Regional Overview

The region served by the Regional Planning Commission is comprised of approximately 4,000 square miles of land and 4,700 square miles of water within varying combinations of nine parishes dependent upon which designation we are representing. The City of New Orleans is the historic center of southeast Louisiana and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Since its founding in 1718 and due to its strategic location on the Mississippi River, New Orleans is a principal world port as well as home to a multi-cultural population. Southeast Louisiana’s over 1.3 million residents are proud of its distinctive cuisine, unique music and architecture, dramatic and prolific wetland ecology and inimitable festivals and traditions. The region is comprised of Orleans Parish (coterminous with the boundaries of the city of New Orleans), St. Tammany and Tangipahoa Parishes along Lake Pontchartrain to the north, St. Bernard Parish along Lake Borgne to the east, Plaquemines Parish following the Mississippi River to the south, west to Jefferson Parish home to the Louis Armstrong International Airport, and continuing west to St. Charles Parish and St. John the Baptist Parish

New Orleans Regional Planning Development District Tabloid Portrait The Regional Planning Commission Board representation includes 5 members from each of the 8 parishes listed above and the Secretary of Transportation.

New Orleans Regional Planning Development District Tabloid PortraitThe RPC as a Planning and Development District (5 parishes)

The Regional Planning Commission is the planning and development district (PDD) for the five parishes of southeast Louisiana: Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Tammany Parishes. These state designated districts (LA Act 472) work to improve the physical and social needs of their multi-parish areas through regional planning and economic development programs.

Metropolitan Planning Organization (8 parishes)

Urbanized Areas in the New Orleans MSA Letter LandscapeThe Regional Planning Commission also serves as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for four Census Bureau designated urbanized areas (UZAs): The Greater New Orleans Transportation Management Area (TMA), on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain, and the three urbanized areas of Covington/Mandeville, Slidell and South Tangipahoa, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Urbanized areas by definition consist of a central core and adjacent densely settled territory that together contain at least 50,000 people, generally with an overall population density of at least 1,000 people per square mile. The south shore TMA consists of a contiguous urbanized area with a population over 200,000 spreading across Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles and St. John parishes. The south shore TMA is Louisiana’s most populous metropolitan area.


New Orleans 2000 Metropolitan Statistical Area Letter LandscapeMetropolitan Statistical Area 2013 (8 parishes but slightly different parishes)

As the designated planning and development district and metropolitan planning organization in the region, the RPC works with statistical information from the U. S. Census Bureau for the 2013 designated eight-parish Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist and St. Tammany Parishes. This region’s MSA consists of three Census Bureau defined urbanized areas (New Orleans,  Mandeville/Covington, and Slidell), and their surrounding densely settled areas. Parishes qualify to be included in the MSA by meeting a specified level of commuting to the urban centers and by meeting certain other requirements of metropolitan character, such as a specified minimum population density or percentage of the population that is urban as specified by the U. S. Census Bureau.   

Uses of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: Questions about how metropolitan or micropolitan statistical areas are used within any particular nonstatistical program should be directed to the agency that administers that particular program. (

Metropolitan Planning Study Area (MPA) (8 parishes)

The metropolitan planning process includes analysis of transportation alternatives to meet future system demands. The Metropolitan Planning Study Area (MPA) includes all or portions of parishes, cities, towns and villages that are or are likely to become urbanized within a 30 year planning period. The MPA boundary is established by the MPO after the Adjusted Urbanized Area Boundary (UAB) is set using the Census UZA as a base and adjusted outwards to reflect future transportation needs. The RPC sets its MPA boundaries in coordination with local planning departments and the Louisiana DOTD.


Local Governments Comprising the Regional Planning Commission Board (6 parishes)

Municipalities/Incorporated Places (city (10), town (9) or village (4)).

A muncipality is usually an urban administrative division having corporate status and usually powers of self-government. An incorporated place, under the Census Bureau's definition, is a type of governmental unit incorporated under state law as a city, town or village and having legally prescribed limits, powers, and functions. A city is an incorporated municipality usually governed by a mayor and a board of aldermen or councilmen. A town is a human settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city. The size definition for waht constitutes a "town" varies considerably. A village is a municipality having a population of 1,000 or fewer in Lousiana.

Jefferson Parish

Jefferson Parish is the state of Louisiana’s most populous parish covering approximately 680 square miles adjacent and west of Orleans Parish. The parish contains six municipalities and the highly populous unincorporated area of Metairie.

