WILMINGTON, N.C. – The Cape Fear Rural Transportation Planning Organization (RPO) Transportation Advisory Committee (RTAC) elected officers for 2021 at its February 12 meeting, which was held virtually via Zoom due to COVID-19. Brunswick County Commissioner Frank Williams was unanimously re-elected Chair and Whiteville Mayor Terry Mann was unanimously re-elected Vice Chair. Williams and Mann have served as chair and vice chair since January 2014.
The Cape Fear RPO covers Brunswick, Columbus and Pender Counties and serves as the intergovernmental organization for local elected officials, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and residents of the region to work cooperatively to address rural transportation issues. The Rural Transportation Advisory Committee (RTAC) is the RPO’s advisory board and is comprised of elected officials from Brunswick, Columbus and Pender Counties.
“Serving as RTAC Chair for the past seven years has underscored the importance of having a strong voice for rural transportation in southeastern North Carolina,” said Williams. “As areas in our state west of I-95 become increasingly urbanized, it is important for those of us who live in eastern North Carolina to make our voices heard. I look forward to continuing to work with Vice Chairman Mann, the other members of the committee, staff, elected leaders in the communities we represent and the NCDOT to ensure that our rural transportation needs and priorities are heard.”
According to the N.C. Department of Transportation, in 2000 the State of North Carolina recognized the need for more coordinated transportation planning in rural North Carolina areas not within a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) by enacting Chapter 136, Article 17, Section 136-210-213 of the General Statutes. This provided for the development of Rural Transportation Planning Organizations (RPOs). There are 18 Rural Planning Organizations in the State.
Although organized and tasked in a manner very similar to MPO’s, RPOs are grounded in state law rather than federal, and are intended to address and improve rural area transportation planning processes. RPOs assist the North Carolina Department of Transportation by carrying the following four core duties:
- Develop, in cooperation with the NCDOT, comprehensive transportation plans.
- Provide a forum for public participation in the transportation planning process.
- Develop and prioritize suggestions for projects that the organization believes should be included in the State’s Transportation Improvement Program.
- Provide transportation-related information to local governments and other interested organizations and persons.
Administrative support for the Cape Fear RPO is provided by the Cape Fear Council of Governments (COG).