Civil Engineering ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-11-2019


The Federal-Aid Highway Act requires urban areas with a population greater than 50,000 to create Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to ensure that funding for transportation projects and programs are based on a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive planning process. A major responsibility of each MPO is the creation of a long-range transportation plan (LRTP) that addresses the transportation needs of a metropolitan region over the next twenty years or more. While long-range regional transportation planning goals have grown to include a wide range of concerns and technical methods for evaluating planning scenarios have advanced substantially over the past 50 years, there has been little progress in addressing transportation-related challenges such as mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, reducing travel demandand providing congestion relief. This lack of progress raises the question, is the long-range regional transportation planning process effective?

To comprehensively evaluate the question of effectiveness and understand what may cause plans created by some MPOs to be more effective than others, this dissertation evaluates three research questions:

  1. What goals and performance measures are included in LRTPs and are they evaluated in the planning process?
  2. Are the plans described in LRTP’s likely to produce outcomes that make progress towards common planning goals?
  3. What factors are associated with MPOs that create more effective plans?

Overall, the results suggest that MPOs generally develop plans that consider a wide range of contemporary challenges but that these plans are not expected (i.e., forecasted) to make much, if any progress, towards achieving common goals.


Transportation, Planning, Long Range Planning, Effectiveness, Metropolitan Planning Organization, GHG emission, Air Quality

Document Type




Degree Name

Civil Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Civil Engineering

First Committee Member (Chair)

Gregory Rowangould

Second Committee Member

Yan Lu

Third Committee Member

Nicholas Ferenchak

Fourth Committee Member

Fernando Moreu