Transportation Planning

The Southwestern Rural Planning Organization (SWRPO) is an agency that provides transportation planning and mapping/GIS support to Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties, and the municipalities therein. It serves as a forum for local officials and citizens to interact with NCDOT staff on a regular basis, and for NCDOT to obtain substantial and meaningful local input on transportation plans and projects. More information on Rural Planning Organizations can be found on the North Carolina Association of RPOs website.

The Southwestern RPO works with the NC DOT Transportation Planning Branch and a local task force to produce a Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) for each county. Click here for information about CTPs. For more information about transportation planning in your county, click on the county name below.

Rural Planning Organization Information

Since 2002, the North Carolina Department of Transportation has implemented a major re-engineering of its consultation process with rural local officials. The change was mandated under a new state law passed in July 2000 that required the establishment of rural regional transportation planning organizations (RPOs) to work cooperatively with the state to plan rural regional transportation systems and to advise the department on rural transportation policy (Senate Bill 1195. Covered under Article 17 General Statue 136-210 through 213.).  North Carolina’s RPOs are nationally recognized for their innovative and ground-breaking work.

State officials worked with local officials and the existing network of regional development organizations (known locally as regional councils of government) to create 19 RPOs that serve all counties outside of the existing 17 metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). Under the law, RPOs were required to serve contiguous areas of 3 – 15 counties and must have a combined minimum population of 50,000. MPOs cannot be a member of RPOs. In forming the RPOs, not all of the municipalities in the region were required to join, but each county must be a member.  Currently, our RPOs serve nearly 4,000,000 North Carolinians, or almost half the population of the state.  

Funded by the state at $80,000 to $150,000 each year and with a 20 percent local match, RPOs provide these core services:

• Coordinate, assist and develop local and regional plans
• Provide a forum for public participation in the transportation planning and implementation process
• Develop and prioritize projects the organization believes should be included in the state transportation improvement program
• Provide transportation related information to local governments

The process has provided local officials with an enhanced framework to participate in the statewide and regional planning processes. It has also provided a forum for state and local officials to discuss and address issues requiring regional solutions.

For information about Rural Planning Organizations in North Carolina, check out our statewide RPO Association website.

Important Resources:
2012 RPO Prospectus
Southwestern Commission RPO Amended MOU 11.26.07
2016 Amended SWRPO TAC Bylaws
2016 Amended SWRPO TCC Bylaws