When an area has been identified as an urbanized area (UA) by the US Department of Commerce Census Bureau, and designated as such by the Office of Management and Budget, a transportation planning organization such as a Metropolitan Planning Organization must be formed by agreement of the Governor of the state and “units of general purpose local governments representing 75% of the affected metropolitan population” to coordinate metropolitan transportation planning and transportation related investments.

A Metropolitan Planning Organization is a transportation policy-making body consisting of
representatives from local government and transportation agencies with authority and responsibility in metropolitan planning areas. Federal legislation passed in the early 1970s required the formation of an MPO for any urbanized area (UA). An MPO has five “core” functions:

  1. To establish and manage a fair and impartial setting for effective regional decision-making in the metropolitan area.
  2. Evaluate transportation alternatives, scaled to the size and complexity of the region, to the
    nature of its transportation issues, and to the realistically available options.
  3. Develop and update a long-range transportation plan for the metropolitan area covering a
    planning horizon for at least 20 years that fosters (1) mobility and access for people and goods (2) efficient system performance and preservation, and (3) quality of life.
  4. Develop a Transportation Improvement Program based on the long-range transportation plan
    and designed to serve the area’s goals, using spending, regulating, operating, management, and
    financial tools.
  5. Involve the general public and all the significantly affected sub-groups in the four essential
    functions listed above.

This area is faced with the challenge of expanding and maintaining a number of transportation systems to meet the needs of a growing region, including highways, railways, ports, airports, transit, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Addressing this challenge is SEMPO’s top priority. Learn more about SEMPO in the Unified Planning Work Program.



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