Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Reforming the Governance of Metropolitan Planning Organizations
Press Release

RELEASE: Reforming the Governance of Metropolitan Planning Organizations

Washington, D.C. — Metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) were created after the passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962 to provide elected officials representing urban areas a greater voice and control over decisions affecting their area’s transportation infrastructure. A new Center for American Progress report examines how the overrepresentation of suburban and exurban elected officials on MPO boards skews transportation planning and investment decisions toward highway expansion and unsustainable land use. 

The lack of proportional geographical representation for central cities and counties contributes to the fact that transportation dollars still flow overwhelmingly to highway expansion projects instead of public transportation, biking, and walking projects. Because of this, large metropolitan areas suffer from increasing road and highway congestion, and residents within them are too reliant on driving alone. This report examines MPOs in the four largest metropolitan areas in Texas—Houston, Austin, Dallas Fort-Worth, and San Antonio—to demonstrate why Congress should require MPO board representation to be proportional to the geographic distribution of regional populations. Doing so would make progress toward creating a truly sustainable, efficient, and equitable surface transportation system. 

“Congress created MPOs with the intention of providing a greater voice to metropolitan regions when it comes to planning our transportation system. Yet over time, the governance of MPOs has morphed to give outsize power to suburban and exurban communities, resulting in an overemphasis on highway expansion at the expense of more sustainable and equitable investments in transit, biking, and walking. Central cities and counties have had to deal with the consequences of mega highway projects that principally benefit exurban areas. It’s time for Congress to reform MPOs so that board seats are distributed proportionally to area populations so that they have a fair say in the transportation system,” said Kevin DeGood, director of Infrastructure Policy at CAP and author of the report.

Read the report: “Reforming the Governance of Metropolitan Planning Organizations” by Kevin DeGood

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Sarah Nadeau at [email protected]

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.