The Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO)

The U.S. Department of Transportation requires cities with populations of 50,000 or more to form a Metropolitan Planning Organization. MPO's provide comprehensive transportation planning to these cities and their surrounding developed areas, and are important and necessary players in the acquisition of federal funding for transportation and related projects.

The Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) was created in May of 1977 by appointment of an executive board by the Governor of Tennessee. It serves Knox County and the urbanized areas of Blount County. TPO members are Knoxville, Knox County, Farragut, Alcoa, Blount County, the East Tennessee Development District, and the State of Tennessee.

TPO responsibilities are administered by an Executive Board and a Technical Staff. A TPO Coordinator serves both committees.

Chief elected officials from the above mentioned urban areas make up the TPO Executive Board. The TPO Executive Board:

  • Establishes committees to ensure cooperative, comprehensive, and continuing transportation planning
  • Reviews and approves plans and programs
  • Implements provisions of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA)
  • Apportions Surface Transportation Program funds
  • Provides administrative and fiscal control

Transportation professionals from the urban area constitute the TPO Technical Staff, which is directly responsible to the Executive Board. The TPO Technical Staff:

  • Prepares planning studies and develops programs
  • Reviews and approves plans and the planning process
  • Establishes schedules in accordance with legislative requirements and Executive Board policy
  • Implements the provisions of ISTEA and other transportation legislation

The Executive Director of the Knoxville Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission designates the TPO Coordinator. With a professional staff from the Knoxville Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission, the TPO Coordinator conducts studies, develops plans and programs, and chairs all TPO subcommittees. This staff is the liaison between the TPO and the Federal Highway Administration, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, local governments, and other groups or individuals interested in transportation issues.

Citizen Participation. Because citizen input is important to the TPO, formal public involvement procedures have been adopted. Citizens representing diverse interests make up an TPO-appointed URBAN TRANSPORTATION ISSUES COMMITTEE (UTIC). The public is invited to review and comment on proposed transportation plans. TPO meetings are open to the public and serve as a regular forum for community transportation concerns.

The Long Range Plan is a 20-year plan of long and short range strategies and actions for an integrated intermodal transportation system to facilitate the efficient movement of people and goods. (Updated every three years)

The Transportation Improvement Program is a three- to five-year schedule of all federally funded and regionally significant transportation projects to be implemented in the urban area. (Updated at least every two years)

The Unified Planning Work Program is a one- to two-year schedule of all urban transportation planning activities. It documents work to be performed with federal planning funds. (Updated annually)

The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) lists 15 factors that must be considered as part of this planning process. Some of the factors are:

  • Preserving and promoting the efficient use of existing transportation facilities
  • Considering the overall social, economic, energy, and environmental effects of transportation decisions
  • Promoting consistency in transportation plans and programs with provisions for applicable short- and long-term land use
  • and development plans
  • Developing methods to expand and enhance transit services and to increase their use
  • Relieving and preventing congestion
  • Enhancing the efficient movement of freight



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