About the South Western Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)
The South Western Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is the federally mandated organization designated by the Governor as the forum for cooperative transportation decision-making. The chief elected officials of the South Western Region's eight towns and the directors of the Region's transit districts were designated by Governor William O'Neill on June 30, 1981 as the metropolitan planning organization. The chairman of the South Western Regional Planning Agency serves as a non-voting member.
The MPO is responsible for providing policy direction on all aspects of the transportation planning process, including:
Staff to the MPO is provided by the South Western Regional Planning Agency. This ensures that transportation planning is coordinated with the regional land use plan.
The full voting members of the MPO are:
- Darien First Selectman
- Greenwich First Selectman
- New Canaan First Selectman
- Norwalk Mayor
- Stamford Mayor
- Weston First Selectman
- Westport First Selectman
- Wilton First Selectman
The Greater Stamford, Norwalk and Westport Transit Districts share one vote. MPO members may designate official voting representatives.
Transportation Technical Advisory Group, or TTAG, also provides support to the MPO. The TTAG is a committee that reviews and evaluates proposals before submitting them to the MPO. The TTAG consists of technical representatives from the transit districts, municipal planning departments, municipal public works departments, SWRPA, Connecticut Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and the Federal Transit Administration.
History of the South Western Region MPO
The following provides a brief overview of events leading to the formation of the South Western Region Metropolitan Planning Organization. Metropolitan planning organizations are required under federal law for urbanized areas to be eligible to receive federal highway and transit funding.
1962 Federal-Aid Highway Act
The 1962 Federal-Aid Highway Act established the requirement that a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive or 3 "C" transportation planning process be carried out in urbanized areas of over 50,000 population, in order to be eligible to receive federal funding for project implementation. The requirement was met by the State Highway Department operating under a memorandum of Understanding which were executed with the individual of Chief Elected Official, of communities, within urbanized areas with over 50,000 population.
1973 Federal-Aid Highway Act
The 1973 Federal-Aid Highway Act required that the Governor designate a Metropolitan Planning Organization or MPO to be responsible, together with the State, for carrying out the responsibilities of the urban transportation process. The MPO had to be a forum for cooperative decision-making by "principal elected officials of general purpose local governments".
In 1973, the Governor designated the Tri-State Regional Planning Commission as the MPO for South Western Connecticut. The Tri-State MPO had responsibility for the New Haven, Bridgeport, Waterbury, Danbury, Stamford, and Norwalk urbanized areas in Connecticut, as well as Metropolitan New York and portions of New Jersey.
To provide for meaningful Chief Elected Official participation under the Tri-State Umbrella, six Transportation Endorsement Boards, or TEBs, were established in Connecticut. Each TEB had jurisdiction for one planning region. The TEB performed all the MPO functions for a region; however, their actions had to be ratified by the Tri-State Regional Planning Commission.
The Transportation Endorsement Board for the South Western Region was formed on July 19, 1977, and was comprised of the Chief Elected Officials of the South Western Region and one director from each Transit District of the South Western Region. The Chairman of SWRPA was a non-voting member.
Connecticut Revokes Participation in Tri-State
In April 1981, the Connecticut General Assembly began to consider legislation to dissolve participation in the Tri-State Regional Planning Commission. The Connecticut legislation was ultimately passed.
As a result of these actions, new Metropolitan Planning Organizations had to be designated to carry out the urban transportation planning process to insure continued eligibility to receive federal transportation planning and implementation funding. Since the Transportation Endorsement Boards or TEBs already existed and were performing the urban transportation planning process, they were the logical entity to assume this MPO designation.
In a letter dated June 26, 1982 to the Federal Highway Administration and the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (now the Federal Transit Administration), Governor O'Neill revoked Connecticut's designation of the Tri-State Regional Planning Commission as the MPO, designated six new MPOs effective June 30, 1981. The Chief Elected Officials of the South Western Region and the Directors of the South Western Region Transit Districts were designated the MPO for the South Western Region of Connecticut. The Chairman of SWRPA serves in an advisory capacity and is a nonvoting member.
Prior to this designation, a Memorandum of Understanding was executed in each area. On June 23, 1981, the Chief Elected Officials and Transit Districts voted to form an MPO in the South Western Region. The Memorandum of Understanding describes membership on the MPO, defines its responsibilities, and provides for carrying out the planning process.
The Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century of (TEA-21) signed into law by President Clinton on June 9, 1998 continues the requirement for a metropolitan planning process and Metropolitan Planning Organizations. Local officials, in cooperation with the State and transit operators, remain responsible for determining the best mix of transportation investments to meet the metropolitan transportation needs.