Metropolitan Planning Organizations: Strategies for Future Success

The 1962 Federal Aid Highway Act introduced the vision of cooperative, comprehensive, and continuing (3-C) multimodal planning for urbanized areas. By the mid-1970s, federal statutes and associated rulemaking resulted in the formation of metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). Much has changed since then, including shifts in focus regarding multimodalism, transportation technologies, environmental considerations, planning for sustainability and resiliency, goods movement, asset management, system performance, capacity enhancements, coordinating land use and transportation, and funding and financing methods. MPOs have been the subject of various studies but limited work has been undertaken, to date, to (1) conduct a comprehensive or critical review of their strengths and weaknesses in light of 21st century transportation issues and (2) position MPOs throughout the United States for future success. The proposed research should benefit MPOs, state departments of transportation (DOTs), and key stakeholders (such as public transportation providers, local and regional entities, and the public) by supporting the 3-C planning process and the delivery of future transportation projects and programs, in light of emerging trends. Importantly, the deliverable(s) from this research should be practical, engaging and actionable. The objective of this research is to develop a comprehensive resource to inform and guide the evolving roles and functions of MPOs in partnership with their key stakeholders for the 21st century. The resource should take into account the diversity among MPOs, such as population served, complexity of the region (e.g., number of jurisdictions), scope of responsibilities, governance structure, staff and financial resources, technical capacity, and level of interaction with stakeholders. Further, the resource should consider the near-, medium-, and long-term applications and address: (1) The current and evolving vision for effective MPOs. (2) How MPOs can be poised and equipped to address current and future opportunities and challenges that may impact regional transportation decision-making such as transformational technologies, climate change, big data, macroeconomic drivers, and private sector involvement. (3) Strategies for improving the efficacy of MPOs pertaining to their responsibilities, products and services, governance, member agencies, stakeholders, organizational structure, and staff capabilities. (4) How the roles, responsibilities, and resources of MPOs may change or expand in future in relation to their state, regional, and local transportation agencies. (5) How partner agencies, in particular state DOTs, could evolve in tandem with MPOs to address 21st century transportation trends. (6) What support and partnerships may be most beneficial to MPOs to achieve transformative results. (7) What conventional and nonconventional funding and financing options may be available to address future transportation needs and how MPOs and their partners can leverage these options.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $400000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 08-122

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Schwager, Dianne

  • Start Date: 20190318
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01672245
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 08-122
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Jun 18 2018 3:03PM