The board of directors of the Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization – which is the county’s lead agency for transportation planning – is considering a new way to add and rank projects on its priority list.

Carl Mikyska, Executive Director of Pasco MPO, discussed the proposed methodology with the MPO Board of Directors at their December 9 meeting. He asked them to take a closer look at the proposal, with a view to voting on it at the board meeting in February.

One of the proposed changes calls for the establishment of a separate priority list for improvements to bicycles and pedestrians.

Another part of the method is to use a number rating system to rank the projects.

This approach assigns points to proposed projects, which are summarized for a total project score. Projects can earn a maximum score of 100, with the exception of a maximum of 10 additional bonus points, depending on how long a project has been on the priority list.

According to the updated methodology, proposed bicycle and pedestrian projects will be ranked according to the total number of points they receive under the following categories: safety and security; mobility and connectivity; economic development; the preparation and longevity of the project.

Road improvements will be ranked according to the total points they receive in these categories: safety and security; mobility and connectivity; freight movement and economic development; the preparation and longevity of the project.

Staff want to use this method to rank DFO’s 2022 project priority list, Mikyska said.

He explained that a separate priority list had been created for improvements for bicycles and pedestrians because the previous methodology disadvantaged non-motorized projects.

“We recognize the need to have two very similar methodologies, but one that focuses on our non-motorized projects because of their attribute of being very different from roads,” 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 involving funding shared through partnerships.

There are cases where a project is of greater value to the county because it receives joint funding from another source, such as a neighboring county or the federal government, he said. So the county can accomplish more value, using less money, he said.

Zephyrhills City Councilor Lance Smith agreed: “I think that makes sense.”

Pasco County Commissioner Ron Oakley said it was important for projects to be on the list, so that they could be eligible for funding.

“They have 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 aims to help “people understand their likelihood of being able to successfully seek funding.”

He also noted that it is important to identify valid projects, as there may be potential funding sources unknown to the county.

“The Florida DOT (Department of Transportation) has more money than federal funds,” he explained. “If they see something on our list that they think is a good project, maybe they can put more money into it.”

Smith, who chairs DFO’s board of directors, urged his colleagues to take a close look at the proposed methodology ahead of the February meeting.

“It’s pretty important. This is how we’re going to rank projects, so we all need to make sure we give it serious thought, ”Smith said.

Mikyska told board members that he wanted to make sure the staff were headed in the right direction.

The objective is to finalize the methodology so that it can be used for the list of DFO projects due to the state on June 15th.

Posted on January 12, 2022

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