Transportation

In Pennsylvania, the responsibility for maintaining our roads and bridges rests with our state and local governments. In Erie County, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation owns and maintains the Interstates (90, 79 and 86), U.S. Highways (20, 19, 6 and 6N), and state routes. The remaining roadway network, as well as all traffic signals, are owned and maintained by the individual municipal governments.

In addition to our roadways and bridges, the transportation network in Erie County includes Class I and short-line railroads, daily passenger train service, an industrial port, a commercial airport, a countywide public transit system and a network of cycling and recreation trails.

While the actual construction, maintenance and repair of the transportation system are performed by these various companies, government agencies and authorities; the Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development plays a significant role in coordinating these organizations, developing plans and studies, providing technical assistance and data analysis, engaging the general public and stakeholders, and prioritizing transportation funding for projects in our area.

Federal Transportation Planning

Transportation planning is a cooperative process designed to encourage involvement by all users of the transportation system, including the business community, community groups, environmental organizations, the traveling public, freight operators and the general public, through a proactive public participation process conducted by the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), state Department of Transportation and transit operators.

Transportation planning includes a number of steps:

  • Monitoring existing conditions
  • Forecasting future population and employment growth, including assessment of projected land uses in the region and identification of major growth areas
  • Identifying current and projected future transportation problems and needs and analyzing, through detailed planning studies, various transportation improvement strategies to address those needs
  • Developing long-range plans and short-range programs of alternative capital improvement and operational strategies for moving people and goods
  • Estimating the impact of recommended future improvements to the transportation system on environmental features, including air quality
  • Developing a financial plan for securing sufficient revenues to cover the costs of implementing strategies.

Federal Transportation Planning Requirements

The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1962 required that all urbanized areas having a population of 50,000 or more designate a single agency to administer federal transportation funds. The agencies that were established are called Metropolitan Planning Organizations. According to federal law, the activities of an MPO must provide a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive transportation planning process. The MPO has the primary role and responsibility in ensuring that the transportation planning process is being carried out in accordance with current federal and state regulations.

Primary Planning Responsibilities

Erie County government does not own or maintain any transportation infrastructure, but the Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development does provide technical assistance to residents, local organizations and municipal governments to help address transportation concerns and better plan for improvements. The department is also responsible for maintaining the Erie County Long Range Transportation Plan and administrating and coordinating the federal transportation planning process on behalf of the Erie MPO.

There are five key documents required by the federal transportation planning process, which the Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development assists the Erie MPO and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in developing.

  • Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP)
  • Erie County Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)
  • Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)
  • Statewide Long Range Transportation Plan (SLRTP)
  • Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)

The Erie MPO Long Range Transportation Plan is also adopted by Erie County Council as the transportation element of the Erie County Comprehensive Plan.

Transportation Improvement Program

In the Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP, the Erie MPO identifies the transportation projects and strategies from the Long Range Transportation Plan that it plans to undertake over the next four years. All projects receiving federal funding must be in the TIP. The TIP is the region’s way of allocating its limited transportation resources among the various capital improvements, maintenance responsibilities, and operating needs of the area.

Under federal law, the TIP:

  • Covers a minimum four-year period of investment
  • Is updated at least every four years (two years in Pennsylvania);
  • Is realistic in terms of available funding and is not just a “wish list” of projects
  • Conforms with the state’s air quality plan in non-attainment and maintenance areas
  • Is approved by the MPO and the governor
  • Is incorporated directly, without change, into the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)

While the TIP is only approved every two years, the Erie MPO may amend the TIP to change funding levels for projects, remove projects and/or add new projects as necessary. Amending the TIP requires a majority vote of the Coordinating Committee and must be voted on at a public meeting.

2017-2020 TIP (Current TIP)

Project list and associated documents as enacted in spring 2016: