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Census Urbanized Areas and MPO/TMA Designation


The Census Bureau designates a new list of Urbanized Areas (UZAs) every 10 years, following the conclusion of each decennial census. The designation of UZAs by the U.S. Census Bureau has significant implications for the metropolitan planning process. Most significantly, current Federal law requires that every UZA be represented by a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) which carries out the metropolitan transportation planning process for the UZA and surrounding areas. Furthermore, UZAs with populations exceeding 200,000 are designated as Transportation Management Areas (TMAs) bringing additional responsibilities.

Congress recently passed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP21) which will govern the Federal surface transportation programs beginning October, 1st, 2012. The Census Issues website and this FAQ have been updated to reflect the requirements of this new legislation, which retained the provisions relevant to MPO and TMA designation and planning boundaries of the current surface transportation authorizing legislation: the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).

The schedule provides a list of key milestones for communities and MPOs affected by the new UZA designations. Please refer to the FAQ for answers to commonly-asked questions about Census Urbanized Area designation, requirements for new and existing MPOs/TMAs, and other related questions.

Updated: 7/5/2012
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