MVRPC aims to form group with Shelby, Darke and Preble counties


By Kyle Shaner - kshaner@sidneydailynews.com



SIDNEY – The Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission is courting Shelby County to join what it hopes will be Ohio’s newest Regional Transportation Planning Organization.

Brian O. Martin, executive director of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, and Ana Ramirez, director of transportation planning and funding, met with the Shelby County commissioners Tuesday morning to pitch their idea of forming a Regional Transportation Planning Organization with Shelby, Darke and Preble counties.

“I think it will better connect our region,” Martin said to the commissioners. “It would certainly bring you all in as a player on our MVRPC board of directors.”

Ohio has six Regional Transportation Planning Organizations, including one for Logan and Champaign counties. The organizations aim to strengthen rural partnerships and collaboration, enhance project prioritization and delivery, and improve the overall statewide transportation planning process.

The Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission began to pursue the formation of a new Regional Transportation Planning Organization after the village of Versailles joined its organization. It initially sought to have Darke and Preble counties in the new Regional Transportation Planning Organization before adding Shelby County to its plans after receiving a recommendation from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Shelby County seemed like a good fit because of its connections to Darke County plus its connections to Miami County, which is part of a Metropolitan Planning Organization with Greene, Montgomery and northern Warren counties that the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission manages.

As part of a Regional Transportation Planning Organization, Darke, Preble and Shelby counties would have a dedicated planner who would help develop long range transportation plans, would help with transportation improvement programs and would help identify needed safety projects. The communities also would receive data including information about traffic volume and crashes.

As it stands, Shelby County works with Michelle Caserta-Bixler, mobility manager at Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley, for its public transit planning. Martin said Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission also works with Caserta-Bixler and would continue receiving assistance from her.

Beyond public transit, the Regional Transportation Planning Organization could help with other transportation priorities including roads, bridges, bike paths, pedestrian walkways and more. It also would help pursue federal and state funding, including potentially a share of $2.6 million that has been proposed for Regional Transportation Planning Organizations in the state transportation budget.

Commissioner Tony Bornhorst asked if the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission could help Shelby County get funding to connect its bike paths with Miami County, which Martin said could be a possibility.

Based on 2010 census numbers, Martin estimated Shelby County would owe approximately $3,082 in annual dues if it would join the Regional Transportation Planning Organization.

Darke County has committed to joining the Regional Transportation Planning Organization. Preble County, which is a member of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, is considering the proposal to join the organization.

Martin also plans to meet with officials from the city of Sidney about joining the Regional Transportation Planning Organization. Ramirez encouraged the commissioners to discuss the plan with villages and groups in Shelby County.

The commissioners said they would seek out input from others, including current and potential members, about the proposal.

For more information about the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, visit www.mvrpc.org.

By Kyle Shaner

kshaner@sidneydailynews.com

Reach the writer at kshaner@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at kshaner@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4824.