Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission
As the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the NWARPC provides the framework for joint cooperation and decision-making in the planning and prioritization of transportation system improvements. A Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), consisting principally of professionals associated with various aspects of transportation, is charged with developing the technical aspects of plans and reports, and makes recommendations to the NWARPC/Policy Committee. All planning is carried out through the 3C approach – Cooperative, Continuing, and Comprehensive – with planning partners AHTD, MODOT, and other public transportation providers.
The Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission (NWARPC) was formed in 1966 through a cooperative agreement between Benton County, Washington County, and the cities of Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, Siloam Springs, and Springdale. In 1983, NWARPC was designated as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) under U.S. DOT regulations for transportation planning purposes. The MPO is designated by the Governors of Arkansas and Missouri to conduct the federally mandated 3C (Comprehensive, Continuing and Cooperative) planning process necessary for transportation projects to qualify for federal transportation funds.
Transportation Management Area (TMA) status was recognized after 2010 Census Bureau data indicated the Fayetteville- Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO Urbanized Area (UZA) had grown from 172,585 in 2000 to 295,083 in 2010. The 200,000 population mark is the threshold for an area to become a TMA. With the new UZA boundary extending into Missouri, the Metropolitan Planning Area (MPA) for transportation planning now extends into McDonald County, Missouri. Today, NWARPC’s membership includes 35 units of government in Benton, Madison, and Washington Counties, Arkansas; McDonald County and Pineville, Missouri; the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD); the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT); transit agencies; and Beaver Water District.
The MPO has six permanent committees, the Regional Planning Commission/Policy Committee (RPC/Policy Committee), the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), the Active Transportation Committee (ACT), the Open Space Committee, the Northwest Arkansas GIS Users Group and the Management and Operations Committee (M&O). The RPC/ Policy Committee is the chief decision-making body for the MPO and consists of the jurisdictions’ chief elected official and/or other appointed representatives. The TAC develops the technical aspects of plans and reports and makes recommendations to the RPC/Policy Committee, the Act and M&O Committees develop the technical aspects of plans and reports and makes recommendations to the TAC. The NWARPC is a multi-modal transportation planning agency for the region.
The NWARPC has created many plans and programs including the NWA 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), the Cave Springs Area Karst Resource Conservation Study, the Congestion Management Process, the Intelligent Transportation System Architecture and Deployment Plan, the NWA Transportation Alternatives Analysis, the NWA Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, and the NWA Open Space Plan. Additionally, the NWARPC initiated a 5 E’s summit that was held in October 2015, and made application for the region for the Bicycle Friendly Community Award in which Benton and Washington Counties received the Bronze level award.
The NWARPC supported the development of the Razorback Regional Greenway by applying for and administering the TIGER II grant portion of the Greenway.
The NWARPC obtained a grant from the Walton Family Foundation to hire a consultant to create the NWA Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan for the Region. The Plan called for 20 catalyst projects to be implemented which included 17 infrastructure projects and 3 non-infrastructure projects. One of the catalyst projects provides non-motorized transportation training for engineers and planners. NWARPC is the agency that will coordinate the regional training sessions.