EASTERN SHORE METROPOLITAN PLANNING ORGANIZATION
THE EASTERN SHORE – October 23, 2013 – The Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Policy Board held a meeting on Wednesday, October 23, 2013, in the meeting room at Bass Pro Shops in Spanish Fort, Alabama. The Policy Board is the governing body of the MPO.
The primary issue before the MPO Policy Board was whether the MPO should utilize available funding for regional projects or local projects. The Eastern Shore MPO was designated an urban area in 2013 after the 2010 Census indicated that the population on the Eastern Shore had surpassed the 50,000 threshold. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), through the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), allocates transportation project funds to urban areas based on the urban area’s population. In fiscal year 2013 FHWA allocated $1,207,212 to the Eastern Shore MPO urbanized area.
The Policy Board is responsible for identifying and prioritizing needed transportation projects within the MPO planning area and then allocating the FHWA project funds to the high-priority projects. FHWA project funds must be matched 20% with local funds. For every $1,200,000 of federal funds allocated to projects the local governments must contribute $300,000 of local funds to those projects. While $1,500,000 (federal + match) is not a large sum of money when it comes to transportation projects, the Policy Board discussed how these funds might be leveraged to tackle some of the regional transportation needs facing the local governments. MPO project funds can be spent on functionally classified roads within the MPO planning area.
The Policy Board considered seven projects submitted for consideration by the MPO. When reviewing a submitted project the Policy Board can add the proposed project to one of three MPO lists: 1) Visionary List (needed projects with no funding commitment); 2) Financially Constrained List (projects with foreseeable funding but not within the next four years); 3) Transportation Improvement Program List (projects funded in the next four years). Alternatively, the Policy Board can choose to exclude a project from any of the lists.
MPO staff recommended that the Policy Board freely add needed projects to the MPO Visionary List. Though some non-regional projects may not be funded by the Policy Board, having the projects on the Visionary List may open the door for individual municipalities to pursue other funding options for the project.
After considering each of the submitted projects and hearing the recommendation of three MPO Advisory Committees, the Policy Board adopted Resolution 2013-18 adding all seven projects to the MPO Visionary List. The Policy Board added the projects to the Visionary List with the understanding that more projects would likely be submitted by the remaining municipalities prior to the January Policy Board meeting.
The Policy Board adopted Resolution 2013-19 adding the following three Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) projects to the MPO 4-year funded project list:
- City of Daphne TAP Project – Turnout/Overlook/Drainage/Scenic Improvements of Gator Alley on North Main Street at D’Olive Creek; Estimated Cost: $400,094.33
- Baldwin County TAP Project – Construction of approximately 1.53 miles of an 8-foot-wide multi-modal path that will follow U.S. Highway 98 from County Road 13 to Alabama State Highway 181 in the Barnwell community. Estimated Cost: $385,405.00
- Spanish Fort TAP Project – Construction of approximately 1.2 miles of sidewalk along Blakeley Way (aka CR 72) from U.S. 31 to State Route 225. Estimated Cost: $439,576.09
TAP funds are available for multi-modal projects via a competitive grant application process administered by the Alabama Department of Transportation. The individual municipalities submitted TAP grant applications for the specific projects in June 2013 and were awarded the funds in September 2013.
Other items considered by the Policy Board included appointing new Citizens Advisory Committee members, Mr. Marcus Bowman (representing Daphne) and Mr. Richard Ullo (representing Spanish Fort); reviewing the Goals and Strategies for the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), the Public Transit Plan, and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan; and discussing the schedule for LRTP development.
A transcript of the meeting minutes for the Policy Board meeting is expected to be available on the MPO website in approximately two weeks.
The next meeting of the Eastern Shore MPO Policy Board is scheduled for Wednesday, January 22, 2013, at 10:00 AM at Fairhope City Hall. For more information regarding the Eastern Shore MPO please visit www.easternshorempo.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.