Who We Are

The Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is a regional transportation planning entity comprised of local communities and transportation agencies in the Des Moines, Iowa, metropolitan region.

The Des Moines Area MPO provides a regional forum to ensure coordination between the public and local, state, and federal agencies in regards to planning issues and to prepare transportation plans and programs. The Des Moines Area MPO develops both long- and short-range multimodal transportation plans, selects and approves projects for federal funding based upon regional priorities, and develops methods to reduce traffic congestion.

The Des Moines Area MPO is comprised of 16 cities; DART; four associate, non-voting cities; unincorporated portions of three counties in central Iowa; and one associate, non-voting county. The Des Moines Area MPO’s planning area encompasses over 500 square miles.  Partner agencies include the Iowa Department of Transportation, the Federal Transit Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Des Moines International Airport, and the Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency.  The map below illustrates the MPO’s planning area boundary and its member governments (click on the map for more information).

Legal Authority

Since the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962, MPOs have been required by federal law in urbanized areas with a population greater than 50,000 and are supported through federal funds.  The Des Moines Area MPO acts as the formal transportation body for the greater Des Moines metropolitan area, carrying out the intent of 23 CFR 450. In 1983, the Governor of Iowa designated the MPO as the official MPO for the Des Moines Urbanized Area, as defined by the US Census Bureau. The Des Moines Area MPO functions as the Transportation Management Area as well, as it exceeds the population threshold of 200,000 persons established in 23 CFR 450.104.  The MPO is organized as a separate legal entity pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 28E of the Iowa Code.

Membership and Representation 

Voting membership on the Des Moines Area MPO is open to any county or city government located, wholly or partially, in the designated MPA containing a minimum population of 3,000 persons that adopts the Des Moines Area MPO’s 28E Agreement.

Des Moines Area MPO 28E Agreement: Seventh Amended and Substituted (September 20, 2018)

Population determines representation on the Des Moines Area MPO’s technical and policy committees with each member government receiving at least one representative.  The Des Moines Area MPO allows larger member governments to have additional representatives based on predetermined population thresholds identified in the Des Moines Area MPO’s Bylaws.

Des Moines Area MPO Bylaws (October 18, 2018)


Transportation planning includes various activities.  Some of these are led by the Des Moines Area MPO, while others are led by other entities.

What the Des Moines Area MPO Does Do:

  1. Identify short- and long-range transportation needs;
  2. Analyze and evaluate transportation improvements;
  3. Estimate future traffic volumes;
  4. Inform the public about planning activities;
  5. Study the movement of traffic along major corridors;
  6. Conduct planning studies; and,
  7. Carry out other collaborative planning activities among its members.

What the Des Moines Area MPO Does Not Do:

  1. Road/bridge design, construction, and repair;
  2. Enforce traffic laws;
  3. Trail construction and maintenance;
  4. Transit operations; and,
  5. Land use planning and zoning.


The MPO’s planning process is scrutinized every four years by a review team from the Federal Highway and Federal Transit Administrations to ensure the MPO complies with federal guidelines. Those certifications are posted here.

2021 Certification Review Report
2017 Certification Review Report
2013 Certification Review Report
2009 Certification Review Report
2005 Certification Review Report