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-Cass County Area (NATS) and the TwinCities (Benton Harbor-St. Joseph) Area (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.