Metropolitan Planning

To spend federal funds on local roads, federal legislation requires “urbanized areas” with populations over 50,000 to have a 3C process, managed by a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). An “urbanized area” can often include multiple municipalities.

The Lake Charles Urbanized Area includes the City of Westlake, the City of Sulphur, the City of Lake Charles, and the surrounding urbanized portions of Calcasieu Parish such as Moss Bluff, Carlyss, and other development occurring in adjacent to the incorporated cities just mentioned.

The 3C process stands for:

  • Cooperative-
    • including a wide range of parties
    • including public participation
  • Continuing (ongoing)
    • Short-term
    • Long-term
  • Comprehensive
    • Transportation planning is for all modes,
    • Planning must be equitable
    • Planning must be consistent with land-use and economic development plans.

The 3C process is managed for the Lake Charles Urbanized Area by the Lake Charles Metropolitan Planning Organization (LCMPO) which is primarily represented by two committees,

These committees are comprised of elected and appointed decision-makers as well as technically qualified persons interested in transportation planning.

These committees oversee the development of the transportation planning documents for the urbanized area by assessing the transportation needs of the area, and ranking projects according to criteria set forth in the most recent Federal Legislation (currently the FAST Act) in a fiscally constrained manner.

This process is completed with the assistance of the professional planning staff supplied by the Imperial Calcasieu Regional Planning and Development Commission (IMCAL).

A Brief History of MPOs

While the earliest beginnings of urban transportation planning go back to the post-World War II years, the federal requirement for urban transportation planning emerged during the early 1960′s. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962 created the federal requirement for urban transportation planning largely in response to the construction of the Interstate Highway System and the planning of routes through and around urban areas,. The Act required, as a condition attached to federal transportation financial assistance, that transportation projects in urbanized areas of 50,000 or more in population be based on a continuing, comprehensive, urban transportation planning process undertaken cooperatively by the states and local governments — the birth of the so-called 3C, “continuing, comprehensive and cooperative planning process.

By July, 1965, all the 224 existing urbanized areas had an urban transportation planning process underway. At that time, qualified planning agencies to conduct the transportation planning process were lacking in many urban areas. Therefore, the Bureau of Public Roads (predecessor to the Federal Highway Administration) required the creation of planning agencies or organizational arrangements that would be capable of carrying out the required planning process. Hence, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) quickly came into being because of the growing momentum of the highway program and the federal financing of the planning process. (Excerpts from U.S. DOT’s 1988 Report, Urban Transportation Planning in the United States: An Historic Overview, courtesy of