Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are federally mandated and federally funded transportation policy-making organizations in the United States made up of representatives from local government and governmental transportation authorities. The United States Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962, which required the formation of an MPO for any urbanized area (UZA) with a population greater than 50,000. Federal funding for transportation projects and programs are channeled through this planning process. Congress created MPOs in order to ensure that existing and future expenditures of governmental funds for transportation projects and programs are based on a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive (“3 C”) planning process. Statewide and metropolitan transportation planning processes are governed by federal law (23 U.S.C. §§ 134–135). Transparency through public access to participation in the planning process and electronic publication of plans now is required by federal law. As of 2012, there are 342 MPOs in the United States.
MPOs were mandated by the Federal Highway Act of 1973 to provide a cooperative, comprehensive, and continuing transportation planning and decision-making process. The process encompasses all travel modes and covers both short-range and long-term transportation planning.
The Florida Statutes also have language addressing Metropolitan Planning Organizations. Those Statutes include the size and membership makeup of MPO Boards and requirements that address the process for the development of transportation plans between the State of Florida – through the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) – and Florida MPOs.