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600451-00106-1 Report Abstract

Regional Decision-Making and Competitive Funding: Metropolitan Planning Organizations and the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery Program

Kate Lowe, August, 2014

Transportation benefits and economic stimulus were behind the creation of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program in 2009. New transportation funding programs exist in a landscape of other programs, and in addition extensive federal rules require that state-designated metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) lead regional transportation planning and produce near and long-range plans. This report examines the potential for the TIGER program to conflict with these mandated planning processes. To learn about the connection between MPOs, their planning documents, and TIGER applications, the primary dataset for analysis was a survey of metropolitan planning organizations. The roles that MPOs and their planning documents played in TIGER application processes were highly varied. While some MPOs were local project sponsors and others advised or provided data, a sizable share of MPOs reported no role in the regional process to select projects for TIGER applications, despite federally mandated regional coordination and planning. MPO capacity appears to differ significantly and to affect the roles that MPOs play in regional processes. While there are already additional planning requirements for larger urbanized areas, further differentiation of roles and expectations for MPOs may be appropriate. New programs, especially those with short time lines, may obscure the process for joint decision making and complicate adherence to regional planning mandates. Results on MPO roles and the relationship between plans and candidate projects suggest that MPOs are not always the decision site as language in plans would suggest, but they can be an important site for convening stakeholders.

Keywords: TIGER, Metropolitan Planning Organizations

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 815 KB)