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Connecticut

Number of Regional Councils of Governments serving rural areas: 2 Total annual funding: $176,250 (80% federal funds from FHWA SPR and FTA Planning, 10% state match, 10% local match) Date established rural transportation planning program: 1990sThe Connecticut DOT (CTDOT) has long partnered with the state’s regional councils of governments (RCOGs) to conduct regional transportation planning activities.  In 2014, Connecticut’s original 15 regional planning organizations (serving both the rural and metropolitan areas of the state) underwent an analysis and consolidation process, resulting in the nine organizations serving the state today.  The new law required that each of the new regions be formulated as councils of governments. Of these, seven serve as MPOs for the urbanized areas in their service area, but two are located in non-MPO areas and provide regional nonmetropolitan planning under contract to CTDOT, using state-provided funds.

The rural transportation planning activities of the two rural RCOGs include developing a unified planning work program describing the planning tasks to be completed, including each region’s long-range transportation plan, planning and technical assistance to towns, and facilitating local-state dialogue regarding implementing transportation priorities.  They develop and implement public participation plans to ensure broad outreach occurs throughout the planning process, in addition to completing Title VI, public participation plans, and Limited English Proficiency plans.

Map of Connecticut showing OPM Redesignated Planning Regions

Click to enlarge (Courtesy Connecticut Office of Policy and Management)

The two rural RCOGs review and act on the STIP in an advisory capacity.  Updating functional classification of roadways based on land use and change is completed together with CTDOT, and the rural agencies assist member towns with developing transportation projects and conduct traffic counts and other assistance as requested.  The RCOGs complete a coordinated public transit human services transportation plan and support transit planning to enhance connections among existing services.  The RCOGs also support scenic byways work through updating corridor management plans for byways.[1]

Their planning activities are aligned with other regional plans, including the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies and Regional Plan of Conservation and Development.  The RCOGs also coordinate with agencies such as workforce boards, economic partnerships, and regional transportation consortia. The long-range planning efforts for both the Northeastern Connecticut and Northwest Hills regions are multimodal and connect mobility issues with safety, livability, and economic development.[2]

For the Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (NECCOG), GIS plays a central role in its planning activities.  Routing for the Northeastern Connecticut Transit District, developing trail maps, site plan design for transportation projects, build-out analysis to support land use decision-making, and integrated vehicle and pedestrian count information supplement the region’s data layers available to towns and residents.[3]

The rural regions complete public involvement throughout the transportation planning process.  In addition to traditional outreach activities, the RCOGs seek out under-represented populations and targeting private stakeholders and residents for each planning task.[4]

Because the regions served by the nonmetropolitan RCOGs are rural with small towns, the RCOGs play a vital role in providing professional staff support on land use, economic development, housing, and transportation issues.  NECCOG maintains an engineer as an in-house staff position to assist localities with advancing their priority needs, a service which Northwest Hills Council of Governments has also considered.  Services provided to local governments include analyzing transportation needs and various options, bundling road projects to reduce costs, meeting reporting requirements, construction inspection, and other forms of assistance that provide benefits to communities throughout the regions.[5]

These regional planning efforts also benefit CTDOT by assisting in various statewide planning processes.  Providing project inspection and oversight services for town projects, updating functional classifications to reflect changing development conditions and land use, reviewing STIP amendments and actions, and conducting public participation are some of the ways in which the RCOGs also assist in statewide planning.[6]

For more information on the rural transportation planning programs, visit neccog.org and northwesthillscog.org.

[1] Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (2015). 2016 – 2017 Unified Planning Work Program

[2] Northwest Hills Council of Governments (2016). Draft Regional Recommendations, http://northwesthillscog.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Draft-Recs-Regional-Transportation-Plan-June-16-2016.pdf; NECCOG (2015)

[3] NECCOG (2015  )

[4] NECCOG (2015); NHCOG (2016)

[5] NECCOG (2015); NHCOG (2016)

[6] NECCOG (2015)