In 2000, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified the Board of Transportation Reform Bill (House Bill 1304). This bill mandated the North Carolina Board of Transportation to develop a plan to establish Rural Transportation Planning Organizations (RPOs) as counterparts to the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPOs).
RPOs were intended to provide a cooperative unified voice for rural entities to request projects and the funding needed for local and regional transportation projects. RPOs are voluntary, not mandated, and serve in an advisory role.
Memorandum of Understanding
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is used to form and develop a RPO and establishes the proposed area, membership, functions, and the responsibilities of the RPO.
As outlined in the law, the RPO has four core functions:
Developing, in cooperation with the Department of Transportation, long-range local and regional multi-modal transportation plans
Provide a forum for public participation in the transportation planning process
Developing and prioritizing suggestions for projects that the organization believes should be included in the State's Transportation Improvement Program
Providing transportation-related information to local governments and other interested organizations and persons.
RPOs should include representatives from contiguous areas with three to fifteen counties as members.
The total population of the area must be at least 50,000 people and should not be part of a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
The Mid East RPO is comprised of areas within Pitt, Beaufort and Martin Counties. Governing Boards from Martin and Beaufort Counties adopted the MOU in January 2002. The Pitt County Board of Commissioners adopted the MOU in February 2002. The Mid East RPO is approximately 2,000 square miles and has a population of approximately 117,500 people.