MPOwerment Initiative Helps Local Planners Collaborate and Innovate
At the United States Department of Transportation, we understand how important transportation planning is to addressing regional transportation priorities.
That’s why we are engaging with regional transportation decision makers at Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to understand their concerns and challenges and work together to strengthen our regional planning agencies, improve regional coordination, and streamline decision-making.
It’s an approach we call MPOwerment.
Image courtesy Minnesota DOT.
Decision makers involved in the transportation planning process have a tough job. They have to make tough decisions about how best to spend limited transportation dollars to improve everyday lives. The decisions they make can involve the input of thousands of stakeholders and affect the daily lives of millions.
These decisions can also have lasting impacts on a region. The route a new road takes can determine the shape of development for decades to come. A decision to connect a community with a new train station, to improve bus service, or build a bike lane can help to revitalize an entire neighborhood.
Like a lot of what we do, the MPOwerment initiative responds to one of the key challenges identified in Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices 2045. Beyond Traffic describes the growing web of agencies and stakeholders involved in the transportation decision-making process and the challenges metropolitan regions face in reconciling local and regional goals to keep planning processes moving forward and, ultimately, make the right decisions.
When we presented the findings of Beyond Traffic in regional forums across the country last year, this challenge – how we work together to make better decisions regionally and locally – resonated more than any other.
But even as Forum participants shared their frustrations with current transportation planning and decision-making processes, they also shared a desire and a willingness to work together to overcome silos, to think creatively, to do things differently – to make things better.
MPOwerment is our effort to harness this enthusiasm and collaborative spirit.
The MPOwerment initiative is focused on the role that MPOs play in encouraging collaboration, increasing public participation, and growing opportunity through the transportation planning process.
The initiative will consist of a series of seven one-day roundtables across the country led by senior U.S. DOT leaders. Through these events, we hope to engage transportation decision makers in discussions about ways to improve regional planning and expand investments that revitalize communities and connect people to opportunity.
The first of the workshops will be held in October 2016 and continue into Spring 2017.
With so many decisions often needed as part of the transportation planning process, we recognize that we are going to have think differently about our transportation challenges.
Whether it’s by creating forums or institutions that facilitate regional coordination or harnessing technology to bring people into the transportation planning discussion, we aren’t going to transform our transportation system if we don’t involve more people in the decision-making process.
To achieve the transportation system of the future, we have to start by making the right decisions today.