The St. Joseph Area Transportation Study Organization (SJATSO) is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for the region. A Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is an agency that administers the federally required transportation planning process in urbanized areas with a population greater than 50,000. The plans and programs developed by MPOs provide for the development of an integrated, intermodal transportation system.
A MPO is essentially comprised of representatives from the surrounding local governments that collectively discuss transportation issues and opportunities for the entire metro area. In the case of SJATSO, the MPO is comprised of representatives from Buchanan County, Andrew County, Doniphan County, The City of St. Joseph, the City of Elwood, the City of Savannah, the City of Wathena and the Country Club Village. Representatives from the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), Federal Transit Adminstration (FTA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) also take part in the metropolitan planning process.
Any project receiving federal funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation and within the boundaries of the MPO must be consistent with MPO plans and policies. Overall, the MPO acts as a steward of federal transportation funds while ensuring regional transportation planning is continuing, cooperative and comprehensive.
A MPO is comprised of:
A Coordinating Committee composed of local elected officials (sometimes referred to as a Policy Board)
A Technical Committee composed of transportation planning and engineering professionals
Various other advisory committees that the MPO may form to advise on specific subjects or projects
To ensure that the region’s transportation networks are safe, efficient and working together as a larger system the MPO considers all modes of transportation including: bicycling, pedestrian traffic (sidewalks and trails), freight (by truck, river and rail), transit (such as public buses) and roadways for personal cars. SJATSO considers how people get from one place to another, and the infrastructure in place that allows them to move safely and efficiently around the MPO region.
For a quick overview, the Federal Highway Administration has provided a short video explaining the role of a MPO: