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Frequently Asked Questions

Learn the answers to some of the frequently asked questions regarding transportation planning in Columbus, Georgia.

  1. What is the function of the Columbus-Phenix City Metropolitan Planning Organization (C-PCMPO)?
  2. What areas are included in the C-PCMPO?
  3. What does the C-PCMPO do?
  4. Who governs the C-PCMPO?
  5. Who staffs the C-PCMPO?
  6. How does the C-PCMPO select projects to include in the LRTP or TIP?
  7. I cannot get out of my subdivision in the morning. Can I ask the C-PCMPO to include a traffic light project in the LRTP or TIP?
  8. Can the C-PCMPO implement these plans?
  9. Who decides which transportation projects get implemented?
  10. What are the different categories from which transportation projects can be funded?
  11. Why does it take so much time for a transportation project to become operational or open to traffic?
  12. How can I voice my support or opposition to a proposed project or program?
  13. Are the C-PCMPO's meetings open to the public?
  14. How can I get advance notice of public meetings?
  15. Can I request a public meeting in my neighborhood on transportation issues?
  16. What are arterials and collectors?
  17. What is SAFETEA-LU?
  18. What is being done to ensure air quality in our region?
  19. What Happens when your property is needed for a transportation facility by the GDOT?

Question: What is the function of the Columbus-Phenix City Metropolitan Planning Organization (C-PCMPO)?
Answer: The C-PCMPO is a transportation policy-making organization made up of representatives from local governments in the Columbus Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and, local and state transportation officials. The Federal Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1973 required the formation of an MPO for any urbanized area with a population greater than 50,000. The C-PCMPO was created in order to ensure that existing and future expenditures for transportation projects and programs were based on a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive (3-C) planning process. Federal funding for transportation projects and programs are channeled through this planning process.

Question: What areas are included in the C-PCMPO?
Answer: All of the local governments within the Columbus MSA (Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion and Muscogee in Georgia and Russell in Alabama) are eligible to participate in the MPO process. Lee County is also a member of the C-PCMPO.

Question: What does the C-PCMPO do?
Answer: The C-PCMPO performs the regional transportation planning and coordination for the MSA. The C-PCMPO is committed to unifying the area's resources to prepare for the future transportation needs of our region. It does this by providing professional planning services, involving the community in collaborative partnerships that promote strong economic and sound environmental policies, while improving the region's quality of life.

Question: Who staffs the C-PCMPO?
Answer: The C-PCMPO has three committees that establish programs and priorities for the C-PCMPO. The committees are:

Question: Who staffs the C-PCMPO?
Answer: The Planning Department of the Columbus, Georgia Consolidated Government is responsible for the day to day staffing needs of the organization.

Question: How does the C-PCMPO select projects to include in the LRTP or TIP?
Answer: Projects are evaluated and prioritized based on the planning factors outlined in TEA-21 (the federal transportation funding authorization bill). C-PCMPO policies encourage alternative modes of transportation and local jurisdictional priorities. Projects are also given additional consideration if they are part of the Columbus Congestion Management Process (CMP). The CMP was developed to identify, implement and evaluate cost-effective transportation projects to alleviate known congestion areas.

Question: I cannot get out of my subdivision in the morning. Can I ask the C-PCMPO to include a traffic light project in the LRTP or TIP?
Answer: C-PCMPO welcomes all comments related to the functionality of the regional transportation system; however, some questions may be forwarded to local government staff for response. Each local government is responsible for identifying priority needs and projects. They will perform studies and analysis to ensure the merits of each idea. Through the C-PCMPO's Transportation Coordinating Committee (TCC), projects are identified, prioritized and matched with the funding available for any given year. Citizens can provide input throughout various stages of the planning process from the local to regional levels. Besides being required by federal regulations, public input is essential to creating and implementing a well balanced and efficient transportation system.

Question: Can the C-PCMPO implement these plans?
Answer: No. The power to put these plans into action is the responsibility of each local government and state agency.

Question: Who decides which transportation projects get implemented?
Answer: The decision to implement a transportation project begins with the local government representatives. Once local priorities have been determined, the projects will be submitted to C-PCMPO for federal funding and/or inclusion in the regional Travel Demand Model. The C-PCMPO staff evaluates and selects projects to be incorporated into its plans and programs. Then the C-PCMPO Policy Coordinating Committee votes to adopt the plan or program. Once the project has been included in a plan and program, C-PCMPO and the local government will work with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) or the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) in order to secure the funding and ensure the project follows all state and federal design and construction guidelines.

Question: What are the different categories from which transportation projects can be funded?
Answer: Transportation projects can be funded from the following sources:

  • National Highway System (NHS): funding for roads designated as part of the National Highway System, primarily those roads important to interstate travel and national defense.
  • Surface Transportation Program (STP): funding for a wide variety of transportation projects including road, transit and other modes. STP funding cannot be spent on roads classified as local.
  • Interstate Maintenance Funds (IM): funding for maintenance activities along the interstate system including High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes and other projects that will not add capacity to an existing roadway.
  • Transportation Enhancement Set Aside Funds (TEA projects) (Q22): funding for enhancement activities such as limited bicycle and pedestrian projects, streetscapes and historic preservation.
  • Safety Construction Set Aside Funds: funding for safety projects including hazard elimination and at-grade railroad crossings.
  • Bridge Funds (Ql0/Q11): funding for any public bridge reconstruction or rehabilitation.
  • Special and Innovative Projects, a.k.a. High-Priority projects (HPP): funding for those projects specifically identified in ISTEA or TEA-21.
  • Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Fund (CMAQ) (Q40/Q42): funding for projects that contribute to attainment of the NAAQS. These funds are only available to metropolitan areas in non-attainment for a criteria pollutant.
  • State Funds: projects funded with 100% State funding with no federal contribution.
  • Local Funds: projects funded with local, state or private funds with no federal contribution.
  • Transit (5307/5309/5310/5311): funding for public transportation projects including capital, operating, planning and service for the elderly and the disabled.

