Great question! The MPO oversees the planning and programing of transportation projects in Bowling Green and Warren County. There are nine MPOs across the Commonwealth – all urbanized areas with a population greater than 50,000. In order for a transportation project to receive federal funding, each project phase must funnel through the MPO prior to being authorized for work to begin on the individual phase. Typically, a project is on the MPO’s project “wish list”, which equips the MPO and its partners to rank, score, and recommend projects for funding (via the Highway Plan). Getting projects funded in the bi-annual Highway Plan is a competitive process, where each MPO or Area Development District and Highway District Office are allocated a set number of projects for potential funding. The final decisions on which projects receive funding are up to the legislators. Once a project receives funding, it must go through the following phases: planning, design, right-of-way, utility, and construction.
With the completion of prioritizing projects through SHIFT 2020, the MPO is in the beginning stages of a transportation study on the US 31W Bypass. This study will analyze the feasibility of a road diet (lane reduction) on the Bypass between the roundabout at University Boulevard/Loving Way and Lehman Avenue. While the Bypass is a widely used corridor, this section poses safety concerns with narrow travel lanes, close proximity to utility poles, numerous access points (entries/exits), and frequent left turns. Should the study prove that a road diet be successful on this section of roadway, the four travel lanes would be reduced to three – one through lane in each direction and a shared middle turn lane. Through this study, the MPO is looking for low-cost safety and mobility improvements that can be implemented in the next five years. While we all know the Bypass could use some serious improvements – relocating utility poles, improved sidewalks, and a bit of revitalization – those are big ticket projects that require a substantial amount of funds. It’s easy to think the solution to traffic problems will be to widen the roadway, but often times we have to be creative with roadway improvements, considering limited funds, roadway characteristics, travel patterns, and the context (land use) of the area.
Additionally, the MPO is working to update its long-range transportation plan, the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP). The 2045 MTP will look at the future of our transportation system for all users – motorists, freight, public transportation, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Through this process, the MPO will solicit public input through a variety of methods including online surveys, community meetings/forums, and the submission of written comments. The MPO uses public input to guide the priorities of the Plan, such as projects to achieve over the next 25 years and other creative strategies to improve the transportation system in Bowling Green and Warren County. Not to mention, our population is projected to surpass 200,000 by 2050!