Transportation Planning Facts

Planning to ensure a mobile region

People in the Twin Cities metro area are on the move.  Every day residents take nearly 10 million trips, whether it’s in a car, a bus or train, or by biking or walking. On weekdays, those trips total nearly 70 million miles. 

The Metropolitan Council is charged under state and federal law with overall planning for the seven-county metro region’s transportation system, including highways, transit, aviation, bicycles, and pedestrians. Because efficient movement of people and goods supports a healthy economy, a high-functioning transportation system is essential to a prosperous regional future.

The Council’s 2040 Transportation Policy Plan details regional transportation goals, plans, and investment priorities to ensure a robust, efficient transportation system as the region’s population grows. It responds to the goals and objectives in the metropolitan development guide for the region, Thrive MSP 2040.

photo of dense highway traffic

Planning and programming involves local elected officials

Federal law and regulations require that all communities with more than 50,000 residents, in order to receive federal transportation funding, have a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to coordinate transportation planning. The Council is the designated MPO for the seven-county Twin Cities area.

The Minnesota Legislature established the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) in 1974 to include local elected officials, significant transportation partners, and resident representatives to advise the Council on the regional transportation planning and funding processes. The 34-member TAB provides formal review of regional and state transportation plans; solicits, evaluates, and selects projects to receive federal transportation funds; and conducts public hearings and adopts the region’s Transportation Improvement Program.

Plan focuses on stewardship of existing system, limited expansionphoto of an express bus

The 2040 Transportation Policy Plan includes policy and investment for the entire regional transportation system—highways, transit, bicycling, pedestrian infrastructure, freight, and aviation. The plan calls for $84 billion in transportation investment in the seven-county metro area through 2040: $11 billion for state-owned highways, $42 billion for local transportation (primarily roads), and $31 billion for transit. Funding for highways and transit come from specifically dedicated sources, and are not flexible for other uses.

The plan acknowledges that the proposed level of funding is insufficient to achieve the transportation goals of Thrive MSP 2040.  It also emphasizes that the Council will work with regional partners to identify additional sources for funding to fulfill the larger vision for transportation in this region. The plan outlines how additional revenues would be spent, if raised.

Policies in the plan emphasize stewardship of the existing transportation system. Most of the highway funding will be spent to preserve, maintain, and operate the large existing system. The plan includes multimodal and strategic low-cost, high-return investments that increase access to areas of significant employment, commerce, education, and cultural activity.

Transit funding is dedicated to supporting and growing the existing transit system, including regular-route buses and the transitway system of rail and bus rapid transit (BRT). Through 2024, four additional METRO lines will be built: the METRO Orange Line (BRT on I-35W south of Minneapolis); the extensions of both the Blue and Green Lines (light rail); and the METRO Gold Line—dedicated BRT in the Gateway Corridor. The expansion also includes three new arterial (urban street corridors) BRT lines. The first one—the A Line—will connect Rosedale Center in Roseville with the 46th St. Station of the METRO Blue Line in Minneapolis, largely running on Snelling Avenue and Ford Parkway. The A Line will begin passenger service in June 2016.

In addition to the federally required spending for transportation, known in the plan as the Current Revenue Scenario, the plan also includes a broader vision. This Increased Revenue Scenario identifies how the region could spend any additional revenue it might receive through 2040.

Land use and transit connection is key

Transit investment shapes and is shaped by local development decisions. The effectiveness of both transit and local development depend not only on transit investment, but also on local action. A strong partnership between the Council and local units of government will be essential to targeting transportation investments that go hand-in-hand with local development decisions to create the best market response possible.

Planning for other transportation modesphoto of the back end of an airplane

The plan highlights the regional bicycle system by identifying key existing corridors and opportunities for connection to regional desintations and job centers. Connecting local biking and walking networks to the regional system promotes livability, mobility, and connects people to places.

The transportation plan and the Minnesota Department of Transportation's (MnDOT) statewide highway investment plan both emphasize the importance of considering truck freight movement when identifying investments on the highway system. The transportation plan identifies "improving economic vitality" as one of the top five investment prioritization factors to be considered. The Council will continue to work with MnDOT to identify highways or locations of truck freight bottlenecks or related issues affecting the region's and state's economic competitiveness.

The 2040 Transportation Policy Plan also includes the regional aviation system plan, describing the system and investments planned at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and the eight regional airports. The Council is responsible for reviewing the capital plans and programs of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, as well as community plans and public/private projects for compatibility with regional airports and aviation policies.