DHEC) if appropriate, providers, County Transportation Committee (CTC), planning, zoning, public works ficials, community leaders, school district representatives, as well as underserved populations. These committees play an important role in identifying, analyzing prioritizing needs goals for ir respective regions. As a result advisory committees COG boards, local governments are directly consulted given an opportunity to identify needs on state system. Transportation advisory committees are encouraged to meet at least bi-annually or as needed to review project status, evaluate proposed modifications to STIP, update long- range plan funding priorities, comment on rural functional classification changes, receive input on rural work programs, coordinate special studies.
3 Long-Range Transportation Plans The rural planning process is based on development maintenance regional plans. Each plan provides a description priorities for a 20-year period. At a minimum, regional long-range plans include an inventory existing highway conditions, projection future needs (trend or model based), evaluation potential environmental, social, cultural impacts, a ranking prioritization projects, documentation public input. The COGs are encouraged to consider nine elements in ir long-range plans, including system upgrade, intersections, freight, bridges, safety, maintenance/resurfacing, signalization, mass transit, bike pedestrian facilities. Potential projects are ranked recommended by advisory committees to COG boards based on funding availability. The long-range plans include both constrained unconstrained needs. Each long-range plan is updated every 5 years from date adoption. Each COG maintains a copy ir respective long-range plan for public distribution. Project Recommendations Each COG, in cooperation with SCDOT Steering Committee prioritize needs identified in long-range plan STIP. Potential projects regional priorities reflected in STIP are endorsed by COG Board provided to SCDOT Commission for ir consideration. Advanced Project Planning Reports Advanced Project Planning Reports are conducted in close coordination between SCDOT, MPO s, COG s for projects identified in STIP constrained projects included in long range plans. Planning reports typically involve improvement projects, such as a widening new location alignment(s). Elements an Advanced Project Planning Report include existing proposed typical cross section information that can be represented using before after computergenerated visualizations for select locations throughout length project. Projected traffic volumes are generated using travel dem model provide projected average daily traffic volumes for proposed facility no-build scenario. Social, cultural, natural resources environmental concerns are identified using GIS database information for environmental screening process. The total number crashes at particular locations is summarized by providing statistics on accidents involving fatalities, injuries, property damage. Cost estimates are also provided for one or more typical cross sections may prove to be a key variable in decision making process.
4 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) SCDOT publishes maintains a 6-year STIP detailing program funding levels, projects, funding schedules. The STIP is updated every three-years. Through rural planning process, COGs provide SCDOT with updated project priorities for inclusion in STIP. Projects must be included in regional long-range plans prior to being eligible for STIP. Each COG endorses its regional priorities for consideration by SCDOT Commission. Each COG is responsible for advertising documenting public comment for any amendment to STIP within ir region (See STIP process for definition amendment/adjustment). The COG has discretion advertising by legal ad or press release chooses appropriate media distribution based on program change. STIP amendments require a 15-day comment period all comments are forwarded to SCDOT Secretary Transportation prior to SCDOT Commission action. Copies STIP are made available for public review at COG fice appropriate SCDOT Engineering District Office(s). SCDOT is responsible for advertising distributing copies draft STIP to each COG District Office when an amendment involves a change statewide significance for 3-year update STIP. Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan SCDOT maintains a multimodal plan that provides a comprehensive evaluation state s system. The plan provides recommendations for investment in facilities for a 20-year period. The plan is a product a partnership with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), state s COGs providers. The collection regional plans, including long-range plans for state s Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) provides underlining framework for statewide planning plan. The COGs participate in maintenance update Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan every fiveyears. Rural Work Plans State Planning Funds The COGs work under contract with SCDOT to receive SPR funding to support planning activities. Each COG receives an equal share funding. A Rural Planning Work Program (RPWP) is developed by each COG to define work elements specific tasks to be performed within year. The RPWPs follow state fiscal year from July 1st to June 30th. The COGs are reimbursed on a quarterly basis for satisfactorily work completed as required in ir RPWP. Quarterly reports documenting work progress are included with each invoice. SCDOT FHWA provide planning emphasis areas to encourage specific planning activities, such as freight analysis, safety considerations, bicycle pedestrian needs, as well as tradition highway planning. The development maintenance regional long-range plans is an ongoing priority for each COG. Each COG Board endorses work tasks outlined in RPWP.
5 Local Consultation SAFETEA-LU legislation provides for states to consult with consider concerns non-metropolitan ficials when making decisions in ir Statewide Transportation Planning Programming processes. The Final Rule, published in Federal Register on January 23, 2003, took effect on February 24, The Final Rule requires states to document ir non-metropolitan local ficials consultation process. These processes provide for participation non-metropolitan local ficials in a statewide planning programming process, which is separate discrete from public involvement process. The States are required to review solicit comments regarding this process in order to ensure that process is continually effective. The current rural planning process in South Carolina meets intent local consultation rule by involving non-metropolitan local ficials, through COGs, to directly participate in development plans priorities for ir region. This consultation process also applies to Statewide Multi-modal Transportation Plan by including COGs or providers as partners in planning process. To help monitor effectiveness consultation process, a survey will be provided to each COG Board to evaluate ir satisfaction with opportunities for participation in statewide planning process. The most recent survey was conducted mid-2005 subsequent surveys will be conducted every five years or as needed.