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What Is the Boston MPO and Why Is It Important?

by in Assembly Square, Ball Square, Beat Reporter, Green Line, Orange Line, Porter Square, Red Line, Transportation, Transportation Projects, Union Square
Posted on September 11, 2011 at 7:29 pm
Last Modified on September 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm

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The Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization (Boston MPO) is a Federally-mandated organization responsible for conducting transportation planning for the Boston region. To do this, it develops a vision for the region and then allocates federal and state transportation funds to programs that support that vision.

The MPO develops the following planning documents:

  • Transportation Plan (Plan): The Plan, produced every four years, outlines the MPO’s policies and goals, assesses the current state of the region’s transportation, estimates future needs and resources, and describes a program for preserving and expanding the system over a period of 20 years. The current Plan, Journey to 2030, was adopted in June 2007 and amended in September 2009.
  • Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP): The TIP, updated every year, allocates funding for transportation improvements over a four-year period. A project must be included in the TIP to receive Federal funds. The Boston Region TIP lists all federally funded transit projects and all state and federally funded highway and bridge projects.
  • Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP): The UPWP, produced every year, outlines the planning projects, activities, funding sources, and budgets for one Federal fiscal year.

The planning documents the MPO produces must meet with Federal guidelines, otherwise the Federal government can withhold transportation dollars. In particular, the documents must be approved by the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration.

In addition, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, and the Massachusetts Department of Department of Environmental Protection must approve the plan for conformity with air quality standards.

The Green Line Extension was mandated by the Federal government to address air quality problems in eastern Massachusetts, particularly ozone levels from I-93. This requirement was confirmed by the courts in response to a lawsuit by the Conservation Law Foundation. If the Green Line Extension is not carried out as agreed, Massachusetts is in danger of losing its Federal transportation funding.

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