The Transportation Program is the largest and longest running program, next to small city planning, administered by the CWCOG. It is through the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) designation and subsequent assignment as lead agency of the five-county Regional Transportation Planning Organization (RTPO) that the CWCOG facilitates and administers the Washington and Oregon State Department of Transportations’ (WSDOT, ODOT) and the Federal Highways & Transit Administrations’ (FHWA, FTA) programs. It is through these programs’ plans and reports that the Federal and State Transportation Departments receive project data and prioritization which is the basis for funding decisions.
It is the responsibility of CWCOG staff to work closely with local county and city agencies, ports, rail, and private sector representatives and stakeholders in the development of transportation planning activities within the CWCOG service area. The CWCOG collaborates at a federal and state level to see these activities funded.
Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)
In 1981, the CWCOG was designated the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Longview-Kelso-Rainier Oregon metropolitan planning area (MPA) by the governor of the State of Washington. The CWCOG Board of Directors fulfills the roles of both the CWCOG and the MPO policy board within the same monthly meeting. The duties of an MPO is to review and approve major, regional transportation network improvements implemented by participating local governments, as well as funding for local area agencies through the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBG). The CWCOG, as the MPO, reviews recommendations from the Cowlitz Technical Advisory Committee (CTAC) and CWCOG staff on prioritized plans, projects, reports, and long-range planning documents that are submitted to and funded through the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for the metropolitan urbanized area.
The transportation planning staff works closely with local agencies, ports, and private sector representatives and stakeholders in the development of the long-range transportation planning activities for the urbanized area.
CWCOG staff develops the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), assists in the allocation of federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds, and updates the Metropolitan Transportation Plan. Funding for these activities primarily comes from state and federal sources with a match provided by local jurisdictions. A biannual Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) is developed to guide the MPO and Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Planning Organization (SWRTPO) work program.
Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Planning Organization (SWRTPO)
The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 47.80.020 and 468.86.060 require that the regional transportation planning program be integrated with the metropolitan planning program, and that the Regional Transportation Planning Organization (RTPO) be the same organization as the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). In alignment with the RCW’s, the Southwest Washington RTPO was established in 1994 by interlocal agreement between the CWCOG and four counties: Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, Grays Harbor and Pacific. Lewis County was included by amendment in 1996. The agreement names the CWCOG, in its role as the MPO, the administrative or lead agency of the RTPO. It is the responsibility of the RTPO to award funding to agencies within the five-county area for the Transportation Alternatives (TA) Program.
The CWCOG staff facilitates all reporting to the Washington State Department of Transpiration (WSDOT) in collaboration with all regional stakeholders. Staff also directly facilitates the Cowlitz, Wahkiakum and Pacific Technical Advisory Committees while Grays Harbor and Lewis County are managed by local agencies which report to the CWCOG and RTPO board.
Technical Advisory Committees (TAC)
Each of the five counties have a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) that oversees, prioritizes, and reports to the Regional Transportaiton Planning Orgranization (RTPO) for its region. TACs are comprised of engineers and planners representing local jurisdictions, ports, special purpose districts, tribes, multi-modal stakeholders (i.e. rail, air, trails), and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). The TACs provide a level of technical review and guidance for transportation planning and programs being undertaken within each region. The Cowlitz County TAC is accountable to the CWCOG/Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) but reports to the RTPO also.