Transportation Planning

Overview

1The Central Midlands Council of Governments (CMCOG) is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) responsible for carrying out the urban transportation planning process for the Columbia Area Transportation Study (COATS). The COATS MPO study area boundary includes large portions of Richland and Lexington Counties and small portions of Calhoun and Kershaw Counties. The primary responsibilities of any MPO are to: 1) develop a Long Range Transportation Plan, which is, at a minimum, a 25-year transportation vision for the metropolitan area; 2) develop a Transportation Improvement Program, which is the agreed-upon list of specific projects for which federal funds are anticipated; and 3) develop a Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP), which identifies in a single document the annual transportation planning activities that are to be undertaken in support of the goals, objectives and actions established in the Long-Range Transportation Plan.

As the MPO, CMCOG provides the forum for cooperative decision making in developing regional transportation plans and programs to meet changing needs. It is composed of elected and appointed officials representing local, state and federal governments or agencies having interest or responsibility in comprehensive transportation planning.

Purpose

A metropolitan planning organization (MPO) is a federally-mandated and federally-funded transportation policy-making organization in the United States that is made up of representatives from local government and governmental transportation authorities. In 1962, the United States Congress passed legislation that required the formation of an MPO for any urbanized area (UZA) with a population greater than 50,000. Federal funding for transportation projects and programs are channeled through this planning process.  Congress created MPOs in order to ensure that existing and future expenditures of governmental funds for transportation projects and programs are based on a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive (“3-C”) planning process.
Statewide and metropolitan transportation planning processes are governed by federal law (23 U.S.C. § 134135). Transparency through public access to participation in the planning process and electronic publication of plans now is required by federal law. As of 2005, there are 385 MPOs in the U.S.

MPO Structure

To facilitate and encourage maximum interaction among these groups and the local community, the CMCOG has an adopted committee structure. The Policy Committee (CMCOG Board of Directors), as the official decision making body, establishes the policies for the overall conduct of the CMCOG, is responsible for the adoption of plans and programs and approves study recommendations. The Executive Committee is made up of Policy Committee members and provides oversight of transportation planning activities. The Transportation Subcommittee, which is established by the Policy Committee, provides a forum for discussion and resolution of relevant issues and monitors technical activities including the development of the UPWP and the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) for recommendation to the Policy Committee. In addition, the Transportation Subcommittee directs and considers for recommendation to the Policy Committee all major studies and planning activities.

The Technical Committee, which is established by the Policy Committee, is composed of the professional/technical representatives of the member governments and public agencies having indirect responsibility for transportation planning and/or implementation. Their primary responsibility is to monitor all technical activities including the annual development of a draft UPWP and biennial development of a draft TIP for recommendation to the Transportation Subcommittee. They also consider for recommendation to the Transportation Subcommittee for further discussion and revision before submittal to the Policy Committee for final endorsement of all major studies and planning activities.

Title VI Compliance

Investments made in the TIP must be consistent with federal Title VI requirements. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, income, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. Public outreach to and involvement of individuals in low income and minority communities covered under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and subsequent Civil Rights Restoration Act, and series of federal statues enacted pertaining to environmental justice, are critical to regional planning and programming decisions. The fundamental principles of environmental justice include:

  • Avoiding, minimizing or mitigating disproportionately high and adverse health or environmental effects on minority and low-income populations;
  • Ensuring full and fair participation by all potentially affected communities in the transportation decision-making process; and
  • Preventing the denial, reduction or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority populations and low-income communities
  • The decision process by which new projects are selected for inclusion in the TIP must consider equitable solicitation and selection of project candidates in accordance with federal Title VI requirements
  • The COATS Title VI Plan appears in Appendix A.

For an updated copy of COATS Title VI Plan (Click Here)

EnvironmentalJustice-v2

 

An Overview of Transportation & Environmental Justice (PDF)

Major Documents

The COATS MPO develops three key documents that are the ingredients to the transportation planning and programming in the Columbia Metropolitan Area: the Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) – the vision; the UPWP or Unified Planning Work Program – the planning; and the TIP or Transportation Improvement Program (updated report coming soon) – implementation and improvement. Together, these three documents represent the beginning, middle and end — the ingredients — to an effective transportation planning process.

Disadvantaged Business Enterprises

The DBE program is intended to ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of USDOT-assisted contracts in the highway, transit, and airport programs. The goals of the program are to remedy past and current discrimination against disadvantaged business enterprises, ensure a “level playing field” on which DBEs can compete fairly for DOT-assisted contracts, improve the flexibility and efficiency of the DBE program, and reduce burdens on small businesses.

These goals are, in part, accomplished by providing federal-aid projects with contract goals and implementing the South Carolina Unified Certification Program (SCUCP).

Please follow the link below for an updated copy of UCP DBE Directory. You will find two formats (PDF and Excel) for your convenience:

UCP DBE Directory – PDF

UCP DBE Directory – Excel File

CMCOG/COATS MPO DBE Plan

The UCP DBE Directory is updated weekly.

Public Participation Plan

The Columbia Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) maintains a public participation process for the development of plans and programs. These procedures for public participation have been formally enacted, reviewed and certified as being in compliance with all applicable federal rules and regulations.

The intent of the Public Participation Plan is to provide meaningful citizen input for the metropolitan transportation planning and programming process through effective citizen involvement activities, accessible information, and opportunities for participation.

To access the CMCOG Public Participation Plan (updated March 2010), please click here.

Plans and Studies

Major Documents

Regional Plans and Studies

Transportation and Land Use Studies

Projects currently under development

  • Kershaw County Sub-Area Plan
  • CMCOG /COATS Web-Based Rideshare Project
  • Charlotte/ Columbia Intercity Rail Study

Contact Information

Reginald Simmons
Deputy Executive Director/Transportation Director

Roland Bart
Chief Transportation Planner