RTP2023 Metropolitan Planning | MAG
The regional transportation plan developed by the Mountainland Metropolitan Planning Organization balances growth, a vibrant economy, and future transportation needs.

Metropolitan Planning

Mountainland Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has the task of planning for urban Utah County regional transportation needs. Located at the southern end of the Wasatch Front region of Utah, the MPO encompasses the rapidly growing Provo/Orem Urbanized Area and includes all 25 Utah County municipalities and contiguous unincorporated areas. Urbanization and the locations of major transportation facilities are constrained by physical boundaries, including steep mountain terrain to the east and west and the large, centrally located Utah Lake. The urban area is roughly bisected by I-15, the only freeway currently within Utah County.

The MPO creates a forum, bringing together urban leaders with state and federal transportation officials, opening dialogue, and providing a process for all to be involved in planning and funding the area's transportation needs. MAG has a strong history of working together with stakeholders and accomplishing results.

Plan Development Timeline

Extensive work and coordination with planning partners and the public is conducted during the 4-year development period to create the RTP

Population Growth


Historically, population growth in Utah County has been robust, rising by 35 percent in each of the last two decades and surpassing one-half million people in 2009. More recently, the Provo/Orem area was the fourth fastest-growing metro area in the country, with the population now exceeding 700,000.

While the mainly rural transportation system had been over-taxed and unable to sustain such rapid growth, early in the last decade, the state and county invested nearly $4 billion in highway and rail projects, making a significant impact towards easing congestion and creating better connectivity. 

The cities of Provo and Orem have always been the urban core of Utah County, but this is changing. The two largest metropolitan areas in the state, Salt Lake City and Provo/ Orem converge at the Point of the Mountain, creating a natural center for high growth in both jobs and population. 

Growth, based on state population, household, and employment projections, dictates where the regional transportation system needs to expand.

Utah County has the highest population growth rate in the Wasatch Front Region...

REGIONAL GROWTH TRENDS: By 2050, Utah County will add half a million more people, growing to 1.2 million, rivaling the population of Salt Lake County today. This equates to 64 percent growth, almost double that of any other Wasatch Front county. For every 10 new people to the Wasatch Front, 4 will live in Utah County. Employment trends mimic those for all four Wasatch Front counties. Utah County’s employment growth is projected to grow from 426k jobs today to 640k in 2050. However, despite these additional jobs, Salt Lake City will remain the major urban employment center. Prior growth trends show that Utah County’s development had been tied to in-county employment, but over the last ten years, the two metro areas (Provo/Orem and Salt Lake City) have begun to converge, creating the highest employment growth area in the state. A large, highly educated workforce, abundant developable land, and convenient access to highways, rail, airports, and active transportation have drawn and will continue to focus economic attention on the area.

Man in athletic pants is kneeling on one knee while tying his shoes.

Growth, historically and in the future, is aimed southward toward Utah County...

DIRECTION OF GROWTH: Development along the Wasatch Front has historically favored the areas south of downtown Salt Lake City. Today, 650,000 people live north of downtown Salt Lake City, and 1.9 million live south of it. By 2050, 920,000 people will live north of downtown and 2.7 million south of it. Utah County’s share of the total Wasatch Front population will increase from 27 percent today to 33 percent in 2050, Salt Lake will drop from 48 percent to 43 percent, and Davis and Weber will stay the same at 15 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

Man in athletic pants is kneeling on one knee while tying his shoes.

Over 700,000 people live in Utah County today, growing to 1.2 million people in 2050......

SUB-REGION GROWTH: As growth mounts, the population and employment distribution will continue to increase outside the historical center of Provo/Orem. In 2050, Provo/Orem will still be the urban core, but northward along the I-15 corridor and into Salt Lake County, similar densities begin to develop. Areas west of I-15 densify and become self-sustaining (more jobs, fewer long commutes), and show more urban characteristics. South of Provo, communities fill in with development and spread out from historic city cores, although densities remain low with suburban characteristics.

Map of Utah County sub-regions growth

Between 2000 and 2020, the West Area (including Lehi, Eagle Mountain, and Saratoga Springs) was the epicenter of statewide population growth, adding more than 150,000 people. By 2050, the future population will reach 393,000, equaling Utah County’s total population around the 2002 Olympics.

This area includes American Fork, Highland, and Pleasant Grove. With less developable land and high real estate values, it added over 50,000 new people between 2000 and 2020, but only 36,000 new people will be added between today and 2050.

Provo, Orem, and the high-growth area of Vineyard encompass the Central Area. Most of Provo and Orem are developed, established areas that have increased in density since 2000, adding 36,000 new people. Another 75,000 people are forecasted to move to the area, with increased density and Vineyard building up and out.

The largest area geographically with densities mostly at rural values today, the South Area is also growing. Most of the 75,000 new residents since 2000 pushed development outward from the historic city cores. The area is forecasted to add another 191,000, increasing to 377,000 by 2050.

Land use and travel demand both dictate where transportation projects are needed.........

Utah is growing... and we have a vision plan, Wasatch Choice Vision. Our future quality of life depends on the choices we make today. Wasatch Choice Vision is our communities' shared vision for coordinated transportation investments, development patterns, and economic opportunities. The Wasatch Choice Vision map and key strategies show how advancing the Vision can enhance the quality of life even as we grow.

View the Wasatch Choice Vision

A map of the Wasatch Choice Vision
Article Tags: rtp2023, rtp, metropolitan, planning