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Hernando County, Florida Case Study

1990 Census Population 52,056 Map of Florida
Central City Brooksville, Florida
Air Quality Status (1990) Attainment
Governor Designation Date September 4, 1992
Voting Policy Board Members

Hernando County Commissioners (5)
Brooksville City Councilman (1)

Non-Voting Policy Board Members

Florida Dept. of Transportation District VII Secretary

PL and 5303 Funding (Year of Designation) $208,000 (PL funds only)
Initial Staff Size 3
Initial Staff Location Hernando County offices
Modeling Responsibility FDOT
GIS Responsibility Contracted
AQ Conformity Responsibility N/A
Contacts Howard Glassman, MPOAC (850) 414-4037
Dennis Dix, Hernando MPO (352) 754-4057
Bob Clifford, FDOT (813) 975-6436
Website Not Listed

 

The Hernando County MPO covers the entire 488-square mile area of Hernando County, Florida. The county is located along the Gulf of Mexico and is 20 miles north of the urban area of Tampa. The MPO is in compliance with federal air quality standards. At the time of the 1990 Census the Spring Hill urbanized area was designated with a population of 52,056. This population nearly doubled in 2000 to 102,193 in part due to the inclusion of the city of Brooksville. The Bureau of the Census also renamed the Spring Hill urbanized area as the Brooksville urbanized area in 2000. This change was due to an expansion of the urbanized area boundary east sufficient to envelop the urbanized population of Brooksville. The Census Bureau typically identifies urbanized areas by incorporated cities located within them. Although Spring Hill was the population center of the original urbanized area boundary, it was not an incorporated city. Once the incorporated city of Brooksville was included within the boundary, the urbanized area name changed.

The policy board has six members:
All five Hernando County Commissioners
One Brooksville City Councilman

The non-voting member of the Hernando County MPO is the Florida DOT District VII Secretary. The MPO also has four standing committees, the members of which are appointed by the MPO Board:
Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) composed of technically qualified representatives from public or semi-public agencies.
Citizens Advisory Committee: membership is composed of 11 citizens.
Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC): membership is composed of 12 volunteers.
Transportation Disadvantaged Local Coordinating Board (LCB): membership is 14 members.

Initial Steps to Formation
The 1990 Census resulted in the creation of 4 new MPOs in the state of Florida bringing the total number to 25. The formation process for all of the new MPOs began with Florida DOT (FDOT) sending letters of notification to each of the affected county governments. In Florida, MPO boundaries follow county boundaries even if the urbanized area covers a smaller area. A state DOT official attributed this to the fact that county governments are the strongest form of local government in Florida.

After the initial contact, FDOT district offices supported counties as they began to form their MPO policy boards and bylaws. The decentralized nature of FDOT results in district offices well suited to give timely direction to local officials as they comply with federal MPO guidelines. The District VII Office in Tampa worked directly with Hernando County to establish a timetable for MPO formation and set up meeting schedules. According to the MPO coordinator, the keys issues that arose during the formation of the Hernando County MPO were increased involvement for local officials in the FDOT regional planning process and improved methods by which to use transportation planning to address land use and growth management issues in a high-growth region. The MPO coordinator described the District VII staff during this process as essential to the success of the MPO formation. The entire process took roughly 12 months from the initial FDOT contact to the delivery of the proposed MPO bylaws to the Florida Governor,s office.

Funding Issues / Administrative and Technical Support
Federal highway planning funds are distributed by FDOT to the state,s 25 MPOs with a guaranteed minimum. Currently Florida MPOs receive no less than $250,000 in federal planning funds. Above this amount, the distribution of planning funds is determined by a statewide formula based on population. FTA planning funds are in addition to this amount as well. Although the base amount was lower at the time the Hernando County MPO was formed, this guaranteed minimum provided the MPO with the assurance that they would be able to fund their day-to-day operations.

