Transportation helps shape an area’s economic health and quality of life. Not only does the transportation system provide for the mobility of people and goods, it also influences patterns of growth and economic activity through accessibility to land. Furthermore, the performance of the system affects such public policy concerns as air quality, environmental resource consumption, social equity, smart growth, economic development, safety, and security.

The MACC is a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

A metropolitan planning organization, or MPO, is a transportation policy-making organization made up of representatives from local government and transportation authorities. Federal legislation passed in the early 1970s required the formation of an MPO for any urbanized area with a population greater than 50,000. MPOs were created in order to ensure that existing and future expenditures for transportation projects and programs were based on a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive planning process. Federal funding for transportation projects and programs are channeled through this planning process.

The current metropolitan planning area (MPA) is approximately 200 square miles and includes fifteen members; seven townships, two cities, Allegan and Ottawa County Board of Commissioners, Allegan and Ottawa County Road Commissions, the Macatawa Area Express Transit Authority, and Michigan Department of Transportation.

There Are Four Core Functions of an MPO:

1. Establish a setting: Establish and manage a fair and impartial setting for effective regional decision making in the metropolitan area.

2. Maintain a Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP): Develop and update a long –range transportation plan for the metropolitan area covering a planning horizon of at least twenty years that fosters:

    • Mobility and access for people and goods
    • Efficient system performance and preservation
    • Quality of life.

3. Develop a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP): Develop a three-year program based on the long-range transportation plan containing projects and programs designed to serve the area’s goals.

4. Involve the public: Involve the general public and all the significantly affected sub-groups in the planning events throughout the year.

In accordance with federal regulations, the MPO is required to carry out metropolitan transportation planning in cooperation with the state and with operators of publicly owned transit services. The MPO approves the transportation plan. Both the governor and the MPO approve the TIP. In nonattainment or maintenance areas for air quality, the MPO is responsible for coordinating transportation and air quality planning.

Most MPOs are not the actual implementing agencies for projects, but must provide an overall coordination role in planning and programming funds for projects and operations.

The MACC metropolitan area’s designation as an air quality nonattainment area creates additional requirements for transportation planning. Most importantly, transportation plans, programs, and projects must conform to the state’s air quality plan, known as the State Implementation Plan.

What is Transportation Planning?

Transportation planning recognizes the critical links between transportation and other societal goals. Transportation planning in metropolitan areas is a collaborative process, led by the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) and other key stakeholders in the regional transportation system.

Metropolitan transportation planning is the process of examining travel and transportation issues and needs in metropolitan areas. It includes a demographic analysis of the community in question, as well as an examination of travel patterns and trends. The planning process includes an analysis of alternatives to meet projected future demands, and for providing a safe and efficient transportation system that meets mobility needs while not creating adverse impacts to the environment.

The transportation planning process is aided by the development of:

  • A Long Range Transporation Plan (LRTP) that looks at transportation activities for the next 20-30 years and helps to ensure a regionally integrated transportation system.
  • Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) which covers transportation improvements over the next three years.
  • A Unified Work Program (UWP) that identifies transportation issues facing the urbanized area and indicates work items to be undertaken to address those issues. These issues have been identified through a joint planning effort of the MACC’s members. The UWP has gone through public review and was approved by the MACC’s Policy Board on June 18th, 2020.