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Census Urbanized Areas and MPO/TMA Designation

FAQ Topic 3: New MPOs

Where can I find a list of new UZAs? Which new UZAs are contained within existing MPO boundaries?

The Census Bureau 2010 urban area delineation process resulted in the identification of 36 new UZAs. Table 1 below lists the new UZAs and the primary State the UZAs are contained within. Table 1 also indicates whether, based on FHWA's knowledge, the UZAs were within an established MPO's MPA, partially within an established MPA, or completely outside all established MPA boundaries, as of June 1, 2012.

If you believe this information to be incorrect, it may be because FHWA has not received the most current MPA boundary for all MPOs. Please contact Supin Yoder ( to provide FHWA with updated MPA boundaries.

Table 1: New UZAs Resulting from the Census Bureau 2010 Urban Area Delineation

Urban Area Census Code UZA Name Primary
Within Existing MPO Planning Boundary?[1]
22285 Daphne--Fairhope, AL AL No
19801 Conway, AR AR Yes -- Metroplan
14401 Casa Grande, AZ AZ No
46747 Lake Havasu City, AZ AZ No
81901 Sierra Vista, AZ AZ No
03196 Arroyo Grande--Grover Beach, CA CA Yes -- San Luis Obispo Council of Governments
22987 Delano, CA CA Yes -- Kern Council of Governments
96994 Woodland, CA CA Yes -- Sacramento Area Council of Governments
39758 Homosassa Springs--Beverly Hills--Citrus Springs, FL FL Partially -- Ocala-Marion County Transportation Planning Organization
80416 Sebring--Avon Park, FL FL No
14185 Cartersville, GA GA Partially --Atlanta Regional Commission
43615 Kahului, HI HI No
13591 Carbondale, IL IL No
53848 Manhattan, KS KS No
36514 Hammond, LA LA No
49594 Lexington Park--California--Chesapeake Ranch Estates, MD MD No
56980 Midland, MI MI Partially -- Saginaw Metropolitan Area Transportation Study
53983 Mankato, MN MN No
13537 Cape Girardeau, MO--IL MO No
61840 New Bern, NC NC No
34246 Grand Island, NE NE No
51499 Los Lunas, NM NM Partially -- Mid-Region Council of Governments
92674 Watertown, NY NY No
00955 Albany, OR OR No
34516 Grants Pass, OR OR No
25849 East Stroudsburg, PA--NJ PA No
08434 Bloomsburg--Berwick, PA PA Partially -- Lackawanna-Luzerne Transportation
15184 Chambersburg, PA PA No
36784 Hanover, PA PA Partially --York Area MPO
39079 Hilton Head Island, SC SC No
79201 San Marcos, TX TX Partially -- Capital Area MPO
84630 Staunton--Waynesboro, VA VA No
95411 Williamsburg, VA VA Yes -- Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization
91405 Walla Walla, WA--OR WA No
93916 West Bend, WI WI Yes -- Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning
06139 Beckley, WV WV No

[1] Based on FHWA's database of MPO planning area boundaries, as of June 1, 2012.

When must new MPOs be designated?

Each UZA listed in the 2012 Federal Register notice must be represented by a MPO within 12 months of the official Census Bureau listing. This list was published on March 27, 2012; therefore, new MPOs must be in place by March 27, 2013.

Must a new MPO be designated for each new UZA?

No. UZAs that are located within the MPA of an existing MPO are already represented and do not require designation of a new MPO.

How many MPOs should there be for an individual urbanized area? What are reasons for having more than one MPO?

Generally, a UZA should be represented by only one MPO, unless there are some other extenuating circumstances, such as State laws that require county-based MPOs. Please refer to 23 CFR 450.310.

Did the new transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, approved by Congress on June 29, impact the timeframe for establishing new MPOs?

The schedule that new MPOs should be established by March 27, 2013 remains in place.

There is talk that the MPO threshold is going to be raised to 200,000 residents.

The new legislation signed by Congress on June 29 did not change the MPO threshold, therefore the current threshold of 50,000 remains.

What geographic area must be included within the MPA boundary? Are nearby UCs required to be included? Can the MPA extend as far as the MSA boundary?

The determination of MPA boundaries is a State and local decision that should be made cooperatively between representatives of the local governments contained within the UZA(s), the Governor(s) and any adjacent MPOs. Boundaries must be approved by the Governor(s) and submitted to the FHWA Division Office(s). The MPA boundaries must include the entire UZA boundary identified in the 2010 decennial Census and the contiguous geographic area likely to become urbanized within 20 years.

Note: Please keep in mind that not all FHWA Division Offices have GIS capabilities; in some instances the State may be required to print hard-copy maps for the Division to review/approve. We stress that the approved (either signed or e-signed) boundaries files and maps must be retained and retrievable as part of the State's and FHWA's system file, until the next adjustment update.

The area likely to become urbanized within 20 years should be determined by the area's existing MPO(s) and State DOT. If nearby UCs are likely to become urbanized within 20 years than they should be included. The MPA may include the entire MSA or CSA as defined by the Census Bureau. The MPA boundaries for MPOs representing UZAs designated as non-attainment areas for ozone and carbon monoxide pollution may be adjusted to include the entire non-attainment area identified under the Clean Air Act (42 USC 7401 et seq.).

