Decisions about how to spend transportation funds in a metropolitan region are guided by information and ideas from a broad group of people including elected officials, planners and engineers, transportation and other advocates, and other interested parties. The forum for this process is known as a metropolitan planning organization (MPO). Each metropolitan area in the United States with more than 50,000 residents has an MPO whose primary responsibility is to decide how to spend federal transportation funds for capital projects and planning studies.
Since 1974, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) and the Transportation Policy Council (TPC) have served as the MPO (staff and policy board, respectively) for the Houston transportation management area (Harris County and the seven surrounding counties: Montgomery, Liberty, Chambers, Galveston, Brazoria, Fort Bend and Waller). Together they provide policy guidance and overall coordination of the transportation planning activities within the region.
The TPC consists of 28 members representing cities and counties, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO), one at-large member appointed by the H-GAC Board of Directors, and one at-large member appointed by the TPC. The TPC is responsible for setting transportation policies and ultimately approving all funding decisions. It is assisted by several committees and subcommittees that are specialized by topic area to delve more deeply into technical matters.
Federal law requires the MPO’s work to be continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive – often referred to as the “3C process.” This process allows all voices to be heard and many different perspectives to be reconciled into plans for the region’s future. Developing the Regional Transportation Plan is part of this process. The MPO updates the RTP at least every four years.
The regional transportation plan is developed in three phases. An update usually means some portion(s) of the current RTP, such as planning horizon or demographic forecast, are not changed, while developing the RTP means that all portions of the previous plan are made current, modified or reviewed for continued accuracy.
Each phase concludes with a period to allow public feedback on the results of that phase. Keep in mind that transportation projects often takes years, even decades to plan, purchase the right-of-way, construct, and open for public use. Therefore, major changes to the Project List are done only after careful consideration.
There are several other documents that guide or influence transportation planning. Links to each follow the summary, when appropriate.
Online 2040 RTP Comment Box
Mail H-GAC Transportation Public Information P.O. Box 22777 Houston, TX 77227