National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) 08-122:
MPOs - Strategies for Future Success

CLIENT: National Academy of Sciences

Purpose of Project

The 1962 Federal Aid Highway Act introduced the vision of cooperative, comprehensive, and continuing (3-C) multimodal planning for urbanized areas. By the mid-1970s, federal statutes and associated rulemaking resulted in the formation of metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). Much has changed since then, including shifts in focus regarding multimodalism, transportation technologies, environmental considerations, planning for sustainability and resiliency, goods movement, asset management, system performance, capacity enhancements, coordinating land use and transportation, and funding and financing methods. MPOs have been the subject of various studies but limited work has been undertaken, to date, to (1) conduct a comprehensive or critical review of their strengths and weaknesses in light of 21st century transportation issues and (2) position MPOs throughout the United States for future success.

The research being done as part of National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) 08-122: MPOs - Strategies for Future Success should benefit MPOs, state departments of transportation (DOTs), and key stakeholders (such as public transportation providers, local and regional entities, and the public) by supporting the 3-C planning process and the delivery of future transportation projects and programs, in light of emerging trends.

Our Role on the Project

As part of a team, Modern Mobility Partners (MMP) is leading the development of a Quick Response Toolkit for MPOs and other agencies.  The toolkit will include 10 to 15 2-page guidance documents on how to address 21st century problems facing MPOs, such as:
 

  • Addressing social equity in transportation planning

  • Financially constraining a plan when there is reduced and unstable infrastructure funding due to reduced sales and motor fuel tax collection

  • Employing engagement tools to reach everyone, including those without internet access;

  • Making better use of curb space, both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Planning for new and emerging technologies and trends

  • Understanding changing travel patterns, such as those due to increased teleworking, flex schedules, and reduced transit service and behavior change

  • Addressing changing demographic patterns

  • Accounting for resilience and climate change in transportation plans

  • Accommodating increased freight volumes and emergency truck parking needs as a result of the rapid increase in e-commerce
     

Each toolkit will include the specific MPO challenge, why it is important, potential scalable solutions based on agency resources, where it has been done elsewhere, actional steps to implement the solutions, and where to find more information.

Problem Solvers

Just as we were ending Phase 1 of the project, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and priorities changed.  We were able to be flexible and nimble and revise our scope to deliver potential solutions faster to MPO planners.  We recommended 2-page “how to” guides to give practical, step-by-step, guidance to MPO planners that they do not have to wait for the final report to be released to access.  As a result, we are creating these toolkit guides now and expect them to be released in Spring/Summer of 2021.

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What Our Clients Say About Us

"The NCHRP 08-122 project is a high-profile, nationwide study of metropolitan planning organizations, transportation agencies that are facing enormous changes and challenges. Speaking as the Principal Investigator, our team was forced to rethink the project as a result of a global pandemic, and Modern Mobility Partners proved up to the challenge. Producing meaningful, high-quality tools for MPOs and their partners on a wide range of issues from curb space utilization to social equity, I found their work to be consistently timely and exceeding expectations. I would work with them again in a heartbeat."

- Scott Lane, Metro Analytics, PLLC Affiliate