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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Regionalism Through Partnerships? Metropolitan Planning Since ISTEA


Metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) were given significant new responsibilities for transportation decision-making with the passage ofISTEA but were expected to carry out these responsibilities in partnership with state agencies and a variety ofpublic and private interest groups. Since the ISTEA partnership approach is continued under thefollow-on TEA-21 /egis/ation, it is important to understand the institutional relationships thus formed and their strengths and limitations. Drawingfrom the literature as well as our own interviews in two dozen large metropolitan regions, in this paper we review the experience to date with partnerships under JSTEA. Five types of partnerships are identified, in order ofincreasing levels ofinteraction, shared responsibility, and role equality: consultation, coordination, cooperation, consensus building, and collaboration. Wefind that most MPO activities are of the first three types. Successes in lower-level partnerships can open doorsfor higher levels ofpartnership, but by no means assure it; partnerships have produced gains but they also have caused cmiflicts. Research on the social learning aspects of partnership development could provide insights into the evolution of regional institutions as well as useful modelsfor progressive practice.

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