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Frequently Asked Questions

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

This section will answer questions about what the MPO is and what it does, what authority it has, what kinds of decisions it makes, and committee members responsibilities. It is also intended to provide a brief introduction to the planning and funding of transportation projects in the Corpus Christi Study Area.

This web page was updated: February 10, 2017


Every metropolitan area with a population of more than 50,000 residents must have a designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for transportation in order to qualify for federal highway or transit assistance. The Corpus Christi Metropolitan Planning Organization is the MPO for the Corpus Christi urbanized area and covers portions of Nueces and San Patricio counties.

It's vital that MPO membership complies with approved bylaws and represents entities that have transportation interest in the area.

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) relies on the MPO to ensure that highway and transit projects that use federal funds are products of a credible planning process and meet local priorities. USDOT will not approve federal funding for urban highway and transit projects unless they are on the MPO’s MTP or TIP project list. Thus, the MPO’s role is to develop and maintain the necessary transportation plan for the area to assure that federal funds support these locally developed plans. The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) has greatly strengthened this responsibility by placing the MPO in a primary role for the programming of transportation projects to be carried out in any given year. The MPO has also been given the responsibility to involve the public in this process through expanded citizen participation efforts.

The passage of Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users SAFETEA-LU in 2005 and Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) in 2012 created new and revised requirements for transportation planning and programs. They require that the statewide transportation planning process and the metropolitan planning process shall provide for consideration of projects and strategies that will protect and enhance the environment, promote energy conservation, improve the quality of life, and promote consistency between transportation improvements and state and local planned growth and economic development patterns.

Since the MPO is made up of those agencies responsible for carrying out transportation programs in the region, the process puts all entities into partnership with one another to carry out the programs. Any agency can, however, carry out its own transportation project with its own funds independent of the MPO.

The decision-making body of the MPO is a seven-member Transportation Policy Committee comprise of:

1. San Patricio County Judge

2. Nueces County Judge

3. City of Portland Mayor

4. City of Corpus Christi Mayor

5. Regional Transportation Authority Chair

6. Port of Corpus Christi Authority Chair

7. Texas Department of Transportation District Engineer

Technical support to this committee is provided by the Technical Advisory Committee consisting of one member from each of the represented jurisdictions or agencies. Staff support to both of these committees is provided by the full-time MPO staff. Staff from the United States Department of Transportation and the Texas Department of Transportation also provides technical assistance and guidance.

The MPO carries out three major work activities to meet specific federal requirements. These are:

  1. The MPO's 25 year long-range plan, the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) compliant through, a continuing, comprehensive, and cooperative (3C) planning process.
  2. The biennial update of the four-year program for highway and transit improvements is known as the Transportation Improvement Program or TIP.
  3. The annual adoption of a comprehensive two-year planning program: the Unified Planning Work Program or UPWP that describes and coordinates the individual transportation planning activities of all agencies in the area.

Without these products, the Corpus Christi MPO would jeopardize its eligibility for federal transportation funds.

The MPO adopted its current 2015-2040 MTP on November 17, 2014. The plan focuses on the build-up of the region surrounding the cities of Corpus Christi, Portland and Gregory.

A computerized model has been developed that can simulate traffic flows within this area under both existing and proposed future conditions. Through this model, existing and future problems are identified, alternate solutions proposed and tested, specific proposals selected for inclusion in these plans. Equally important, a realistic assessment of financial resources has been considered so that the resulting plans reflects the capacity of the area to carry it out. Citizen involvement is regarded as vital ingredient in this process.

The process for the TIP involves solicitation of projects requests from member agencies responsible for providing transportation services and facilities, cooperatively ranking them by their merits, and selecting those highest priority projects that will fit into the estimated available funding.

The UPWP is similar to the TIP in that solicitation of ideas is requested that are then ranked and fitted into an estimated budget. The difference between the UPWP and the TIP is that instead of specific transportation projects, the UPWP consists of planning studies that are necessary to carry out the program. While most of the studies are produced by the MPO staff, member entities partner with the MPO in accordance to their resources. The FY 2017 UPWP was adopted on May 5, 2016. (federal fiscal year October 1 to September 30), while the current FY 2017-2020 TIP was also adopted May 5, 2016.

There are two aspects of the MPO organization. First is the formal structure of the MPO as committees and the second is the arrangement between its staff and the staff of the participating agencies.

The Transportation Policy Committee (TPC) meets on the first Thursday of each month, unless canceled for lack of agenda. Meetings normally begin at 2:00 p.m. and are currently held in the Corpus Christi City Hall Council Chambers, 1201 Leopard Street, Corpus Christi. At these meetings current transportation issues are discussed and status reports on transportation studies and projects are given. After these discussions are completed, policy actions are taken that include adoption of the TIP and UPWP, revision to these documents or the Metropolitan Transportation Plan, and adoption of resolutions related to current transportation issues.

The technical oversight of the MPO’s work is delegated to the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), a working group composed of professional staff members of the MPO’s organizations. For example, the Mayor of Corpus Christi is a member of the Transportation Policy Committee and the Director of Engineering Services of the City of Corpus Christi serves as his/her representative on the Technical Advisory Committee. The Technical Advisory Committee meets on the third Thursday of each month, two weeks in advance of the TPC meeting. Meetings begin at 9:00 a.m. and are currently held at the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority's Staples Street Center, second-floor boardroom, 602 N. Staples Street, Suite 210, Corpus Christi. The members review and approve technical and planning reports and brief their TPC members on the items they will take up at their own meeting.

