Metropolitan planning organizations

Wisconsin has 14 metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) that share responsibility for transportation planning in 17 metropolitan areas. WisDOT works closely with MPOs to ensure a comprehensive, coordinated approach to local, regional and state transportation planning in Wisconsin's urbanized areas.

What is an MPO?

A metropolitan planning organization is an organization of primarily local elected officials who provide a forum for local decision-making on transportation issues of a regional nature. The federal government requires that an MPO be designated for each urbanized area with a population greater than 50,000.

This designation must be agreed on by the governor and the units of general purpose local governments that together represent at least 75 percent of the affected population (including the central city or cities as defined by the Bureau of the Census).

Each MPO has a policy board that is generally comprised of chief elected officials who represent different parts of the region served by the MPO. This board is advised by a technical committee (typically referred to as a Technical Advisory Committee, or TAC) that consists of planning and engineering staff from jurisdictions within each region.

The TAC develops high quality technical tools and analysis for the region, and advises the MPO policy board on technical and administrative issues related to regional transportation planning. Some MPOs also utilize a citizen advisory committee and other specialized committees to advise the policy board.

Funding for MPO transportation planning is provided through a combination of federal, state and local funds.

MPO responsibilities

A metropolitan planning organization (MPO) has several purposes. First, to develop a long-range transportation plan that will provide a multi-modal investment strategy for meeting the mobility needs of people and businesses throughout a metropolitan area.

Second, an MPO is responsible for developing the short-range transportation improvement program which prioritizes improvement projects for federal funding purposes.

MPOs ensure that provisions of state and federal laws pertaining to regional transportation planning are implemented in each metropolitan planning area. The planning area is defined as the existing urbanized area plus the projected 20-year growth area. It is mutually determined by the MPO and the state.

Performance Measure Cooperation

Federal regulations require that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), MPOs and transit providers work cooperatively in developing and reporting transportation performance measures. The Performance Measure Cooperation Written Documentation provides the framework that will guide this effort.

MPO map and contacts

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