It is the policy of the Shenango Valley Area Transportation Study – SVATS MPO to have a proactive public involvement process that provides complete information, timely public notice, and full public access to SVATS MPO activities at all key stages in the decision making process. It is also SVATS MPO policy to involve the public early in the planning process, and to actively seek out the involvement of communities most affected by particular plans or projects. Furthermore, it is a goal of the community involvement policy that the Region’s transportation plans and programs are developed in a manner that assures that the public, and affected communities in particular, are afforded ample opportunity to participate in the development of such plans.

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This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishes a set of procedures to be used in the Shenango Valley Area Transportation Study (SVATS) Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for processing modifications to the 2015-2018 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). This document adheres to the procedures set forth in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s MOU for their Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).

A Betterment consists of surface treatments/corrections to existing roadway [preferably within the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT’s) right-of-way] to maintain and bring the infrastructure to current design standards for that classification of highway. This may involve full depth base repair, shoulder widening, increased lane widths, correction of super-elevation, as well as, drainage improvements and guide rail updates.

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A comprehensive program of stormwater management, including reasonable regulation of development and activities causing accelerated runoff, is fundamental to the public health, safety and welfare, and to the protection of the people of the Commonwealth, their resources and the environment.

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The SVATS MPO uses the following process for its project selection: Staff works closely with PennDOT District 1-0’s Planning and Programming Manager (PPM) to discuss new project ideas, which are typically listed on our LRTP, as well as planning studies. Discussions occur as to where we are with project status vs. the amount of funding we expect to be available in the new TIP cycle. The PPM (and sometimes the MPO staff) works with other PennDOT District 1-0 employees, such as the Bridge Unit, to determine their current needs and priorities. The same goes for our transit partners. Discussions occur between MPO staff and the PPM regarding the availability of different types of funding (which is also provided to us from the Program Center). Perhaps Federal funding sources (e.g. NHPP, HSIP, CMAQ, etc.) are of slightly higher focus, but all state and federal sources are considered. Projects considered are typically based on a combination of (1.) the LRTP’s projects “ranking list” (2.) total expected project cost (obviously, a smaller project is easier to add than a $20m project, for example) and (3.) consideration of whether a planning study has been completed or is underway. Over the past few TIP cycles (this one included) new highway projects have come directly from planning study recommendations (and are also of high priority on our LRTP). Also of primary consideration are carryover projects from the current TIP (e.g. projects partially funded but not yet fully complete during the past TIP cycle). These carryover projects typically constitute the vast majority of our total dollars available.

The transit portion of the TIP is developed separately by Mercer County’s transit providers through their Council of Governments, and subsequently shared with MPO staff and various PennDOT staff.

Members of the MPO, as well as those who attend the MPO meetings are given the opportunity to comment how projects should be prioritized and if any new or different projects might be proposed. During this TIP cycle, the upcoming TIP was briefly discussed during the November and February MPO meeting and a finalized draft of the TIP was approved and more thoroughly discussed at the May MPO meeting. Between these meetings, we encouraged the Coordinating Committee members to comment on any projects, though no comments were received. Members, however, did ask questions about the TIP to PennDOT District 1-0 officials and MPO staff during the Coordinating Committee meetings.

At this time, the TIP is ready for public comment and the general public and MPO members have opportunity to comment on what projects they believe should occur. This comment period lasts 30 days. All TIP documentation is posted on our website and is available for viewing at our office. Culminating this effort is a public meeting, which will be advertised, noted on our website, and mentioned to our MPO voting members and other stakeholders.