Section I: Vision
Our region is changing. Our population is changing; our economy is changing; our environment is changing; our technology is changing. And the way we need to make things happen is changing. This regional plan focuses on the SmartMoves we can make to take charge of change and make our region a better place for all.
The Regional Vison
The Regional Vision is a world-class, safe and well maintained, integrated transportation system that provides mobility for all, enables resilient communities, and supports a globally competitive economy.
Our Region's Goals
- CONNECTED MOBILITY - A world-class, safe and well maintained, integrated transportation system that provides mobility for all.
- RESILIENT COMMUNITIES - The revitalization of our communities will make us a magnet for new investment. Intensive investments in connectivity, walkable neighborhoods, and green infrastructure will attract business and residents to newer and older communities alike.
- GLOBALLY COMPETITIVE ECONOMY - Strategic infrastructure investments and workforce training will make the region recognized as a global leader in technology and innovation.
The Regional Vision means taking advantage of our considerable existing assets and developing, supporting, and implementing projects and programs that advance our progress. It means investing in regionally-connected, seamless transit, and new transit investments in key corridors and networks. It means developing modern support infrastructure that prepares the region not only for current technological advances, but also for the new technology being advanced in this region.
Section II: Vision To Action
Each of our 3 Major Goals rising from our Vision have Strategies associated with them that set the context for more specific projects, initiatives, and actions that are critical for the success of the changing Southwestern Pennsylvania region. These Goals and Strategies are interrelated and strive to connect the dots between the region, its residents, and opportunity.
A world-class, safe and well maintained, integrated transportation system that provides mobility for all.
Mobility For All - Equity Keeps Us Whole
The future holds great opportunities to achieve seamless mobility across the Southwestern Pennsylvania region.
Cities around the world are working to implement integrated transportation systems, often called “Mobility as a Service” (MaaS) or “Mobility on Demand” (MoD). The US Department of Transportation has supported a number of MoD “sandbox” projects to bring the research into the real world. In the future, a system like this might enable residents to plan a trip using multiple modes.
The current expansion of transportation options, from transit to bikeshare to on-demand services, offers opportunities for increased accessibility among disadvantaged populations, but continued success will require coordinated planning and outreach from policymakers. Transportation accessibility is personal and distinctive for everyone.
Equity is especially essential in public transit because it ensures the more vulnerable population segments are provided the same access to opportunity as other population segments. Transportation services and/or modes must be available, accessible, safe, affordable, convenient, comfortable, easy-to-use, timely, and respectful.
The region-wide transportation network envisioned in this plan includes multiple travel options that not only meet universally-accepted expectations, but also support the health, mobility, activity, and participation of people across their lifespan.
The Regional Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Strategic Action Plan will help to inform, support, and implement expansion of transportation options while helping to reduce the number of single occupancy trips in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region. The TDM plan will define an outcome-driven, performance-based regional approach for TDM strategies and will integrate those strategies into SPC’s existing short and long-range planning efforts and programs.
High Tech Mobility - Emerging Technology
Technology is reshaping the transportation system as we know it. Emerging technologies in mobility are being developed at a rapid pace and will likely continue to do so for many years to come. The region must be nimble and forward-thinking to anticipate and embrace these technologies, as they will play a role in where we live, how we move, and where we work. Partnerships between the public and private sectors, along with our academic institutions, are critical in recognizing and proactively addressing the potential impacts that technology will have in terms of safety, equity, land use, and public sector revenue.
The collection and use of real time data creates an environment that will enable us to maximize the effectiveness of the region’s existing transportation system by monitoring and adapting to conditions in real-time. Implementing connected infrastructure is the first step in preparing for the widespread use of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).
The region has already begun deploying connected infrastructure, primarily through the use of adaptive traffic signal systems on the region’s most heavily traveled corridors. Adaptive signal systems adjust the signal timing in real time to accommodate changing traffic patterns and ease traffic congestion, thereby also increasing safety. There are several corridors in the region where adaptive signal systems are already in operation (3) and more corridors are in the planning and project development stages (18). Transit signal priority systems should be considered when new adaptive systems are implemented in public transit corridors.
The Congestion Management Process (CMP) is a broad, regional level planning tool designed to help manage congestion by identifying congested corridors and recommending multimodal strategies for congestion mitigation that are tailored to each corridor. Many of the recommendations for CMP corridors include technology-based operational improvements, along with demand management and multimodal strategies, to mitigate congestion.
The CMP is coordinated with the Regional Operations Plan (ROP). The ROP is a performance-based approach to planning for operations that involves the development of operations objectives tied to the major Goals and Strategies set forth in the regional plan. These objectives should inform the transportation investment decision-making process, which identifies projects and programs for implementation. This approach is used to address a full range of operational issues, such as traffic congestion, transit operations, emergency response, and integration of transportation services.
