Metropolitan Planning Organizations
A metropolitan planning organization (MPO) is a transportation policy-making organization made up of representatives from local government and transportation authorities. Each Urbanized Area with a population of 50,000 or more is required by Federal Regulations to have a designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) with the responsibility of conducting a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive transportation planning process. In the Southwest Michigan region, the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission is the designated MPO for the Niles Buchanan Area MPO (NATS) and the Benton Harbor St. Joseph Area MPO (TwinCats).
Currently, all MPOs are governed by federal legislation called the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). The MPO planning process is a prerequisite to the area receiving federal funds for airport, transit and highway improvements. Current projects funded under the old Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) adhere to those regulations.
Metropolitan Transportation Planning Legislation
Requirements for metropolitan transportation planning are found in United States Code (U.S.C), Title 23 - HIGHWAYS. Section 134 covers metropolitan transportation planning, Section 135 covers statewide transportation planning, Section 217(g) requires bicyclist and pedestrian planning and design with safety considerations. U.S.C. Title 23, Section 315; U.S.C. Title 42, Section 7410 et seq.; U.S.C. Title 49, Sections 5303-5306; and 49 CFR 1.48(b) and 1.51 cover related measures.