||The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA)
requires Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to employ
a comprehensive planning process in the analysis and selection
of future transportation projects. As part of this process, MPOs
must produce a long-range transportation plan that outlines the
steps they follow in project selection and the specific improvements
they plan to implement over a 20-year period. The Greenville County
Planning Commission has produced this brochure as an abstract
of the Greenville Area Long-Range Transportation Plan. While traditional
roadway improvements are the focus of the brochure, ISTEA does
require that the overall plan be intermodal in nature, and that
it consider other types of transportation modes, such as transit,
freight, bicycle, and pedestrian pathways.
The brochure presents the GRATS transportation improvement program
to the year 2015.
GRATS Policy Committee
GRATS Study Team
The Planning Process and the GRATS 20-Year Transportation Plan
Project Selection Process
Goals and Policies
Program Management Activities
Greenville County is located in the northwestern section of South
Carolina. The county has a land area of 789 square miles, and
its terrain spans the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and
the upper Piedmont Plateau. Greenville County, with a 1995 population
of approximately 348,000, is included in a five-county metropolitan
statistical area (MSA) with a 1990 population of more than 830,000
people. Greenvilles population is expected to reach 363,000 by
the year 2000; the population for the MSA is expected to reach
1 million by the turn of the century.
Founded as a trading post in the mid 1700's by Captain Richard
Pearis, Greenville was an early regional business and commercial
center. Created by the states General Assembly in 1786, Greenville
County has evolved into a bustling and diverse urban center that
is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the south.
Today, although manufacturing remains the backbone of the economy,
economic expansion and diversification continues. While textile
companies continue to play an important and significant role,
newer firms locating within the county represent a balance of
manufacturing, finance, engineering, and construction interests.
International companies have played a prominent role in the upstate,
as more than 231 companies from 18 nations have located in the
region. With the coming of the twenty-first century, Greenvilles
location along the I-85 corridor between Charlotte and Atlanta
places the county in a strategic position to attract continued
growth and development far into the future.
In the fall of 1964, GRATS was begun under the joint auspices
of county, city, and state governments. That action was taken
in response to the rapid urbanization occurring in Greenville
County, as well as predicted future development. It also was spurred
by the requirements of the 1962 Highway Act, which required that
all urban areas of over 50,000 population initiate a continuing,
comprehensive, and cooperative transportation planning process
in order to receive Federal aid for highway projects in the area.
From the outset, the GRATS program has been a well-coordinated
and highly cooperative venture between the local municipalities,
Greenville County, the South Carolina Department of Transportation
(SCDOT), and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The process
began in November 1967 with the publication of a two-volume report
entitled Continuing Transportation Plan for the Greenville, South Carolina,
Urban Area. Contained in this two-volume report were the details of the
transportation study and an overall transportation plan which
was designed to accommodate transportation needs in the urban
area through the design year of 1985.
In late 1977, the Greenville County Planning Commission (GCPC),
in conjunction with the SCDOT, began the first major update of
the original 1965 GRATS Study. The purpose of the update was to
evaluate the 1967 plan in light of the county's emerging development
trends. As a part of this process, the plans projections were
extended 10 years to 1995, growth and traffic projections were
taken into account, and, as a result, changes were made in the
The GCPC is responsible for major updates of the GRATS plan. Major
updates have occurred approximately every 10 years since 1967.
An important element of this latest update was the Planning Commission's
use of computer modeling. The information generated by the modeling
process was used by the planning staff and the GRATS Study Team
in reevaluating the comprehensive transportation needs of the
area. Another important aspect in the development of the plan
was a concerted effort to obtain input from the public. In accordance
with the adopted Public Participation Policy, public hearings
have been held throughout the county in an effort to provide citizens
and other interested parties a reasonable opportunity for comment
in the transportation planning process. Following the Study Team's
review of the information, the final recommendation for construction
of new roads and improvements to existing roads was presented
to the GRATS Policy Committee for approval.
