In 1974, the United States Congress amended the Federal Aid Highway Act, which mandated that all urbanized areas having a population of 50,000 or more designate a single agency to administer federal transportation funds. The agencies that were established were called Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO).
According federal law, the activities of an MPO must provide a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive (3-C) transportation planning process. With regard to geographic scope, the transportation planning process is to, at a minimum, cover the urbanized area and the area likely to be urbanized in the period covered by the long-range element of the transportation plan. As the MPO, the City of Lincoln is responsible for developing the long-range transportation plan and for conducting all long-range transportation planning for both the Lincoln urban area and Lancaster County.
The City of Lincoln has been designated as the MPO for the Lincoln Metropolitan Area by the Governor of the State of Nebraska which includes Lancaster County and is the sole recipient of federal transportation planning funds. The Lincoln MPO was established on March 22, 1974 (updated November 23, 1977) to guide this 3-C planning process in the expanding Lincoln urbanized area as well as in the entire County of Lancaster. The MPO, represented by the Mayor of the City of Lincoln, is responsible for conducting the urban transportation planning process pursuant to federal requirements and is responsible for assigning work as necessary to carry out this process.