Continuing technical support to the transportation planning program is provided by the MPO Staff and ad hoc committees composed of professional staff members of the MPO’s organizations. It is at this level that the technical studies are reviewed in detail so that a relatively finished product is passed to the Technical Advisory Committee.

The MPO Staff is made up of professionals in planning, computer systems, and mobility. The Staff conducts studies and oversees projects as directed by TPC. The Staff reports findings to the MPO Committees and participates in other community wide efforts. The combined work of the MPO Staff and the participating staff of other member organizations provides the information needed to make program and policy decisions.

During the course of its work, the staff identifies transportation needs in the community. Normally these needs are addressed by member organizations. When no other group responds, the Staff may initiate new programs of its own. The staff works with other public, private, and academic organizations in the metropolitan area.

A third partner in the process is the general public. Considerable time is devoted to assure that the public is informed of the MPO’s programs and activities and that interested citizens have an opportunity to participate in them.

The MPO is particularly interested in issues involving long range transportation planning, development of intermodal connections, reducing reliance on automobile, and land use options to reduce trips.

Current activities of the MPO include:

  1. Collecting and maintaining comprehensive data. The data includes demographic and employment information, travel time and delays, traffic counts and congestion, and land use information. The MPO is making a major effort to initiate Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to enhance the analysis.
  2. Working with various interest groups to deal with the full range of transportation issues.
  3. Working to enhance the accessibility and circulation in downtown Corpus Christi through cooperative efforts with the City of Corpus Christi, Downtown Management District, and others.
  4. Carrying out the recommendations of the Metropolitan Transportation Plan.
  5. Maintaining working relationships with the city planning organizations to integrate the land use planning and development of the region with its necessary transportation planning and development.
  6. Developing intermodal planning activities.

Construction Funds

The UPWP lists all the studies to be undertaken during the coming year. These studies may involve any aspect of transportation including highways, transit, and the needs of the transportation disadvantaged. A study may be proposed by any participating entity of the MPO. Some studies are proposed in response to federal or state requirements while others are included responding to local needs. The list of proposed studies is reviewed by the Technical Advisory Committee. A selection is made of those studies to include in the coming year’s UPWP based on the MPO priorities, the need to satisfy state and federal requirements, and funding constraints. The proposed UPWP is then submitted for approval of the Transportation Policy Committee. The draft is then reviewed by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The MPO staff incorporates the comments of the state and federal agencies and presents the final document to the Transportation Policy Committee for approval.

Despite the specification of funds to a particular program area, there is considerable flexibility provided to the MPO in making final determination of the projects to be funded and the source of funding. Though some funds are specifically restricted for one particular type of project or another, a large portion of them may be transferred from one program to another, including the transfer of funds from highway to transit projects and vice-versa. This provides the MPO with significant latitude in shaping the programs to meet local priorities. In addition to the federal programs, the State of Texas provides the required matching funds for federal highway projects. Many projects are funded completely by the State of Texas. Many transportation projects on city and county roads are financed through local funds. The Capital Improvement Projects (CIPs) of the cities and counties provide this information.

Planning Funds

The MPO uses planning funds to meet federal requirements for the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP), the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP), and specific studies addressing area wide and local issues. These funds are obtained as PL (Planning) funds from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Section 5303 (MPO Planning) funds from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The use of these funds is identified in the annual UPWP.

Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP)

The UPWP lists all the studies to be undertaken during the coming year. These studies may involve any aspect of transportation including highways, transit, and the needs of the transportation disadvantaged. A study may be proposed by any participating entity of the MPO. Some studies are proposed in response to federal or state requirements while others are included responding to local needs. The list of proposed studies is reviewed by the Technical Advisory Committee. A selection is made of those studies to include in the coming year’s UPWP based on the MPO priorities, the need to satisfy state and federal requirements, and funding constraints.

The proposed UPWP is then submitted for approval of the Transportation Policy Committee. The draft is then reviewed by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The MPO staff incorporates the comments of the state and federal agencies and presents the final document to the Transportation Policy Committee for approval.

Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)

The TIP is required to list all transportation projects in the MPO region using federal funds. This includes highway and transit projects and other necessary enhancements such as bicycle and pedestrian projects. The MPO entities propose eligible projects. The MPO staff and the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) evaluate the proposed projects and rank them in accordance with a process. Currently, the staff and TAC use the Project Prioritization Methodology (PPM) for this purpose.

The comments received during public meetings are made as part of the process. The ranking of the projects consistent with funding constraints and public comments are presented to the Transportation Policy Committee for final selection of projects for a TIP.

Whether you are a member of the MPO or a private citizen, you have a role to play with the MPO. The Transportation Policy Committee (TPC) makes difficult decisions in a cooperative manner. However, TPC’s responsibilities do not begin and end with making decisions. TPC members are ultimately responsible to the residents of the region for the quality of transportation services and for the impact of transportation on their overall quality of life. This means the TPC members share the responsibility for making sure that major transportation issues of today and tomorrow are dealt with fairly and properly. The citizens are encouraged to participate in the transportation planning process during the monthly meetings of the Technical Advisory Committee and the Transportation Policy Committee.

RELATED SUBJECTS

Public Participation Plan Bylaws & Operation Procedures

MPO PROFILE

Updated May 15, 2017: The MPO Profile, is an informative brochure that explains the MPO's three major work activities required to meet specific federal requirements, a list of current serving MPO committee members and MPO staff.