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The Harrisburg Area Transportation Study (HATS) is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry counties and their 103 municipalities. It works with federal, state and local agencies and officials from throughout South-Central Pennsylvania, including the City of Harrisburg and Capital Area Transit, to meet the transportation needs of an area covering nearly 1,700 square miles.
In this role, HATS develops a Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), which documents the current status of transportation projects and programs, identifies long-term needs and recommends projects to meet those needs. The long-range RTP sets a framework and priorities for the expenditure of federal transportation funds over a 25-year period.
Current federal surface transportation legislation requires the RTP to:
have a minimum 20-year planning horizon;
be updated every four years;
be based on the latest available estimates and assumptions for population, land use, travel, employment, congestion and economic activity;
identify an integrated, multimodal transportation system, giving emphasis to facilities that serve important national and regional functions;
contain operational and management strategies to improve the performance of existing infrastructure to maximize the safety and mobility of people and goods;
conform to air quality standards;
provide for multimodal capacity increases based on regional needs and priorities;
be fiscally constrained by identifying sources "reasonably expected to be available" to implement the plan;
discuss potential environmental mitigation activities;
include pedestrian walkway and bicycle transportation facilities;
include transportation and transit enhancement activities; and,
provide for public participation, including publication with electronically accessible formats.
In 2017, HATS' lead staff agency, the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, began updating the RTP with an all-new, dynamic approach. HATS staff, with assistance from seven advisory groups comprised of various local stakeholders and experts, reviewed the region’s current transportation system and developed key recommendations to address its long-term needs.
Each group had a specific focus, including: safety and congestion; freight; asset management; environment; alternative modes (bicycle, pedestrian, transit); mobility and accessibility (disabled and elderly); and growth and development (land use). HATS will continue to coordinate with these groups through the implementation of the plan.
The RTP is required to be financially constrained so that cost of the planned transportation projects and programs are within the estimated available future funding.
HATS' Coordinating Committee adopted the updated RTP at its February 22, 2019 meeting.