Funding and Financing
Stable, reliable funding for infrastructure is critical to the quality of life and economic vitality of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Without predictable funding commitments at all levels, it will become more difficult to maintain our existing system at acceptable levels, invest in new projects and transit services, and to further develop our regional trail networks. Revenues from the federal Highway Trust Fund are declining due to reduced fuel consumption, popularity of electric vehicles, and the continuing reduction in buying power from the state and federal gas tax, which means that new revenue tools may be necessary to fund infrastructure improvements. It is projected that if the Highway Trust Fund insolvency is not remedied, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania could lose approximately $6 billion in federal funding over the next 12 years.
Due to Highway Trust Fund shortfalls, state and local governments are playing an increased role in funding transportation infrastructure. The Pennsylvania state government helped fill some of the gap with Act 89 in 2013. However, certain provisions of Act 89 will sunset in 2022, which could jeopardize public transit funding across the Commonwealth. This sun-setting, along with decreasing revenues from fuel taxes, potential policy and legal decisions, and loss of buying power through inflation, have the potential to leave a $12.5 billion shortfall in state funding over the next 12 years. Increased private sector financing of infrastructure could also play a greater role in future investments, particularly given anticipated decreases in available public financing. In total, over the next twelve years, a total of $18.5 billion in federal and state funds are at risk.
In order to address this funding disparity, additional revenue sources will be needed and, in many cases, support from a variety of stakeholders, including the private sector and the public, will be critical in establishing and sustaining these sources. To assemble this support, a robust educational outreach campaign centered on public infrastructure and its benefits to the economy and communities will be needed.
This campaign will require broad public input and support. It must build the trust of the public through transparency and accountability by making performance-based investment decisions and communicating the benefits to the public, business community, and stakeholders in an effective, easy-to-understand manner.
The revitalization of our communities will make us a magnet for new investment. Intensive investments in connectivity, walkable neighborhoods, and green infrastructure will attract businesses and residents to newer and older communities alike.
Southwestern Pennsylvania is home to communities of all sizes, from the densely populated urban core of the City of Pittsburgh and its suburbs to smaller cities, towns, and villages and sparsely populated rural areas. Each of these places is unique and has a story to tell. Through vision, collaboration, and sound community planning, the stories of these communities can be heard.
With sound community and transportation planning, vacant properties and gray/brownfield sites can be used to spur community development and revitalization. The adaptive reuse of vacant residential, commercial, and industrial properties can help to reduce crime rates, increase the tax base, and combat population loss. By utilizing public policy incentives and lessons learned from other successful post-industrial communities, we can utilize these properties to benefit communities and the region at large.
Apply New and Best Practices
Changing demographics and emerging technologies are changing community development and transportation planning. These Forces of Change are reshaping the way we move, where we want to live, how we purchase goods and services, and how/where we work. Techniques and concepts such as mixed-use development, form-based code, light imprint development, and context-based street design can help communities be nimble and prepared to take advantage of opportunities that spur economic growth and to transform themselves into accessible, sustainable communities.
Pennsylvania offers a number of tax incentives, loans and grant programs that can be used as mechanisms to leverage private sector development and to help communities realize their potential.
Pursue Innovative Ideas and Solutions
Innovations in the way we plan, design, build, and maintain infrastructure projects are changing. State and federal transportation agencies are conducting research and developing new methods to streamline the project delivery process and save resources. For example, PennDOT’s Road Maintenance and Preservation (Road MaP) initiative is using recycled asphalt to repave rural roads. This innovation and others like it are realizing savings in materials and are friendlier to the environment.
Prepare for Changing Weather
Extreme weather events present significant and growing risks to the safety, reliability, effectiveness, and sustainability of communities and infrastructure in our region. In 2018, budgets to respond to infrastructure repairs due to extreme weather events such as flooding and landslides were exceeded by $110 million statewide.
While transportation infrastructure is designed to handle a broad range of impacts based on historic climate, preparing for climate change and extreme weather events is critical to protect the integrity of the transportation system and financial investments.
This plan is reserving $275 million of highway and bridge funding to remediate the effects of extreme weather on our transportation system.
Tackle Climate Change, Air, & Water
The Earth Sustains Us
Climate change can occur from natural processes and factors such as changes in the sun’s intensity, volcanic eruptions, and changes in the ocean’s currents. Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, emissions from agriculture, and emissions generated by changes to land use such as deforestation, urbanization, and desertification, are also contributing to the observed rise in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century.
