Welcome to the Abilene MPO
A Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is a federally mandated and federally funded transportation policy-making organization that is made up of representatives from the local government and local transportation authorities. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962 passed by the United States Congress required the formation of an MPO for any urbanized area with a population greater than 50,000. Federal funding for transportation projects and programs go through the MPO’s planning process. The MPO uses a (3-C) continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive planning process to ensure that funds are spent appropriately and that plans reflect a shared vision of the future of transportation for our area.
The Abilene Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is the regional transportation planning agency responsible for working with local, state, and federal agencies along with many community partners, transportation providers, and citizens. The goal is to accomplish regional planning under one voice, which will provide the greatest benefit while at the same time reflecting the concerns of the communities within the study area.
The study area includes the Cities of Abilene, Impact, and Tye, the communities of Caps, Elmdale, Hamby, and Potosi, some rural areas in Taylor County adjacent to the Abilene city limits plus the entire Lake Fort Phantom area in the southeastern corner of Jones County. The U.S. Census Bureau shows the Abilene area covers 110.6 square miles. The 2010 Census reported the population of Abilene was 117,063 and the current population of the entire MPO area is approximately 125,000.
The Role of the Abilene MPO
The MPO consists of federal, state and local agencies working together to avoid conflicting plans, duplicated projects or funding conflicts between transportation priorities in the metropolitan planning area. The MPO’s role is to develop and maintain the necessary transportation plans for the area to ensure that federal funds support locally developed plans and that the projects are part of a credible planning process that meets the local priorities. The MPO works with various agencies in the development of transportation plans, transit plans, travel demand model, thoroughfare plans, bicycle/pedestrian plans, and many other plans. Through planning efforts and great partnerships, the MPO strives to incorporate the following eight federal planning factors:
- Support economic vitality of the metropolitan area, especially by enabling global competitiveness, productivity, and efficiency.
- Increase safety of the transportation system for motorized and non-motorized users.
- Increase security of the transportation system for motorized and non-motorized users.
- Increase the accessibility and mobility of people and freight.
- Protect and enhance the environment, promote energy conservation, improve the quality of life, and promote consistency between transportation improvements and State and local planned growth and economic development patterns.
- Enhance the integration and connectivity of the transportation system, across and between modes, for people and freight.
- Promote efficient system management and operation.
- Emphasize the preservation of the existing transportation system.
The History of the Abilene MPOLate in 1964 a study of transportation in the Abilene urban area was begun with respect to existing facilities, existing deficiencies, and future needs. This study was initiated as a result of the passage by Congress of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962, which provided for a "continuing, comprehensive transportation planning process carried on cooperatively by States and local communities" for each urban area of more than fifty thousand population. Completion of the initial phase of study covering ten (10) basic study elements resulted in the publication of a two volume report: Abilene Urban Transportation Plan, Origin-Destination Survey, Volume 1, 1965 published in 1966; and the Abilene Urban Transportation Plan: 1965-1985 Transportation Plan, Volume 2, published in 1968.
To provide for continuity of the comprehensive, cooperative planning process for the purpose of keeping Abilene's transportation plan up to date, an agreement between the City of Abilene and the State of Texas was executed on January 23, 1969. This was superseded on March 30, 1973 by a revised agreement that included Taylor County as a party. This revised agreement provided the guidelines for the organization and functioning of the continuing phase of the Abilene Urban Transportation Study. It also assigned the primary responsibility for each of the basic study elements to the city, state or county.
On July 2, 1974, the Governor of Texas designated the City of Abilene to be the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), which, in cooperation with the State, would have overall transportation planning responsibilities for the urbanized area. The designation was repeatedly renewed until 1988 when the designation became continuous. A series of agreements between the State of Texas and the City of Abilene have assigned individual and joint responsibilities to the State and the City of Abilene in the conduct of transportation planning activities to fulfill the requirements of Federal and State law.
The 1973 agreement established a group structure to provide overall transportation policy guidance for the planning activities. Initially, the group structure contained two committees, a Policy Advisory Committee consisting of area legislators and elected officials of local governments, and a Steering Committee consisting of other elected officials and key transportation planning staff personnel. The group structure evolved in response to changes in legislation and contractual agreements, becoming a single Abilene Urban Transportation Planning Committee with both voting and non-voting members. The group adopted the name Abilene MPO Transportation Policy Board in 1993 and continues to act as the forum for cooperative transportation planning and decision-making and the provider of overall transportation policy guidance to the MPO.
In December 1991, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) was signed into law. ISTEA reemphasized the role of cooperative decision making in the development, review, and approval of transportation plans and programs and introduced requirements that the Metropolitan Transportation Plan and the Transportation Improvement Programs reflect realistic expectations of available funding for projects. In 1998, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) continued the planning provisions of ISTEA with some revisions and increased the availability of federal funding for surface transportation.
In 2005, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act - A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) was passed. SAFETEA-LU continued the general planning provisions of ISTEA and TEA-21 with some changes and additions. SAFETEA-LU expired on September 30, 2009 but Congress passed several time and funding extensions including the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II that extended the time until September 30, 2012.
The new transportation funding legislation that is known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) was signed into law on July 6, 2012. MAP-21 is to transform the way we build, maintain, and manage our Nation’s highways. The law is based on the principles of creating jobs, simplifying programs, supporting safety, promoting innovation, strengthening systems, and establishing a performance based federal program. MAP-21 takes effect on October 1, 2012.