Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)
A Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is a transportation policy-making organization composed of representatives from local governments and transportation implementers. The Federal-Aid Highway Act requires an MPO for all urbanized areas with a population greater than 50,000. MPO's ensure that existing and future expenditures for transportation projects and programs are based on the 3-C process: comprehensive, cooperative, and continuing planning. Transportation projects and programs qualify for federal funding through this planning process.
There are 16 MPOs in the state of Illinois. Region 1 Planning Council (R1PC) is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Rockford region.
Transportation stakeholders must be participants of this organization and they must agree to cooperate. The dynamic nature of transportation necessitates that these entities conduct their work on a continuing basis; constantly monitoring the changing situations and updating their plans and improvement programs. Collectively, such efforts are simply referred to as 'the transportation planning process' and the entities that perform this work are officially called Metropolitan Planning Organizations.
Reference: Illinois Department of Transportation
Much of the technical work accomplished by the MPO is conducted by a professional staff under the direction of the R1PC Executive Director. Some of the technical work the MPO needs to perform is occasionally out-sourced to professional consulting firms.
The MPO planning process and planning activities are funded by annual planning grants from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) with 20% matching funds from the local participants.
The MPO is empowered and by a cooperative agreement developed and mutually adopted by the cities of Rockford, Loves Park, and Belvidere; the Counties of Winnebago and Boone; the Village of Machesney Park; and the State of Illinois acting through the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). The activities of the MPO are directed by a Policy Committee that consists of the top elected officials from the above entities plus the Deputy Director from IDOT Region 2.
The Policy Committee receives advice and assistance from a 22-member Technical Committee comprised of planners and/or engineers from the above entities plus the Villages of Cherry Valley, Roscoe, Poplar Grove and Winnebago; along with representatives from the Rockford Mass Transit District, the Chicago/Rockford International Airport and various other local partners.
Over 40 years ago, when many of these entities were first formed and did their initial comprehensive transportation plans, they referred to the overall effort as a 'transportation study'. Subsequently, the title 'Rockford Area Transportation Study' (RATS) was retained and extended to refer to the ongoing planning process of the MPO itself. From 2006 to 2008, the structure of RATS was reexamined and reorganized into the Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning (RMAP).
In 2017, the organization underwent another transition, moving under the umbrella of the Region 1 Planning Council, and continues to plan and coordinate decisions regarding the Rockford region's major transportation systems.