The Rockingham MPO is the federally-designated transportation planning agency for 26 communities in southeastern New Hampshire. Serving as a regional partnership among the United States Department of Transportation, New Hampshire Department of Transportation and other state agencies, regional transit agencies, community leadership, local planning and public works officials, the business community, and citizens across the planning area, the MPO leads in the development of the region's long-range transportation plan and short-range Transportation Improvement Program and contributes to ongoing conversations about issues such as land use, economic development, climate change and the environment, safety and security, and public health.
The MPO region encompasses 26 cities and towns and approximately 1,405 square miles, stretching from the seacoast west along the Massachusetts border to Salem and along the NH 101 Corridor to Epping and Fremont. It is home to approximately 180,000 people, approximately 120,000 jobs, and hosts over 6 million visitors to the seacoast each year. The diverse communities in the MPO region range from small rural towns, such as South Hampton, to the tourist destinations of Hampton Beach, to the more urbanized job centers of Portsmouth, Exeter, and Salem.
In cooperation with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, the MPO works to plan, prioritize, and select transportation projects for federal funding appropriated through the United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration; and is responsible for ensuring the region is in compliance with federal planning requirements and national ambient air quality standards.
In all of its programs and activities, the MPO also complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and other federal and state non-discrimination statutes and regulations.
The Policy Committee consists of Planning Commission members (local representatives appointed in accordance with RSA 36:46) with the addition of members appointed by NHDOT, NHDES, COAST, CART, UNH Wildcat Transit, the Pease Development Authority, and RPC non-member communities. Additional (nonvoting) members include staff from the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration, neighboring MPOs, non-public transit providers, and other participants. The Policy Committee provides a forum for collaboration and decision-making related to regional transportation policy, planning, and funding.
The Technical Advisory Committee is established by the Policy Committee for the purpose of providing technical guidance and recommendations to the RPC Staff and the Policy Committee concerning transportation issues. Membership on the TAC includes representatives from planning area member communities plus the RPC, NHDOT, NHDES, COAST, CART, UNH Wildcat Transit, Pease Development Authority, and other state and federal transportation officials.
Metropolitan Planning Organization transportation planning activities in southeast New Hampshire date back to 1973 with the designation of the Salem-Plaistow-Windham (SPW) MPO [Windham was added in 1992] that consisted of the namesake communities and 6 surrounding towns of Atkinson, Danville, Hampstead, Kingston, Newton, and Sandown. 1982 saw the formation of the Rockingham and Strafford Regional Planning Commissions (RPC and SRPC respectively) and the designation of the Seacoast MPO for the Portsmouth-Dover-Rochester Urbanized Area (UZA) which included the 18 communities in the RPC region that were not in the SPW MPO, and the 18 communities of the SRPC region. The 2000 Census split the Portsmouth-Dover-Rochester UZA into the Portsmouth and Dover-Rochester UZAs and allowed for a reorganization of the MPOs in the region to consolidate management into individual planning commission regions. This led to the designation of the current Rockingham MPO which is contiguous with the boundaries of the Rockingham Planning Commission and was designated by Governor John Lynch on July 21st, 2007.
The Rockingham MPO Planning Area is the result of the combination of the communities included in the former Salem-Plaistow-Windham MPO and the Rockingham Planning Commission portion of the Seacoast MPO. The two sets together represent the State-defined planning district of the Rockingham Planning Commission mostly as it has existed since 1982 with the exception of Windham which switched to the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission in 2013. According to the urbanized area boundaries drawn subsequent to the 2010 Census, all of the communities within the Rockingham MPO with the exception of Kensington and South Hampton contain at least some portion of one of the two urbanized areas:
Portsmouth, NH-ME Urbanized Area Communities (13): East Kingston (a portion is also in the Boston UZA), Exeter, Greenland, Hampton, New Castle, Newfields, Newington, North Hampton, Portsmouth, Rye, Seabrook, South Hampton, and Stratham.
Boston Urbanized Area Communities (12): Atkinson, Brentwood, Danville, Fremont, Hampstead, Hampton Falls, Kingston, Newton, Plaistow, Salem, Sandown, Seabrook.
Epping Urban Cluster (1): Epping (A portion of Epping is also in the Boston Urbanized Area)
Rural (2): Kensington, South Hampton
Other New Hampshire communities in the Boston UZA include Chester, Derry, and Raymond which are part of the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission and MPO, and Pelham which is a member of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission and MPO. The town of Newmarket is in the Portsmouth UZA however that community is a member of the Strafford Regional Planning Commission and is covered by their MPO process.