A blend of State and Federal processes that provide the transportation planning structure for New Hampshire. Federal regulations require MPOs to adopt project specific Long Range Transportation Plans (LRTPs) and short-range Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPs). Additionally, the MPO, as a Regional Planning Commission, plays a legislatively mandated role (NH RSA 240:3) in establishing priority projects for the State Ten Year Plan. These three documents form the backbone of the transportation planning process in New Hampshire and provide a path for projects to move from concept (MPO LRTP①), through project development (State Ten Year Plan - ②), and to implementation (TIP/STIP - ③).The Ten Year Plan is required to be updated every two years and the TIP and LRTP have been incorporated into this cycle to merge the state and federal processes with the MPO drawing project priorities from the LRTP to feed into the Ten Year Plan, and the first four years of the most recently approved Ten Year Plan serving as the basis from which the TIP and STIP are constructed.
The MPO follows the generally structure and time frame below to establish Ten Year Plan priorities:
Solicitation for Projects (Summer – Even Years): The MPO requests projects from communities and transit agencies during the summer of even years. New proposals are compiled with existing projects already in the MPO LRTP.
Project Development and Classification (Fall – Even Years): Projects are classified into three categories based on the scale of benefits (local, regional, inter-regional - see below), project information is reviewed, and costs are updated where feasible. Those projects that are not ready (no cost estimate for example), or not needed at this time, are set aside for consideration in future cycles. The remaining projects proceed to evaluation by the project selection criteria.
Evaluation & Draft Priorities (Fall – Even Years): A set of project evaluation criteria developed by NHDOT and the nine regional planning commissions are used to prioritize projects for inclusion in the Ten Year Plan. These fifteen criteria address eight areas of consideration: Economic Development; Equity, Environmental Justice, & Accessibility; Mobility; Natural Hazard Resiliency; Network Significance; Safety; State of Repair; and Support, and an overview of each is below. The MPO evaluates each project against these criteria and establishes a draft priority for each of the three project groupings (local, regional, inter-regional). The top projects from each group are then presented to the MPO to constrain to a budgetary target as a candidate project list for evaluation by NHDOT. The specific process that the RPC uses is included in the section below providing guidance and detailing the current iteration of this cycle.
NHDOT Engineering/Cost review of Candidate Projects (Winter – Odd Years):The list of candidate projects is submitted to NHDOT along with documentation for engineering and cost estimate review. This is intended to identify projects with infeasible scopes or wildly inaccurate cost estimates prior to setting a finalized list of priorities from the regions. This will help avoid the multiple revisions that were made last time and ensure that what is proposed in the end is consistent with the budget target.
Finalize list of Ten Year Plan Priorities (Spring – Odd Years):Once NHDOT has completed the review of candidate projects, the information is passed back to the MPO for establishing final priorities and constraining to the budgetary target. NHDOT has committed to incorporating MPO priority projects as presented into the draft Ten Year Plan up to the budget target amount of funding. The projects still must be vetted through the remainder of the Ten Year Plan adoption process along with all others in the document.
NHDOT produces a draft of the Ten Year Plan during the summer of odd numbered years and begins the wider public involvement process through the hearings held by the Governor's Advisory Council on Intermodal Transportation (GACIT) that occur in September and October. These are followed by a revised draft Ten Year Plan that is approved by GACIT and sent to the Governor for review in December. In January, the Governor revises the GACIT draft and submits the document to the Legislature for review and approval which generally occurs during the spring session in even numbered years. The Ten Year Plan bill is signed by the Governor during the summer of even numbered years and the plan goes into effect at that time.
2020-21 Project Solicitation & Selection Process
By September 1, 2020, communities and transportation agencies need to confirm via email (email@example.com) or letter from City Council/Selectboard or Community/Agency Administrator the following:
That any projects in the MPO Long Range Transportation Plan from your community or agency remain local priorities (please include any updated information available). See project lists below under "2020-2021 Project Application Guidance"
If there are multiple projects listed for your community, please establish the relative priority of each.
