How are transportation funding decisions made?

Ever wonder who decides how our transportation network will be built? Throughout the coming weeks, we'll be blogging about how the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization, also known as CRTPO, works on behalf of residents in Iredell, Mecklenburg, and Union counties to anticipate and plan for future travel needs.

Let's start at the beginning. The CRTPO is the Metropolitan Transportation Organization (MPO) for Iredell, Mecklenburg, and Union counties.

Q: What is an MPO?

A: An MPO is a federally mandated and federally funded transportation policy-making organization in the United States that is made up of representatives from local government and governmental transportation authorities. The population within CRTPO's region is approximately 1.12 milion as of the 2010 census, making its population the largest of any MPO in the state. 

Q: What's the difference between an MPO and an RPO? Why do some parts of North Carolina have RPOs instead?

A: It's a matter of population density. An RPO, or Rural Planning Organization, serves a rural area, whereas a MPO serves a metropolitan area.

Q: What does an MPO do for the residents within its jurisdiction?

A: There are five core functions of an MPO:

  1. establish a setting: establish and manage a fair and impartial setting for effective regional decision-making in the metropolitan area (UZA)
  2. evaluate alternatives: evaluate transportation alternatives, scaled to the size and complexity of the region, to the nature of its transportation issues, and to the realistically available options
  3. maintain a long-range transportation plan (LRTP): develop and update a fiscally constrained long-range transportation plan for the UZA covering a planning horizon of at least twenty years that fosters
    • mobility and access for people and goods,
    • efficient system performance and preservation, and
    • quality of life
  4. develop a transportation improvement program (TIP): develop a fiscally constrained program based on the long-range transportation plan and designed to serve the UZA’s goals while using spending, regulating, operating, management, and financial tools
  5. involve the public: involve the general public and all the significantly affected sub-groups in the four essential functions listed above.

If the metropolitan area is designated as an air quality non-attainment, as the CRTPO is, then it also must protect air quality: transportation plans, programs, and projects must conform with the state air quality plan. 

Q: How can I find out more about the CRTPO?

A: The CRTPO has a comprehensive and frequently updated website, one of the most user-friendly in the state!

Q: I'd like to know what the CRTPO is currently involved in. How can I learn more?

A: Stay tuned to the Transportation Choices Alliance website! We'll be blogging frequently about discussions and decisions made at CRTPO meetings. Even better, come to a CRTPO meeting! They're open to the public and everyone is welcome. You can even sign up to speak for 3 minutes - just stop by the table in the hallway to register. CRTPO meetings are typically held at 6:00 pm on the third Wednesday of the month in Room 267 of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E 4th St, Charlotte NC.


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