Establishment of the Metropolitan Planning Organization
May 2002, the U.S. Bureau of the Census determined that Harrisonburg and the surrounding area met the population criteria of 50,000 or greater for designation as an urbanized area. This area included the City of Harrisonburg, a portion of Rockingham County, and the Towns of Bridgewater, Dayton, and Mount Crawford.
The designation required the establishment of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) that deals specifically with transportation-related issues within this urbanized area. The creation of the MPO moves the decision-making process away from the state level and into the hands of the localities.
Within the MPO, a policy board is comprised of local elected officials as well as state and local transportation agency officials. The policy board is supported by a technical advisory committee of local and state planners and engineers, and citizen advisory committees that provide public input.
The board and committees are responsible for developing a twenty-year, long-range transportation plan, along with the three-year, short-term Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP). Projects for the TIP are selected from the long-range plan.
Regional Long-Range Transportation Planning Program
The MPO localities have the opportunity, through intergovernmental partnerships, to achieve common goals and work for an efficient transportation base.
Since the majority of the county is outside the MPO area, the Regional Long-Range Transportation Planning Program was created by the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission. The purpose, which is similar to that of the MPO, will provide a long range approach to transportation improvements in the rural portions of the County.
The plan will evaluate major corridors; analyze current traffic counts and patterns, road design and conditions, future traffic projections, and the County Comprehensive Plan. As with the MPO Plan, this document will not commit the County to funding any specific project, but simply provides a strategy to assess long term transportation needs.