Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Metropolitan Planning Organizations


Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are the policy boards of an organization created and designed to carry out the metropolitan transportation planning process. MPOs carry out the planning activities for a region of over 50,000 people that are designated urbanized areas determined by the populations calculated with each Decennial Census.

MPOs carry out a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive performance-based multimodal transportation planning process. This process is also known as the 3C planning process. Each MPO is required to develop a metropolitan transportation plan, also known as a MTP, and a transportation improvement program, also known as a TIP. These planning documents are developed in cooperation with the local public transportation operator and the state department of transportation.

Along with the MTP and TIP, MPOs set annual budgets called unified planning work programs, known as UPWPs. These budgets lay out the federal funding and local jurisdiction match that each MPO uses to pay for operations and planning efforts each year. The UPWP must follow regulations listed in 23 CFR 450.308.

Since MPO UPWPs are federally funded, UPWPs must comply with federal funding requirements. These include nondiscrimination matters, such as Title VI, limited English proficiency, Americans with Disabilities Act, environmental justice, and other non-discrimination acts, policies and orders.

In addition, MPOs must use a performance-based approach to transportation planning decision-making to support national goals and general purposes. As such, each MPO must establish performance targets and integrate them into the metropolitan transportation planning process. Performance targets must be established using the 3C process of continued, cooperative and comprehensive planning with the local public transportation operator and the state department of transportation.

As part of that 3C planning process, coordination with public transportation operators is key to consistency in performance-based planning, TIP development and MTP development.

Finally, MPOs must have a public participation process for providing individuals, members of the public, affected public agencies, and other interested parties with reasonable opportunities to be involved in the metropolitan transportation planning process. The development of a public participation plan (PPP) must at a minimum describe procedures, strategies and desired outcomes for a variety of processes and plans to ensure a full and open participation process. The PPP ensures the MPO is hearing the public and being a good steward of the public dollar.