Transportation planning calls for public involvement

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Coordinating the transportation goals for Pine Belt governmental entities uses public involvement as a crucial component, and written comments will be accepted until July 22.

The Hattiesburg-Petal-Forrest-Lamar Metropolitan Planning Organization has been accepting feedback on the Fiscal Year 2018-20 Public Participation Plan since June 8. The plan allows public involvement as a fundamental component of effective transportation planning, project development and implementation.

Andrew Ellard, Hattiesburg’s Director of Urban Development, said the Metropolitan Planning Organization is designed to coordinate transportation planning among the different governments, avoiding confusion in construction plans.

“The MPO evaluates its projects so many years,” he said. “That way, they would update the Transportation Improvement Program.”

Each metropolitan planning organization is required to develop a Transportation Improvement Program covering at least four years. The program should include all regionally significant projects receiving federal funds.

Ellard said the Transportation Improvement Program goes through changes.

“It is a living document that includes specific projects,” he said. “It might be amended in six months, depending on what projects are available. Next year, there will be an application process or the projects, and the Metropolitan Planning Organization will put the projects through a ranking process overseen by a policy board.”

Send comments to Calvin Russell, HPFL Metropolitan Planning Organization, 308 Newman St., Hattiesburg, MS 39401, or via email at mpo@hattiesburgms.com.

The public notice fulfilled the public participation requirements of the Federal Transit Administration in order to carry out the provisions of the Department of Transportation's Title VI Regulations.

Gov. William Winter established the Hattiesburg-Petal-Forrest- Lamar Metropolitan Planning Organization in August 1982. The MPO was established when the Hattiesburg central area reached a population status of 50,000-plus. The MPO has the responsibility for planning, programming and coordinating federal investments.

The MPO area consists of the City of Hattiesburg, the City of Petal, a portion of Forrest County and a portion of Lamar County. HPFL-MPO process creates a partnership among state, local government, and transit operators in providing transportation improvements. Representatives from the City of Hattiesburg, City of Petal, Forrest County and Lamar County, the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration are involved in the transportation planning process for the MPO.

A full-time staff is employed to implement policies and work programs as well as coordinate all transportation planning efforts.

 

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