July 2020
Your SEDA-COG MPO News & Updates
Welcome to the summer 2020 edition of Pathways, a newsletter covering activities related to the SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The SEDA-COG MPO is the official transportation planning organization for eight central Pennsylvania counties: Clinton, Columbia, Juniata, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, and Union.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SEDA-COG's office remains closed at this time, and MPO meetings have been transitioned to virtual formats. Staff are working remotely and are available by phone and email. During these difficult times, we remain focused on the health, safety, and well-being of our staff, partners, and stakeholders.

We hope you enjoy our newsletter! Stay tuned for future editions on a quarterly basis.
Upcoming Meetings & Events
Below are upcoming transportation meetings and events being held in the region. In accordance with state and national guidance for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, meetings are primarily being conducted virtually. PennDOT LTAP has suspended all in-person instruction, but a limited number of virtual classes will be held through the end of 2020 - see the listing here . We will post updated meeting information on our website . For more information, or for links to participate in virtual meetings, contact the SEDA-COG Transportation Planning staff.

August 18, 2020 - Central PA Transportation Coalition
August 20, 2020 - Middle Susquehanna Active Transportation Committee Safety Work Group
August 21, 2020 - SEDA-COG MPO Meeting
August 21, 2020 - Middle Susquehanna Active Transportation Committee Connections Work Group
September 22, 2020 - Middle Susquehanna Active Transportation Committee Community Engagement Work Group
October 9, 2020 - SEDA-COG MPO Meeting
November 18, 2020 - Middle Susquehanna Active Transportation Committee
LTAP Training
COVID-19 Implications
COVID-19 has considerably affected transportation planning, funding and operations. A few highlights include:

Formerly in-person meetings have migrated to virtual meetings using teleconference/videoconference capabilities. The SEDA-COG MPO's public meetings from April and June, along with the May Transportation Improvement Program public meeting, are available as recordings on SEDA-COG's YouTube channel. Upcoming MPO meetings will also be uploaded to this channel .

Funding Programs
Applications for the Multimodal Transportation Fund administered by the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) are usually due by July 31 each year. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the CFA has extended the deadline for Multimodal Transportation Fund submissions to September 30, 2020. Click here for more. The FY 2020-21 PennDOT Multimodal Transportation Fund round grant awards were delayed, but approved projects were announced on July 16, 2020.

PennDOT is implementing the following changes to the Green Light-Go program to address revenue shortfalls in the Motor License Fund resulting from COVID-19:
  • Pending grant applications submitted for Year 6 of the program will not be awarded in 2020 as originally planned;
  • Grant contracts for projects awarded in prior rounds with no work started will be terminated;
  • Projects currently in design will be able to finish design but funding for construction will not be available at this time;
  • Projects with active construction contracts may continue through completion.

Traffic Data
Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) dropped significantly across the MPO region in March and April due to COVID-19 shelter-in-place and other restrictions. The VMT picked up in late April and returned to more normal levels in late June. The below graphic shows VMT by residents of each MPO county, drawn from StreetLight data, from March 4 to June 24, 2020.
Danville Area Transportation Study Completed
The Danville Area Transportation Study (DATS) was completed in June 2020. This study assessed existing transportation conditions within the Greater Danville area and identified issues to be addressed as part of future project development (including through the PennDOT Connects process). A 2040 horizon year was used as the future analysis year. The intent of the study was to create a guide document for PennDOT and the SEDA-COG MPO that points to a listing of multimodal issues and problem statements, with a menu of potential solutions for addressing each. A consultant team led by Michael Baker International, Inc. worked with representatives from SEDA-COG, PennDOT, Montour County, Danville Borough, and Mahoning Township to complete the study report and appendices, which can be found here.
Long Range Transportation Plan Update
Plan Update Underway
Work continues on the 2021 Update of the SEDA-COG MPO Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). Since the update process began, emphasis has been placed on updating the current conditions portion of the existing LRTP. This has included revisions to maps prepared for the 2016 LRTP, as well as creation of new maps. In addition, analysis is being conducted on seven significant issues identified as part of the recently completed SEDA-COG MPO Strategic Plan.

Some recent developments associated with these issues include increased emphasis on transportation performance management, project funding constraints, effects of the COVID-19 crisis on transportation operations, development of alternative fuel and autonomous vehicles, consideration of freight flows, resiliency in responding to extreme weather events and similar occurrences, multimodal, bicycle, and pedestrian transportation, and the effects of the Central Susquehanna Valley Transportation project.

To assist in analyzing these and other factors, consultant teams will be utilized. In succeeding weeks, work will also include continued development of a potential candidate projects list and finalizing a project prioritization protocol that includes public input and participation.

To learn more, contact Don Kiel, senior principal program analyst, at 814-553-8689 or dkiel@seda-cog.org.
2021 Transportation Improvement Program Adopted
The SEDA-COG MPO is responsible for approving funding for highway, bridge, transit, and other transportation projects, through the adoption of a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) that is updated every 2 years. The TIP includes federal, state, and local funds for projects over a 4-year period, within the limits of financial constraint. To be on the TIP, projects must also be consistent with the region's Long Range Transportation Plan.

The SEDA-COG MPO works closely with PennDOT and local officials to develop the TIP. Following a 30-day public comment period in May, the new 2021-2024 TIP was adopted by the MPO on June 19, 2020. The TIP contains 229 projects valued at $376 million over the next four years. The 2021 TIP documents were submitted to PennDOT for approval, and the new TIP will become effective on October 1, 2020. The TIP documents can be found here.
Federal Transportation Funding Legislation
New Legislation Taking Shape
The current federal surface transportation law, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), expires on September 30, 2020. In response, on July 1, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a long-term transportation authorization known as the INVEST in America Act - as part of a larger infrastructure bill called the Moving Forward Act.

The INVEST Act would authorize funds for Federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, transit programs, rail programs, and for other purposes. The INVEST Act authorizes more than $300 billion towards road and bridge needs, more than $100 billion for transit projects, and nearly $30 billion for Amtrak needs. The bill is now under consideration in the U.S. Senate. A separate federal stimulus bill for transportation infrastructure is also under consideration in Congress. We will continue to monitor legislative developments and report updates in this newsletter.

A Fact Sheet on the Moving Forward Act can be found here.
Active Transportation Committee Update
New Committee Keeps Rolling
The Middle Susquehanna Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan was adopted by the SEDA-COG MPO in May 2019. To help implement this Plan, the SEDA-COG MPO and the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership formed a Middle Susquehanna Active Transportation Committee. The Committee's mission is to enhance quality of life in the Middle Susquehanna Valley through the development of a regional network of walkable and bikeable communities and the promotion of a bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly culture. The Committee and its work groups on Safety, Connections, and Community Engagement are diligently laboring on multiple fronts to implement the Plan's action items, goals, and overarching vision.

A few early successes include:

  • Helping communities pursue funding from DCNR and WalkWorks grant opportunities to further active transportation in our region;
  • Developing a social media presence for the Committee that will be launching in July;
  • Partnering with Walk it! Bike it! Lewisburg to host a community meeting that shared information about the adopted Middle Susquehanna Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan;
  • Developing a new vehicle sticker/decal that will be printed and distributed in the coming months to encourage safe driving and sharing of the road with bicyclists.

To learn more, contact Katherine Lewis, program analyst, at klewis@seda-cog.org.
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