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Capital Planning Group


The Capital Planning Group in the Office of Transportation Planning coordinates the production of the MassDOT and MBTA annual Capital Investment Plan update. The team also serves as liaisons to the Commonwealth’s 10 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) and 3 rural Transportation Planning Organizations. The work of this team ensures that state and federal transportation funding is programmed effectively in the regions for highway, transit, bicycle and pedestrian investments. The team collaborates closely across many other divisions at MassDOT including Highway, Rail and Transit, the Office of Performance Management and Innovation, and the Office of Diversity and Civil Rights, as well as partners at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

What is an MPO?

An MPO is a federally required regional transportation policy-making organization consisting of representatives from local government, regional transit operators, and state transportation agencies. MPOs were created to ensure that existing and future expenditures for transportation projects and programs were based on a “3-C planning process”:

  • Continuing – Planning must be maintained as an ongoing activity and should address both short-term needs and the long-term vision for the region;
  • Cooperative – The process must involve a wide variety of interested parties through a public participation process; and
  • Comprehensive – The process must cover all transportation modes and be consistent with regional and local land-use and economic-development plans.

What do MPOs do?

MPOs create a fair and impartial setting for effective regional decision making in the metropolitan area with inclusionary approaches to effectively engage communities and stakeholders. MPOs achieve this by producing three principal planning documents:

    Regional Transportation Plan (RTP)
    • The RTP is the policy and visioning document of the MPO. This document results from regional and statewide collaboration and consensus. The document contains a financial plan which guides and shapes the actions an MPO undertakes as they fulfill the region’s visions and objectives. This 20-year transportation vision document is updated every four years by the MPO.
    Transportation Improvement Plan
    • Every year, each MPO must prepare a Transportation Improvement Program, a staged five-year program of capital improvements that reflect the needs of the regional transportation system. Under federal regulations, the TIP must be constrained to available funding, consistent with the long-range Regional Transportation Plan, and include an annual listing of projects. The TIP has a roadway component and a transit component. The 13 regional Transportation Improvement Programs prepared annually by the MPOs are combined to form the State Transportation Improvement Plan.
    Unified Planning Work Program
    • Each year the MPO staff, under the direction of the MPO, prepares a work program of tasks to be completed by the MPO staff. This work program lists the transportation studies that lead to recommended actions that MPOs use to guide future transportation policy and project investment decisions. These regional MPO UPWP tasks and activities are funded with federal funds.


What are the MPOs and RPAs in Massachusetts

Each of the MPOs has co-terminus boundaries with the state created Regional Planning Agencies (RPAs). There is a Capital Planning Group team member assigned to each of MPOs. The MPOs/RPAs and links to their websites are as follows:

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