Unified Work Program

Mercer County Transportation Planning

Unified Work Program

SHENANGO VALLEY AREA TRANSPORTATION STUDY
Fiscal Year 2018-2020 Unified Planning Work Program

Full 2018-2020 Unified Planning Work Program

Introduction

The Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) establishes an outline of work tasks to be undertaken by the Shenango Valley Area Transportation Study (SVATS) during a two year timeframe from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2020.
Federal law and regulations require that any urbanized areas with a population over 50,000 people form a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). This group provides a forum for local and state officials to work cooperatively to maintain a cooperative, comprehensive, and continuing transportation process. The SVATS Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has the responsibility to plan and program transportation projects receiving federal funding within the 48 municipalities comprising Mercer County. The SVATS MPO has undertaken this duty since its inception in 1981.
The SVATS MPO is bordered by the Northwest Rural Planning Organization (RPO) representing several counties including Crawford and Venango, The Southwestern Planning Commission MPO representing neighboring Lawrence and Butler Counties plus eight other counties, and the
Eastgate MPO serving Mahoning and Trumbull Counties in Ohio. Mercer County was combined with the Youngstown area’s Metropolitan Statistical Area after the 2000 U.S. Census. As a result, Mercer County is part of a Transportation Management Area (TMA), which is defined as having
an urbanized area of over 200,000 citizens. This requires the MPO to adhere to additional FHWA requirements and develop additional planning and programming tools. Other results include receiving STU funding and our transit funding being split among the Ohio and Pennsylvania transit agencies. Because of the consolidation of our urbanized areas, it became necessary to develop a “memorandum of understanding” (MOU), which outlines the working relationship between the two MPOs.

Long Range Plan & Transportation Improvement Program

The Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) was developed in order to facilitate the transportation planning process in Mercer County. The original plan was adopted by the SVATS MPO in November of 1994, and several subsequent amendments occurred. The LRTP was fully updated in 2016, developed in close collaboration with PennDOT. This most recent LRTP has provided the MPO with a clear direction for the next 20 years, resulting in many well-planned and fiscally constrained proposed projects that are compliant with the goals of the FAST Act.
On a biennial basis, the MPO produces a local Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which contains the programmed transportation projects throughout Mercer County. This shorter-range document is also developed with significant collaboration with PennDOT. MPO and PennDOT staffs work increasingly closely to develop a TIP that takes into account the LRTP’s
priorities. Significant strides have been made in recent years to ensure that the TIP is developed collaboratively, taking into account the LRTP, and that it represents logical and beneficial projects for the region.

FAST Act & Clean Air Act Amendments

The LRTP and TIP are compliant with 2015’s Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FASTAct) legislation and the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) of 1990. The CAAA establishes a program and sets a timetable for improving the nation’s air quality. All transportation-related planning in Mercer County is based on these laws

Transit Coordination

The SVATS MPO also works closely with the major transit providers for the County—Shenango Valley Shuttle Service (SVSS) and Mercer County Community Transit (MCCT). As noted above, the transit provider has a vote on both MPO committees. The SVSS runs four routes providing fixed route service to the more-urbanized communities comprising the Shenango Valley. The MCCT provides on demand service to all areas of Mercer County.

MPO Committees & Responsibilities

The SVATS MPO is a federally mandated organization responsible for transportation related issues in Mercer County. Professional staff members of the Mercer County Regional Planning Commission (MCRPC) run the daily business of the MPO. One employee is almost completely (95+%) devoted to transportation planning/MPO-related activities, and the Executive Director
and two other staff members assist on a part-time basis. PennDOT District 1-0 and Central Office staffs work with the MCRPC staff on a near-daily basis and are intimately involved with the programming of funds and the implementation of projects. Staff also regularly coordinates with other MPOs and RPOs by sharing best practices, collaborating on ideas and other tasks.
Two committees direct the work that the aforementioned staff accomplishes. The larger of the two committees is the Coordinating Committee. This group is responsible for ensuring the maintenance of planning eligibility for state and federal grants and the maintenance of both the Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) and the more short-range Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). This committee meets on a quarterly basis (additional meetings are occasionally held, if needed) to vote on any action items that come before the MPO and to discuss
transportation-related issues in Mercer County. The MPO has 25 members, the maximum currently allowed according to our MPO’s Bylaws. Most members are municipal-based, though the county, the county’s transit provider, and PennDOT district and central office staffs have membership as well. The SVATS MPO continues to promote equal representation throughoutthe County.

The Coordinating Committee is made up of twenty-five voting members as listed below:

City of FarrellBorough of WheatlandSpringfield Township
City of HermitageFindley TownshipWilmington Township
City of SharonHempfield TownshipWolf Creek Township
Borough of ClarkJefferson TownshipMercer County
Borough of GreenvilleLiberty TownshipMercer County Regional COG
Borough of Grove CityPine TownshipPennDOT District 1-0
Borough of MercerPymatuning TownshipPennDOT Central Office
Borough of SharpsvilleShenango Township 
Borough of W. MiddlesexS. Pymatuning Township 

The other MPO committee is the Technical Committee, which has the duty to study and report on technical aspects as directed by the Coordinating Committee and to initiate studies and recommendations on technical aspects in pursuance of the objectives of the UPWP. This committee meets on an as-needed basis. Since being re-activated in 2012, the committee meets an average of about twice a year.

The Technical Committee is comprised of the following twelve members:

 

City of FarrellMCRPC (2 votes)Mercer County Regional COG
City of HermitageTownship Association(2 votes)PennDOT District 1-0
City of SharonBoroughs Association (2 votes)PennDOT Central Office
   

The SVATS MPO also works closely with the major transit providers for the County—Shenango Valley Shuttle Service (SVSS) and Mercer County Community Transit (MCCT).  The SVSS runs several routes providing fixed route service to the Shenango Valley.  The MCCT provides on demand service to all areas of Mercer County