Orleans Parish

Orleans Parish is the state of Louisiana’s most densely populated parish. The parish covers approximately 350 square miles. Orleans Parish is coterminous with the City of New Orleans.

Plaquemines Parish

Positioned at the gateway of the Gulf of Mexico, Plaquemines Parish hosts a comprehensive transportation network incorporating transfer terminals and miles of deep draft water frontage to accommodate the movement of goods. In addition, to the parish’s strategic location and infrastructure, Plaquemines possesses a range of natural assets. The parish consists of unique ecological wonders, including fragile wetlands, which serve as habitat for marine life and other animals. The silt deposits from the Mississippi River provide Plaquemines with extraordinarily fertile soil which supports a diversity of flora. Most of Plaquemines population resides in Belle Chasse, which houses the Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base.

St. Bernard Parish

St. Bernard Parish is five miles from downtown New Orleans, and covers approximately 2,000 square miles of an enormously rich wetland ecosystem which leads to open water stretching out to the Chandeleur barrier Islands located in the Gulf of Mexico. St. Bernard is known for its strong family traditions, beautiful landscapes, wildlife, fishing and agriculture. The parish houses a major port facility, a sugar refinery, petrochemical and oil and gas industries as well as seafood processing businesses. Just down the river from New Orleans is the Chalmette National Battlefield, the site of the Battle of New Orleans which effectively ended the War of 1812.

St. Charles Parish

St. Charles Parish, located west of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes was originally part of the German Coast, an area settled by German pioneers in the 1720's along the east bank of the Mississippi River. With a Census 2010 population of approximately 52,780, St. Charles Parish is a growing parish in the New Orleans Metropolitan Area comprised of approximately 411 square miles of which 32% is water. Home to the regional Port of South Louisiana, it contains more than 20 industrial and energy facilities. It is a Sportsman's Paradise offering fishing, hunting and recreational lands including the Bonnet Carre' Spillway. The parish seat is located in Hahnville, LA.

St. John the Baptist Parish

St. John the Baptist Parish located west of Orleans, Jefferson and St. Charles Parishes was the 2nd permanent settlement in Louisiana.  Bisected by the Mississippi River, St. John the Baptist Parish is part of the German Coast settled in the 1720’s and later home to the first Acadian settlement at Wallace, Louisiana.  St. John the Baptist Parish hosts the Globalplex Intermodal Terminal for the Port of South Louisiana.  The Parish is known for swamp tours and the Andouille Festival, as well as its fertile soils offering agricultural land above sea level, historically prolific in sugar.  St. John the Baptist Parish has a population of approximately 45,924 from Census 2010, encompasses 348 square miles of which 29% is water.  The parish seat is Edgard and the largest city is LaPlace, which is unincorporated.

St. Tammany Parish

St. Tammany Parish, located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, is Louisiana’s fastest growing parish and contains two major urbanized areas. The City of Covington is the parish seat, and in conjunction with the City of Mandeville comprises one urban area. The City of Slidell, which is the largest city in St. Tammany parish with over 27,000 people, is the other urbanized area. The parish covers approximately 1,125 square miles of which approximately 70% is land. Other municipal areas are Abita Springs, Folsom, Madisonville, Pearl River and Sun. Since the completion of the Causeway Bridge in 1956 (the longest bridge over water in the world), St. Tammany developed into a bedroom community for the New Orleans area south of Lake Pontchartrain. St. Tammany has developed a diverse and independent economy attracting large corporate headquarters and industries while continuing to maintain its pastoral residential character.

Tangipahoa Parish

Tangipahoa Parish, located  northwest of Lake Pontchartrain, covers approximately 791 square miles of land area and 32 square miles of water.  Tangipahoa contains the urbanized area of South Tangipahoa combining  the two cities of Hammond and Ponchatoula for transportation planning purposes.  Other incorporated areas are:  the Town of Amite City, Independence, Kentwood and Roseland, and the villages of Tangipahoa and Tickfaw.  Tangipahoa Parish serves as a major transportation and distribution center corridor since it is traversed by Interstates 12 and 55 and hosts Port Manchac on Lake Maurepas which is directly connected to Lake Pontchartain.  Tangipahoa Parish is becoming one of the newest suburban growth areas of southeast Louisiana, being less than an hour’s drive from either Baton Rouge or New Orleans, while offering the natural beauty of the Louisiana countryside. 

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Regional Overview
Regional Overview
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