Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

SNHPC serves as an MPO
The 1973 Federal Highway Act required that federal highway construction funds could only be spent on those urbanized areas that had a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) in place and conducted transportation planning on a cooperative, comprehensive and continuous fashion. Through the Metropolitan Manchester Planning Study (MMPS), conducted in the 1960s, local municipalities, state and federal agencies gained valuable experience in working cooperatively in the transportation planning process. The SNHPC, which was an outgrowth of the MMPS, was consequently considered the logical choice for designation as the metropolitan planning organization for the Manchester area. Governor Meldrim Thomson made this designation on December 31, 1973, thereby enabling the Commission to expend certain transportation planning funds for approved transportation planning purposes in this area.  With the 1991 adoption of the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), the SNHPC maintained its designation as an MPO, but the geographic area for transportation planning and programming responsibilities was expanded to include all 14 communities within the Commission's current jurisdiction.

How does the MPO designation affect the SNHPC region?
The MPO designation expands the Commission's role in many different ways. Two major responsibilities have been assigned to the Commission through federal transportation legislation and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.  The Commission has the responsibility of performing air quality conformity analyses and providing assistance to the NHDOT in making the determination that plans and projects are in conformance with the State Implementation Plan (SIP). The SIP is the State of New Hampshire's action plan for reducing emissions over a specified time period. In order for the Commission to assess the impact of vehicle emissions on air quality, it must use the output from the travel demand forecasting model.

MPO Zoom photo (Feb 2021)
SNHPC MPO Zoom Meeting, February 2021

Who directs the MPO process?
The Board of Commissioners of the SNHPC, with state and federal transportation officials, provide the overall direction for the transportation planning process. To this end, the policy board of the MPO meets on an as-needed basis in conjunction with the Commission's regular monthly meeting.

What are the primary functions of the MPO? As defined by federal and state transportation regulations, the primary functions of the MPO are to:

  • Establish the goals, objectives and policies governing transportation planning in the region.
  • Approve an annual Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) and budget.
  • Direct the preparation and adoption of long and short-range strategies of the Transportation Plan.
  • Recommend projects for implementation through the adoption of the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
  • Perform the air quality conformity determination for the Transportation Improvement Program.

For more info on becoming a Commissioner/MPO member, please click here.