About the MPO


Who we are...

The Grand Valley Metropolitan Council (GVMC) is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Greater Grand Rapids area. MPOs were mandated by the Federal Highway Act of 1973 to provide a cooperative, comprehensive, and continuing transportation planning and decision-making process. The process encompasses all modes and covers both short-range and long-range transportation planning.  

What we do...

The MPO is responsible for transportation planning and programming in Greater Grand Rapids area. Each urban area in the United States has a MPO which acts as a liaison between local communities, their citizens, and the state departments of transportation (DOTs).  MPOs are important because they direct how and where available state and federal dollars for transportation improvements will be spent. MPOs currently operate under the current transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), signed into law by President Obama on July 6, 2012.

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Transportation Planning in Grand Rapids - Past & Present

Beginning in 1961 with the establishment of the Kent County Planning Commission, comprehensive planning in the Grand Rapids area was done by the Kent County Planning Department. In the Mid-1960's, this agency began a comprehensive land use/transportation planning program encompassing the entire sphere of planning related activities in the Grand Rapids area. This program was designed to fulfill requirements of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1962 as well as other federal, state and local planning requirements.

In 1964, the Grand Rapids and Environs Transportation Study (GRETS) Technical and Policy Committees were established. GRETS was formed to guide and direct the planning and development of the transportation infrastructure in the metropolitan area. Membership in GRETS originally included Grand Rapids, Wyoming, Walker, East Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kent County, Ottawa County, Kent County Road Commission, Ottawa County Road Commission, Michigan Department of State Highways, and the Federal Highway Administration. In 1967, the City of Kentwood was admitted. In 1974, the City of Rockford was added to the list of participants. Other participants include the Interurban Transit Authority, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, and the Kent County Department of Aeronautics.

In 1966, the Kent-Ottawa Regional Planning Commission was formed because of a requirement by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that an agency be in existence to undertake comprehensive planning for the region. From 1966 to 1972, the Kent County Planning Commission and the Kent-Ottawa Regional Planning Commission (generally utilizing staff from the Kent County Planning Department) worked together within the broad conceptual framework provided by the comprehensive development plan for the region. Through an agreement with the GRETS Policy Committee, the Kent-Ottawa Planning Commission served as staff for the MPO carrying out all transportation related planning activities for the designated study area.

The Kent-Ottawa Regional Planning Commission became the official, independent, metropolitan planning agency responsible for coordinating all planning activities, in 1972, for the Kent-Ottawa Region, and was the coordinating agency for all transportation planning activities within the GRETS Study Area.

In 1974, the Kent-Ottawa Regional Planning Commission was dissolved and a new nine county region was formed by executive order of the Governor of the State of Michigan . The West Michigan Regional Planning Commission (WMRPC) was formed and given the responsibility for coordinating the GRETS Transportation Program. This relationship lasted until July 1990, when the State of Michigan in conjunction with the GRETS Policy Committee withdrew the MPO designation from the WMRPC. In October 1990, the GRETS Policy Committee recommended GVMC as the MPO for the Greater Grand Rapids area.

GVMC is currently the designated MPO for the Greater Grand Rapids area and is responsible for carrying out all transportation-related planning activities for the designated study area. These duties include preparation of a Unified Work Program (UWP), the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), and the development and maintenance of the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP).

Every four years the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration must jointly certify the metropolitan planning in a transportation managment area. To see the latest Certification Review Report from 2010 for GVMC click here.

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