The GRATS Policy Committee was created as a requirement of the
1962 Highway Act. The Committee has used a combination of State
and Federal dollars to complete many essential road projects in
Greenville County. In its 25-year history, the GRATS Policy Committee
has directed the construction of more than thirty projects totaling
almost a billion dollars. Some of the more notable projects are
the widening of I-85 from the Anderson County line to Pelham Road
and the construction of I-385 from 85 to Mauldin. The widening
of Wade Hampton Boulevard from 5 to 7 lanes. The widening of Spartanburg
Road from 2 to 5 lanes and the construction of the Haywood/Howell
Road segment from Spartanburg Road to Pelham Road.
Recently completed are the widenings of Pelham Road, Laurens Road
and the improvements of East North Street at Spartanburg Road
and Roper Mountain Road at Garlington Road.
The diversity of the GRATS Policy Committee has assured that funding
of projects has been distributed equally throughout Greenville
County. The following is a list of some the major projects completed
by the GRATS Policy Committee over the last 25-years. Even though
highway improvements do not seem to take place as rapidly as many
of us would desire, the Policy Committee has averaged about 5
projects a year in its 25-year history.
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The boundary of the GRATS does not include all of Greenville County,
but does include the existing and anticipated urbanized area of
Greenville County. Covering some 503 square miles, the study area
includes portions of Spartanburg, Pickens, and Laurens Counties.
The road system serving the GRATS area is a combination of interstates,
US and State Highways, secondary highways, and county and private
roads. The interstate system includes I-85, extending from the
western boundary to the eastern boundary of the GRATS area, and
I-385, extending from downtown Greenville to the southeastern
boundary. The significant north-south routes include US 25 and
SC 14. Other notable routes providing regional access include
US 29, extending from downtown Greenville to the eastern boundary,
and US 123, extending from downtown to the western boundary.
At present, the road system in the GRATS area includes approximately
2,931 miles of roadway. The interstate system accounts for approximately
38 miles; the state primary roads, which include US and State
routes account for approximately 357 miles; the state secondary
roads account for approximately 1,077 miles; and the county road
system accounts for 1,459 miles of roadway.
Since the major portion of the improved road system in the GRATS
area belongs to the state, the majority of the bridges are also
owned and maintained by the SCDOT. At present there are 152 bridges
on state primary roads and 242 bridges on state secondary roads.
Greenville County currently owns and maintains 177 bridges of
20 feet or more in length.
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The basic purpose of committees in the transportation study organization
is to provide means of involving various governmental bodies,
agencies, private interest groups, and citizens of the study area
in the planning process. The following are the committees involved
in transportation planning.
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GRATS Policy Committee
The GRATS Policy Coordinating Committee is the Metropolitan Planning
Organization (MPO) for the Greenville urban area and is responsible
for adopting the GRATS 20-Year Plan, and the GRATS 5-Year Transportation
Improvement Program (TIP). The TIP contains projects committed
to preliminary engineering, right-of-way (ROW) purchase, or construction
within 5-years. The Policy Committee establishes priorities and
approves changes to the recommended plan. The Policy Committee
has the following specific responsibilities:
- Familiarize the public and civic leaders within the study area
with the progress of the planning process;
- Generate agreement on basic objectives, transportation service
levels, and standards;
- Select, approve, and recommend projects for both short and long-range
- Organize and appoint members of other committees.
In order to perform the tasks mentioned above, the Policy Committee
includes representatives from the following:
- Five members from County Council;
- Five members from Legislative Delegation;
- The Mayors of the municipalities in the GRATS area;
- The Chief Highway Commissioner for the State of South Carolina
or his designated representative;
- The District State Highway Commissioner;
- The Chair of the County Transportation Committee;
- The Chair of the Greenville County Planning Commission; and
- The Chair of the Greenville Transit Authority.
As the group most directly responsible for GRATS implementation,
the Policy Committee must ensure that recommendations, plans,
and programs are consistent with the goals and objectives of the
state and county. This committee meets on a called basis.
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GRATS Study Team
The GRATS Study Team is composed of representatives of the GCPC
staff, the SCDOT Advance Planning Section, the SCDOT District
Traffic Engineer, the SCDOT Construction Engineer, the City of
Greenville Engineer, the City of Greenville Traffic Engineer,
a representative from the Appalachian Council of Governments and
a representative of the Greenville Transit Authority (GTA). The
Study Team evaluates and makes recommendations to the GRATS Policy
Committee prior to any GRATS plan modifications. Specifically,
it is the responsibility of the GRATS Study Team to:
- Provide technical direction to the planning process;
- Evaluate alternatives;
- Recommend plans and programs to the Policy Committee;
- Assimilate and take into consideration public input;
- Prepare the necessary reports and documents as required in the
transportation planning process;
- Provide administrative support to the Policy Committee; and
- Serve as a link between the Policy Committee and other agencies
having a responsibility in the transportation planning process.
