The transportation planning process began with Congressional approval of the Federal-Aid Highway Act on October 23, 1962. This legislation requires that in urbanized areas, programs for Federal-Aid Highway projects approved after July 1, 1965, must be based on a "...continuing and comprehensive transportation planning process carried on cooperatively by states and local communities." This required "three-C" planning process established the basis for metropolitan transportation planning used today.
As a result of the 1962 Act, a new official body, the Champaign-Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study (CUUATS) was created in 1965 to build upon this planning effort and administer the area's 3-C transportation planning process. In order to ensure that comprehensive regional planning efforts were achieved, the Governor of the State of Illinois designated the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in March 1974.
The Champaign County Regional Planning Commission Chief Executive Officer (CEO) serves as the CEO of the Champaign-Urbana Area MPO. CCRPC administers CUUATS staff, and to avoid any duplication of effort, it has recognized CUUATS as its own transportation planning entity. In March 1979, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed by all member agencies of CUUATS, CCRPC and IDOT "...for the purpose of continuing and documenting the framework of a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive transportation planning process that results in plans and programs consistent with the comprehensively planned development of the Champaign-Urbana urbanized area." An updated Memorandum of Agreement was endorsed by all participating CUUATS member agencies in June 2001. This document delineates responsibilities and actions between CUUATS and the CCRPC.
CUUATS member agencies are: the Cities of Urbana and Champaign, the Village of Savoy, Champaign County, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, and Illinois Department of Transportation, all of which are voting members. In 2002, the Village of Bondville was included by the Census in the urbanized area, which made it eligible to be a CUUATS member agency. In 2012, the Village of Tolono was included by the Census in the urbanized area, which made it eligible to be a CUUATS member agency.
The MPO is responsible for the following aspects of the transportation planning process:
- To design and set goals and objectives of the planning process and the long range transportation plan;
- To give advice regarding development in the study area;
- To review and advise on proposed changes in transportation planning concepts;
- To serve as liaison between governmental units in the study area; and
- To obtain optimum cooperation of all governmental units in providing information and in implementing various elements of the transportation plan.