History of MPOs

Since the 1960’s the federal government has established urban transportation planning requirements in all metropolitan areas, as a prerequisite to the approval of federal transportation funding (23 CFR Part 450 and 49 CFR Park 613). The regulations require a continuing, comprehensive and cooperative (3-C) planning process for all Urbanized Areas. 

In 1991, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) was passed. This act revised some of the established regulations and procedures and placed a new emphasis on MPOs. As part of this Act the MPO planning process has been more specifically defined and new planning requirements have been prescribed.

In 1998, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) was passed continuing the initiatives of the 1991 Act and adding several new provisions and programs. In 2005, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) was passed, building on the foundation established by ISTEA and TEA-21 and representing the largest surface transportation investment in the nation’s history. SAFETEA-LU expired in 2009 and after a series of Continuing Resolutions, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) was signed into law by President Barack Obama in July 2012. MAP-21 is a two year bill that seeks to build on and refine many of the highway, transit, bicycle and pedestrian programs and policies established by ISTEA in 1991. MAP-21 seeks to focus the federal aid program on the following national goals:

1. Safety;
2. Infrastructure Condition;
3. Congestion Reduction;
4. System Reliability;
5. Freight Movement and Economic Vitality;
6. Environmental Sustainability; and
7. Reduced Project Delivery Delays.