Illustrating the importance of collaboration, partnerships and planning as we look toward future transportation needs in the Upstate, the two largest federally mandated transportation planning organizations in the region – the Greenville Pickens Area Transportation Study (GPATS) and the Spartanburg Area Transportation Study (SPATS) – in partnership with the Appalachian Council of Governments, have approved a Memorandum of Understanding that will allow staffs from these organizations to formally collaborate on planning and implementation of transportation projects.

The agreement is also expected to help entice the region for economic development, reduce costs while improving efficiencies, improve communications regarding plans, projects and programs and better position the region for being awarded regional transportation grants.

While agreements of this nature are common among neighboring transportation planning entities across the nation, this is the first such agreement in the Upstate.

“There are many commonalities between what we are doing and what is being done at GPATS,” said Jim D’Amato, Transportation Planning Manager for SPATS. “This agreement will allow us to formally identify where we can work together and increase efficiencies across the Upstate.”

The agreement was approved by the SPATS policy board at their meeting on November 14th and by the GPATS policy board during their meeting on January 9th. The Appalachian Council of Governments agreed to serve as a third partner because they serve as the transportation planning organization for the non-urban areas in Greenville, Spartanburg and Pickens counties as well as for Cherokee, Oconee and Anderson. The hope is that this agreement will eventually also include the Anderson transportation planning agency as well as the other councils of governments that support the transportation needs in the non-urban areas within Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens and Union counties.

“By approving this MOU we have now sent a message that we are taking collaboration and regional planning for future transportation needs seriously here in the Upstate,” said Rick Danner, Mayor of the City of Greer and a member of the GPATS Policy Board. “Hopefully this will help trigger greater coordination with state and federal authorities to ensure that they understand and support fulfilling the long-term transportation needs within this region.”

In addition to the three partners, local cities and counties other organizations involved in the discussions that led to the Memorandum of Understanding include Greenlink, GSP Airport, SPARTA, Ten at the Top and Upstate Forever.