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Section 2: Metropolitan Planning Process Overview

The metropolitan transportation planning process is a federally mandated and funded prerequisite for the approval of programs and projects in urbanized areas pursuant to 23 CFR Part 450 and 49 CFR Part 613. The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is a significant partner with the Texas Department of Transportation’s (the department) planning activities in urbanized areas.

In general, the metropolitan planning process involves the following activities:

  • Designate MPO. The governor designates the MPO and executes an agreement to effectuate that designation as per 23 USC §134(d), Designation of Metropolitan Planning Organizations. These powers and responsibilities have been delegated to the Texas Transportation Commission.
  • Execute Planning Contract. The department and the MPO enter into a contractual agreement ( planning contract) that establishes terms and conditions for performance and payment.
  • Approve UPWP. The MPO may develop and submit an annual or if desired, a biennial Unified Planning Work Program ( UPWP), which, when approved, becomes the current budget and statement of work and is incorporated into the planning contract by reference. Federal approval of each MPO's UPWP is a requirement.
  • Authorize Federal Funding. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approve the UPWP and then issue an authorization to the department to expend FHWA PL funds and FTA Section 5303 funds for metropolitan planning.
  • Issue Letter of Authorization. The Transportation Planning and Programming Division (TPP) issues a letter of authorization to the MPO indicating the available funding, and the district monitors MPO performance, assuring that the UPWP's terms of agreement and objectives will be met.
  • Certify Procurement Procedures. The MPO may self-certify its procurement procedures with a Certification of Compliance to be in accordance with 49 CFR §18.36(g)(3)(ii).
  • Conduct Property Inventory. The MPO performs a physical inventory at least every two years of MPO property acquired with federal funds. See 49 CFR §18.32(d)(2).
  • Certify Planning Process. The department's district engineer and the MPO jointly certify the planning process with the UPWP submittal to satisfy the annual certification requirement in 43 TAC §15.5(h)(1). They also jointly certify the planning process with the TIP submittal to satisfy the certification requirement in 23 CFR §450.334.
  • Sign MOA. The MPO, the state, and the public transportation operator(s) sign a memorandum of agreement ( MOA) to cooperatively determine their mutual responsibilities in carrying out the metropolitan transportation planning process in accordance with 23 CFR §450.314. FHWA has recommended a single written agreement between all parties to accomplish that task.
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