A CAMPO Primer
By Katherine Gregor, Fri., May 16, 2008
If they've heard of CAMPO at all, most Central Texans probably have a blurry idea that it somehow presides over roads – especially toll roads. In fact, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization has broad responsibility for overall transportation planning.
CAMPO is the metropolitan planning organization for Williamson, Travis, and Hays counties. (It cooperates with planning efforts in Bastrop and Caldwell counties.) In 1962, Congress created MPOs to ensure that the nation's transportation projects would result from sound planning, embodying the "3 Cs": continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive. Metropolitan areas (more than 50,000 in population) are required to have MPOs. They're charged with developing detailed, regionwide plans incorporating careful long-range needs analysis, intergovernmental collaboration, and consensual decision-making. Since 2005, all MPOs have operated under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act.
Any major project – road, transit, bike path, or sidewalk – that needs federal transportation dollars (or U.S. approvals, such as environmental) must be channeled through the MPO. If your uncle the billionaire wants to build his own monorail, it's got to be in the CAMPO long-range plan. Like all MPOs, our CAMPO must:
• Reflect the region's shared vision for its future (e.g., Envision Central Texas), including a comprehensive look at its future and alternatives;
• Determine how best to allocate scarce transportation funding;
• Facilitate collaboration among the region's various governments, citizen groups, transportation providers, and interested parties;
• Ensure that local projects comply with U.S. transportation regulations and legislation (e.g., SAFETEA);
• Maintain an up-to-date long-range transportation plan and a Transportation Improvement Program.
In addition to these required plans, our MPO has created the CAMPO Mobility 2030 Plan (of toll-road fame), which will be updated to become the 2035 Plan.
Established in 1973, CAMPO is funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation and regional entities. It's governed by a Transportation Policy Board (the CAMPO board) comprising 19 members – state, county, and city officials, plus representatives of the Texas Department of Transportation and Capital Metro. As elected officials, board members represent one of the MPO's constituent jurisdictions – and thus citizens and residents. For example, the city of Austin is represented by four members of City Council: currently Will Wynn, Betty Dunkerley, Brewster McCracken, and Jennifer Kim.
The legislation known as SAFETEA requires that CAMPO planning also must strive to protect and enhance the environment, promote energy conservation, improve the quality of life, and support desired growth and economic development patterns.
To learn more, visit www.campotexas.org.
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