The Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is a transportation policy-making board comprised of representatives from local governments and transportation agencies. According to federal and state laws, the Hillsborough County MPO is responsible for establishing a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive transportation planning process for Hillsborough County. Key responsibilities are the creation of the twenty-year Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) and the five-year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
Areas that have a population of 50,000 or more are required by federal law to designate a single agency, a metropolitan planning organization, to administer federal transportation funds and set priorities for spending those funds. The State of Florida also establishes mandates for metropolitan transportation planning. To a large extent these are consistent with federal mandates, but in some cases are more stringent.
The history of the Hillsborough County MPO goes back more than 40 years. The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1962 required that urbanized areas establish a transportation planning process as a condition for receiving federal highway construction funds.
In 1964, the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the State Road Department (today the Florida Department of Transportation), Hillsborough County, and the Cities of Plant City, Tampa, and Temple Terrace. The agreement established the Tampa Urban Area Transportation Study along with three standing committees: policy, technical, and citizens.
The Tampa Urban Area MPO was officially designated in 1974 in response to requirements of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1973. Voting members included Hillsborough County Commissioners, Tampa City Council members, the mayors of all three cities, and a representative of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority.
The MPO initiated bicycle planning and a ridesharing program in the 1980’s. In the 1990’s, air quality rules became more stringent, and the Tampa Bay airshed was designated a non-attainment area under federal clean air standards. This designation was reversed in 2005 as our air quality was found to have met standards.
Following the 1990 Census, Tampa was designated part of a consolidated metropolitan area that included Clearwater and St. Petersburg. Recognizing the need for regional coordination, the Hillsborough MPO joined with Pinellas, Pasco, and Hernando counties and the Florida Department of Transportation to create a single model for forecasting traffic. A regional decision-making body, the MPO Chairs Coordinating Committee (CCC), was formed by these agencies and the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council in 1993. In 2001, the CCC adopted the first regional MPO's conflict resolution process in Florida. The MPO added the Tampa Port Authority and Hillsborough County Aviation Authority as voting members in 2000.