The Planning Process
I. Purpose of the Metropolitan Planning Organization
Under Section 134 of Title 23, United States Code and Section 8 of the Federal Transit Act of 1964, as amended, the Congress of the United States has stated that:
"It is in the national interest to encourage and promote the development of transportation systems embracing various modes of transportation in a manner which will efficiently maximize mobility of people and goods within and through urbanized areas and minimize transportation-related fuel consumption and air pollution. To accomplish this objective, metropolitan planning organizations, in cooperation with the State, shall develop transportation plans and programs for urbanized areas of the State. Such plans and programs shall provide for the development of transportation facilities (including pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities), which will function as an intermodal transportation system for the State, the metropolitan areas, and the Nation. The process for developing such plans and programs shall provide for consideration of all modes of transportation and shall be continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive to the degree appropriate, based on the complexity of the transportation problems."
In accordance with this directive, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are designated for each urbanized area of more than 50,000 in population by agreement among the Governor and units of general-purpose local government. As a result of the 2010 Census, it was determined that the Watertown area had achieved metropolitan status. On September 19, 2014, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), on behalf of the Governor, formally designated the Watertown Jefferson County Area Transportation Council (WJCTC) as the MPO for the Watertown metropolitan area. In order to comply with the intent and action of Congress regarding metropolitan transportation planning, representatives of the Governor of New York State and the local governments are required to be represented on the MPO. The WJCTC will be comprised of members from the NYSDOT, Jefferson County and the City of Watertown. Representatives from each of the three member governments have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which specifies the membership composition and basic duties and responsibilities of the WJCTC.
The MPO is responsible for fulfilling the federal and state transportation planning requirements specific to metropolitan/urbanized areas. These requirements are articulated by the most recent federal legislation, MAP-21. In the MAP-21 legislation, there are requirements for a long-range plan, transportation improvement plan (TIP) and Public Participation Plan. Additional rules and implementation guidance are provided by the associated federal agencies, Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration.
II. Organization of the Metropolitan Planning Organization
The Policy Committee(PC), which is the final decision making authority for transportation projects and programs within the metropolitan area, is composed of elected and appointed representatives from the City of Watertown, Jefferson County and representatives from the NYSDOT. Advisory members may be added at the discretion of the voting members (i.e. Fort Drum, etc)
The MPO Director will be the official spokesperson for the PC, the two Technical Committees (HTC & TTC) and the Local Stakeholder Group in reporting actions taken by the Committees to the general public and to public and private agencies. The MPO director will also have limited fiscal responsibilities that will include Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) Task revisions as well as TIP amendment capabilities.
The Technical Committees are responsible for coordinating transportation planning activities and providing technical advice to the PC. The Technical Committees are composed of professional/ technical staff representatives from each of the member governments. The Highway Technical Committee (HTC) will focus on highway/bridge issues, while the Transit Technical Committee (TTC) will focus on transit issues within the WJCTC boundary.
The NYSDOT Region 7 Planning and Program Manager will have limited responsibilities that will include the ability to approve minor TIP amendments.
The Local Stakeholder Group is comprised of representatives from each of the 9 Towns/Villages within the WJCTC boundary. The Local Stakeholder Group will be represented by a Region 7 NYSDOT employee.
The Central Staff is charged with performing the tasks required to progress the development of plans, programs, and other activities as prescribed in the annually adopted UPWP.
The WJCTC will follow the State Fiscal Year Calendar, which runs April 1st thru March 31st.