As of October 1, 2016, the SWUTC concluded its 28 years of operation and is no longer an active center of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The archived SWUTC website remains available here.


SWUTC Workforce Development Initiative Description

Megaregion Workshop:  Moving the Concept of Megaregions into Transportation Planning

University: Texas Southern University

Principal Investigator:
Carol Lewis
Texas Southern University

Funding Source: State of Texas General Revenue Funds

Total Project Cost: $30,000

Project Number: 161140

Date Started: 9/1/10

Estimated Completion Date:  8/31/11

Initiative Summary

An area of growing dialog among transportation professionals is about megaregions and the affect the concept may have on long range travel demand and the movement of goods throughout the state.  Megaregions is the notion that individual urban areas do not operate singly, but in concert with other urban and rural areas as a comprehensive unit providing and attracting goods and services for the world.  As these complex mobility arrangements occur, planning entities are continuing to conduct more localized scaled activities for their independent urban and rural areas.  Key questions should be asked about whether another planning layer should be added that examines the megaregions and investigates the interrelationships to determine if advantages or efficiencies might be available by considering operation of the complex whole as one unit. Clearly, such an assessment would not negate the smaller, local level planning activities, but may offer the potential to more competitively posture a megaregion  in line with the other 40 or so world megaregions.  This effort convened a workshop to address this planning concept.

Implementation of Initiative Outcomes:
This workshop was conduced on November 1st, 2010 in Austin, Texas.  Twenty transportation professionals and academics were invited to consider establishing an agenda for discussing the concept of the megaregion in Texas.  Widespread interests in megaregions exists across the world, as historical urban area boundaries fade and proximate major urban centers begin to function as a unit and in tandem.  For Texas, the regions including and surrounding Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio form the core of the Texas megaregion, often termed the Texas Triangle.

This workshop included breakout sessions to examine foundational questions concerning megaregions.  Principally, whether megaregions should be included as a continuing component in long range plan updates by the metropolitan planning organizations and state.  If yes, subsequent questions were what planning activities should be covered, what entity should conduct megaregions’ planning, and how priorities should be set concerning the many issues in planning for the megaregion.

Consensus from the breakout sessions concluded that planning should occur for Texas’ megaregions.  From the transportation vantage point, TxDOT is best suited to conduct the planning, but MPOs are important contributors.  Federal guidance for MPOs limits their authority to consider matters outside their boundaries, so how cross-regional connectivity occurs at their boundaries will be important.  Attendees advised that future megaregion discussions should include private sector stakeholders working in all the urban areas.

Workshop Group

Workshop breakout session discussion

Impacts/Benefits of Implementation:
These discussions are clearly linked to the economic competitiveness of the region.  Attendees were also interested in how the rural areas of the state and West Texas communities are linked to the megaregion.  The workshop formed the first level discussion on these important issues.

Web Links:

Final Report