The board of the Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization — which is the county’s lead agency in transportation planning — is considering a new way to add and rank projects on its priority list.
Carl Mikyska, executive director of the Pasco MPO, discussed the proposed methodology with the MPO board at its Dec. 9 meeting. He asked them to take a closer look at the proposal, with the goal of voting on it at the board’s meeting in February.
One proposed change calls for establishing a separate priority list for bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
Another part of the method calls for using a numerical scoring system to rank the projects.
This approach assigns points to the proposed projects, which are summarized for a total project score. Projects can earn a maximum score of 100, except for up to 10 in additional bonus points — based on how long a project has been on the priority list.
Under the updated methodology, proposed bicycle and pedestrian projects will be ranked based on the total number of points they receive in the following categories: safety and security; mobility and connectivity; economic development; project readiness and project longevity.
Road improvements will be ranked upon the total of points they receive in these categories: safety and security; mobility and connectivity; freight movement and economic development; project readiness and project longevity.
The staff wants to use this method to rank the MPO’s 2022 List of Project Priorities, Mikyska said.
He explained that a separate priority list was created for bicycle and pedestrian improvements because the previous methodology put nonmotorized projects at a disadvantage.
“We recognize the need to have two very similar methodologies but one that focused on our nonmotorized projects because of their attribute of being significantly different from roadways,” he said.
On both lists, safety and security represent a large number of points.
Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano said he would like the scoring methodology to include points for projects that involve shared funding through partnerships.
There are instances when a project is of greater value to the county because it is receiving joint funding from another source, such as a neighboring county or federal government, he said. So, the county can accomplish a greater value, using less money, he said.
Zephyrhills City Councilman Lance Smith agreed: “I think that makes sense.”
Pasco County Commissioner Ron Oakley said it’s important for projects to get on the list, so they can be eligible for funding.
“They need to be on the list, to be funded at the right time,” he said, citing two roundabouts planned in the Dade City area, as examples.
Both are close to receiving funding, Oakley said.
Mikyska said the new approach is aimed at helping “people to understand their likelihood of being able to successfully pursue funding.”
He also noted that it’s important to identify worthy projects because there may be sources of potential funding that is unknown to the county.
“Florida DOT (Department of Transportation) has more money than just federal funds,” he explained. “If they see something on our list that they feel is a good project they may be able to put other funding on it.”
Smith, who chairs the MPO board, urged his colleagues to take a close look at the proposed methodology before the February meeting.
“This is pretty important. This is how we’re going to rank the projects, so we need to all make sure we look at it hard,” Smith said.
Mikyska told board members that he wants to make sure that staff is moving in the right direction.
The goal is to finalize the methodology so it can be used for the MPO’s list of projects due to the state on June 15.
Published January 12, 2022