Inside South Carolina Department of Transportation

Featured Construction Projects

Personnel

Leadership

Finance

Office of Chief Internal Auditor

Reports

Office of Planning

Publications & Outreach

Environmental Services

Statewide Planning Frequently Asked Questions

Transportation Planning in South Carolina

Why do we plan?
Who is responsible for planning?
What is a MPO and what is its role?
What is a COG and what is its role?
Who establishes the criteria for becoming an MPO and who makes the designation?
Who defines the MPO Study Area Boundary?
How is funding determined and at what level?
Who provides the local match for Guideshares and Planning Funds?
Who selects the projects for programming and development?
Who is responsible for the Transportation Improvement Program? (TIP)
Who is responsible for the STIP?
Who is responsible for public involvement in the planning process?
How does SCDOT prioritize interstate needs?
How are non-interstate needs prioritized?

Why do we plan?
Transportation planning supports the economic vitality for the state by increasing available options and enhancing the integration and connectivity of the transportation system, across and between modes, for people and freight. Transportation planning is more than merely listing highway and transit capital investments. It requires developing strategies for operating, managing, maintaining, and financing the area's transportation system to advance the area's long-term goals. An efficient transportation system can improve the economy, shape development patterns, and influence quality of life and the natural environment.

Back to Top


Who is responsible for planning?
The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is responsible for transportation planning and the allocation of federal funds. The federal transportation planning process is a cooperative effort between SCDOT, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO), Council Of Governments (COG), and transit providers.

Back to Top


What is a MPO and what is its role?
A Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is a transportation policy-making organization made up of representatives from local government and transportation authorities. MPOs were created in order to ensure that existing and future expenditures for transportation projects and programs were based on a comprehensive, cooperative, and continuing (3-C) planning process. The role of the MPO includes: establishing a local forum for transportation decision making; evaluating transportation alternatives; developing and updating a long-range transportation plan; developing a Transportation lmprovement Program (TIP); and getting the public involved.

MPO Map
To view PDF files, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader

Back to Top


What is a COG and what is its role?
Council of Governments (COG) is a regional forum to allow local governments to come together to address common challenges, such as; infrastructure, community and economic development, and other general regional governmental issues. In 1997, the SCDOT began coordinating with South Carolina's ten COGs to plan rural road improvements. Their role is very similar to the MPO, to allow a public forum for transportation decision making and analyzing the area's long-range transportation needs. The COG'S five-year program is approved by the SCDOT Commission and appears in the SCDOT bi-annual Statewide Transportation lmprovement Program (STIP).

COG Map

COGs

Appalachian Council of Governments
Oconee, Pickens, Greenville, Spartanburg, Cherokee, Anderson
Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments
Dorchester, Berkeley, Charleston
Catawba Regional Planning Council
Union, Chester, York, Lancaster
Central Midlands Regional Planning Council
Newberry, Fairfield, Lexington, Richland
Lowcountry Council of Governments
Hampton, Colleton, Jasper, Beaufort
Lower Savannah Council of Governments
Aiken, Barnwell, Allendale, Bamberg, Orangeburg, Calhoun
Pee Dee Regional Council of Governments
Chesterfield, Marlboro, Darlington, Florence, Marion, Dillon
Santee-Lynches Council of Governments
Kershaw, Lee, Sumter, Clarendon
Upper Savannah Council of Governments
Abbeville, Laurens, McCormick, Greenwood, Saluda, Edgefield
Waccamaw Regional Planning and Development Council
Williamsburg, Georgetown, Horry

Back to Top


Who establishes the criteria for becoming an MPO and who makes the designation?
A MPO must be designated for each "urbanized area" with a population of more than 50,000, as defined by the Bureau of Census, to carry out the federal planning requirements. A MPO is designated by an agreement between the Governor, the cities, and other local governments representing at least 75% of the affected population.

Back to Top


Who defines the MPO Study Area Boundary?
The Study Area Boundary represents the planning boundary of the MPO. The study area encompasses the existing census-defined urbanized area and the contiguous areas expected to become urban over the next 20-year period. Federal guidelines do not include expliclt requirements for setting or adjusting study areas. The MPO and the Governor approve the Study Area Boundary.

