Who We Are & What We Do
The Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council of Governments (Metro COG) is both the designated
Council of Governments (COG) and Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)
for the greater Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area.
MPOs are transportation policy-making organizations made up of representatives from local government and transportation authorities. The Federal Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1973 requires the formation of a MPO for any urbanized area with a population greater than 50,000. The Act also requires, as a condition for federal transportation financial assistance, that transportation projects be based upon a continuous, comprehensive, and cooperative (3-C) planning process for the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Planning Area (MPA). MPOs help facilitate implementing agencies (including municipal public works departments, county highway departments, and state departments of transportation) to prioritize their transportation investments in a coordinated way consistent with regional needs, as outlined in a metropolitan transportation plan.
The core of an MPO is the urbanized area, which is initially identified and defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as part of the Decennial Census update. This boundary is adjusted by local officials and approved by the overseeing state Department of Transportation (DOT). The result of which is the official Adjusted Urban Area Boundary (known as the UZA). In Metro COG’s case, the overseeing DOT is the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT). The UZA boundary is used to determine the type of transportation funding programs potential projects may be eligible to receive.
In addition to the UZA, the MPO boundary includes any contiguous areas, which may become urbanized within a twenty-year forecast period. Collectively, this area is known as the Metropolitan Planning Area (MPA). Metro COG’s MPA boundary was most recently expanded in 2013 and is currently comprised of approximately 1,073 square miles (687,000 acres), across 2 states, 2 counties, 14 cities, and 30 townships. The MPA boundary is effectively Metro COG’s “study area” or area of influence respective to the metropolitan transportation planning program. These areas are significant not only as potential future population centers but also due to their proximity to existing and future transportation assets of regional significance.
Metro COG is governed by two committees.
The first is the Policy Board, the executive body of Metro COG. The Policy Board is Metro COG’s decision-making arm comprised of 16 voting members who represent the metropolitan planning area. The Policy Board consists of at least three-quarters elected officials, and each jurisdiction’s voting power is based on its approximate share of the area’s population.
The second is the Transportation Technical Committee (TTC). The TTC advises the Policy Board on technical matters related to transportation planning in the region. The committee is made up of planning and engineering from local jurisdictions, transit agencies, and representatives from MATBUS, MnDOT and NDDOT.
Metro COG also operates four committees:
Metro COG is guided by the following principle documents:
- Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP)
- Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)
- Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP)
To ensure that Metro COG is an inclusive agency throughout the transportation planning and policy setting processes, the following plans are developed by Metro COG and reviewed by NDDOT. The specific content and purpose of these documents are regulated by the Federal government.
Our MTP is designed to analyze all modes within the transportation network and set priorities for federal transportation funding. This plan is updated every 5 years.
The TIP is a compilation of significant surface transportation improvements scheduled for implementation in the Fargo‐Moorhead metropolitan planning area over the next four fiscal years.
The UPWP documents details and specific work tasks for Metro COG’s transportation and community planning activities for the next 24 months.
Metro COG provides surface transportation planning for the metropolitan planning area, which includes but is not limited to roadways, transit routes, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and freight movements. Metro COG's transportation planning areas include:
- Corridor Studies
- Transit Planning
- Bike/pedestrian Planning
- Freight Planning (rail, truck, and intermodal)
- Traffic Incident Management
- Traffic & Bicycle Counts
Metro COG provides community planning to the metropolitan planning area, which includes but is not limited to development of, comprehensive plan documents, zoning ordinances, food systems, and project planning and prioritization. Community planning areas include:
- Comprehensive Plans
- Food Commission
- Demographic Forecasts
- Zoning Ordinance Development
- Land Use Inventory and Development
- Regional and/or Local Coordination