Before any surface transportation project can be built in the Superior area using federal funds, it must be included in a current Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) that has been approved by the MIC Policy Board. Each metropolitan planning organization (MPO) is required to develop a TIP—a comprehensive listing of the area’s regionally significant, federally funded, transportation improvements planned for the short range (next 4 years).
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. If listed in the TIP, it means that some of our highest-priority road, transit, and bicycle/pedestrian projects have been funded and are being planned, designed, and built. The Superior Area TIP is one of the two TIPs the MIC develops for the Duluth-Superior planning area.
• 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 Aug/Sept.
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?
It is part of the MIC’s role as an MPO to work closely with state and local agencies to prioritize which of the region’s transportation projects and services should receive anticipated federal funds for the next four years. The long term effect such decisions can have makes it critical that the public be included in a dynamic decision-making process.
TIP Development Timeline
For the Superior Area TIP, the development process runs from July, 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 TIP approved by the MIC Board in October is not the current version until state and federal approvals are received – usually by the end of December.
*Eligible agencies and jurisdictions include the state of Wisconsin (WisDOT), Douglas County, the City of Superior 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.