Back to Top


How is funding determined and at what level?
In South Carolina, the SCDOT Commission determines the funding priorities for the federal-aid program following each new federal highway bill and annual appropriations act. This includes the funding level allocated to MPOs and COGs. Since the mid 1990s, the allocation between urban and rural federal-aid funds for MPOs and COGs, called Guideshare, has been based on study area population.

Under federal law, large MPOs with urbanized area populations over 200,000 are called Transportation Management Areas (TMAs). Only TMAs are entitled to specific allocations of federal funds called Urban Attributable Funds. In South Carolina, the five TMAs are Augusta Richmond Transportation Study (ARTS), Charleston Area Transportation Study (CHATS), Columbia Area Transportation Study (COATS), Greenville Pickens Area Transportation Study (GPATS), and Rock Hill Fort Mill Area Transportation Study (RFATS). The 2003 Attributable funds for the TMAs in South Carolina was $18,977,021.

Back to Top


Who provides the local match for Guideshares and Planning Funds?
Project matching funds can be provided by state, local or private entities.

Each MPO also receives federal planning (PL) funds to subsidize local planning activities. SCDOT allocates PL funds based on a formula developed in cooperation with the MPOs. The urban planning funds have historically been matched by the MPO.

Back to Top


Who selects the projects for programming and development?
For TMAs (areas over 200,000), projects are selected by the MPO (excluding National Highway System (NHS), bridge, and federal lands) in consultation with the state. For MPOs not designated as TMAs, projects shall be selected by the State, in cooperation with the MPO. Outside of MPOs, projects shall be selected by the State, in cooperation with affected local officials.

In South Carolina, project selection for the Guideshares has been based on recommendations made jointly by MPOs, COGs and SCDOT. Rural project selection is subject to SCDOT Commission approval.

Back to Top


Who is responsible for the Transportation Improvement Program?
The MPO, in cooperation with the State and its public transit operators, must develop a fiscally constrained priority list of federally-funded projects for a minimum three-year period. The TIP must be updated at least every two years. In South Carolina, TIPS reflect the required three program years, plus two additional planning years and are jointly approved by the MPO and SCDOT. The rural COG programs are formatted in the same manner as the MPO TIPs.

TIPS are submitted to SCDOT for approval and inclusion in the Statewide Transportation lmprovement Program (STIP).

Back to Top


Who is responsible for the STIP?
The SCDOT Commission is responsible for developing a transportation improvement program for the state. With respect to the metropolitan areas, the program must be developed jointly between the SCDOT and MPO. With respect to the nonmetropolitan areas, the program is developed in cooperation between the SCDOT and affected local officials with responsibility for transportation. The STIP must be a fiscally constrained priority list of federally funded projects (including the 10 MPO TIPs) for a minimum three-year period. The STIP must be updated at least every two years and approved by the SCDOT Commission. In South Carolina, the 5-year STIP reflects the required three program years, plus two additional planning years.

Back to Top


Who is responsible for public involvement in the planning process?
Each MPO must have an adopted public involvement plan that specifies the method and process to receive public comment on TIPs, Unified Planning Work Program, and long-range plans. COGS conduct public involvement on behalf of the SCDOT for the STIP and the Statewide Multi-Modal Transportation Plan.

Back to Top


How does SCDOT prioritize interstate needs?
The Office of Planning analyzes capacity needs for the interstate system, including mainlines and interchanges. Mainline capacity needs are based primarily on forecasted volume-to-capacity ratios. Interchanges are evaluated using the Interactive Interchange Management System, which considers roadway and bridge characteristics, geometric design, capacity analysis, safety, and benefit-cost analysis.

Back to Top


How are non-interstate needs prioritized?
Non-interstate capacity needs are determined cooperatively between SCDOT, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO), and Councils of Government (COG). Project needs are identified and included in urban and regional long-range plans and prioritized using criteria, such as: current lane volume, forecasted volume, historical traffic growth rate, accident rate, economic development, and environmental and cultural considerations.

Back to Top

Related Links:

Council of Governments
Metropolitan Planning Organization
MPO TIPS
Multimodal Transportation Plan
Public Participation Plan
Statewide Planning
State Priority Projects
State Program Report
Statewide Transportation Improvement Program
Transit Planning