Q: What is a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)?
A metropolitan planning organization is entrusted by law — the Safe, Accountable, Effective, Transportation Equity Act — A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) — with lead responsibility for developing transportation plans and programs for urbanized areas with populations of 50,000 people or more.
Q: How is an MPO formed?
An MPO is designated by agreement between the Governor and local governments representing 75 percent of the affected metropolitan population. This agreement outlines the membership of its policy-making body, standing committees, and the geographic area served by the MPO.
Q: Who belongs to an MPO?
The voting membership of the MPO’s policy body is outlined in the federal regulations. Membership must include representation by local elected officials, officials of agencies that administer or operate major modes or systems of transportation, and appropriate state officials.
Q: How is the Planning Area Boundary determined?
At a minimum, the MPO’s planning area must cover the urbanized and contiguous geographic areas likely to become urbanized within the next 20 years.
Areas designated as non-attainment (not meeting the Environmental Protection Agency standard for certain pollutants) under the Clean Air Act, must be included in the MPO boundary, unless there is an agreement between the MPO and the Governor.
The MPO boundary should foster effective planning, enhance connections between transportation modes, improve access to the region’s transportation systems, and promote effective use of transportation funds.
Q: What does the MPO do?
SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act-a Legacy for Users) outlines the metropolitan planning process which the MPO must follow. This process includes the development of a Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), and an annual Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP), or budget. All of these products must be developed with the consideration of SAFETEA-LU. These factors emphasize maximizing the use of existing transportation systems, promoting intermodal passenger and freight transportation, conserving natural resources, coordinating land-use and transportation planning, and promoting economic growth.
The Regional Transportation Plan defines how the region’s transportation system will develop over at least a 20-year period. The RTP must be based on goals and objectives developed through a visioning process. This process must include input from the public and private sectors, and be coordinated with the goals and objectives of local and state long-range plans. The federal mandate dictates the plan be updated at least every three years.
The Unified Planning Work Program outlines the planning priorities facing the region and describes all transportation and transportation-related air quality planning activities anticipated in the region within the next one or two-year period. It details who will perform the work, the schedule for completion, and the products to be produced. The UPWP contains all of the region’s transportation planning projects regardless of funding sources or agencies conducting them.
At least every two years, the MPO must develop a Transportation Improvement Program which lists the projects for which federal transportation funds will be spent during at least a three-year period. The MPO must demonstrate that the projects in the TIP will not worsen the region’s air quality and that funding is reasonably available to complete them. The MPO must have a definitive process for prioritizing and selecting projects to be included in the TIP. The prioritization process must be directly related to the current goals and future needs outlined in the MPO’s Regional Transportation Plan.
Q: Why does the Dover/Kent County MPO exist?
The 1990 Census showed that the Dover urbanized area exceeded a population of 50,000 people; therefore, transportation plans and programs for this region must be developed using the metropolitan planning process.
Q: Who belongs to the Dover/Kent County MPO?
In accordance with the federal regulation, the members of the MPO who sign the MPO agreement are:
the State of Delaware, Kent County, and the City of Dover.
Q: How is the Dover/Kent County MPO structured?
The Dover/Kent County MPO has three active bodies: Council, Technical Advisory Committee, Public Advisory Committee.
The Council is the MPO’s policy-making body. Membership includes the highest elected officials (or their designees) from member governments:
Governor, State of Delaware
President, Kent County Levy Court
Mayor, City of Dover
A mayor elected by Kent County municipalities to represent them
The operators of major transportation modes:
Secretary, Delaware Department of Transportation
Director, Delaware Transit Corporation
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) serve as non-voting members of the Council.
The Technical Advisory Committee comprises employees of member governments or related agencies, as designated by the MPO agreement. Based upon their individual areas of professional expertise, TAC members provide skilled analyses and comments regarding proposed transportation plans and programs. Members’ expertise includes knowledge of local land-use plans, planning goals and zoning laws, air quality analysis, transportation planning, and economic development. TAC meetings provide forums where information is shared to facilitate the coordination of planning activities in the region. TAC membership comprises the following:
Delaware Department of Transportation
Delaware Office of State Planning Coordination
Delaware Economic Development Office
Delaware Transit Corporation
Delaware Department of Agriculture
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
Dover Department of Planning and Inspections
Kent County Planning Department
Kent Soil Conservation District
Dover Air Force Base
Dover City Engineer
Representatives of other Kent County Municipalities
Conrail, the Delaware Motor Transport Association, FHWA, and FTA are non-voting members.
The Public Advisory Committee ensures that the MPO receives input from the public regarding all transportation plans, programs, and policies adopted by the Council. PAC members are appointed by Kent County member governments. PAC appointees are community leaders of diverse backgrounds. Length of PAC terms is two years. Appointments are apportioned as follows:
State of Delaware – Four Appointees
Kent County – Six Appointees
City of Dover – Three Appointees
Q: What is the current planning area boundary of the Dover/Kent County MPO?
At the time of its organization in late 1992, the MPO’s planning area was confined to the area defined by the 1990 Census as being part of the Dover urbanized area, plus the areas projected to become part of the urbanized area by the year 2010. The planning area included the City of Dover, Camden, Wyoming, Little Creek, Magnolia, Viola, Woodside, Felton, and a portion of the unincorporated area of Kent County contiguous to Dover. In 1995, the State of Delaware, City of Dover, and Kent County agreed to expand the MPO boundary to include all of Kent County, including the municipalities of Milford, and Smyrna, bisected by Sussex and New Castle Counties, respectively.
Q: How does the MPO relate to the Regional Planning Commission and local Planning Commissions?
The MPO coordinates transportation planning activities in support of the Regional Planning Commission, or local planning authorities. The MPO is a conduit for coordinating transportation plans and programs needed to support state and local comprehensive plans. The MPO provides a forum for improving communication and understanding between local governments and state agencies.
Q: Where is the Dover/Kent County MPO office located?
The Dover/Kent County MPO office is located at 1783 Friends Way in Camden, DE, 19934 on the third floor of the Camden Town Hall building.