PROJECTS, PLANS, & PROGRAMS
- Provide a safe, reliable, and resilient transportation system for the movement of people and goods by multiple modes.
- Enhance economic vitality and global competitiveness of the region, counties, cities, towns, and communities.
- Provide and protect access and mobility for people and for freight.
- Enhance quality of life, protect the natural environment, and support the physical and mental health of communities.
- Carry out transportation planning efforts and project development that provides equitable processes and outcomes for diverse groups, including the economically disadvantaged, minority, older, and disabled populations.
- Engage in regional and statewide collaboration in support of all other goals.
Federal Planning Factors
MPOs are required to consider the following 10 factors in the transportation planning process. These factors provide guidance to aid in a unified transportation vision for the GCLMPO planning area:
- Support the economic vitality of the metropolitan area;
- Increase the safety of the transportation system for motorized and non-motorized users;
- Increase the security of the transportation system for motorized and non-motorized users;
- Increase accessibility and mobility of people and freight;
- Protect and enhance the environment, promote energy conservation, improve the quality of life, and promote consistency between transportation improvements and state and local planned growth and economic development patterns;
- Enhance the integration and connectivity of the transportation system, across and between modes, for people and freight;
- Promote efficient system management and operation;
- Emphasize the preservation of the existing transportation system;
- Improve the resiliency and reliability of the transportation system and reduce or mitigate stormwater impacts of surface transportation; and
- Enhance travel and tourism.
Supporting The Ten Planning Factors
1. ECONOMIC VITALITY
The GCLMPO has worked extensively over the years with NCDOT and other state and federal agencies on transportation projects that enhance the economic prosperity of the study area. The GCLMPO has developed a local methodology for ranking and prioritizing local projects which considers freight and congestion and actively includes Chamber of Commerce representatives in the transportation planning process.
Safety is a priority for the GCLMPO, as evidenced by the inclusion of safety metrics in the project prioritization process for roadway and bicycle/pedestrian projects. Safety encompasses the prevention of unintentional harm to system users or their property. This includes vehicular crashes (whether of cars, trucks, buses, airplanes, or bicycles), train derailments, slope failures or other sudden destruction of roadways due to natural causes, and falls or injuries to pedestrians due to poorly constructed or absent facilities, among other issues.
While safety has long been a required planning factor for MPOs under federal transportation legislation, it was not until the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 that federal policy makers determined that transportation planners at all levels needed to consider security concerns more specifically. Security involves the prevention of intentional harm to the transportation system or its users, including theft or dismemberment of elements of transportation infrastructure, assault on users of the system, or large-scale attacks intended to completely disrupt the movement of people and goods.
The GCLMPO is considering security projects, including the expansion of camera enforcement programs aimed at helping reduce congestion and providing for safe evacuation during emergency situations. Support for additional communication technologies allowing for the transfer of information across agencies and jurisdictions is a key factor in improving security during emergency events, evacuations and routine detours. With the increasing attention put on emergency response, MPO staff and NCDOT personnel are becoming more comfortable and proactive in their roles as incident response partners and will continue to work with our emergency agencies at the local, regional and state level to develop a strong working relationship.
4. ACCESSIBILITY AND MOBILITY OPTIONS OF PEOPLE AND FREIGHT
Increasing the accessibility and mobility options available to people and for freight is one of the most important objectives of GCLMPO. This is achieved by integrating land use and transportation planning, providing the necessary resources to enhance the existing transportation system, expanding the existing transit system and implementing fixed-route mass transit options.
5. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, ENERGY CONSERVATION PROMOTION, QUALITY OF LIFE IMPROVEMENTS AND CONSISTENCY BETWEEN TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENTS AND STATE AND LOCAL PLANNED GROWTH AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
The GCLMPO is committed to protecting and enhancing the environment, promoting energy conservation, and improving the quality of life for people living, working and visiting the area. The member governments within the region look to protect its important resources by enacting environmentally sensitive land use policies and transportation choices, and promoting air quality education programs. In some localities, land use-decisions are being made to direct growth to reduce travel demand, which in turn leads to energy conservation and reduced pollutants. It is the responsibility of the GCLMPO to consult with local, state, and federal agencies involved in the stewardship of national resources, environmental protections, conservations, and historic preservation.
