Within the context of existing federal transportation legislation, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) signed into law December 4, 2015, the BHJ is required to update its regional Long Range Transportation Plan for the region every four years. The BHJ Transportation Study Policy committee adopted the BHJ Region 2040 Transportation Plan (Plan) in May 2016. This document serves as a four-year update, review, and appraisal of the Plan.
The BHJ has reviewed and appraised the contents of the Plan and updated the following elements:
- Goals and Objectives
- Regional Overview & Geographic Area
- Determining Future Transportation Needs and Planning Assumptions
- Highway & Ohio River Bridge Inventory
- Non-Highway Facility Inventory
- Project Considerations
- Financial Forecast and Fiscal Plan
- Transportation Air Quality Conformity Analysis, and
- Environmental Factors & Mitigation (including Community Impacts and Environmental Justice)
Two areas of concern present a major challenge developing this long-range transportation plan. First is the major downturn and shutter of the region’s steel industry and shift to an energy production economy through oil and natural gas, regional freight and commuter travel patterns are uncertain. Although most of the drilling and fracking activity in Marcellus and Utica Shale is taking place along the fringes of the BHJ area, the majority of the freight movements for supports services in the occur in Brooke, Hancock, and Jefferson counties. These movements include storage and delivery of piping and drill casings, as well as railroad to truck transloading of sand and water necessary for the fracking process. The downturn in the steel industry presents new economic prospects through brownfield redevelopment; however, these opportunities may take up to 10 to 15 years to mature and are dependent upon many factors such as availability of funding to assess and clean these sites and willing property owners and investors to develop these sites. Secondly, with eventual completion of the Wellsburg Bridge over the Ohio River and the uncertainty of the Market Street Bridge after the new bridge is open to traffic, it is difficult to predict future travel patterns after 2020.