After the boundaries are approved, the State DOT(s) or the FHWA Division Office(s) should provide the boundary files electronically to the FHWA Office of Planning (HEPP-30) for inclusion into the FHWA Office of Planning Executive Geographic Information System (HEPGIS) database. The preferred submission formats are ArcGIS or TransCAD GIS file formats - the GIS software packages most commonly used by State DOTs and MPOs. E-mail or File Transfer Protocol (FTP) submissions are strongly encouraged. Submitting a CD or DVD via United States Postal Service (USPS) mail is also acceptable. Please contact Supin Yoder ( for detailed mailing and FTP submission instructions.

The following metadata needs to be included when submitting new MPO boundary files:

  1. MPO Contact Information
    • MPO Name:
    • MPO Acronym if any
    • Address:
    • Telephone:
    • Fax:
    • Website:
  2. MPO Executive Director and/or Transportation Contact
    • Name:
    • E-mail:
    • Telephone:
  3. MPO Designation
    • Date of Governor's and Local Governments Designation
    • Names of 2010 Census Urbanized Areas served
    • TMA Status
    • 2010 MPO Census Population

What is required in order to designate a new MPO?

Designation of a new MPO consists of a formal agreement between the Governor and units of general purpose local government that together represent at least 75 percent of the population to be included in the MPA. The agreement should, at minimum, identify the membership structure of the policy board and establish the metropolitan planning area boundaries (23 U.S.C. 134 (b) and 49 U.S.C. 5303 (c)).

A newly-designated MPO does not need to develop a MTP or TIP within the first 12 months. However, the initial MPO work plan should include tasks and a schedule to develop a TIP and MTP (23 CFR 450.308).

Where can I find examples of MPO bylaws and the composition of policy boards for new MPOs? What sources of funding are typically used to establish a new MPO?

The FHWA Census Issues web site includes several case studies that document the experiences of MPOs that were established following the 2000 and 1990 decennial censuses. Because formal designation requirements may vary by State, it is best to reference examples from existing MPOs in your State whenever possible.

Can a new UZA, which is currently included in the MPA of an existing MPO, designate its own new MPO?

Except under extraordinary circumstances, the new UZA will remain with the existing MPO. Separation from an existing MPO would involve redesignation of the existing MPO. A request for redesignation requires agreement between the Governor and representatives of local jurisdictions that together comprise at least 75 percent of the population of the MPA (23 USC 134(d)(5) and 49 USC 5303 (d)(5)).

If a new UZA adjoins an existing MPA, does a new MPO need to be established?

Not necessarily. The existing MPA can be modified to incorporate the new UZA rather than establishing a new MPO. However, the Governor and MPO should review the previous MPO designation, State and local law, and MPO bylaws to determine if this can be accomplished without a formal redesignation (23 CFR 450.310).

How should projects be programmed for FTA and FHWA approvals in new UZAs?

Until an MPO is officially designated, the State, in cooperation with local elected officials and officials of agencies that administer or operate major modes of transportation in the expected MPA, should meet to jointly determine an interim program of projects. Until a MTP and TIP are approved by the new MPO, an interim program of projects should continue to be programmed annually in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) for all projects to be funded under the Federal Transit Act and Title 23. This interim program of projects should be separately identified in the STIP.

MPOs covering newly-defined UZAs will be given 12 months from publication of the list of 2010 UZAs to be designated by the Governor and begin developing a planning process meeting all the requirements of 23 CFR 450 and 49 CFR 613, including development of a MTP and a TIP.

Can FY2012 FHWA metropolitan planning (PL) funds be set aside for areas expected to be designated as UZAs in the spring of 2012?

No, the new UZA definitions will be used to allocate FY2013 PL funds. However, a State may provide State Planning and Research (SPR), National Highway System (NHS), Surface Transportation Program (STP) and Minimum Guarantee (MG) funds to support "start-up" planning activities in anticipation of a new MPO designation.

Can a new UZA receive FY 2013 FHWA or FTA metropolitan planning (PL or MP) funds if an MPO has not yet been designated?

No, a new UZA cannot receive metropolitan planning (PL or MP) funds until its intra-State formulae have been approved by the FHWA Division Office or FTA Regional Office (respectively) and an MPO has been designated. FY2013 funds allocated by the adopted intra-State formulae to the proposed MPO should be reserved by the State and allocated upon MPO designation.

How is conformity assured in air quality non-attainment and maintenance areas that were previously isolated rural areas, but are now designated UZAs as a result of population growth recorded in the 2010 Census?

Newly-designated UZAs, which are designated as air quality non-attainment or maintenance areas, would have previously been demonstrating conformity before being designated as a UZA because these areas were considered isolated rural non-attainment or maintenance areas (40 CFR 93.109(g)).

Within four (4) years of an area's designation as a UZA by the Census Bureau, the area's MPO must develop a new MTP and TIP, and the MPO and the USDOT must make a conformity determination for the MTP and TIP. A new conformity determination cannot occur until a MTP and TIP are in place. A conformity determination would be required to advance:

If a MTP and TIP, and conformity determination are not completed within three (3) years of the area's designation as a UZA, then the area would be in a conformity lapse.

My region is growing very rapidly and I believe it would meet the requirements for a new UZA. How can I get the Census Bureau to define it as a new UZA before the next decennial census?

You would need to have the Census Bureau conduct a special inter-decennial census in your area.

The Census Bureau charges $200 to prepare a cost estimate for conducting the special inter-decennial census. The governmental units in your region would contract with the Census Bureau for the full costs of conducting the special inter-decennial census, which would need to cover the entire region, not just an area with new housing units.

Flagstaff, Arizona financed a special inter-decennial census between the 1990 Census and Census 2000, and was subsequently designated as a new UZA.

Updated: 2/12/2015
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