Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

The United States Congress, in seeking a solution to increasing transportation related problems, included in the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962 provisions for studying all transportation systems in urban areas with populations of 50,000 or greater. In the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973, the Federal Government stressed the formation of Metropolitan Planning Organizations to establish a method for local governments to have input in where federal transportation dollars are spent in their area. In 1974, the Governor of Texas designated the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission (SETRPC) as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the three-county region comprising the Jefferson Orange Hardin Regional Transportation Study (JOHRTS) area.

The standard MPO structure consists of the planning staff, a policy committee, and a technical advisory committee. The SETRPC-MPO serves as the planning staff. The JOHRTS Transportation Planning Committee, comprised of elected officials from local government bodies in the region, serves as the policy committee and is the MPO governing body. The JOHRTS Technical Committee is the technical advisory committee and includes local professionals involved in various aspects of the transportation infrastructure, such as public works directors, traffic engineers, representatives of public transportation operations, and related private sector interests. The JOHRTS Technical Committee is responsible for interacting with the planning staff to review transportation plans and projects for recommendation to the JOHRTS Transportation Planning Committee.

The SETRPC-MPO Transportation Planning Committee usually meets on a quarterly basis to determine MPO policy. The Board and its members are governed by the Amended Bylaws and Operating Procedures adopted in December of 2009. Meeting materials are submitted to the Committee prior to the meetings. The meeting packets can be viewed on the Committee & Boards page.

The SETRPC-MPO is a function of the Transportation section of the Division. Staff is charged with conducting a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive (3-C) transportation planning process. This process encourages and promotes the safe and efficient development, management, and operation of surface transportation systems to serve the mobility needs of persons and goods and foster economic growth and development while minimizing transportation–related fuel consumption and air pollution. Additionally, the SETRPC-MPO encourages continued development and improvement of the metropolitan transportation planning process. This planning process is achieved on a cooperative basis between the SETRPC-MPO, Texas Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, and local governing bodies.

The SETRPC-MPO provides training and technical assistance to local public works and planning directors in the form of workshops and meetings to raise awareness about the impact of air quality issues on the planning, programming and implementation of proposed transportation projects in the JOHRTS area. The MPO is involved in daily activities associated with transportation planning including data collection, technical analysis, dispensing information, and recommending actions.

The SETRPC-MPO is federally mandated to prepare and publish three planning-related documents:

  • Unified Planning Work Program
    a statement of work identifying the planning priorities and activities to be carried out within a metropolitan planning area for a given fiscal year (October 1 through September 30)
  • Metropolitan Transportation Plan
    a long range plan, normally 20 to 25 years, which outlines the long term goals for the region’s transportation system
  • Transportation Improvement Program
    a short range “implementation plan” for the region that includes the projects and programs from the MTP to be implemented in the four-year period of the TIP

The MTP and TIP must comply with Transportation Conformity regulations resulting from the Clean Air Act and Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

In addition, the SETRPC-MPO is required to develop and utilize a documented Public Participation Plan (PPP) that defines the process for providing citizens, local governments, agencies, and special interest groups with reasonable opportunities to be involved in the metropolitan transportation planning process.

The SETRPC-MPO works with state and local governments, the private sector, and the region’s citizens to plan coordinated transportation systems designed to move goods and people affordably, efficiently, and safely.