Combating these changes is a multifaceted, multi-agency endeavor. A broad coalition of stakeholders is needed to identify local/regional risks and tailor strategies in order to achieve the greatest benefit to air quality and the environment. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Pittsburgh both have recently developed Climate Action Plans (CAPs), which could serve as a foundation for a regional plan.
Valuing Our Natural Resources
The region’s natural resources are its greatest asset. These resources contribute to the environmental health as well as the economic health of our region. Conservation is critical to the long term sustainability of those contributions. Southwestern Pennsylvania is home to one of the Commonwealth’s seven Conservation Landscapes, the Laurel Highlands.
Conservation Landscapes are regions bound together by a shared sense of place and identity that come together collaboratively to drive strategic investment and actions around sustainability, conservation, community revitalization, and recreational projects. These collaborations are found in regions where there are strong natural assets, local readiness and buy-in, and state-level investment and support.
Conservation not only protects plants, birds, and animals, but it also helps to protect us. Good planning, conservation and management of our resources can provide protection from natural disasters, such as floods and drought, as well as protecting our regional food sources.
Take Care Of Water
Water issues such as sewage, water quality, water quantity, stormwater drainage, flooding, and watershed protection are closely interrelated and should be examined holistically. The region should support the integration of stormwater management decisions into local planning, municipal operations, budgeting, data and information sharing, and transportation planning and programming.
Again, with many of the other recommendations and Strategies presented in this plan, planning holistically to address water issues is a multifaceted, multi-agency effort that will require close collaboration among stakeholders and government entities. County and municipal governments should be aware of how local decisions can affect access for other users and ensure the region’s water remains a vital environmental, economic, and recreational asset.
Reduce GHG Emissions
With the transportation sector becoming the greatest contributor to GHG emissions (approximately 29% of total) in the United States, it is imperative that the region prioritizes programs and projects that work to reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing GHGs in the transportation sector will be a multifaceted, multi-agency endeavor.
Transportation agencies, local governments and the private sector should work together to provide mobility options for the region’s residents to reduce VMT for single-occupancy vehicles through complete streets policies and other transportation demand management (TDM) activities and programs that improve air quality. As the use of electric vehicles expands in the region, in private and freight related vehicles as well as multimodal options, the benefits to the environment can be advanced by the strategic placement of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Potential sites for additional plug in charging stations could include multi-unit residences, workplaces, retail locations, institutional parking facilities, and strategic locations along highway corridors such as truck stops, convenience stores and hotels. This plan reserves nearly $940 million through its competitive funding programs (CMAQ, TA Set-Aside and SMART) to implement these types of improvements and to support this Strategy.
SPC and its planning partners will uphold our long-standing policy to select projects for CMAQ funding that realize the greatest benefit to air quality.
Globally Competitive Economy
Strategic infrastructure investments and workforce training will make the region recognized as a global leader in technology and innovation.
As the region looks to the future and the economic opportunities it can provide to its residents, it will need to make SmartMoves to maximize opportunities. Actively addressing workforce, infrastructure, energy, and technology are critical to ensuring the entire region can reach its potential for everyone to have equal opportunities for success.
How we approach workforce to match skills and meet demand; how we transform our infrastructure into an asset rather than a risk; how quickly and widely we adopt and deploy existing and new technologies; and, how we capitalize on the energy sector will determine if this region is globally competitive. The answers rely on us making SmartMoves for strategic infrastructure investments and workforce training that will make the region recognized as a global leader in technology and innovation.
Grow, Train, & Retrain
Workforce For Change
The region may not have enough eligible workforce candidates to fill the jobs of the future. This Strategy focuses on increasing the candidate market or “end size” to meet future workforce demands. For the region to be successful it will require that we form what may be seen as non-traditional partnerships for action. This strategy seeks to increase the size of the region’s workforce in general and for the sectors and occupations of high demand through traditional and new innovative actions.
The region’s workforce will need continuous training and retraining beginning in high school through college and continuing to incumbent workers. The region will need to prepare the workforce for emerging industry demands in growing future industries like Additive Manufacturing and Artificial Intelligence. Industry 4.0 will require different skills and we need to prepare the region’s workforce to remain competitive. This Strategy recognizes and focuses on the need to provide training and retraining not only for existing jobs, but also for the job market of the future.
Promoting Job Readiness
Teach them how to show up to work every day and on time. Teach basic communication and problem-solving skills and we will train them how to operate our machines.
A number of participants in our plan development process expressed this sentiment. This Strategy focuses on implementation steps that provide the workforce with the needed soft skills, like communication and problem-solving, and working with industries to develop systems that allow them to provide the customized job training.
