Major Planning Documents

The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission (SWMPC) is one of fourteen regional planning and development regions in the state of Michigan. In 1981, SWMPC was designated by the Governor of Michigan to be the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph and the Niles-Buchanan urbanized areas. This includes creating and updating major transportation planning documents.

Long Range Transportation Plan         

Long Range Transportation Plans (TLRP) are an essential element of SWMPC's transportation planning process, the purpose of which is to assess the existing and future transportation infrastructure over a 20-30-year horizon for the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph and the Niles-Buchanan urbanized areas. The planning process helps coordinate how the region addresses transportation needs with the end goal of fostering an efficient, convenient, safe, secure, and sustainable transportation system for all users. LTRPs must be updated every four years.

An LRTP includes a balanced mix of projects such as bridges, bicycle paths, sidewalks, transit services, new and upgraded roadways, safety improvements, and emission reduction strategies. This “blueprint” guides the region’s federal transportation investments in the transportation system to maintain roads, build new sidewalks and bicycle facilities, improve transit service and access to transit, and maintain freight access.

The staff at SWMPC provides transportation planning services for the TwinCities Area Transportation Study (TwinCATS) and the Niles-Buchanan-Cass Area Transportation Study (NATS) and is guided by the advice of members from the Policy Committees and Technical Advisory Committees, which are made up by representatives from members, such as cities, townships, villages, counties, public transit agencies, the airport authority, and the road departments.

2050 Twin Cities Area Transportation Study (TwinCATS) Long Range Transportation Plan

2050 Niles Buchanan Cass Area Transportation Study (NATS) Long Range Transportation Plan

Transportation Improvement Program

The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is a short-term (four-year) work program that lists all regionally significant and federally funded transportation projects, programs, and transportation services to be carried out within the metropolitan planning area. It includes project information about various transportation modes including roads, transit (bus), and non-motorized (bicycle and pedestrian) pathways. Projects in this TIP are listed by state and federal funding category and by year. Any project included in the TIP must be consistent with, the approved Long Range Transportation Plan. Additionally, the TIP must be fiscally constrained by estimated future revenues or have funding mechanisms currently in place to pay for the anticipated work. Though the TIP is adopted only once every four years, it can be amended as necessary to account for changes in funding or project needs.

2023-2026 Twin Cities Area Transportation Improvement Program

2023-2026 Niles Buchanan Cass Area Transportation Improvement Program


As the region’s MPO, we are required to develop a Unified Work Program (UWP) in cooperation with the state and public transportation operators that includes a discussion of the planning priorities facing the region. The UWP serves as the core budget for the urban transportation planning activities for the Twin Cities Area Transportation Study (TwinCATS) and the Niles-Buchanan-Cass Area Transportation Study (NATS) transportation program.

The Fiscal Year 2025 Unified Work Programs (UWP) describes all the transportation and supporting planning activities that are anticipated to be carried out by staff during the period between October 1, 2024 - September 30, 2025.

2025 Twin Cities Area Transportation Study Unified Work Plan- DRAFT 

2025 Niles Buchanan Cass Area Transportation Study Unified Work Plan - DRAFT 

Public Participation Plan

As a public agency, every project SWMPC undertakes is designed to benefit the community. The Public Participation Plan outlines how SWMPC works to achieve essential public participation in all planning activities. As a part of that, it recommends methods to engage the public during the regional transportation planning decision-making process and guides how members of the public can be involved in the transportation planning process.

Southwest Michigan Public Participation Plan

Air Quality Conformity Analysis

Transportation conformity provisions of the Clean Air Act Amendments require metropolitan planning organizations, such as SWMPC, to make a determination that the Long-Range Transportation Plans and Transportation Improvement Programs conform to the State Implementation Plan (SIP), and that regional emissions will not negatively impact the region’s ability to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

As a part of air quality conformity compliance, consultation with federal, state, and local transportation authorities is conducted through the Michigan Transportation Conformity Interagency Workgroup (MITC-IAWG). Issues discussed include evaluating and choosing emission models and methods, determining regionally significant project definitions, procedures for future MITC-IAWG meetings and rules for reviewing projects.

Within the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission region, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated Berrien County as Non- Attainment for the 2015 8-Hour Ozone NAQS effective January 16, 2018. (Federal Register, Volume 82, Number 220 - 82 FR 54232.) Van Buren County and Cass County are considered in Attainment by the EPA.

Berrien County Air Quality Conformity Analysis 

Cass County Air Quality Conformity Analysis