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Census Urbanized Areas and MPO/TMA Designation


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This FAQ was updated on April 2, 2015, to expand the definitions of Urban and Rural Areas and to include links for Adjusted UZAs.

This FAQ was updated on October 17, 2013 to include links to the 2013 updated Highway Functional Classification Concepts, Criteria and Procedures.

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On August 24th, 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau published the final criteria for the defining of urbanized areas (UZAs) and urban clusters (UCs) in the Federal Register (PDF or TXT). On March 27, 2012, the Census Bureau published the new list of UZAs and UCs based on the 2010 Census in the Federal Register (PDF or TXT) and released TIGER/Line geographic Shapefiles for the 2010 UZAs and UCs on the 2010 Census TIGER/Line Shapefiles website. Although the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has no direct role in the designation of UZAs and UCs, they are critical to the administration of the surface transportation program.

Key Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) planning and environment programs impacted by UZA and UC designations include:

This FAQ is intended to assist those with questions about the implications of the 2010 Census UZA and UC designations for the Federal transportation program. Questions not addressed here can be directed to the responsible individuals identified throughout the document. However, all questions concerning the criteria used and the process of designating UZAs and UCs should be directed to the Census Bureau staff at (301) 763-3056 or

In developing these FAQ, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and relied on statutory and regulatory provisions where they existed. However, a significant portion of the following is based upon a "reasonable implementation strategy" rather than statutory provisions directly. We have applied guidance, last issued in March 31, 2003, for the areas that became UZAs as a result of Census 2000, and adapted it where statutory or regulatory requirements have since changed. For additional information or for general questions not addressed here please contact:

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Updated: 2/24/2017
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