The Volpe Center conducted research for the Federal Highway Administration Office of Planning that explores the implications of Regional Planning Organizations (RPO) engaging in transportation planning partnerships and projects of megaregions significance in the 2014 report Role of Regional Planning Organizations in Transportation Planning Across Boundaries.
The research assesses the benefits of this participation to rural areas and to their State and metropolitan partners, specifically in the areas of economic development, freight, and natural resources. Considering the limited resources of RPO staff, the research describes the institutional barriers to entry for RPOs in cross-regional transportation planning and considers partnerships that may lead to greater involvement in megaregions initiatives. Through three case studies, the paper outlines the benefits for rural areas, including economic and transportation benefits, and suggests recommendations and best practices for RPOs to consider in partnering with metropolitan planning organizations and State Departments of Transportation. The recommendations also demonstrate how transportation planning can be the mechanism to support rural participation in plans and projects at a megaregion scale.