Hernando County MPO staff is housed within the Hernando County offices, and has been since the MPO,s formation. The MPO initially contracted the services of a former Florida MPO director who contributed knowledge and insight to the staffing of an MPO. The initial staff in Hernando was a coordinator, a planner, and one clerical position. All three employees were considered Hernando County employees but focused primarily on MPO duties. The staffing structure was modeled on those of other non-transportation management area (TMA) MPOs in the state. Currently there are only two county employees dedicated to MPO work (there is no longer MPO-specific clerical support). According to one FDOT official, the small size of the county,s planning staff (four total employees between MPO and county planning staffs) results in a separation between county and MPO staff that is not as rigid in reality. There are frequent situations where county staff will "cross over" and assist on an MPO initiative, and vice versa. In addition to county staff, the MPO also has a private consulting firm under contract that primarily assists with technical aspects of the long-range transportation plan, overseeing public involvement activities, and database analysis for the state-mandated congestion management system. Travel demand forecasting for Hernando is conducted primarily by FDOT on a model that encompasses several west Florida MPOs. Although FDOT updates, enhances, and does model runs for the travel demand model used by Hernando County MPO, the consultant also assists the county with model-related data collection in addition to recommendations for model use. GIS work is also contracted out by the MPO.

Transit
In addition to developing transportation improvement programs (TIPs) and work programs (UPWPs), the Hernando MPO has also maintained and updated a transit development plan and transit operations plan. An FDOT official described these long-range planning efforts as the principal reason for the recent formation of a county-operated transit system schedule to begin operation in October 2002. The MPO took the lead in surveying county residents through the newspaper to determine the desire for transit service and the types of service that should be provided. The result is the new fixed route system comprised of three routes-a Brooksville-Spring Hill connector, and two circulator routes (one for each of the two cities). The MPO is the recipient of FTA capital funds as well as state transit capital and operating funds. These funds are transferred to Hernando County, which functions as the transit operator.

Relationship Between Tampa Region MPOs
Including Hernando there are 6 MPOs the 7-county region surrounding the city of Tampa. In the 1980s, FDOT officials experienced difficulty in getting Tampa area MPOs to undertake planning efforts in a coordinated fashion. One FDOT official described the environment as extremely parochial, and one in which the planning of some large-scale transportation projects had been unnecessarily jeopardized. In an effort to foster greater coordination among these MPOs, the state legislature passed a law requiring the different bodies to coordinate their planning efforts. This multi-MPO planning process is called the West Central Florida MPO Chairs, Coordinating Committee (CCC).

When the Hernando County MPO was formed, it was not yet required to participate in the CCC planning process. The MPO did, however, participate voluntarily with the other MPOs between 1992 and 2000, at which point the law was changed to require Hernando,s participation. This participation consists of the active coordination of planning for regionally significant transportation facilities. The Hernando County MPO operates on the same three-year long-range plan update schedule as the other CCC MPOs. The update process is facilitated by the sharing of one FDOT maintained travel demand model by all 6 MPOs in the region. CCC MPOs also incorporate coordinated regional elements in their respective UPWPs. These include a regional TIP, long-range plan, multi-use trail element, congestion management report, and a coordination report. One benefit of working closely with other area MPOs for the Hernando County MPO has been the pooling of knowledge. According to the MPO coordinator, working with Tampa on air quality conformity issues has been particularly useful for the Hernando County MPO, which would otherwise have no exposure to this work given its attainment status.

Other Unique Florida Features
In addition to the coordination between MPOs in the western part of the state through CCC, all Florida MPOs are represented on the Florida MPO Advisory Council (MPOAC). The council is used as a forum for discussing common issues and as a means for petitioning the state government (MPOAC,s offices are located in the same Tallahassee building as FDOT headquarters). According to both FDOT and MPO staff, it is an effective mechanism for MPOs and FDOT, as well as FHWA and FTA, to provide information and feedback to one another. MPOAC has two employees hired to staff the Tallahassee office. The staff is funded by the MPOs through the statewide PL distribution formula.

Florida also has a statewide congestion management system (CMS) requirement for its MPOs. Instead of only TMAs analyzing congestion impacts and possible alternatives, the smaller MPOs are also required to perform this analysis. The statewide CMS requirement has been a way for the state to ensure that smaller projects are analyzed for the impacts on air quality and congestion. It also requires MPOs to address issues along corridors in areas where capacity improvements may not be necessary or feasible, and for those MPOs to look operationally at ways to improve air quality or traffic flow. According to FDOT officials, the CMS requirement has not been a burden to the smaller MPOs. The Hernando efforts have been undertaken as a partnership between the county,s planning and engineering staffs to jointly develop methods to address congestion problems. The FDOT official cited Hernando as one of the most successful non-TMA MPOs in implementing the CMS.

Note: Three officials involved in the formation of the Hernando County MPO were contacted for this study. These officials were the MPO coordinator, and two FDOT officials-one from the District VII office and another involved with the MPO Advisory Council.

Hernando County MPO

Map of Hernando County

Source: Hernando County web site