The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) is a multi-purpose, sub-state, area-wide planning agency. NIRPC was originally established as the Lake-Porter County Regional Transportation and Planning Commission in 1965, pursuant to State-enabling legislation. An amendment to this legislation in 1973 provided the Commission with its current name and allowed for the addition of new member counties. Under this provision, La Porte County joined NIRPC in 1979.
In 1996 the legislation was again amended to provide a seat on the Commission for all of the mayors in the three county region. The legislation was again amended in 2003 to provide for representation of all 41 cities and towns in the Tri-County area, and to specify that representatives must be elected officials. The legislation under which the Commission operates is contained within Indiana Code Title 36, Article VII, Chapter 7.
NIRPC operates as a cooperative of local governments within the Tri-County area. It is currently comprised of fifty-three members. In addition to the municipal appointments, the County Councils, Boards of Commissioners, and County Surveyors appoint one member each, as does the Governor. The Commission or the Executive Board meets monthly. NIRPC's meetings are open to the public and there is a place on every agenda for public comment.
The Commission's planning area is strategically located at the southern tip of Lake Michigan and represents an integral part of the greater Chicago metropolitan area. The Commission's planning area is comprised of the three participating counties of Lake, Porter and La Porte, located in the northwestern corner of the State of Indiana. It consists of 741,468 people (2000 Census) and covers 1,520 square miles. There are forty-one cities and towns and forty-four townships within the NIRPC planning area.
One of the most important designations NIRPC has received is that of Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for northwestern Indiana. MPO's are responsible, together with state departments of transportation and public transit operators, for carrying out the transportation planning process for urbanized areas.
Northwest Indiana is a diverse and dynamic region whose complexities are reflected in the regional transportation system. The NIRPC planning area includes arguably some of the most strategic and critical links in the national transportation system. These factors combine to make the role of MPO for northwestern Indiana extraordinarily challenging.
In addition to planning responsibilities in the environmental and community development areas NIRPC provides staff services for several "partner agencies". Housed in the NIRPC offices are the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission and the Kankakee River Basin Commission. NIRPC also houses the offices of the Regional Bus Authority, which grew out of the Lake-Porter Counties Regional Transportation Authority initially staffed by NIRPC.
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