Q. 50,000 is the determining factor for Metropolitan Planning Organizations, you indicate there is no difference between 10,000-50,000 are you going to add 10,000 to 50,000 as an MPO or follow OMB’s move to 100,000 as Urban area for MPOs. If neither you are going to have 3 different definition as Urban area 10,000, 50,000 and 100,000.
A. There is no reason why FHWA would need to change its focus on 50,000 as the threshold for MPO status in response to either the Census Bureau’s proposal to cease distinguishing between urbanized areas and urban clusters or OMB’s proposal to increase the size of the urban core for a metropolitan statistical area from 50,000 to 100,000. Precedent exists for use of different population thresholds for identifying what is urban or rural for various federal programs.
Q. Are we at risk for losing MPOs as a result of this change?
A. If by “losing MPOs” you mean areas might drop below 50,000 people as a result of the proposed criteria, then yes. But, American Community Survey estimates for urbanized areas suggest that some might drop below 50,000 even if the criteria remain unchanged. The Census Bureau does not designate MPOs, so ultimately, this is a decision for FHWA.
Q. Based on the proposed changes, is it anticipated that more new MPOs would be designated?
A. The Census Bureau does not designate MPOs. It is likely that there will be new areas that surpass the 50,000 person threshold. This has happened every decade since 1950 and is a reflection of the way in which the US population and population distribution is changing.
Q. Does FHWA plan to raise the threshold above 50k for an MPO?
A. No, FHWA does not have that authority, only Congress can change Statute that defines MPO and TMA thresholds.
Q. What happens to an MPO if the UZA population fell below 50,000 in the 2020 Census?
A. FHWA and FTA are working with their legal departments to answer this. Historically these were retained.
Q. If an MPO falls below the 50k MPO threshold but the state maintains their MPO designation, will they be eligible for PL funding through FHWA?
A. FHWA and FTA are working with their legal departments to answer this. Historically, yes.
Q. By using housing units and having access to updated data annually, is it anticipated that new MPOs would be designated more frequently than every 10 years?
A. Although the use of housing unit density creates the potential for updating urban areas more frequently than every 10 years, the Census Bureau has not specified any plans to do so. As for changes in the frequency of designating MPOs, FHWA would make that decision. FHWA will review Urban Areas as they are released by the Census. See the timeline of activities for the 2020 Census.
Q. If a UA grows above 50,000 population, but the UA is already within an MPO or TMA boundary, would a new MPO still be designated?
A. NO, any new standalone Urban Areas above 50k in population will be designated, If an Urban Area within an existing MPO Planning Boundary grows above 50K, it meets the requirement of being covered by an MPO. No change is necessary.
Q. So, did I hear correctly that FHWA will not go through an urbanized area boundary smoothing” process? Some Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organizations extend the boundary out to include a whole county. That will not be allowed now?
A. Urban Area boundary adjustment is still allowed via Statute 23 U.S.C 101(a)(33) and (34). The FHWA Census Urban Area Boundary Adjustment Process applies to the Urban Areas that are produced by the Census Bureau through an automated process, since the Census Bureau doesn’t generally consider transportation facilities or future growth areas near the boundary. Most often, the boundary adjustment process produces a slightly larger adjusted Urban Area than the original Census Urban Area. The MPO Planning Boundary should contain the Adjusted Urban Area Boundary, but is based on the 20-year planned growth of the area. Please see the FHWAs Highway Functional Classification Concepts, Criteria and Procedures2013 Edition, Chapter 6: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/processes/statewide/related/highway_functional_classifications/
Q. Which definition of Urban Area is FHWA going to use? 50,000 is the determining factor for Metropolitan Planning Organizations, Census says there is no difference between 10,000-50,000 is FHWA going to add 10,000 to 50,000 as an MPO, follow OMB’s move to 100,000 as Urban area for MPOs, or stick with 50,000? If FHWA stay with 50,000 there is going to be 3 different definition as Urban area 10,000, 50,000 and 100,000.
A. The Census Bureau’s analysis noted little or no difference between areas of 49,000 to 50,000 and those between 50,000 and 51,000. This was limited to the decision to cease using the terms “urbanized area” and “urban cluster” and instead simply refer to all areas as “urban areas.”