Transportation Planning

Transportation planning in Douglas County is a cooperative process designed to foster involvement by all users of the system, such as the business community, community groups, environmental organizations, the traveling public, freight operators, and the general public, through a proactive public participation process conducted by the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Organization (L-DC MPO), Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), and The Lawrence Transit System.

Transportation planning includes a number of steps:

  • Monitoring existing conditions;
  • Forecasting future population and employment growth, including assessing projected land uses in the region and identifying major growth corridors;
  • Identifying current and projected future transportation problems and needs and analyzing, through detailed planning studies, various transportation improvement strategies to address those needs;
  • Developing long-range plans and short-range programs of alternative capital improvement and operational strategies for moving people and goods;
  • Estimating the impact of recommended future improvements to the transportation system on environmental features, including air quality; and
  • Developing a financial plan for securing sufficient revenues to cover the costs of implementing strategies.

The L-DC MPO is a transportation policy-making body made up of representatives from local government and transportation agencies with authority and responsibility in metropolitan planning areas. Federal legislation requires the formation of an MPO for any urbanized area (UA) with a population greater than 50,000. In 1982 the U.S. Bureau of Census designated Lawrence, KS as an urbanized area and created the L-DC MPO to ensure that existing and future expenditures for transportation projects and programs were based on a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive (3-C) planning process.

MPO History and Purpose

The Metropolitan Planning Organization (Policy Board Members) is mandated by the Federal Highway Act of 1973 to provide a cooperative, comprehensive, and continuing transportation planning and decision-making process.

The process encompasses all modes and covers both short-range and long-range transportation planning. MPO plans and programs are reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration. Each urban area in the United States has a MPO which acts as a liaison between local communities, their citizens, and the state departments of transportation. MPOs are important because they direct how and where available state and federal dollars for transportation improvements will be spent. As defined by federal and state transportation regulations, the primary functions of the MPO are to:

  • Establish the goals, objectives and policies governing transportation planning in the region.
  • Approve an annual Unified Planning Work Program and budget.
  • Direct the preparation of, and adopt, the long-range and short-range strategies of the Transportation Plan.
  • Recommend projects for implementation through the adoption of the Transportation Improvement Program.
  • Perform the air quality conformity determination for the Transportation Improvement Program.

MPO Brochure (PDF)

Cooperative Agreement

Transportation planning must be cooperative because no single agency has responsibility for the entire transportation system. For example, some roads that are part of the Interstate Highway System and are subject to certain standards are maintained by KDOT. Others are county arterials or city streets which are designed, operated, and maintained by the County or local municipalities. The Lawrence Transit System is operated and maintained by the City of Lawrence.

The L-DC MPO is responsible for actively seeking the participation of all relevant agencies and stakeholders in the planning process. The Cooperative Agreement/Memorandum of Understanding is an agreement that outlines the working relationships of the MPO, KDOT, and the Lawrence Transit System in conducting the 3C (continuing, comprehensive, cooperative) regional transportation planning process in the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Area.

Cooperative Agreement (PDF, 7 MB)

L-DC MPO Re-Designation Agreement

The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission served as the MPO since 1982 when the area first reached the population threshold requiring an MPO. In 2008 the MPO was re-designated to better comply with the current federal transportation planning regulations. The re-designation was accomplished with the approval of a MPO Re-Designation Agreement that was signed by city and county officials and executed by KDOT Secretary Deb Miller. The re-designation transformed the MPO from an appointed joint city-county planning commission to a group composed primarily of local elected officials.

Re-Designation Agreement (PDF, 5 MB)

MPO Policy Board Members and Bylaws

Federal Regulations

Federal transportation planning regulations are implemented jointly by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and are designed to carry out the provisions of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) signed into law by President Obama on December 4, 2015.

Find out more about the FAST Act.