Background on Metropolitan Planning Organizations
Federal law requires the formation of an “MPO” for any urbanized area with a population of more than 50,000. The Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization (RVTPO), whose official name is the Roanoke Valley Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), was created in 1974 to plan and budget the use of federal transportation dollars in the Roanoke region. There are currently 14 MPOs in Virginia. The U.S. Department of Transportation recognizes the RVTPO as the entity responsible for transportation-related planning within the Roanoke urbanized area boundary.
The population of the RVTPO Study Area is approximately 230,000, and covers the Cities of Roanoke and Salem, the Town of Vinton, and the urbanized portions of the Counties of Bedford, Botetourt, Roanoke and Montgomery. The RVTPO study area, also known as the metropolitan planning area, is required to include the Census Urbanized Area (currently based on the 2010 Census) and the area that is expected to be urbanized in the next 20 years. Click here for a PDF map, or click here for an interactive map. A Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) with an urbanized area boundary population of 200,000 and above is also designated as a Transportation Management Area (TMA) by the Secretary of Transportation. After the 2010 Census, Roanoke became a TMA. Financial support comes primarily from federal transportation funding, with matching funds provided by the seven member localities and the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. Planning and administrative staff is provided by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission which also serves as the fiscal agent.
Key Functions of the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization
The Roanoke Valley Area Transportation Planning Organization (RVTPO) develops four key documents that are the backbone of transportation planning and programming in the region — the Long- Range Transportation Plan, the Transportation Improvement Program, the Congestion Management Plan, and the Unified Planning Work Program.
- The Constrained Long-Range Multimodal Transportation Plan (CLRMTP) guides the region in creating a more efficient, responsive and environmentally-sensitive transportation system over the next 20+ years. The plan examines transportation trends/issues and offers a list of specific projects for addressing the region’s mobility needs. The CLRMTP is updated every five years with amendments as need in the years between.
- The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is a four-year schedule of all federally-funded and regionally-significant transportation projects to be implemented in the TPO region. It functions like a budget and projects can only be funded if they are consistent with the goals of the Long-Range Transportation Plan. The TIP is updated every three years with amendments as needed in the years between.
- A Traffic Congestion Management Process was developed after the RVTPO was designated a Transportation Management Area (TMA) following the 2010 Census which required the transportation planning process to consider congestion management. The RVTPO updated the Traffic Congestion Management Process in 2020.
- The Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) Program: Roanoke Valley Urbanized Area Suballocation Funding and the Transportation Alternatives Program (TA) are federal formula programs from which the RVTPO receives funding and is directly responsible for the selection of projects and allocation of funds.
- The SMART SCALE system is a statewide project prioritization process developed in 2014 by the General Assembly and administered through the Transportation Secretariat. Innovations of SMART SCALE include competitive prioritization and scoring systems, more transparency in the project selection and scoring processes, and a full-funding policy for projects within a six-year period.
- The Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) is a one-year schedule of all transportation planning activities that will be performed using state and federal planning funds. The RVTPO Policy Board, with advice from the Transportation Technical Committee, makes the final decision on which projects are included in the UPWP. The Unified Planning Work Program includes: Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning, Corridor Studies, coordination with RIDE Solutions, Transit Planning, Public Involvement, and Local Technical Assistance.
Additionally, the RVTPO is required by federal and state law to have these additional responsibilities:
- Transportation plans/programs within a TMA must be based on a continuing, comprehensive and cooperative transportation planning process carried out by the TPO in cooperation with the State and transit operators.
- The FHWA and FTA must certify the transportation planning process every four years.
- Performance measures reporting. The RVTPO, as a TMA MPO, is required by the federal government to track regional performance measures.
The RVTPO Policy Board typically meets on the fourth Thursday of the month at 1:00 P.M. in the third floor conference room of the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission offices which are located at 313 Luck Avenue, SW, Roanoke, VA 24016.
The RVTPO Policy Board currently has one committee called the Transportation Technical Committee (TTC). The role of the TTC is to advise the RVTPO Policy Board and to provide technical advice to the RVARC staff on transportation-related activities, as needed. The TTC will advise the RVTPO Policy Board on technical matters pertaining to the development of the regional Constrained Long-Range Multimodal Transportation Plan (CLRMTP), the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), the Surface Transportation Block Group (STBG) Program, the Transportation Alternative (TA) selection process, the Congestion Management Process (CMP), and the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) as part of a continuing, comprehensive and cooperative transportation planning and programming process. The TTC shall also undertake other duties that may be requested by the RVTPO Policy Board. The TTC typically meets monthly on the second Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in the third floor conference room at the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission offices located at 313 Luck Avenue, SW, Roanoke, VA 24016.