Each metropolitan planning organization (MPO) is required to develop a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)—a comprehensive listing of the area’s federally funded transportation improvements planned for the short range (next 4 years). The Superior Area TIP is one of two TIPs the MIC develops for the Duluth-Superior planning area.
The cost of needed improvements to the transportation system far exceeds the funding available to address those needs and difficult decisions must be made regarding the use of scarce transportation dollars. For each project that is chosen for construction, many others will not be able to be built.
The TIP is literally and figuratively where the rubber meets the road. If listed in the TIP, it means that some of our highest-priority road, transit, and bicycle/pedestrian projects are no longer just a concept. They have been funded and are being planned, designed, and/or built throughout our region.
• The TIP is developed with the guidance of the MIC’s Transportation Advisory Committee and Policy Board, and prepared in cooperation with MnDOT, local transit providers and area jurisdictions as required by federal surface transportation law (FAST Act).
• The draft TIP is made available for a 30-day public comment period, in mid-May.
How are TIP projects selected?
All projects must be identified in the MIC’s current 25-year Long Range Transportation Plan in support of the Duluth-Superior area’s goals and transportation system needs, which include:
• Regional Benefit: What are the project’s merits/benefits and intended effect upon the regional transportation network and what are the project’s estimated benefits relative to its cost?
• Mobility: How will the project improve the mobility of people and goods?
• Planning Support: How will the project incorporate the MIC’s Long Range Transportation Plan, other MIC studies and related plans and studies?
• Multi-modal Connectivity: How does the project encompass multiple modes of travel — roadway, bicycle, pedestrian?
• Environmental Impacts: Where is the project’s location and what potential environmental and community impacts does it potentially pose?
• Public Participation: What level of public participation has been undertaken or will take place for the proposed project?
TIP Development Timeline
For the Superior Area TIP, the development process runs from June, when MIC staff begins discussions about possible projects with eligible jurisdictions.* The draft is made available for public comment in August, and the final TIP is presented for final approval by the MIC Policy Board at its meeting in October.
NOTE, the final, Board-approved TIP is not the “current” version until state and federal approvals are received.
*Eligible agencies and jurisdictions include the state of Minnesota (MnDOT), St. Louis County, cities with a population over 5,000 (Duluth and Hermantown), the Duluth Seaway Port Authority and the Duluth Transit Authority (DTA).
Projects may be amended into the current, approved TIP throughout the year. Amendments usually modify existing projects as changes to the scope, cost or timeline for programmed projects occur. Sometimes new projects may be added if new funding becomes available. The formal processes for developing and amending a TIP are specified in the MIC’s Public Involvement Plan.