GREENVILLE COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION
The primary responsibility of the GCPC is to assist the Policy
Committee in disseminating information to the public and to reflect
public opinion concerning the study and its recommendations.
The Commission is composed of nine members appointed by Greenville
County Council to serve no more than two three-year terms. The
members are appointed based upon geographic location, with two
members representing the small municipalities in the county, one
member appointed upon the recommendation of the City Council of
Greenville and the remaining six members from the county at large.
The Planning Commission is constituted under State enabling legislation
which assigns to it the responsibility for overall comprehensive
land use planning for the entire Greenville County, including
the municipalities. As set forth in its enabling legislation,
the Planning Commission has the responsibility for the preparation
of a comprehensive plan and to prepare and make recommendations
for its adoption to the appropriate governing authority or authorities.
Included in this plan are "existing and proposed streets, highways,
expressways, bridges, tunnels, viaducts, and approaches thereto;
routes of railroads and transit lines, terminals, ports, airports...".
The Planning Commission is staffed by professional planners who
have the responsibility of carrying out day-to-day operations
within the broad policy guidelines set forth by the Commission.
SOUTH CAROLINA APPALACHIAN COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS
The South Carolina Appalachian Council of Governments (SCACOG)
is a six-county regional planning agency with responsibility for
regional transportation planning activities. Specifically, it
coordinates the transportation planning and implementation efforts
of it's six member counties.
SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
The Department's Advance Planning Section maintains a close relationship
with the GRATS process. The staff of the Advance Planning Section
is responsible for the collection, analysis, and projection of
travel data for use in GRATS.
The department's staff participates on the GRATS Study Team and
handles administrative matters concerning the GRATS process at
the State level. They also monitor street and highway improvements.
Traffic surveillance, preparation of traffic flow maps for the
Greenville urban area, and the purchase, installation, and maintenance
of counting equipment is also the department's responsibility.
The Department of Transportation also is the highway construction
agency for the State of South Carolina. Once the GRATS-recommended
plan is finalized and the projects are listed in the GRATS TIP,
it is the responsibility of the department to perform the preliminary
engineering, including the required environmental assessments,
ROW acquisitions, and construction.
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The Planning Process and the GRATS 20-Year Transportation Plan
In the first step of the transportation planning process, an inventory
is made of the present transportation system and of the present
and projected future socioeconomic environment. To simulate the
1990 GRATS transportation system, a computer model was built that
represented the GRATS 1990 road network. Including all local highways,
arterials, collector streets, and their respective lane number,
this system provided an inventory of the existing system and a
computer network that could simulate both 1990 and future 2015
As part of this process, a thorough inventory of the GRATS region
was made with special emphasis on the compilation of information
regarding population levels, socioeconomic variables, and existing
land use patterns. Specifically, the GRATS area was divided into
493 separate units called traffic analysis zones (TAZs). For each
TAZ, staff collected quantitative information regarding a number
of variables, including population, work force, occupied dwelling
units, registered vehicles, employment, retail square footage,
and school attendance. Once this inventory was complete, staff
utilized a variety of techniques and methods to forecast these
specific variables by TAZ to the year 2015.
While this inventory presents a large amount of information about
the GRATS area and its transportation system, it also provides
needed quantitative input into the computer model that will simulate
1990 and 2015 traffic.
Once the inventory was complete, transportation problems within
the network were identified, categorized, and defined. Following
the calibration of the 1990 transportation network, year 2015
socioeconomic variables were utilized to forecast future 2015
trips per TAZ. With this stage complete, the model was used to
simulate the 2015 traffic flow and detect future road capacity
With the addition of various scenarios, the model was able to
test differing alternatives, and to identify the series of projects
that could best solve transportation needs in the year 2015 as
identified by the transportation model.
Once the model identified particular projects within the GRATS
area that solve specific problems as outlined by the process's
goals and objectives, the GRATS technical team formulated a financially
constrained 20-year long-range transportation plan (LRTP) that
will have the most impact upon projected transportation problems.
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Project Selection Process
As part of the development of the Long-Range Transportation Plan,
a procedure was developed to evaluate projects for inclusion in
the plan or inclusion in the 5-Year Transportation Improvement
Program. This procedure is to be used as a tool in the selection
and ranking of projects. The projects considered for the Greenville
LRTP and TIP are to be ranked based on seven categories. The seven
categories include congestion, connectivity, cost, transportation
systems, social/economic, environmental, and energy. Other factors,
such as public support of potential projects, were considered
in the project selection process. The public perception of projects
also effected the ranking they received. The current status of
projects was also considered in the project selection. Whether
the project is in the preliminary engineering stage, ROW stage,
or construction stage may effect a project's rank.
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Goals and Policies
The selection of transportation facilities and services for inclusion
in the LRTP was driven by agreed upon goals and policies and travel
demand analysis. The goals and policies displayed below foster
the development of a multimodal and intermodal transportation
system with strong ties to the development planning process. The
GRATS transportation goals and policies are as follows:
Goal I. Provide accessibility and mobility for people and goods.
- Increase the regional systems capability to efficiently move
people and goods.
- Provide conventional bus service to more densely developed areas
and encourage innovative transportation services in other areas.
- Provide for convenient, efficient connection between various surface
and air transportation modes and facilities.
- Consider cost effectiveness when evaluating transportation projects
- Continue to develop transportation services for persons with limited
mobility options (youth, low-income individuals, and persons with
- Provide bikeways and pedestrian opportunities to encourage use
of alternative modes of transportation.
- Provide for movement of people and goods to, from, and through
the GRATS area.
- Provide improved interconnectivity between major arterials.
- Link municipal areas with each other and with major commercial,
employment, and transportation centers.
- Continue to develop an arterial loop around the urban center utilizing
existing roadways whenever possible.
Goal II. Enhance the quality of life and minimize adverse impact
on the natural environment. Integrate planning for development,
transportation, and air quality.
- Reduce mobile-source emissions (car exhaust) and conform to state
implementation plans for attaining and maintaining the national
ambient air quality standards. Incorporate transportation control
measures adopted in state implementation plans.
- Plan transportation facilities to respond to the travel demands
resulting from adopted regional population and employment forecasts.
- Design new development and redevelopment to encourage alternative
transportation modes and, where possible, use existing infrastructure
to reduce the need for new construction.
- Pursue mobility-management techniques which encourage ridesharing
and travel during non-peak hours.
- Consider the use of alternative modes of transportation rather
than adding significant roadway capacity within the areas at immediate
risk of exceeding the national ambient air quality standards.
- Plan the transportation system to minimize significant visual
and noise impacts, significant business or residential relocations,
and significant disruption of neighborhoods.
- Minimize energy consumption and reduce reliance on petroleum energy
- Better integrate the transportation system with the community
through cost-efficient enhancement projects, considering the projects
transportation function, proximity to the transportation system,
and transportation impact.
- Consider more aggressive land use policies to deter development
in areas where existing roadways are at or near capacity.
Goal III. Implement the Long-Range Transportation Plan
- Include in the TIP only those improvements that implement the
- Emphasize techniques to manage, adapt, and reconstruct the regions
existing transportation system to better use available capacity.
Give priority maintenance and management improvements for existing
facilities to protect previous investments.
- Protect the functional integrity of selected commercial/retail
corridors by requiring that access control plans be developed
and implemented as a condition for federal funding of major corridor
- Make major transportation corridor operation more efficient by
implementing intelligent vehicle/highway system (IVHS) strategies.
- Reserve ROW for needed transportation facilities in major travel
- Design the urban highway system to operate at the highest reasonable
level-of-service (LOS), considering fiscal and environmental constraints.
To minimize cost and promote alternative travel modes, highways
should be designed for peak-hour LOS D.
- Design safe, efficient transportation facilities.
- Encourage public/private partnerships to ensure that needed facilities
and services are provided consistent with other LRTP goals and
- Incorporate appropriate travel demand reduction and operational
management strategies when implementing capital improvements.
- Solicit public and private-sector improvement in transportation
planning and programming.