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472840-00042-1 Report Abstract

An Examination of Policy Implications of Criteria That Determine Regional Transportation Priorities

Carol A. Lewis and Ruben Howard, Texas Southern University, June 1999, 79 pp. (472840-00042-1)

This research examines the issues surrounding ISTEA legislation, particularly the legislation centered around Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO’s). ISTEA mandates that Metropolitan Planning Organizations conduct comprehensive long range plans within the financial constraints of the individual region. ISTEA legislation also requires MPOs to address a number of categories in their analysis of potential transportation projects. These categories will be reviewed to determine how they are used in the selection of projects to receive funding. The review and examination of planning documents from MPOs throughout the United States will indicate which factors they emphasize in determining policy criteria of project selection.

The 1962 Federal Highway Act first legislated cooperation between state departments of transportation (DOTs) and local communities in urban areas. Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) have existed since the mid 1960’s to facilitate planning on a regional level. MPOs throughout the country receive a proportionate share of the federal money to prepare long range plans and three year capital investment programs known as Transportation Improvements Programs (TIPs). The 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ITEA) mandated that all MPOs developed Regional Transportation Plans (RTPs), to be updated every three years, which should have 20 year time lines, and address relevant air quality and congestion management issues.

Keywords: Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO’s), Planning Criteria, Long Range Plans, TIPs