Question: Why does it take so much time for a transportation project to become operational or open to traffic?
Answer: Due to federal and state regulations, the process for transportation projects can be as long as 8 to 10 years. The process tends to be longer for those projects that will add capacity to our existing highway network. Once the idea for a road project has been developed, studies may be needed for justification of the project. These studies could be handled by local or state agencies as appropriate. Once complete, the state would submit the project to the C-PCMPO for federal funding.

Also at this time, the project is assessed for its impact to the surrounding environment. In following the NEPA or National Environmental Protection Act, local and state agencies will review influences, if any to watersheds or waterways as well as effects to green space, adjoining residential areas and even air quality in some cases. When the time comes, some or all of the three phases of the project will be submitted for inclusion to the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

Question: How can I voice my support or opposition to a proposed project or program?
Answer: Early in the planning or project development process, it is important to express your support or opposition at the local level. By contacting your city or county planning department or department of transportation, you can stay informed of the projects planned for submission for federal funding. All of the C-PCMPO meetings are open to the public to allow citizens who wish to become involved in the regional transportation planning process. Please call a Transportation Planner for more information on the C-PCMPO's policy for citizen input at committee meetings (view Planning's contact information).

Once a draft plan or program has been developed, there will be a formal public review and comment period as required by law. During the comment period, citizens are encouraged to inform regional leaders about their positions on the plan or program through written comments or scheduled public meetings.

Question: Are the C-PCMPO's meetings open to the public?
Answer: Yes. All committee meetings are open to the public. Any citizen wishing to speak at these meetings must notify the C-PCMPO's office prior to the meeting date of that particular committee. For a schedule of meetings and more information call a Transportation Planner (view Planning's contact information).

Question: How can I get advance notice of public meetings?
Answer: The C-PCMPO thoroughly advertises as far in advance as possible about upcoming public meetings. If you would like to be included on C-PCMPO's mailing list, you can sign up by submitting your email address to CPCMPO@columbusga.org. The C-PCMPO also publishes public meeting notices in the Columbus Ledger Enquirer and the Columbus Times.

Question: Can I request a public meeting in my neighborhood on transportation issues?
Answer: The C-PCMPO wants to hear from citizens in your neighborhood. This can happen by contacting our staff at CPCMPO@columbusga.org with your comments or by scheduling a speaking engagement. You can request a representative from the C-PCMPO to speak at one of your organization's meetings or events. Please call a Transportation Planner for more information (view Planning's contact information). The speaking engagements include time for questions, answers and providing public comment.

When the C-PCMPO plans its public meetings, we try to find locations that will be convenient and accessible to as many citizens as possible. We try to locate public meetings in a central facility that will service the most people. Most of the time, we use facilities such as school or public building because of their accessibility and their location is generally known to a larger segment of the community. If you would like to suggest a possible location for a future meeting, please give the Planning Department a call. Please keep in mind that any facility for such a meeting must adhere to the requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Question: What are arterials and collectors?
Answer: Arterials are major roads important in the movement of people and goods. Generally, arterials act as the alternates to interstate highways. Arterials connect directly to freeways and interstates. Examples include Manchester Expressway, Veterans Parkway, Buena Vista Road, Victory Drive, U.S. Route 280, U.S. Route 431.

As the name implies, collectors serve to connect vehicles from the local street to arterials. Collectors are generally two-lane suburban and rural streets that have low speed limits and little to no commercial development. Examples include any road that would connect to subdivisions or other residential areas.

Question: What is SAFETEA-LU?
Answer: (Excerpted from 'A Summary of Highway Provisions in SAFETEA-LU' pamphlet published by the United States Department of Transportation)

On August 10, 2005, the President signed into law the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). With guaranteed funding for highways, highway safety, and public transportation totaling $244.1 billion, SAFETEA-LU represents the largest surface transportation investment in our Nation's history. The two landmark bills that brought surface transportation into the 21st century – the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) – shaped the highway program to meet the Nation's changing transportation needs. SAFETEA-LU builds on this firm foundation, supplying the funds and refining the programmatic framework for investments needed to maintain and grow our vital transportation infrastructure. For more information including the full text version of the above section, visit the official SAFETEA-LU website at FHWA.DOT.gov/safetealu/.

Question: What is being done to ensure air quality in our region?
Answer: The C-PCMPO is also directly involved in the preparation of any studies and/or plans for air quality for the region. The C-PCMPO is working directly with state and federal officials to monitor conditions for ozone and particulate matter to maintain an attainment rating for air quality issues. Should the C-PCMPO area receive designation as an air quality non-attainment or maintenance area, additional requirements for transportation needs would be imposed, including conformity with a state's air quality plan, known as the State Implementation Plan (SIP). Visit the Air Quality Alliance of the Chattahoochee Valley's website for more information.

Question: What Happens when your property is needed for a transportation facility by the GDOT?
Answer: The Georgia Department of Transportation must acquire land to improve its transportation system. Many of our transportation systems which were built years ago have outlived their intended use. If you own property near an existing or proposed transportation facility, you will be interested in the procedure which the Georgia Department of Transportation follows in acquiring the necessary right of way. Download the following brochure for more information.

Columbus, Georgia Consolidated Government Annex Building

Government Annex Building
2nd Floor
420 10th Street
Columbus, Georgia 31902

Phone: (706) 653-4421
Fax: (706) 653-4534

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