Regional Transportation Planning Basics
One of the responsibilities of the Nantucket Planning and Economic Development Commission (NP&EDC) is to guide transportation planning for Nantucket from a regional perspective. When addressing transportation, the NP&EDC sits as the region’s federally recognized “Transportation Planning Organization” (TPO), which fulfills its transportation planning charge in a few different ways, as detailed below.
- Coordinating the federally required 3C transportation planning process: The main transportation-related charge of the NP&EDC is to facilitate the federally-required regional Continuing, Comprehensive, and Cooperative Transportation Planning Process (3C Transportation Planning Process). This process ensures planning coordination between federal, state, and local levels of government.
The region (NP&EDC) receives planning funding from the federal government, which is administered by MassDOT at the state-level. These funds support transportation planning staff and the region’s work program.
The region (NP&EDC) must submit an annual work program, accounting reports, and fulfill certain transportation planning requirements, including the development and maintenance of a Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), annual Unified Planning Work Program, and annual Transportation Improvement Programs (TIP). The diagram below depicts the relationship between these federally required regional documents. The NP&EDC is responsible for the documents shown in blue. The state (MassDOT) manages the items shown in green.
- Setting transportation planning priorities: The NP&EDC endorses documents that help set transportation priorities. The Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) is a financially-constrained list of capital projects that are candidates to receive federal and state support. The LRTP covers a 20-to-25-year horizon and is endorsed every four to five years, depending on current state and federal legislation. The NP&EDC also reviews and endorses an annual work program, referred to as the Unified Planning Work Program. This document sets out the basic work program and budget for a single fiscal year.
- Providing support and technical assistance to the Town of Nantucket (local government): Most regional bodies provide technical assistance to the many cities and towns located within their bounds. While Nantucket’s regional body (NP&EDC) encompasses a single town, it still performs this same task. Regional staff support various local town groups, such as the Traffic Safety Work Group and Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Group. Regional staff also provide transportation planning expertise to town staff related to capital projects, development projects, and transportation policy and regulation.
- Seeking funding opportunities to advance transportation priorities: One specific form of technical assistance that regional governments provide to local governments—in this case, the Town of Nantucket—includes developing funding strategies for capital projects. This involves identifying local resource availabilities, researching state and federal aid discretionary grant opportunities, and—when warranted based on grant opportunity requirements—preparing grant application packages.
- Providing project management assistance and/or oversight for projects included on the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), or other state and federal aid projects: Regional staff sometimes function as project managers for projects anticipated as candidates for state and/or federal aid funding support. Tasks include developing scopes of work, preparing bid packages, managing contractors, and coordinating stakeholders. The list of project stakeholders varies from project to project, but often includes the general public, Town of Nantucket staff, regional staff, and MassDOT representatives.