A Regional Transportation Planning Organization (RTPO) is an organization that identifies local transportation needs, conducts planning, assists local governments, and supports the statewide transportation planning process in non-metropolitan regions of a state. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation designates RTPOs in Oklahoma as a method for formalizing the engagement of officials and key stakeholders from rural areas as they incorporate rural transportation needs in the statewide transportation planning process.
The South Central Regional Transportation Planning Organization (SCORTPO) was formed by the Southern Oklahoma Development Association (SODA) to administer the regional transportation planning for the ten-county SODA service. SODA is the Council of Government (COG) for south, central Oklahoma including Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Coal, Garvin, Johnston, Love, Marshall, Murray and Pontotoc counties.
A Transportation Policy Board (TPB) comprised of representatives of major employers, ODOT, transit operators, Native American tribes, cities, towns, and counties provides policy-making and planning advice to SCORTPO. A Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) is a working group that utilizes the technical expertise from member jurisdictions to review all regional transportation planning products and processes and makes recommendations to the Policy Board.
Benefits of an RTPO
An RTPO enhances the level of public awareness in transportation planning across all regions, gaining input on transportation issues that at one time were not addressed. The RTPO facilitates collaboration among county commissions, mayors, circuit engineering districts, ODOT Division Engineers, city officials, business owners, and local citizens. Other benefits of the RTPO program in Oklahoma include the following:
- An established regional resource for transportation planning and information to aid the ODOT Divisions in assisting local governments and citizens
- Collecting socio-economic data that can be used for ODOT’s required NEPA process as applicable in the region. In areas of non-attainment for ozone, this data can be used as part of the EPA requirement for Conformity and Maintenance in air quality.
- Building relationships between local municipalities and COGs and ODOT
- Building relationships between CEDs and COGs and ODOT
- Building relationships between County Commissioners and COGs and ODOT
- Gathering GIS data on rural roads and bridges that ODOT does not currently have access to or current information on
- Enhancing public awareness and involvement through an established public involvement process aiding ODOT’s public involvement efforts when new projects requiring public meetings or hearings occur in the region
- Identifying key issues and trends for the region’s transportation system providing ODOT Divisions a more accurate understanding of the region’s needs
- Providing technical assistance in preparation of grants such as Transportation Alternative Program (TAP), Safe Routes to School, FASTLane.
Tasks/Functions of SCORTPO
The primary function of SCORTPO is the development of a regional Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). The LRTP establishes transportation goals and identifies strategies to reach the goals. The LRTP addresses a forecast period of at least twenty (20) years and includes long-range and short-range strategies for the development of an integrated, intermodal transportation system that facilitates the efficient movement of people and goods.
The LRTP projects the conditions affecting surface transportation through a process of applying reasonable assumptions, technical analysis, and financial projections, recommends a future intermodal transportation system, and reflects consideration of the area land use and development patterns. The plan will also include a prioritized project list for the region and counties.
Other tasks and functions of SCORTPO include the following:
- Coordination of local planning, land use, and economic development
- Provision of technical assistance to local officials
- Participation in national, multi-state, and state policy and planning and development processes
- Facilitation of a forum for public participation in regional and statewide planning
- Coordination of plans and programs with neighboring RTPOs and Metropolitan Planning Organizations and tribal organizations