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:
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:
Initial Steps to Formation
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
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.
Relationship Between Tampa Region MPOs
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
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
Source: Hernando County web site