The Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration have proposed major regulatory changes in how metropolitan planning organizations coordinate with each other in their regions, saying they want "to promote more effective regional planning" by states and the MPOs.
In the June 27 Federal Register, the agencies issued a formal "notice of proposed rulemaking," and said they will take public comments on it through Aug. 26.
"The proposed rule would emphasize the importance of applying a regional perspective during the planning process, to ensure that transportation investments reflect the needs and priorities of an entire region," the notice said.
The proposed regulation would require MPOs to look beyond their current boundaries, working together both across their current urban areas but also across the area that is expected to grow into the larger urban zone over the next two decades.
Even if there are multiple MPOs in a given area, it said the changes "would result in MPOs developing a single metropolitan transportation plan, a single transportation improvement program (TIP) and a jointly established set of performance targets for the entire urbanized area and contiguous area expected to become urbanized within a 20-year forecast period for the transportation plan."
The organizations under the rule change "would jointly prepare these unified planning products. To accomplish this, the proposed revisions clarify that the metropolitan planning area must include the entire urbanized area and contiguous area expected to become urbanized within 20 years."
The FHWA and FTA said they "propose to phase in implementation of these proposed coordination requirements and the proposed requirements for MPA boundary and MPO boundaries agreements" over two years.