The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) grew from a collaborative project between Cary, Raleigh, Garner, and Wake County known as the Greater Raleigh Urban Area Thoroughfare Plan of 1964. During the 1980s and 1990s Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Morrisville, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell, Zebulon, and Wake County joined the MPO. In early 2005, the MPO invited a number of governments in the surrounding areas to become members. Many accepted, and as of October 1, 2005, the Capital Area MPO expanded its planning boundary to include parts of Franklin, Granville, Harnett, and Johnston counties, including the municipal governments of Angier, Clayton, Creedmoor, Franklinton, and Youngsville. These counties and towns which border the expanding Raleigh Urban Area were invited to join MPO in order to comply with federal regulations that require the MPO to coordinate transportation planning in all the areas that will be part of the "Raleigh urbanized area" within the next twenty five years. The Capital Area MPO serves as the coordinating agency between local governments, NCDOT, and FHWA. Staff has established a close working relationship with the planning departments of municipalities within the MPO area as well as with the planning staff of the neighboring Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro (DCHC) MPO.
The Capital Area MPO is comprised of three parts: an Executive Board, a Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC), and a staff that serves the members of these boards. The MPO is responsible for carrying out an annual work program approved by the Executive Board, a portion of which includes updating the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (a seven-year project programming schedule) and the Long-Range Transportation Plan (a minimum twenty-year forecast of projects and programs).