Congressional approval of the Federal-Aid Highway Act on October 23, 1962, was the beginning of the transportation planning process. This legislation requires that in urbanized areas (defined as areas with a population of 50,000 or more) programs for Federal-Aid Highway projects approved after July 1, 1965, must be based on a continuing, comprehensive transportation planning process carried on cooperatively by states and local communities.
On July 15, 1964, a cooperative agreement between the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and the governing bodies of the local area was executed. The responsible agency for the local area was the Etowah Regional Transportation Committee, which met for the first time on July 27, 1964. The coordinator for this committee was the Director of Planning and Engineering of the City of Gadsden.
A new agreement was signed November 17, 1994. The Gadsden / Etowah Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) study area consists of that portion of Etowah County that includes the municipalities of Attalla, Gadsden, Glencoe, Hokes Bluff, Rainbow City, Reece City, Southside and a small segment of Northern Calhoun County. In addition, the municipalities of Ohatchee (Calhoun County) and Steele (St. Clair County) are invited to participate as non-voting members. The City of Gadsden Planning Director serves as the Executive Director of the Gadsden / Etowah Area MPO.