Prioritize, Improve, Support
Infrastructure Supports Us
This Strategy focuses on coordinated infrastructure investments that are strategically selected for their potential impact on the regional and local economy. Coordinated investments often yield the greatest impact and often lend themselves to alternative funding methods like public/private partnerships and other value capture financing tools.
Smart Technology Can Streamline Costs
Infrastructure plays a vital role in the economy of a region. This Strategy is focused on reducing the cost and maximizing the benefit of infrastructure through the use of technology. From the material sciences to artificial intelligence, emerging technologies can change the economics of infrastructure investments to provide maximum benefit.
Partner and Deploy
Technology Advances Us
Innovation and technology continue to change the way industries, companies, businesses, and individuals communicate and perform. This Strategy focuses on building active partnerships to identify new technologies and assess their relevance to keep this region at the cutting edge of technological innovation.
High Speed Internet For All
Everything from commerce to education relies on access to high speed internet service. This Strategy focuses on providing high speed internet access to our entire region to help make communities economically competitive and able to participate in the global economy.
Section III: A Foundation For Moving Forward
The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Local Development District (LDD), and Economic Development District (EDD) for Southwestern Pennsylvania. In these roles, SPC is the leader in regional planning for Southwestern Pennsylvania and is charged with developing both the regional long range transportation plan and the comprehensive economic development strategy.
Foundation: SPC Role
SPC’s planning area encompasses the ten counties of Southwestern Pennsylvania and their connections to points beyond the region. The planning process addresses surface transportation needs for roadways, bridges, and public transit; travel by automobile, truck, buses, trains, bicycle, or walking; issues with safety, accessibility, and mobility; and, access to work, school, shopping, recreation, and our homes.
The long range plan is one of the core products of SPC’s cooperative, coordinated and comprehensive (3c) metropolitan transportation planning process. In Summer 2017, the SPC Executive Committee charged the region’s county planning directors to create a Long Range Plan Task Force with diverse expertise to develop a new planning process. Based on direction from the Task Force, SPC developed Expert Resource Panels to identify and examine trends and Forces of Change that are impacting the region today and will continue to impact the region in the future. SPC staff, working with the planning directors, took the direction and feedback given by its Task Force, and advanced the new planning process to create a holistic, state-of-the-practice plan that will enable the region to collaboratively work together and advance Southwestern Pennsylvania forward.
At the direction of the SPC Executive Committee, the Regional Policy Advisory Committee, and the Commission as a whole, we worked collaboratively with stakeholders and the public throughout the region to create a Regional Vision, Goals, and Strategies that move the region forward in a holistic positive direction. These Strategies, along with the foundation of the Ten Federal Planning Factors and the National Performance Goals, guide the investments and priorities for state and federal transportation investments over the next 25 years. This will ensure the projects and programs contained in the plan will work in concert to assist the Southwestern Pennsylvania region achieve its desired vision for the future.
Transportation Performance Management
The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act include performance management requirements. Performance-based planning will ensure that SPC and PennDOT collectively invest federal transportation funds efficiently towards achieving national, as well as state and regional goals.
Transportation Performance Management (TPM) is a strategic approach that uses system data and information to make investment and policy decisions to achieve performance goals.
SPC has long utilized a comprehensive planning and programming process with a focus on collaboration between PennDOT, FHWA, and planning partners at the county and regional levels. This approach will be applied as part of this long range plan to implement TPM and Performance-Based Planning and Programming (PBPP).
The Clean Air Act
The Clean Air Act establishes National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and assigns certain responsibilities to state and local governments to meet these standards. The US Environmental Protection Agency has promulgated transportation conformity regulations to address Clean Air Act requirements. SPC is responsible under these regulations for testing its long range plan and TIP to ensure that these programs will not deteriorate regional air quality. A summary of SPC’s requirements, conformity process, and findings are explained in detail in Appendix V - Air Quality Conformity Determination.
Civil Rights Act and Environmental Justice
Executive Order 12898 mandates federal agencies to incorporate Environmental Justice (EJ) analysis in their policies, programs, and activities. Building from the framework of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ensures nondiscrimination in federal programs, EJ directives address how low-income and minority populations are affected by the actions of the federal government. The federal Title VI Program is broader than the Title VI statute and encompasses other nondiscrimination statutes and authorities under its umbrella, including Executive Order 12898 on EJ. The analysis and findings of the SmartMoves Environmental Justice Report are found in Appendix VI of this plan.
