The MPO is responsible for the "3-C" planning process (cooperative, continuous, comprehensive) to conduct basic planning activities. Transportation planning is a process of projecting future transportation needs, investigating and evaluating alternative actions for meeting those needs, assessing the financial ability of the community to implement those actions, and recommending reasonable strategies based on needs and available resources. Elected officials and others in decision-making roles need access to this information to help them develop policies, programs, and projects.
The transportation planning process is continuous. Conditions affecting the transportation system, such as population growth, land use patterns, employment changes, traffic volumes, etc., are monitored. Alternate means for alleviating congestion are identified, and decisions are made on which projects are to be carried out. The proposed projects are evaluated in relation to expected funding levels, prioritized, and listed in order of importance to the community. All transportation modes for the entire metropolitan area are studied and addressed in a comprehensive manner. The transportation planning process is structured to include cooperative input and direction from participating cities, counties, agencies, and the public. This results in the development of a Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP), which encompasses the 3-C planning process.
Additionally, the MPO is responsible for the development of the annual Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP), which details the planning work activities of the MPO on a yearly basis. The MPO is also responsible for the development of the biennial Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which is a list of highway enhancement and transit projects to be funded during a 3-year time frame.