Rural Planning Organization (RPO) Coordination
Federal law requires states to consult and coordinate with local officials in rural areas of the state. Tennessee formed Rural Planning Organizations (RPOs) statewide in 2005 to enhance state- and regional-level partnerships in the state's rural areas for transportation planning purposes. Funding for transportation projects and programs are channeled through this planning process.
Through the Long Range Planning Division, the Regional Planning Office is responsible for the statewide coordination and oversight of the transportation planning process in Tennessee's twelve RPO areas.
RPOs serve a similar function as Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) for the rural areas of the state. The purpose of an RPO is to involve local officials in multimodal transportation planning, through a structured process, to ensure quality, competence, and fairness in the transportation decision-making process. RPOs consider multimodal transportation needs on a local and regional basis, review long-term needs as well as short-term funding priorities, and make recommendations to TDOT.
RPOs assist TDOT with the following the duties.
- Develop, in cooperation with the TDOT, comprehensive transportation plans
- Provide a forum for public participation in the transportation planning process
- Develop and prioritize suggestions for projects that the organization believes should be included in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)
- Provide transportation-related information to local governments and other interested organizations and persons
Tennessee's RPOs are Center Hill, Dale Hollow, East Tennessee North, East Tennessee South, First Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, West Tennessee, Northwest Tennessee, South Central East, South Central West, Southeast Tennessee, and Southwest Tennessee.
RPO responsibilities are administered by an Executive Board and a Technical Committee. The Executive Board provides policy direction, and membership includes locally-elected officials and a state senator and state representative. The Technical Committee provides technical expertise and is comprised of professional planners and engineers from local governments and other transportation-related agencies.