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Glossary of Transportation & Planning Terms

A - M   M - X

ARC

A federal agency charged with assisting economic development and improving communities in America’s Appalachia region. SPC is the designated agency through which federal ARC funds are invested in this region.

Automated Red Light Running Enforcement (ARLE)

A program designed to improve safety by reducing red light running at signalized intersections. Revenue generated from this program, which currently only operates in the City of Philadelphia, is used to help fund other transportation safety projects.

BRT

Bus Rapid Transit

CEDS

The Comprehensive Economic Develoment Strategy is the result of SPC's local planning process designed to guide the economic growth of southwestern Pennsylvania. Our CEDS process helps to create jobs, fosters more stable and diversified economies, and improves living conditions.

Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO)

Overflow of a sewer system that handles both sewage and storm water.

Congestion Management Process (CMP)

A federally-required regional program to address and manage traffic congestion in order to facilitate the movement of people and goods.

Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ)

A category in federal transportation legislation under which funds are available for projects that would reduce congestion and improve air quality.

Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS)

A draft version, prepared for public comment and review, of an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) required for a transportation project.

Dynamic Message Signs (DMS)

Large electronic message boards constructed on major roadways in order to provide travel information to transportation system users.

Economic Development District (EDD)

A federally designated region for purposes of investment of federal funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (part of the U.S. Department of Commerce). SPC is the EDD for nine counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Environmental Impact Study (EIS)

A study of the anticipated environmental impact of a transportation project. Before a large transportation project can be carried out, the environmental impact of the project must be assessed and, if necessary, mitigated.

FHWA

The Federal Highway Administration is an agency within the United States Department of Transportation. Through the Federal-Aid Highway Program, FHWA provides federal financial assistance to the States to construct and improve the National Highway system, urban and rural roads and bridges. FHWA also provides technical expertise to its partners in areas of design, construction, maintenance, policy and planning, and highway safety.

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FIT

Future Investment in TOD (see Transit Oriented Development)

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Fixed Base Operator (FBO)

An operator based at an airport who provides various services such as selling fuel, repairing aircraft, or giving flying lessons.

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Fixed Guideways

Transportation pathways reserved for transit vehicles. These may include rail lines, inclines, busways, High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, and reserved bus lanes on roads.

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FTA

The Federal Transit Administration is an agency within the United States Department of Transportation. The FTA administers a national program of planning assistance providing funding, guidance, and technical support to State and local transit agencies. FTA provides capital and operating assistance to these agencies. It assists the transit industry and state and local authorities in providing safety and security for transit passengers and employees. FTA takes a lead in coordinating transit research and technology activities.

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General Aviation (GA)

A generic term used to reflect the most basic aviation activities (such as recreational flying and small corporate aircraft operations) and the airports that support them.

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Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

A computerized system designed to capture, update, analyze, and display all forms of geographically referenced information.  GIS permits the user to view map layers on a computer screen while also accessing databases related to the map features.  GIS has extensive uses in the analysis of demographic, transportation, and environmental data.

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Global Positioning Systems (GPS)

A system that uses advanced technology and satellite communications to determine ground location at any place in the world.  Initially developed by the U.S. military, GPS is now widely used in mapping, surveying, and navigational situations (such as traffic monitoring systems or the automatic location of transit vehicles).

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High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes

Highway travel lanes that are free for use by vehicles with a designated number of occupants and can be used for a fee/toll by single occupant vehicles.  Southwestern Pennsylvania does not currently have any HOT lanes.

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High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes

Highway travel lanes that are restricted for use by vehicles with 2 or more occupants.

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Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS)

A nationwide system providing essential data on highway conditions, performance, and usage throughout the country.

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Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)

A broad array of technological applications designed to reduce traffic congestion, improve safety, provide enhanced traveler information, and increase capacity and functioning of our transportation system.

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Intermodal

A term used to refer to transportation systems that involve more than one mode of travel (e.g., highway, water, rail, air, bicycling, walking).

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Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA)

The landmark federal transportation law passed in 1991.  It was the first transportation legislation to give regional agencies like SPC the primary responsibility for deciding how highway and transit funds will be spent in its region.

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KOZs

The state of Pennsylvania's Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) program is providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop land with greatly reduced or completely eliminated state and local taxes.

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Land Use and Land Cover (LULC)

Digital data of the “observed physical and biological material at the earth’s surface.”  This includes forest, grassland, water, or man-made features. Land cover data is a key component in depicting an area’s housing patterns, infrastructure components, environmental conditions, and can show how an area changes through time.

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Local Development District (LDD)

A federal designation given to agencies that are responsible for handing Appalachian Regional Commission funds for their region.  SPC is the LDD for nine counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

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Local Technical Assistance (LTAP)

In an effort to transfer transportation technologies and procedures developed at the state and federal level to local municipalities, PennDOT established the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) as part of a national initiative established by the Federal Highway Administration.

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Long-Range Plan (LRP)

A comprehensive strategy for transportation and development in the region, developed and adopted by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission. This plan covers 20 or more years and is updated every four years. It contains a transportation element whose total costs may not exceed projected revenues. It also contains a supplementary list of projects for funding if additional revenues become available and a plan for economic development.

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Major Investment Study (MIS)

A study often conducted (though no longer legally required) in order to justify the expenditure of federal funds on certain large highway or transit projects.

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Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

A Metropolitan Planning Organization is established in each urban area of the United States with population of 50,000 or more. An MPO is responsible for developing and adopting a long-range transportation plan and a short-range Transportation Improvement Program, that set priorities for use of Federal and State transportation funds in the region.

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Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21)

Law signed by President Obama on July 6, 2012, MAP-21 creates a streamlined and performance-based surface transportation program and builds on many of the highway, transit, bike, and pedestrian programs and policies established in 1991 under ISTEA.

MTAP

The Municipal Technology Assistance Program serves local governments in more than 500 municipalities by offering training, tools, and assistance in areas ranging from police regionalization to fiscal management. As regional coordinator for electronic government under the Municipal Technology Assistance Program, SPC assists local governments with computer training, Internet access, website development, and computer purchasing.

Municipalities Planning Code (MPC)

The state legislation that governs zoning, planning, and land use issues in Pennsylvania.

National Association of Regional Councils (NARC)

The national association comprised of regional planning agencies such as SPC.

Office of International Business Development (OIBD)

The state office (within the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development) responsible for advancing the state’s position in exporting and international trade.  SPC’s export assistance program works closely with OIBD and its international trade representatives to enhance exporting opportunities for the region’s businesses.

PennDOT

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is the state agency responsible for transportation in the Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA)

An organization dedicated to helping smaller farmers remain viable in Pennsylvania. PASA is a partner in SPC’s Agricultural Business Initiative.

Port Authority

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is the public transit operator for Allegheny County.

PREP

Partnership for Regional Economic Performance

Project Region

The 2040 Transportation and Development Plan for Southwestern Pennsylvania, or 2040 Plan, is the mechanism for connecting the region’s vision to an official, coordinated implementation program of projects and actions. The 2040 Plan was developed through an unprecedented community engagement process called Project Region. Project Region was led by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, and was conducted in partnership with a wide range of other public, private and non-profit organizations.

Public Participation Panel (PPP)

A citizen panel (there is one in each county of SPC’s transportation region) whose members are appointed for two-year terms by the county commissioners (in Allegheny County, by the County Executive and the Mayor of Pittsburgh) to represent the diverse population and transportation concerns of their county.  The PPP’s role is to review and provide comment on major SPC transportation decisions, such as Long Range Plans and Transportation Improvement Programs.  Panels meet on an as-needed basis.  They may host public meetings to solicit broader input from the general population.

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Regional Operations Plan (ROP)

A regional planning document that outlines transportation operations projects, programs and initiatives targeted at making the transportation system work more efficiently and effectively.  The ROP serves as the transportation operations component of the regional Long-Range Plan (LRP).

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Regional Traffic Management Center (RTMC)

A state-of-the-art facility housed at PennDOT District 11-0 offices in Bridgeville that operates 24/7/365 and has the capability to monitor traffic conditions and control Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) devices on regional highways in PennDOT Districts 1-0, 10-0, 11-0 and 12-0 (covering the western 1/3 of Pennsylvania).

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Safe Affordable Efficiency Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA)

To authorize funds for Federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, and transit programs, and for other purposes.

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Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act:  A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)

Authorizes funding and support of transportation planning, research and demonstration activities.

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Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO)

Overflow of a system designed to assure proper disposal and treatment of sewage.

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Small Business First (SBF)

The largest of the loan funds from which SPC can provide financing assistance to the region’s businesses.

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Special Federal Funds (SXF)

The term used for earmarks or line-item appropriations by which Congress designates federal funds for specified transportation projects.

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State Transportation Commission (STC)

The committee responsible under state law for adopting the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).

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Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)

The statewide program of transportation projects adopted every two years by the State Transportation Commission.  The STIP contains the Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPs) of SPC and other regional agencies, including projects scheduled for the next four years and other projects that could be substituted or added to the four-year plan if funds permit.

The Statewide Transportation Improvement Program is a four-year program of funding for transportation projects throughout Pennsylvania, prepared by PennDOT and submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation. It combines the TIPs of Pennsylvania’s fifteen MPOs with programs of seven Rural Planning Organizations and one independent county.

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Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC )

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission is the designated metropolitan planning organization for the City of Pittsburgh and ten counties in southwestern Pennsylvania (Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland). Each of these counties and the City of Pittsburgh has five voting representatives on the Commission. PennDOT has two votes, and the Governor's Office, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Port Authority of Allegheny County, and another transit operator have one vote apiece.

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Traffic Incident Management (TIM)

A multi-disciplinary effort to improve the way agencies respond to incidents that impact traffic flow on regional roadways. The primary goals of TIM are encompassed in the National Unified Goal (NUG) for Traffic Incident Management and include ensuring the safety of first responders, clearing the roadways quickly in order to reduce traffic congestion and minimize the potential for secondary crashes, and having reliable interoperable communications between responding agencies.

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Transit Operators Committee (TOC)

The SPC standing committee, comprised primarily of the region’s transit operators, that is responsible for developing the region’s transit plan and the transit component of the Transportation Improvement Program.

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Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)

A term used to describe land-use approaches (primarily compact, mixed-use communities) that help to enhance transit usage in those centers.

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TRID

Transit Revitalization Investment District

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Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21)

The current federal transportation legislation, passed in 1997.

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Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)

A document, adopted every two years, that defines the transportation projects scheduled for implementation during the subsequent four-year period.  SPC is responsible for developing the TIP for its ten-county transportation region.

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Transportation Research Board (TRB)

A national organization (part of the National Academy of Sciences) that engages in research and discussion of transportation issues.

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Transportation Technical Committee (TTC)

The SPC standing committee involved with making recommendations for SPC’s transportation plans and with implementing projects included in those plans.

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Twelve-Year Program

Pennsylvania's priority list of transportation projects, revised every other year and developed in three four-year stages. The first four years of the State's Twelve-Year Program incorporates SPC's TIP. Projects using a mixture of State and Federal funding are included, as well as projects funded solely by the State.

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Visioning

A group planning process in which participants define their ideal concept of the future for a region, community, or agency.  The process is designed to stimulate creative thinking and to define goals and objectives for a strategic plan. 

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