6. SYSTEM INTEGRATION AND CONNECTIVITY
The GCLMPO continues to develop and support programs and projects that enhance the development, integration, and connectivity of a multi-modal transportation system. The proposed Catawba Crossings as well as the expansion of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Intermodal Yard provides a critical link for movement of goods between rail, highway, and air. Park and ride lots will provide auto commuters an opportunity to access public transit and will be available
for a future rapid transit system. Bike racks on buses allow people the flexibility to access bus stops by bike, improving the efficiency of the system. GCLMPO supports the addition of sidewalks on nonfreeway roadways which will enable citizens to leave their vehicle at home for short trips.
7. EFFICIENT SYSTEM MANAGEMENT AND OPERATIONS
The City of Gastonia is currently working to upgrade its traffic signal system, with 160 total intersections. Funded through a statewide Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant, the upgrade will include replacing the existing field infrastructure, replacing the existing central system, migrating to an IP/Ethernet based communications network, expanding the closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera coverage, and retiming of the traffic signal operations. This will benefit traffic management by providing more reliable equipment with increased functionality, ultimately benefiting motorists by providing improved traffic flow through the city.
The City of Gastonia currently has 24 CCTV cameras, and with the signal system upgrade will be adding an additional 16 cameras. The traffic system in Gastonia is also linked to the Metrolina Regional Traffic Management Center (MRTMC) in Charlotte. The cameras are used to provide depictions of the traffic. The City of Belmont and the Towns of Cramerton and McAdenville adopted the Build a Better Boulevard: Wilkinson Boulevard Corridor Study in January 2015 that proposes traffic management recommendations for improving traffic flows along the Wilkinson Boulevard (US 29/74) Corridor through the three municipalities. Working through STI, there is currently a project funded in the 2029-2029 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) to upgrade signal technology along Wilkinson Boulevard in eastern Gaston County, which will adjust signal phase order and duration based on real time measured traffic demand.
NCDOT Traffic Systems Operations is also in the process of implementing an Integrated Corridor Management (ICM) Project along I-85 in Gaston and Mecklenburg Counties between US 74 and Little Rock Road. The I-85 ICM Project will provide active guidance to drivers that decide to take US 74 as an alternate route due to an incident on I-85. The ICM Project will have a response integrated along the arterial to move people through the corridor, adding additional capacity for a short period of time. In addition, NCDOT was awarded an Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) Grant in 2020 for the US 74 corridor from Wilmington to Asheville to install fiber optic cable for future ITS technologies to enable signal synchronization, improvement traffic management, monitoring, and incident response.
8. PRESERVATION OF THE EXISTING SYSTEM
GCLMPO has worked with NCDOT for many years in establishing and maintaining a transportation planning program that incorporates a standard set of planning principles. These planning principles require the development of a safe and efficient transportation system by:
- Maximizing utilization of the existing facilities,
- Increasing operational efficiency and altering travel demands when appropriate, and
- Minimizing adverse impacts to the natural, social and economic environments.
The MPO is committed to providing the necessary resources for maintaining and preserving the existing and future transportation system.
9. IMPROVE RESILIENCY AND RELIABILITY OF THE EXISTING SYSTEM AND REDUCE (OR MITIGATE) STORMWATER IMPACTS
The USDOT defines resilience as: “An ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions.” The transportation system is increasingly vulnerable to severe weather, climate change, natural disasters, and other unexpected events that impact the region’s transportation network. Planning for a system that reduces the impact of these potential threats is the intent of this planning factor. GCLMPO continues to partner with NCDOT and regional MPOs to identify and conduct planning studies and collect data that will contribute to improving transportation reliability in this
growing and changing region. Through these efforts, the region is able to develop strategies that will help address transportation issues now and into the future.
10. ENHANCE TRAVEL AND TOURISM
Whether maintaining existing infrastructure or constructing new roads, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, airports, and public transportation corridors, transportation is an integral part of the tourism industry. Visitors must have confidence that they can travel through a region safely and quickly, and tourism is an important industry for all of North Carolina, including Gaston, Cleveland, and Lincoln counties. In fact, according to Gaston County Travel and Tourism, visitors spent more than $291 million in Gaston County in 2019, an increase of 5.55 percent from 2018.
In order to enhance travel and tourism, the MPO will continue to partner with NCDOT, member local governments, economic development groups, and the various Chambers of Commerce and tourism groups within the three-county planning area to better the transportation system and reduce any negative effects of increased traffic. In addition, the GCLMPO works closely with the Carolina Thread Trail to advance segments of the 15-county regional trail system. Trails not only
bring new visitors and tourists to the region and inject new dollars into the local economy, but also promote connectivity between tourist destinations for visitors, as well as local residents. More information about this exciting project and the MPO’s various bicycle and pedestrian efforts