Federal regulations require a fiscally-constrained transportation plan (23 CFR Part 450.324 and 49 USC Chapter 53). There must be a reasonable expectation that sufficient revenue (federal, state, and local matching funds) will be available to cover the total cost of projects identified in the fiscally-constrained portion of the long range plan. Appendix IV includes project lists, revenues, and the methodology used to forecast revenues that are reasonably expected to be available through 2045.
Public engagement throughout the development of the long range plan provides important opportunities for the public, planning partners, and interested parties to share information, ideas, needs, and priorities as we work together to build our region’s future. SPC’s Public Participation Program offers a variety of opportunities for any interested party to engage in the regional transportation planning process. SPC brings planning directly to our member counties through Public Participation Panels, which are comprised of more than 300 individuals reflecting the demographic diversity, needs, and concerns of communities throughout our 10-county region. The Panels help to conduct outreach, identify needs and resources, suggest alternatives, and assist in the evaluation of implementation strategies in the planning process. The Panels hosted public meetings in each of our 10 counties throughout the process. The SPC public participation process is outlined and detailed in its adopted Public Participation Plan.
There were two rounds of ten public meetings held – one in Fall 2018 to gather input on the plan and one in Spring 2019 to present the draft plan.
Full documentation of public outreach activities associated with development of SmartMoves for a Changing Region is included in the Public Participation Report (Appendix X), which is produced upon conclusion of the formal 30-day public comment period.
The Public Participation Report summarizes all public engagement activities undertaken as a part of the development for this plan, not just the engagement conducted and input received through the required formal 30-day comment period. It includes all public meeting schedules and meeting locations, and copies of public advertisements identifying provisions for persons with disabilities and/or needs related to sight, hearing, or language.
There were two rounds of ten public meetings held – one in Fall 2018 to gather input for the plan and one in Spring 2019 (required by federal guidelines and the SPC Public Participation Plan) to present the draft plan. The report includes a summary of the public comments submitted during the formal 30-day public comment period, SPC’s response to these comments and the full text of written and electronic comments received through the public participation process.
The report also includes the results of the two public surveys used to gather input, and maps depicting the geographic distribution of the respondents. It also provides statistics on the number of points of engagement SPC received through its online outreach – conducted throughout the planning process.
Moving Forward: Implementation
SmartMoves for a Changing Region defines the Regional Vision and Major Goals and Strategies developed through a collaborative regional planning process that identifies transportation, community, and economic development needs and priorities. Transportation focused strategies, resulting in infrastructure improvement projects and related programs, are implemented in a number of ways, primarily through the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which provides the bulk of the region’s transportation investment funds. These TIP programs are supplemented by other federal, state and local transportation investments, including those made by the US Department of Transportation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and PennDOT’s Central Office in Harrisburg. The regional TIP (and statewide STIP) is updated on a regular basis to reflect current funding levels and priorities.
SPC’s Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) identifies transportation planning priorities and activities that will be carried out each year, including the implementation of specific Strategies and Actions contained in this plan. Federal transportation legislation authorizes planning funds so that regional planning organizations are able to fulfill the federal planning requirements (23 U.S.C. 134 and 135, 49 U.S.C. 5303-5304, and 23 CFR part 450) and to conduct the regional transportation planning that advances local priorities set forth in the long range planning process. The tasks to update federally required planning and programming documents such as the TIP, the Congestion Management Process, the Human Services Coordinated Transportation Plan, and the region’s Safety Action Plan and the Regional Operations Plan are identified.
Also identified are the tasks to be undertaken and the partners needed to advance the implementation of specific Strategies and Actions depicted in previous sections of this plan. Example tasks to implement the Strategies could include initiatives such as creating holistic visions for corridors of regional significance; the development of a best practices resource center; development of a regional plan to tackle climate change; planning to revitalize communities throughout the region; conducting public outreach to raise awareness of the need for increased transportation funding and the public benefits therein; and the examination of how to increase coordination and linkages between regional transit providers.
SPC intends on continuing the broad collaboration and engagement conducted during this long range plan development process to develop the projects, programs, and initiatives that will be advanced through regional partnerships across Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Title VI Notice
The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) hereby gives public notice that it is the policy of the Commission to assure full compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice, and related statutes and regulations in all programs and activities.
Title VI and other related statutes require that no person in the United States of America shall, on the grounds of race, color, sex, national origin, age, or disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity for which SPC receives federal financial assistance.
Any person who believes they have been aggrieved by an unlawful discriminatory practice by SPC under Title VI has a right to file a formal complaint with the Commission. Any such complaint must be in writing and filed with SPC’s Title VI Coordinator within one hundred eighty (180) days following the date of the alleged discriminatory occurrence.
For more information, or to obtain a Title VI Discrimination Complaint Form, please see our website at: www.spcregion.org or call 412-391-5590.