Each governmental unit and transportation agency in Washington and Benton County participates in transportation planning. The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and public transportation providers are also part of the transportation planning process. A Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) develops the technical aspects of plans and reports and makes recommendations to the Commission. TAC members are typically professionals who are involved in the technical side of transportation. Final decisions rest with the MPO board.
These documents are the principal MPO products:
- The Unified Work Program (UPWP) which is produced each year,
- The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) developed every four years, and
- The Long Range Regional Transportation Plan (LRTP) which is updated every five years to insure a 20 years horizon
- The Public Participation Plan – which outlines the process for public involvement procedures
The Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) outlines the MPO’s annual work activities.
The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) contains all commitments for state and federal transportation funding for a four year period in the two-county area. In developing the TIP, the TAC and the Commission review projects from the Long Range Transportation Plan developed through a cooperative effort with AHTD, cities, counties, citizens, and transit providers . After discussion and consideration of public comments, the TAC recommends a four-year listing of projects to the Commission for approval. This is an important document because no Federal expenditures can be made on transportation facilities within the two-county area unless they are listed in the TIP. The TIP is a major tool for shaping The Region’s transportation infrastructure.
The current 2030 Long Range Transportation Plan was developed through a public process in 2005 and 2006. This Plan provides a long range comprehensive look at the Region’s transportation needs and implementation strategies considering financial constraints. The Plan is undergoing a major update in 2010 and early 2011. All three of these planning documents are available at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission.
Long Range Transportation Plan Implementation: The TAC Work Group continues to meet in order to work towards implementation of the recommendations set forth by the 2030 Northwest Arkansas Regional Transportation Plan. These recommendations include, but are not limited to:
- Promoting access management concepts
- Exploring alternative funding sources
- Encouraging and explore transportation alternatives
- Continuing refinement of a regional arterial network
- Locating and highlighting essential right-of-way (ROW) needs and encouraging jurisdictions to protect these ROWs
- Maintaining regional unity toward funding projects of regional significance
- Developing an environmental GIS database
Other programs and committees included in the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission Transportation Program are:
- Trails (Heritage and Regional Bike/Ped Trails
- Sustainable Mobility (Includes Rideshare)
- Northwest Arkansas Travel Demand Model