Transportation helps shape an area’s economic health and quality of life. Not only does the transportation system provide for the mobility of people and goods, it also influences patterns of growth and economic activity through accessibility to land. Furthermore, the performance of the system affects such public policy concerns as air quality, environmental resource consumption, social equity, smart growth, economic development, safety, and security.
A metropolitan planning organization, or MPO, is a transportation policy-making organization made up of representatives from local government and transportation authorities. Federal legislation passed in the early 1970s required the formation of an MPO for any urbanized area with a population greater than 50,000. MPOs were created in order to ensure that existing and future expenditures for transportation projects and programs were based on a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive planning process. Federal funding for transportation projects and programs are channeled through this planning process.
In accordance with federal regulations, the MPO is required to carry out metropolitan transportation planning in cooperation with the state and with operators of publicly owned transit services. The MPO approves the transportation plan. Both the governor and the MPO approve the TIP. In nonattainment or maintenance areas for air quality, the MPO is responsible for coordinating transportation and air quality planning.
Most MPOs are not the actual implementing agencies for projects, but must provide an overall coordination role in planning and programming funds for projects and operations.
The MACC metropolitan area’s designation as an air quality nonattainment area creates additional requirements for transportation planning. Most importantly, transportation plans, programs, and projects must conform to the state’s air quality plan, known as the State Implementation Plan.
The MACC MACC Metropolitan Area Boundary (MAB) delineates the area included in its transportation program and planning activities.
Transportation planning recognizes the critical links between transportation and other societal goals. Transportation planning in metropolitan areas is a collaborative process, led by the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) and other key stakeholders in the regional transportation system.
Metropolitan transportation planning is the process of examining travel and transportation issues and needs in metropolitan areas. It includes a demographic analysis of the community in question, as well as an examination of travel patterns and trends. The planning process includes an analysis of alternatives to meet projected future demands, and for providing a safe and efficient transportation system that meets mobility needs while not creating adverse impacts to the environment.
The transportation planning process is aided by the development of a 2040 Long Range Transporation Plan that looks at transportation activities for the next 20-30 years and helps to ensure a regionally integrated transportation system, a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) which covers transportation improvements over the next three years and the Unified Work Program (UWP) that details an annual list of tasks and planned expenditures.
The Unified Work Program identifies transportation issues facing the urbanized area and indicates work items to be undertaken to address those issues. These issues have been identified through a joint planning effort of the MACC’s members.
The Area Airport Authority Exploratory Committee, organized by the MACC, first convened on October 29, 2004. The Committee was charged with exploring the advisability and feasibility of forming a Michigan Community Airports Act airport authority to assume operation of Tulip City Airport from the City of Holland.
West Michigan Regional Airport, formerly Tulip City Airport, which began operations in 1940 as a strip of cleared earth amidst a north Allegan County cornfield, has blossomed into one of the state’s premier general aviation airports. The runway was first paved in 1962. The airport was acquired by the City of Holland in 1986 from Prince Corporation and has grown steadily during the ensuing years as Holland/Zeeland’s industrial employers have expanded operations locally and across the globe.
The current organizational structure at this airport excludes large segments of the area’s leadership in planning, operating, and building a vital regional asset. An airport authority is the most flexible organizational structure for ownership and improvement of a community airport.
In a series of public meetings, the Exploratory Committee heard from employers, an aviation industry leader, representatives of two existing West Michigan airport authorities, and the general public as well as those responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of the field and for managing the airport’s finances and capital improvements.
The Community Benefits Assessment (CBA) found the airport’s operations alone generated 358 direct and indirect jobs and $9.9 million annually for the Holland/Zeeland economy. The ripple effect of the airport, according to this state-sanctioned impact statement, was nearly $32 million in local output and $30 million in state output.
Local employers emphasized the importance of the airport to luring new business by bringing potential customers directly to Holland/Zeeland industrial plants. One employer credited 10 percent of its annual sales to the airport’s close-in location, allowing it to efficiently ferry potential customers to its Holland Charter Township manufacturing site.
Based on the information gleaned during its informational gathering, the Committee considered, amended and unanimously approved a Resolution of Intent that calls for the MACC member governments to convene a committee to draft the formation documents for establishing an airport authority to operate the airport. A provision for other airports to come under the authority has been incorporated should such requests be made.
The formation of a regional airport authority is an opportunity to support a vital, community transportation asset. In the world economy of this 21st century, a strong West Michigan Regional Airport is essential to spurring job growth for our residents and sustaining the community’s economic success for this and future generations.
macc airport presentation to view the Area Airport Authority Exploratory Committee Multi- Media Presentation about the Airport Authority.