The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, 23 CFR Section 450.316 guides the development of public participation plans for transportation planning process. The United States Department of Transportation, through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) require:
“…each urbanized area, as a condition to the receipt of Federal capital or operating assistance, have a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive transportation planning process that results in plans and programs consistent with the comprehensive planned development of the urbanized area”
These federal regulations require a single agency be responsible for the implementation of the urban transportation planning process in each urbanized area. This agency is designated as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the study area. In the Gastonia Urbanized Area, this function is fulfilled by the Gaston-Cleveland-Lincoln Metropolitan Planning Organization Board and is advised by the Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC). The Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) states voting members are elected officials appointed by their respective board or council to serve as each jurisdictions representative. The TCC are members of the individual member governments and NCDOT staff that review the technical aspects of all transportation planning including roads, greenways, transit and bicycle and pedestrian planning.
The Board ensures that a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive (3C) planning process exists in the study area. The Federal Register states that: “The urban transportation planning process shall include the development of a transportation plan consisting of a transportation systems element for each mode out to twenty (20) years. The transportation plan shall be reviewed every four (4) years or earlier if needed to confirm its validity and its consistency with current transportation and
land use conditions.”
Public Notice and Comment Periods
The MPO will provide adequate notice of upcoming meetings, as well as duration to public input and comment periods, in order to allow affected parties to review materials and submit comments. The public and interested parties will be notified by means listed under “Strategies to Solicit Public Input.”
The MPO will provide a minimum of seven (7) days’ notice for all upcoming public meetings, and all public comment periods will be 30 days, unless otherwise noted in this Public Participation Plan. Public comments will be accepted via in-person meetings, USPS mail, and/or by virtual means (email, Online GIS platforms, etc.).
All public comment provided to the MPO will be reviewed by the MPO staff and conveyed to the Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC) and MPO Board for consideration.
A written response to public comments, if warranted, will be made within 30 days after the TCC and MPO Board have reviewed the comments.
Public Input and Comment Activities
All TCC and Board meetings are open to the public and include a public comment period. Public input or other participation is encouraged and welcomed at both the TCC and MPO Board meetings and will be allowed up to three (3) minutes per person or five (5) minutes per group. The following processes include, but are not limited to projects, project lists, programs, plans and policy updates or development necessitating public comment or input:
- Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)
The MPO will solicit public input at the beginning of the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) development cycle to update the MPO’s candidate project list as well as the project ranking process for submittal to the NCDOT for consideration in developing the Statewide TIP (STIP). In addition, the MPO will solicit public input during the local input point assignment
process for Regional Impact and Division Needs projects. The public comment periods for both Regional Impact and Division Needs Tiers will total no less than thirty (30) days. More information can be found in the GCLMPO’s Local Input Point Methodology, located on the MPO’s website.
- Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP)
The MPO will solicit public input when adopting modifications to the local Metropolitan TIP (MTIP) periodically when a formal amendment is required. Public input will not be solicited for administrative modifications to the MTIP.
Public Participation Processes and Strategies
The GCLMPO commits to the following strategies, as appropriate, for effective public participation in transportation planning in its study area.
- Newspapers: The GCLMPO will send news releases to major newspapers of record in each of the three counties. These news releases will be sent at least seven (7) days in advance of any public meeting pertaining to revised or new planning documents as required.
- Legal Advertisements/Notice of Public Meetings: Once per year the GCLMPO will advertise, in the major newspaper of record in each of the three (3) counties, all MPO Board and TCC meeting dates (for the calendar year) including the website address and physical location where the agendas will be available for review. If a meeting date changes, a new legal advertisement will be released.
- Posting of Public Meetings for major planning documents: The GCLMPO will distribute news releases, post on the GCLMPO website and email via the GCLMPO Contact List. In addition, the GCLMPO will post to traditional outlets such as municipal offices with populations greater than 3,000 persons as of the 2010 Census.
- Social Media: The GCLMPO will maintain a presence on various social media websites including Facebook and Twitter where upcoming meetings as well as news and updates will be posted regularly.
- Internet: The GCLMPO will maintain a Section 508/Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant website. All programs and projects developed by the MPO will be posted to the website (www.gclmpo.org). Hyperlinks to the NCDOT, local governments and other relevant transportation related programs or projects will be included on the website. The website will include announcements of upcoming meetings and opportunities for public input. This Public Participation Plan will be included on the website.
- Public Participation Email List: The MPO will maintain an e-mail list of any interested person or organization who wishes to be made aware of all upcoming meetings, projects and opportunities for public comment. You can sign up for this list on the MPO’s website.
- Meeting Locations:
- The GCLMPO will attempt to hold public comment and input meetings and utilize bulletin boards in public and/or government buildings (City Halls, Public Libraries, etc.) and other media forms for information dissemination and will attempt to notify Title VI population groups of meetings. In some instances, it may be necessary to hold public meetings virtually due to extenuating circumstances such as a Governor-declared state of emergency, local emergencies or severe inclement weather.
- The GCLMPO will update its website and social media regarding meeting locations, method of meeting and possible meeting location changes when possible as soon as changes are determined by the Chairman.
- MPO meetings: At the Gastonia Police Department; 200 Long Avenue; Gastonia, NC unless otherwise advertised. In some instances, it may be necessary to hold meetings virtually due to extenuating circumstances such as a Governor-declared state of emergency, local emergencies or severe inclement weather. If changes need to be made to the location or method of meeting the public will be notified at least seven (7) days in advance.
- TCC meetings: Gaston County Administration Building; Room 3A; 128 West Main Avenue, Gastonia, NC unless otherwise advertised. In some instances, it may be necessary to hold meetings virtually, due to extenuating circumstances such as a Governor-declared state of emergency, local emergencies or severe inclement weather. If changes need to be made to the location or method of meeting the public
will be notified at least seven (7) days in advance.
- Program and Sub-Committee meetings: To the extent possible, GCLMPO meetings will be held in ADA-accessible locations along scheduled public transportation routes.
- Meeting Format: the MPO will employ visualization techniques to describe metropolitan transportation plans, TIPs, and other related documents. This will typically mean displaying information as maps, graphs, tables and charts in addition to written documents. MPO staff will present information verbally as well as through printed materials.
- Meeting Times for TCC and MPO Board Meetings: Regular meetings for both GCLMPO boards will be held bi-monthly beginning in January and in each odd-numbered month of the year, unless otherwise determined by the Board. The MPO Board will typically meet at 6:30 pm on the fourth Thursday of the month, unless otherwise advertised. The TCC will meet regularly at 10:00 am on the second Wednesday of the odd-numbered months of the year, unless otherwise advertised.
- Board Meeting Agenda Packets: The agenda will be electronically transmitted and posted on the MPO webpage at least seven (7) days in advance of any Board meetings. If any person or organization wishes to receive a hard copy they can request this by contacting GCLMPO staff in advance of the meeting.
- Meeting Times for Public Participation Meetings: MPO staff will work to schedule meetings at times convenient to the general public, with both day and evening meetings scheduled when possible.
- Coordination with the NCDOT and Other Agencies: The GCLMPO will coordinate with the NCDOT and other related agencies whenever possible in order to maximize the effectiveness of concurrent public outreach and public comment events and processes.
- Translation: The GCLMPO will provide translation of any requested documents into another language within a reasonable period of time.
- Environmental Justice (EJ): The MPO will distribute announcements of upcoming meetings and opportunities for public input to persons or organizations identified in the Title VI Program Plan.
GET INVOLVED, SPEAK UP!
What types of Transportation Improvement Projects would you like to see within your community?! Do you have any feedback on any ongoing/future projects?