Towards 2045 fulfills federal mandates for creating the MATS Long Range Plan to provide a regional view of transportation needs, and guide the year-to-year investments of federal funding in the MATS planning area transportation system.
Through the designation of the Midland Urbanized Area, and the creation of a Metropolitan Planning Organization in MATS, participating governments in the region have satisfied Federal requirements and taken a significant step towards greater resources and a regional view of transportation improvements.
Long Range Transportation Plan Process Overview
The process for the creation of this plan involved many aspects, beginning with the vision, goals, objectives. Next, the area’s background and history, land use, and demographics were all analyzed relative to the transportation system. Previous reports were reviewed related to non-motorized transportation, air travel, freight and traffic safety. Data was gathered regarding the current and past condition of our streets and roads, traffic volumes and patterns. Then, travel demand modeling was performed analysing the effect of expected growth and pinpointing areas of traffic deficiencies.
Based on the findings from these aspects the overall long range strategy was developed focusing on critical local factors. Finally, the implementation plan, i.e. the prioritized project list, was carefully prepared.
A thorough financial resource analysis was conducted, comparing expected revenues to project costs. This is a requirement to ensure a fiscally constrained plan. Environmental mitigation analysis and environmental justice analysis were conducted, as required.
Finally, MATS has aimed to ensure a broad and inclusive level of public input for this plan. Open houses, public notice of meetings, surveys, and advertising were all utilized in this process. The input gleaned from all of these interactions has been instrumental in the development of Towards 2045, and will be central to the activities of MATS going forward as well.
Findings and Conclusions
This process supports the synergistic approach developed early in the visioning process for the LRP, and the analysis of the data gathered subsequently. The resulting four integrated core strategies of the Plan are: Preservation, Maintenance, Safety, and Livability. These stem from the seven primary goals derived from the planning process:
1. Accessibility and Mobility
2. Safety and Security
3. Integration and Connectivity
4. Operations and System Management
5. Preservation of Transportation System
6. Environmental Protection and Enhancement
7. Economic Vitality
The goals and objectives of the Plan therefore truly promote an integrated multi-modal transportation system focused on addressing the needs of all users.
The Plan also identifies the investments that we will need to make in our transportation system to achieve such a future. Due to the expansiveness and the age of our transportation system, this transportation investment plan leans heavily toward projects that rebuild and preserve our existing system. It also identifies prioritized projects that help our system operate more efficiently, and new facilities that help expand our system’s capacity and connectivity.
The conclusions reached from this process clearly indicated that the existing network was not urgently in need of expansion; that operations, i.e. traffic volumes etc. were overall very good; and that demographic forecasts predicted low but steady growth.
The travel demand model forecasted only occasional congestion issues, with few segments showing daily capacity deficiency and even fewer showing current or projected peak period capacity deficiency. This largely validates the focus on maintenance and reconstruction and led to the development of the prioritized project list, which strives to address the goals of the
plan by utilizing the four core strategies. The prioritized projects in this plan thus address the primary issue of aging infrastructure, and have an identified source of funding, thereby ensuring a fiscally constrained plan.
The environmental review showed that no environmental resources are disproportionately neglected or overexposed in relation to these projects, concluding that there would be no impact both due to the MATS region currently being in attainment for Federal air quality, and the geography of the proposed projects. Furthermore, the programmed 2017-2045 transportation projects are located throughout the MATS planning area, thus no population groups are disproportionately neglected or overexposed in relation to these projects. The needs of the minority and low-income population are being taken into consideration with respect to future transportation improvements.
In light of Federal requirements laid out in both the most recent and the previous transportation funding legislation, performance measures are introduced that, over time, will be fully integrated into the MATS planning process. This further reflects the fact that plans are more effective if their results can be measured, and therefore implementation steps and projects
can be more effectively programmed.
Lastly, the plan presents a large number future transportation projects which fall outside of estimated reasonably expected transportation revenues, but which are still needed to maintain the transportation infrastructure at adequate levels. This strongly indicates that needs will continue to exceed resources in the near term at least.
Achieving the goals laid out in the pages of Towards 2045 will require a concerted, coordinated effort on behalf of elected officials, local agencies, and the public. The result will be a more sustainable, equitable, and innovative region that is ready to compete and prosper on the national and global stage.