Ouachita Council of Governments

The Ouachita Council of Governments is a Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Currently, Title 23 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 450 defines a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) as "the forum for cooperative transportation decision making for the metropolitan planning area." An MPO is generally composed of local government representatives, transportation officials, and other stakeholders, who form technical and policy committees. The policy committee is generally made up of elected officials, and provides policy direction to the MPO staff and reviews and authorizes adoption of the MPO-developed plans. The technical advisory committee is made up of a panel of experts (such as planners and engineers) and reviews and recommends changes to the technical aspects of the MPO-developed plans such as the planning process, forecasting models, and collected data.

An MPO has many functions, but there are five core elements that distinctly define its role in transportation planning.

1. MPOs establish a fair and unbiased regional planning process.

2. MPOs must be inclusive and provide ample opportunities for the public and other key stakeholders to provide feedback. This function is carried out through the Public Participation Plan.

3. MPOs analyze various regional transportation development scenarios and implement the most viable options; this work effort is included in their Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP).

4. MPOs are responsible for developing and updating a long-range transportation plan called the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP), with a minimum 20 year planning horizon. During the MTP planning process each MPO must create alternatives for improving the movement of people and goods, preserving the existing transportation system, and enhancing quality of life within their region.

5. MPOs must develop a short term plan with a two to four year horizon, known as the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The TIP serves as a strategic plan for implementing improvements identified in the MTP.

After the results of the 1970 US Census were made available, the Monroe Urbanized Area qualified for an MPO. The Monroe Urbanized Area MPO is administered by the Ouachita Council of Governments which is a program of the North Delta Regional Planning & Development District. The primary mission of the North Delta Regional Planning & Development District is:

to promote and foster economic development through regional partnerships and cooperation, by facilitating cooperation among local governments, educational institutions, and state and federal agencies. [North Delta] also serve[s] as a liaison with the State and Federal agencies concerned with comprehensive planning & development of the District and assist[s] local governments in planning for common needs and in recognizing regional opportunities.

As the designated MPO for the Monroe Urbanized Area, OCOG is responsible for facilitating transportation planning in the cities of Monroe and West Monroe and the town of Richwood as well as the unincorporated area of Bawcomville and other unincorporated portions of Ouachita Parish.

The MPO works cooperatively with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LaDOTD), operators of transit services, and the public to develop the MTP and TIP. The MPO then uses the MTP to create the Unified Planning Work Program. The UPWP describes all federally-funded transportation studies being conducted by the MPO, local transit providers, the LaDOTD, and local governmental units to maintain and/or improve the transportation system within the urbanized area during the current year.

The MPO urban transportation planning process allows the MPO Policy Committee to make decisions on transportation policies and programs. The process utilizes the technical analysis of data collected by professional planners that describes the impacts of alternative courses of action relative to possible policy and program decisions. These actions may include new roads, bus routes, intermodal transfer stations, or signalization changes. This planning process includes both technical analysis of collected data, and values of the community, resulting in a plan that meets the federal mandate for a planning process that is cooperative, continuous, and comprehensive.

Mr. David Creed, assisted by Mr. Doug Mitchell, Ms. Louise Collins, helps OCOG in the administrative needs.

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