Despite its power to make or break transportation projects in a five-county area, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency is a fairly obscure body.
But the agency that was at the center of the debate over the construction of a new Interstate 90 interchange has an important mission.
Here are the basics about what NOACA is and what it does.
What is NOACA?
NOACA is a metropolitan planning organization that serves Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina counties.
It was formed in June 1968 by the commissioners of those counties as well as Summit and Portage counties, which split off to form their own organization in 1975.
What does NOACA do?
The agency is responsible for handling transportation and environmental planning in Greater Cleveland. It is responsible for approving major changes and upgrades to the transportation infrastructure and for monitoring air and water quality as well as administering federal funding for projects.
NOACA focuses on preserving existing transportation facilities, relieving congestion, enhancing the region’s economic development and offering wider transportation choices. It also works to increase the mobility of the elderly, disabled and those who rely on public transit. The group runs the region’s RIDESHARE Program.
Who is on the NOACA board?
The NOACA governing board is comprised of 38 members who vote on the issues that the agency is responsible for.
Lorain County currently is represented on the board by Elyria Mayor Bill Grace, county commissioners Betty Blair and Ted Kalo, Avon Lake Mayor Rob Berner, county Engineer Ken Carney, Lorain Mayor John Romoser and New Russia Township trustee Frank Pakish.
Given that Cuyahoga County has the bulk of the area’s population, it has the largest voting block and can demand a weighted vote, which vastly increases its voting power, on any issue it deems necessary.
Where does NOACA get its funding?
NOACA doles out about $46 million in federal funding to transportation projects annually. The organization has an operating budget of about $6 million, the bulk of which comes from the Federal Highway Administration but also includes contributions from the Ohio Department of Transportation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and local government.
Where does NOACA spend its money?
The money NOACA allocates differs from year to year. From 2008 through 2011, NOACA plans to spend about $27.4 million in funding for Lorain County projects, including nearly $9 million for improvements on U.S. Route 20 and state Route 57 between Lorain Boulevard and Chestnut Ridge Road. The agency also has allocated another $19 million for projects in the county after 2011, according to its planning program.