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The North Carolina Department of Transportation uses a transparent, systematic and data-driven process for prioritizing major transportation projects in the state. This process is known as Strategic Prioritization.
Every two years, Rural & Metropolitan Planning Organizations in North Carolina are allocated a specified number of project submittal slots for each of the following categories: Aviation, Bicycle & Pedestrian, Ferry, Highway, Public Transit, and Rail. Upon recommendations from their staff, The Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) and Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC) of each respective RPO or MPO will approve which projects are submitted in each category.
Once projects are submitted by staff, they are evaluated and scored based on their merit through an analysis of the existing and future conditions, the benefits the project is expected to provide, the project's multi-modal characteristics, and how the project correlates with local priorities. A "quantitative" score is then produced by NCDOT and released to RPOs and MPOs. Similar to project submittal slot allocations, each RPO and MPO is given a calculated amount of "local input points" to place on projects that they believe are their highest priority. Highway Divisions are also allocated local input points, which may also be placed on projects. At the conclusion of this process, a final score is produced.
Projects that score high-enough will be inserted into the Draft State Transportation Improvement Program, a ten-year schedule for projects that will receive funding. Once the draft STIP is finalized, it is officially adopted by the North Carolina Board of Transportation.
The seventh cycle of Prioritization (Prioritization 7.0 or P7) is currently underway.
Prison Camp Rd Widening, Martin County
Mid-East RPO staff began developing projects and preparing for Prioritization 7.0 in Winter 2023. Staff met individually with the TCC Representatives from Beaufort, Martin and Pitt Counties to present and solicit input for Prioritization 7.0 project submittals. MERPO was allocated 18 project submittals for each of the six mode categories, based off centerline highway miles and population within the three-county region. The TCC and TAC were presented with a draft list of projects for each of the six mode categories in July 2023 for preliminary approval. In September 2023, upon TCC recommendation, the TAC officially adopted MERPOs P7 Project Submittal List. As of October 2023, 54 projects were submitted directly by the Mid-East RPO. 11 additional projects were also submitted by RPOs, MPOs, and Divisions that lie within or intersect MERPO boundaries.
Quantitative scores for these projects are currently being developed by the NCDOT Strategic Prioritization Office of Transportation (SPOT Office). Mid-East RPO staff is in the process of developing the RPO's Local Input Methodology, which guides Staff, the TCC, and the TAC in selecting which projects should receive Local Input Points. MERPO's LIP Methodology is expected to be adopted in Spring 2024, and will be utilized following the release of the quantitative project scores in the following months.
Once all LIP assignments are completed, projects from across the state will compete against one another for a slot in the 2026-2035 State Transportation Improvement Program. Final Adoption of 2026-2035 STIP by the North Carolina Board of Transportation is expected to occur in mid-2025.
Please see below for more information about Prioritization 7.0.
Prioritization 7.0 Schedule (Revised 9/2023)
NCDOT Prioritization (STI) Training PPT (5/2023)
Statewide Project Submittal Allotments for P7
Statewide Local Input Point Allotments for P7
Mid-East RPO - P7 Project Submittals (Adopted 9/2023)
I-587 Ribbon Cutting
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