If an important transportation issue has been identified but no specific project has been developed, please include a discussion of the issue in the letter.
Finally, if there are new project proposals to submit for consideration, please complete an application form by following the link (hosted by Microsoft forms).
Current State Ten Year Plan on (NHDOT Website) - This is the NHDOT website providing the details on current and past Ten Year Plans including drafts at various stages of approval, public hearing details, and other considerations.
The project application form is linked below. The form should be self-explanatory and there is contact information on the form itself if assistance is needed. Any new project being proposed should utilize this form.
Communities and regional transit agencies were asked to submit project proposals to the MPO by September 1, 2020. All projects submitted to the RPC will be incorporated into the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) provided they are eligible for federal funding and align with the vision, goals, and objectives of the LRTP. Projects will then be prioritized to be added to the State Ten Year Plan. The project prioritization process involves several steps:
Step 1:Project Development & Classification (August – September 2020)
All projects in the LRTP are classified into three categories based on the scale of impacts and benefits (local, regional, inter-regional - see Table 1 below). Information is reviewed and updated for projects already in the LRTP and new projects are classified and added to the database.
Table 1: Project Classification
Step 2: Determining Feasibility (September 2020)
For each project, the MPO must make a determination of feasibility and eligibility for funding in the Ten Year Plan. Several aspects of each project are considered:
The project must have a defined scope and cost estimate.
There is a clear need for project in the next ten years.
The approach to addressing the transportation issue is reasonable given existing resources.
The project is eligible for federal funds and is likely to receive necessary resource agency permits.
There is clear evidence of local support/priority.
Step 3: Scoring Projects (September 2020)
Each project is measured against the set of criteria that have been agreed upon by NHDOT and the nine New Hampshire Regional Planning Commissions. These criteria are grouped into the eight categories shown in Table 2 and the criteria are weighted for consideration according the distribution shown in Table 3. The weights shown for the criteria were determined through a priority setting exercise finalized at the RPC TAC meeting on July 23, 2020 and approved by the MPO on August 12, 2020. Scores are assessed using available data and best judgement to apply the selection criteria to each project using the scale in Table 4. Projects are evaluated based on understanding of both need and expected impact, and those with higher need and/or higher impact will receive more points. Once each project is given a score for each criterion, the total weighted score for each project is calculated based on the weights and classification of the project shown in Table 3.
Projects will be assessed and scored by RPC staff using the weights for each criterion at each scale shown in Table 3, and the results will be brought to the MPO TAC meeting on September 24, 2020 for discussion and candidate project selection. Staff will present the top five (at minimum) local, regional, and inter-regional projects to the TAC for consideration as candidate projects for the 2023-2032 Ten Year Plan. From those projects, the TAC will select a draft list of candidate projects recommended to the MPO Policy Committee, up to the regional budget target (approximately $6.6 million) plus one to two projects. The MPO Policy Committee will meet on October 14, 2020 to discuss and approve a final candidate list of projects submitted to NHDOT for engineering and cost review by November 6, 2020. NHDOT engineering and cost review will be completed in January/February, 2021 and the MPO will assess project recommendations based on that review, constrain the draft list to the budget target, and make final recommendations for the 2023-2032 State Ten Year Plan in February (2/25/21 TAC) and March, 2021 (3/10/21 Policy).
Step 5: NHDOT Review (November 2020 – February 2021)
By November 6, 2020, the MPO must submit a single list of candidate projects to NHDOT for engineering and cost review. NHDOT will examine both the feasibility of the proposal as well as the reasonableness of the cost estimate. Some adjustments to the project cost or scope may be recommended.
Step 6:Final Prioritization (February – March 2021)
NHDOT project cost and engineering review will be completed in January/February 2021 and recommendations returned to the MPO. The MPO TAC will meet on February 25, 2021 to make a final recommendation on project priorities to the MPO Policy Committee. The Policy Committee will meet on March 10, 2021 to approve the MPO recommendations for the 2023-2032 State Ten Year Plan and these will be submitted to NHDOT by April 1, 2021.