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A document describing the Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study is available here: What is KATS? 2013

The Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study (KATS) is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Kalamazoo Urbanized Area and is required by federal legislation to provide coordinated transportation planning for urban populations greater than 50,000.

KATS is made up of various governmental agencies, including:

  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
  • Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)
  • City of Kalamazoo
  • City of Portage
  • City of Parchment
  • City of Galesburg
  • Kalamazoo County
  • Van Buren County
  • Kalamazoo County Road Commission
  • Van Buren County Road Commission
  • Kalamazoo Metro Transit
  • Van Buren Public Transt
  • Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority
  • Local villages and townships with the KATS’ Study area

Each of these agencies is represented on the KATS Technical and Policy Committees.  These committee meetings are open to the public.

The Study is funded by planning funds from the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration and the Michigan Department of Transportation, and membership dues from local agencies.


The Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Kalamazoo Urbanized Area.  MPO designation is made through Federal legislation, 23 CFR Section 450.  This legislation outlines the definition of a MPO and its responsibilities.  More information on 23 CFR Section 450 can be obtained at the Federal Highway Administration Web site.

23 CFR Part 450 – Legislation & Regulations – FHWA

KATS considers the entire area of Kalamazoo County, the  four townships of Almena, Antwerp, Waverly, and Paw Paw  within Van Buren County as the Metropolitan Planning Boundary, including all local governmental jurisdictions in transportation planning.

Historical Overview and Evolution – Timeline

1964-1965 Memorandum of Understanding between the Michigan State Highway Department and urban area local units of government agreeing to participate in the comprehensive transportation planning program.

1966  Organization of the Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study, including a Policy Committee, Technical Committee, and Citizens Advisory Committee.

1967  The Kalamazoo County Planning Department contracted with a planning consultant to prepare a County Comprehensive Plan.  This planning effort provided a significant portion of the base land use data to be used by the transportation study

1967  The Michigan State Highway Department retained the consulting firm of Alan M. Vorhees to perform the transportation modeling aspects of the study.  In addition to advancing the Kalamazoo study, the contract provided for training of Department personnel and developing the process as a “model” process to be used in other urban areas in Michigan.

1968  The Policy and Technical Committees initiated meeting on a periodic basis to both monitor and guide the study process in cooperation with the Department.

1968 Local coordination responsibility was assigned to the Department Directors of the Kalamazoo County Planning Department and City of Kalamazoo Planning Department.

1972  Federal legislation under the title of the 1972 Federal Transportation Highway Act made specific planning funds available to urban transportation planning studies and made federal project funding available to local units of government.  Receipt of federal project funds, Federal Aid Urban System funding, was contingent on a successful and “certified” continuing, comprehensive, and cooperative transportation planning process.

1974  The Kalamazoo area is given “conditional certification” based on lack of significant progress in completing a transportation plan.  The “condition” of certification is local action to obtain professional staff with experience and expertise in the conduct of urban transportation planing studies.

1975  In March, the Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study hired a full time study director.  In July of 1975, a transportation engineer was hired to work with the Director.

The Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study staff was initially provided space and services by the County of Kalamazoo within the County Planning Department.  The Study staff was “county staff” for purposes of payroll and benefits, but worked under the direction of and at the will and pleasure of the Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study Policy Committee.  The Policy Committee reimbursed the County for all cost associated with the conduct of the study on a periodic basis.

The first staff year activities and products included:

~ rescheduling and advancing the study process.

~ developing a FY 1976 – FY 1980 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

~ compiling time and cost reports for study activities for the period of 1973-1974 (reimbursement received).

~ working with the City of Kalamazoo in drafting the first Transit Development Program for the Kalamazoo urban area, a vehicle required to receive federal capital and operating funds from the Urban Mass Transportation Administration.

~ certification of the Study was restored.

1977  The KATS staff moved to the Kalamazoo County Road Commission principally based on office space limitations recognized by the County.  The staff similarly was Road Commission staff for purposes of salary and group benefits only (insurances and similar) and the Policy Committee reimbursed the Road Commission for cost on a periodic basis.

1979  KATS completed its first Long Range Transportation Plan for the Kalamazoo Urban Area.

1979  KATS organized as a intermunicapality committee under Act 200 of the 1957 Public Acts of Michigan.

1979  Redesignation of the MPO to the Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study (rather than SMPC).  Redesignation required 75% of the local units of government representing 80% of the urban area population.  Actual action was unanimously taken by all of the local units of government in the Kalamazoo urban area.

1991  Passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991.  The planning provisions of this act reemphasized and strengthened the emphasis on the urban transportation process carried on cooperatively by the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the state.

1992  Policy Committee action to extend the metropolitan area boundary to include the whole county

1997  Passage of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).

2003  Jonathan Start was appointed Executive Director of Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study.

2020 KATS adopted a Title VI plan.

2020 Steven L. Stepek was appointed Executive Director of Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study.


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