Core MPO Planning Products – MTPs and TIPs
Kristen Z, Transportation Planner
[<3 Minute Read]
All Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are required to produce and maintain two planning products – the Metropolitan Transportation Plans (MTPs) and the Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPs).
Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) Overview
MTPs are long range, visionary plans that define the long-term goals (i.e. 20 years+) and desired outcomes (including the strategies and projects required) for the region’s multi-modal transportation system. The multi-modal transportation system includes highways, arterial streets (a high-capacity urban road that sits below freeways / motorways on the road hierarchy in terms of traffic flow and speed), transit systems, railroad systems, bicycle and pedestrian systems.
MTP Planning Process
First, data on the existing system is compiled, evaluated, and reported. Next, the needs of the system are identified and prioritized. Finally, input is collected from stakeholders and the general public, financial projections are made, and all information is synthesized into goals, policies and a project list.
The project list often contains a diverse mix of projects and strategies including capital highway infrastructure projects, public outreach initiatives, transit buses and services, plans and studies, capital construction on arterial streets, bicycle and pedestrian projects and initiatives. Depending on the size of the region, MTPs’ projects can cost millions or even billions of dollars. MTPs are approved by the local MPO, and they serve as the official plan for the transportation system in each metropolitan area. Many MPOs utilize EcoInteractive’s Project Tracker software to track their MTPs, which can be customized with a public facing portal to view the MTP projects and an administrative portal to manage the MTP Amendments.
Transportation Improvement Programs (TIP) Overview
Transportation Improvement Programs (TIP) consist of all projects from the MTP that will be implemented over the next four years. Federal regulations require projects listed in the TIP to be consistent with the MTP. TIPs include projects funded by many different federal, state and local funding sources. In fact, federal regulations require projects to be listed in the TIP before federal funding can be secured for TIP projects.
At the TIP level, specific funding sources and sponsoring agencies (i.e. local governments, state governments, transit authorities, etc.) are committed to individual projects. Once the TIP has been approved, engineering design begins on capital construction projects and procurement processes are initiated for the non-capital projects. Many MPOs utilize EcoInteractive’s Project Tracker software to manage their TIPs. The Project Tracker software includes an administrative portal for MPO staff to manage TIP projects at the update and amendment stages and a public facing portal.
Public and Federal Impact of MTP and TIP Process
MPOs provide regular opportunities for public and stakeholders to provide input and comments on the MTP and the TIP and amend them regularly. Federal regulations require that MTPs be updated at least once every four years in regions that have been designated by the EPA as “non-attainment” for federal air quality standards and at least once every five years in all other regions. Federal regulations require TIPs to be updated at least once every four years.