What is an MPO?
By federal law, a metropolitan planning organization is designated by the Governor for every urban area with at least 50,000 residents. The MPO devises solutions to regional transportation problems, which involves addressing other important issues such as land use, air quality, energy, economic development and commerce. To do this, the MPO develops a long-range regional transportation plan. The MPO also maintains a short-range program of projects to fund with federal transportation money. For each, the MPO’s duty is to engage many stakeholders, including the general public, in the planning process. By creating a vision for the region in the Plan and by identifying projects and investments that help achieve that vision, the MPO ensures that scarce public funds are spent moving the region towards its planning goals.
What Does NYSAMPO Do?
The Association exists as an information sharing organization. The directors of all thirteen MPOs in the state meet regularly throughout the year, and are joined by planning staff from New York State DOT (NYSDOT), and the Federal Highway and Federal Transit Administrations. By convening, the association enables each individual MPO to better serve its own region, and to develop and maintain a close working relationship with state and federal partners. In addition, working groups on topics such as safety, bicycle/pedestrian issues, climate change, freight, and transit meet periodically to facilitate sharing of practice and networking among staff of the MPOs and NYSDOT. Training offered through this program varies from technical to policy topics, such as performance–based planning, public involvement techniques, and GIS. Through information sharing, research and training programs, the Association helps each MPO address state and federal policies and programs.
What is MAP-21?
On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed the surface transportation authorization bill passed by Congress, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). This bill retains much of existing law that applies to MPOs, including the 50,000 urbanized area population floor for designating MPOs. The bill does create a mandate for performance-based planning, which requires MPOs to use performance measures related to national transportation goals, and develop performance targets in partnership with state DOTs. This approach, already in use by some MPOs, is intended to focus the investments identified in the MPO long range transportation plan and the Transportation Improvement Program to achieve the outcomes that achieve national objectives, regional and community goals, and support the needs of all transportation system users.
What Does This Mean for You?
Each MPO is a forum for plans and ideas as well as decisions about major capital investments. Everyone including businesses, government, and citizens alike has a voice in the process. Whether the topic is a dangerous intersection or a long-term policy issue, the regions future is shaped by decisions made by the MPO. For more information about your MPO, the New York State MPO Association, MAP-21 or other topics that interest you, please use the directory on the back of this brochure to contact your MPO.
For contact information, please see the NYSAMPO Staff Directory (as of February 8, 2018).