Regional transportation planning

What is a RTPO?

A regional transportation planning organization (RTPO) is formed through a voluntary association of local governments within a county or contiguous counties. RTPO members include cities, counties, WSDOT, tribes, ports, transportation service providers, private employers and others. 

Why were RTPOs created?

RTPOs were authorized as part of the 1990 Growth Management Act (GMA) to ensure local and regional coordination of transportation plans.

Which counties participate in RTPOs?

17 RTPOs cover 38 of the 39 counties in Washington state. San Juan County is not part of any RTPO.

Regional Transportation Planning Organizations Map (JPG 604KB)


What do RTPOs do?

RTPOs are required to:

  • Prepare a Regional Transportation Plan.
  • Certify that countywide planning policies and the transportation element of local comprehensive plans are consistent with the Regional Transportation Plan.
  • Develop and maintain a six-year Regional Transportation Improvement Program.

How are RTPOs different from metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs)?

State legislation (GMA) created RTPOs. A RTPO covers both urban and rural areas and receives state funding in support of its planning efforts. Federal legislation created metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). A MPO covers an urbanized area and receives federal funding in support of its planning efforts.

MPOs and RTPOs serve the same basic transportation planning functions – develop a long-range plan, coordinate transportation planning within a region, and prepare a transportation improvement program. The federal MPO and state RTPO requirements of these organizations are complementary.

What is WSDOT’s role with RTPOs?

WSDOT provides administrative and technical assistance, supports RTPO coordination activities, provides a role as the fiduciary agent of the RTPO program, and actively participates in the regional transportation planning process. 


Gabe Philips, Tribal and Regional Planning