Enhancing the Region

 Enhancing the Region

The Miami Valley Planning Commission tackles transportation and more.

Eric Spangler

The vision of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission since it was created in 1964 is to develop strategies that enhance the region’s quality of life and economic vitality.

One of the ways the planning commission does that is by bringing together more than 70 area partners, both public and private, to work toward a shared vision across the region. 

“We can convene folks and ask folks to come to the table and talk through regional problems that affect our five-plus county area,” says Brian O. Martin, executive director of the planning commission. 

That’s important, says Martin, because otherwise decisions that local political jurisdictions may make—such as counties, cities, townships, and villages—could have a negative impact on their neighbors.

“We connect how their decisions may affect their neighbors and then also the region,” says Martin. “So it’s important to talk about common concerns, common values that benefit the region … so that we have one big, happy region.”

Another way the planning commission works to enhance the region’s quality of life and economic vitality is through its designation as a metropolitan planning organization, which is a federally funded transportation policy-making agency, for Montgomery, Miami, and Greene counties and a portion of northern Warren County.

The planning commission receives about $18 million each year from the federal gas tax to support local transportation projects, Martin says. The agency’s board of directors, composed of a representative from each of its 73 members, reviews applications for funding and decides which projects should receive money, he says.

Examples of projects that were funded and completed last year include the widening of South Main Street in Dayton from Stewart Street to Patterson Boulevard, the pedestrian and bikeway bridge connecting Beavercreek and Fairborn over Interstate 675, and the LINK bike share program that allows people to rent one of 225 bicycles at 24 stations, say Martin.

The planning commission has a history of working with bicycle initiatives, he says. “We’ve been working with bike initiatives for more than 40 years’” Martin says. “The bicycle network is viewed as a regional network that adds value. We have the nation’s largest paved trails network at 330 miles paved and so we’re really proud of that heritage.”

That strong regional trail network may have helped bring the International Trails Symposium to Dayton’s Convention Center in 2017. “We’re a partner in that event along with Five Rivers Metroparks and all the park districts around the region,” Martin says.

One of the largest transportation initiatives the planning commission tackles every four years is updating the Long Range Transportation Plan, which helps to guide public funding of the regional transportation system—including roadway, freight, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian—through the year 2040.

In addition to transportation issues, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission also has water quality planning responsibilities, Martin says. “We receive grant funds from the state and federal government to make sure that our rivers and our streams are protected,” he says.