TTCI MPO Frequently Asked Questions
Metropolitan Planning Organization FAQ
What is a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)?
- A Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is the policy board of an organization created and designated to carry out the metropolitan transportation planning process. MPOs are required to represent localities in all urbanized areas (UZAs) with populations over 50,000, as determined by the U.S. Census. MPOs are designated by agreement between the governor and local governments that together represent at least 75 percent of the affected population (including the largest incorporated city, based on population) or in accordance with procedures established by applicable state or local law.
What is the population of the TTCI urbanized area?
- The population of the TTCI urbanized area is 56,890 as of the 2020 census.
What are the benefits of an MPO?
- Some of the benefits that an established MPO brings include:
- An MPO establishes a collaborative and coordinating body that supports discussion and consensus-building for transportation projects in a regional context.
- An MPO is required to develop transportation plans with visions extending from long-range to short-range for planning and implementation efforts that support projects within the planning area.
- An MPO establishes a threshold of need for public participation and input as a core principle of the structure.
- An MPO funnels designated Federal Transportation Funds to the Metropolitan Planning Area (MPA).
- An MPO establishes eligibility for a geographic area to apply for transportation grants which are restricted to MPO's.
What local units and agencies are eligible for inclusion in the TTCI MPO?
- The following entities are eligible and recommended for inclusion by the Michigan Department of Transportation. The Townships of Acme, East Bay, Peninsula, Garfield, Elmwood, Bingham, Long Lake, Whitewater, Blair, and Green Lake, the city of Traverse City, the Bay Area Transit Authority, Cherry Capital Airport Authority, Grand Traverse County Road Commission, Leelanau County Road Commission, Grand Traverse County and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.
What types of transportation does an MPO coordinate and plan for?
- MPO's are established to coordinate and plan for the whole range of transportation options including vehicular, air, water, rail, and non-motorized. Planning and projects in any and all of these realms may be included in the required transportation plans.
Where does funding for the MPO come from?
- Funding originates from the Federal Government through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The funding apportionment is provided to the State of Michigan to be allocated amongst the 15 MPOs currently organized in the State. The formula for the allocation is based Census Urban area population and a base amount agreed to by the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Association (MTPA), to which all Michigan MPOs belong.
How is transportation funding going to change with the formation of the MPO?
- Prior to the formation of the MPO Transportation funding in the greater TC area was comprised of two primary sources the “Small Urban Program” and the “Rural Task Force”. The following changes occur:
- The “Small Urban Program” ceases to exist with the formation of the MPO. This funding source is replaced by the funding sources allocated to the MPO which are outlined and described below in this FAQ and include the STBG, STBG Flex and the CRP. The funding allocations for the programs made available to the MPO is much greater than what was provided through the “Small Urban Program”.
- The “Rural Task Force” funding stream will continue at the same allocation level, although the area within which this funding stream can be applied to projects will decrease due to the expansion of the urbanized boundary for the TTCI MPO. The TTCI urbanized boundary is set through the ACUB process. See the acronyms section at the bottom of this FAQ page for a description of ACUB.
What types of funding are provided to the TTCI MPO?
- Administration and Planning Funding: TTCI receives a funding allocation for administration and planning activities of the MPO as required by Federal Statutes 23 CFR 450 and 49 CFR 613 (which are respectively the Highway Administration Requirements & Transit Administration Requirements ). These administration and planning activities are facilitated by impartial third-party staff of the Community Development Department at Networks Northwest. Select staff within the Community Development Department serve at the direction of the MPO Policy Board.
- Transportation Project/Alternatives Funding: TTCI receives allocations to three funding categories under the umbrella of the MPO. These funding categories are to be dispersed for different transportation projects on a yearly basis as determined by the TTCI MPO Policy Board with recommendations coming from the TTCI MPO Technical Committee. The three funding categories are:
- Carbon Reduction Program (CRP): This funding is to support projects which will reduce carbon emissions. (CRP Fact Sheet) (CRP Legislation)
- Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBG): This funding is to support projects within the Metropolitan Planning Area (MPA)). (STBG Information), (STBG Legislation)
- Surface Transportation Block Grant Flex Program (STBG-Flex): This fund is to support projects within the Metropolitan Planning Area (MPA), which contains both areas within the ACUB and rural areas outside of the ACUB but within the MPA. (STBG Information), (STBG Legislation)
What types of transportation projects can be funded with the funding allocations to TTCI?
- Transportation projects consisting of transit, road, and non-motorized/pedestrian improvements are all eligible to some degree dependent upon factors such as location, road classification, and eligibility of the funding source. Specifics relating to a desired project should be discussed with MPO staff and MPO Policy Board and Technical Committee members. Transportation projects are required to be included in the transportation planning documents which guide improvements in the planning area.
How does TTCI plan for transportation improvements?
- TTCI is required to follow a 3-C process established by the Federal Highway Administration. The three C process stands for Comprehensive, Cooperative, and Continuous. The process entails many inputs for the planning process including community engagement, data collection, data management, plan development, transportation project prioritization, and implementation activities associated with the process. TTCI staff will develop and continually update three planning documents which are:
- Unified Work Plan: This is a document that spans a single year and is updated yearly. This denotes the tasks and deliverables to be met by the MPO on a yearly basis and is approved by TTCI MPO Policy Board and MDOT yearly.
- Transportation Improvement Program (TIP): This is a 4-year planning document that is updated every 3 years. The document focuses on the prioritization of projects to be implemented within the 4-year funding allocation cycles through the MDOT. The TIP is approved by the MPO Policy Board and updated accordingly based on allocation changes or project changes.
- Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP): The LRTP is a document that has a planning horizon of 20+ years and is to be a comprehensive plan outlining projects and strategies related to all facets of transportation in the planning area of the MPO. This document is approved by the MPO Policy Board and is updated every 4 to 5 years.
What agencies are authorized to submit for projects to be considered by the MPO Policy Board?
- ACT 51 Agencies are the only agencies that are authorized to submit projects when the “Call for projects” occurs. An ACT 51 Agency is a County Road Commission, Transit Agency such as the Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA), or Local Unit of Government (i.e. City of Traverse City) that has jurisdiction over roads and is responsible for building and maintaining the roads within their jurisdictions. They also carry the legal liability for those roads. This ensures that all roads are maintained efficiently and without financial burden to the township and ensures uniform service throughout the county.
How does my local unit of government or organization submit a project for consideration by the MPO Policy Board if we are not an ACT 51 Agency?
- Local units of government and organizations with an interest in specific transportation projects and improvements should communicate to respective ACT 51 Agencies which oversee the type of project and have authority in that area. Communication and open dialogue are critical to the success of the MPO as a collaborative body for the planning area. County road commissions should regularly meet with the townships in their counties to help determine maintenance and construction priorities. Construction and maintenance projects should be planned and coordinated with active input from township officials and residents. Townships can also contribute funds toward road and bridge projects through the Road Commission.
How are projects selected for funding through the MPO?
- Projects are submitted for consideration by ACT 51 Agencies. These projects are submitted during the “Call for Projects”, which is an open ask for the submission of project sheets that provide the specifics for an individual transportation project. The “Call for Projects” sheets, once submitted to TTCI staff, are organized and presented in the TTCI MPO Technical Committee packet. The Technical Committee reviews, prioritizes, and recommends approval of specific prioritized projects to the TTCI MPO Policy Board. That information from the Technical Committee is organized into the TTCI MPO Policy Board meeting packet and is presented at the following Policy Board meeting. The TTCI MPO Policy Board then weighs and discusses the recommendation and provides final approval of their prioritized projects to be implemented.
- As the TTCI MPO matures over time, transportation planning documents are developed and adopted. All federally funded projects need to be included within the Transportation Improvement Program, which is approved by the MPO Policy Board, FHWA, and FTA. Any major changes to projects must also be approved through the TIP amendment process (see TIP Amendment Process Document in the documents section of webpage). An orderly progression of approval of projects will occur through following well-laid and adopted transportation plans.
What are the next steps for the fiscal year 2024 for the TTCI MPO?
- Staff in coordination with the TTCI MPO Policy Board and Technical Committee will begin to develop policies that will structure processes and provide guidance for the on-goings of the MPO. Necessary policies and tasks are outlined within the Fiscal Year 2024 Unified Work Plan which will guide the actions of staff for the MPO for the current fiscal year.
Transportation Acronyms and Descriptions
- Traverse Transportation Coordinating Initiative (TTCI): This is the formal name of the greater traverse area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
- Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT): The State of Michigan Transportation Agency which serves on the MPO Policy Board as a voting member and supports activities of the MPO with expertise and knowledge of transportation planning processes and implementation.
- Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO): An MPO is a federally designated transportation planning body which is established when threshold criteria are met which include population and housing density.
- Metropolitan Planning Area (MPA): The MPA is the designated planning area which is approved upon formation of the MPO for which transportation planning activities and projects are carried out.
- Travel Demand Model (TDM): The TDM utilizes current travel behavior and data such as population and employment figures to predict future travel patterns which are utilized for transportation planning activities and plan development.
- Transportation Improvement Program (TIP): The TIP is a 4 year transportation planning document which is updated every 2 years. The TIP must contain all transportation improvements which are planned for the MPA.
- Unified Work Program (UWP): The UWP is a planning document which guides the yearly activities of the MPO. This document must contain all activities and projects for the current year which will be undertaken by the MPO. This plan is updated yearly.
- Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP): The LRTP is planning document of the MPO with a 20+ year planning horizon. This document envisions and is to include all forecasted projects of the MPO. This plan is updated regularly on a 5 year or less basis.
- Call For Projects (CFP): The CFP is the process by which the MPO seeks the submission of projects by eligible agencies.
- Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG): The STBG and also the STBG Flex are funding sources established through Federal Legislation which support transportation projects of the MPO.
- Carbon Reduction Program (CRP): The CRP is a funding source established through Federal Legislation which supports transportation projects of the MPO which reduce carbon emissions.
- Federal Highway Administration (FHWA): The FHWA is the federal agency which oversees all federal transportation activities outlined through Federal Legislation for roadways and non-transit programs and improvements.
- Federal Transit Administration (FTA): The FTA is the federal agency which oversees all federal transportation activities outlined through Federal Legislation for transit related programs and improvements.
- Adjusted Census Urbanized Boundary (ACUB): The ACUB is the boundary that encapsulates all designated urbanized areas as dictated by the US Census Bureau of the MPA. The ACUB process is a smoothing of the boundary around the urbanized area which includes areas forecasted for growth within the next 10 years.
- National Functional Classification (NFC): The NFC is a defined classification of a segment of roadway which outlines the type of role that roadway performs for roadway network.
The professionals at Networks Northwest help our City Council, Planning Commission, and staff make thoughtful decisions to ensure our community is sustainable and resilient for many years to come.
- Mark Heydlauff, Charlevoix City Manager