Miscellaneous Operations & Freight Provisions Questions & Answers
Revised Definition of TSM&O (Section 1103)
Question: What changes were made to the existing definition of Transportation Systems Management and Operation (TSM&O) under MAP-21?
Answer: Under MAP-21, the definition of TSM&O has been enhanced in two important areas. First, the definition now includes innovative strategies such as Active Transportation and Demand Management and Corridor Management that is multi-modal. Second, the definition now requires coordination on a regional scale as a part of the implementation of TSM&O.
Jason's Law (Section 1401)
Question: Truck parking projects are eligible for Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds (sections 1112 and 1108 of MAP-21). Does section 1401 of MAP-21, Jason's Law, extend this eligibility to National Highway Performance Program (NHPP) funds?
Answer: Yes, truck parking projects are considered a highway safety improvement and such improvements for segments of the National Highway System (NHS) are eligible under 23 U.S.C. 119(d)(2)(I).
Idle Reduction Technology (Section 1510)
Section 127(a)(12) of title 23 established a weight allowance of 400 lbs. in axle and gross weight for idle reduction technology. Section 1510 of MAP-21 amends section 127(a)(12) to increase the weight allowance for that idle reduction technology from 400 lbs. to 550 lbs.
Question 1: Is an auxiliary power unit (APU) considered to be idle reduction technology?
Answer 1: Yes. An auxiliary power unit powers equipment in the truck such as heating, air conditioning, lights, etc., when the engine is turned off, thus promoting reduction of fuel use and emissions.
Question 2: Is the 550 lb. weight allowance only for axle weight?
Answer 2: No. The 550 lb. weight allowance is for both the axle weight of the vehicle and for the gross weight. The total weight increase for the same load cannot exceed 550 lbs.
Question 3: Must the vehicle operator be able to show proof of the weight of the auxiliary power or idle reduction technology unit and that it is working?
Answer 3: Yes. In order to be eligible for this exception, the vehicle operator must be able to show: (1) written certification of the weight of the APU; and (2) that the idle-reduction technology is fully functional at all times by demonstration or by certification (23 C.F.R. 658.17(n)).
Fringe and corridor parking facilities (Section 1513(a))
Question 1: Can electric vehicle charging stations or natural gas vehicle refueling stations be constructed at fringe or corridor parking facilities?
Answer 1: Yes. Section 1513(a) of MAP-21 revises 23 U.S.C. 137(f) to explicitly allow the construction of electric vehicle charging stations and natural gas vehicle refueling stations at parking facilities for use as preferential parking for carpools. A new subsection (g) indicates that the addition of these stations is eligible for Federal funding. The facilities must be located outside of a central business district and within an Interstate highway corridor, and have as their primary purpose the reduction of vehicular traffic on the Interstate highway.
Question 2: Can fees be charged for use of electric charging or natural gas refueling stations constructed at fringe or corridor parking facilities?
Answer 2: Yes, with a caveat. 23 U.S.C. 137(f)(2) indicates that "...fees charged for the use of any such facility in connection with the purpose of this subsection shall not be in excess of the amount required for operation and maintenance, including compensation to any person for operating the facility." However, 23 USC 111(a), related to the use of Interstate rights-of-way, requires that States not permit commercial establishments for serving motor vehicle users to be constructed or located on the rights-of-way of the Interstate System. Thus, if electric vehicle charging stations or natural gas vehicle refueling stations are constructed at fringe or corridor parking facilities located within Interstate rights-of-way, no fees may be charged.
HOV facilities (Section 1514)
Question 1: Did MAP-21 change the provisions for allowing non-HOVs to use an HOV lane?
Answer 1: Section 1514 of MAP-21 continues the exceptions under section 166(b) of title 23, U.S.C., for certain vehicles to use an HOV facility without meeting the HOV occupancy requirements. The exceptions are: motorcycles and bicycles (States can restrict these vehicles through certifying to USDOT that this would create a safety hazard, if the USDOT accepts this certification), public transportation vehicles, high occupancy toll vehicles (i.e., vehicles not meeting the occupancy requirements that pay a demand-based variable toll), and low-emission/energy-efficient vehicles (e.g., "hybrid" vehicles). The authority for States to allow low-emission/energy-efficient vehicles to use HOV lanes was extended until September 30, 2017. In all cases, States must meet stated guidelines to enact, enforce, and manage the respective programs for excepted vehicles.
Question 2: Must tolls for HOT lanes be collected automatically?
Answer 2: Yes. Upon HOV-to-HOT conversion, the State must establish a program to enroll motorists, manage to collect the tolls automatically, manage the demand of those vehicles by varying the toll amount (e.g., use dynamic tolling), and enforce violations. (23 U.S.C. 166(b)(4))
Question 3: Are there restrictions placed on the revenue resulting from tolling?
Answer 3: Yes. Toll revenue from HOV-to-HOT conversions is subject to the requirements of section 129(a)(3). (23 U.S.C. 166(c)(3)). The toll revenue use restrictions are as follows:
debt service with respect to the projects on or for which the tolls are authorized, including funding of reasonable reserves and debt service on refinancing;
a reasonable return on investment of any private person financing the project, as determined by the State or interstate compact of States concerned;
any costs necessary for the improvement and proper operation and maintenance of the toll facility, including reconstruction, resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation;
if the toll facility is subject to a public-private partnership agreement, payments that the party holding the right to toll revenues owes to the other party under the public-private partnership agreement; and
if the public authority certifies annually that the tolled facility is being adequately maintained, any other purpose for which Federal funds may be obligated by a State under this title.
Question 4: Do States have to file annual HOV or HOT facility performance reports?
Answer 4: Annual reports on the impacts of high occupancy toll vehicles or low-emission/energy efficient vehicles on the operations of HOV facilities are required for all HOV facilities that allow such vehicles, but are not required for other HOV facilities. (23 U.S.C. 166(d)(1)(A))
Question 5: How does MAP-21 change provisions related to the "degraded" operation of HOV facilities?
Answer 5: The conditions in 23 U.S.C. 166(d)(2) for determining whether a facility's operation is "degraded" have not changed. However, for facilities that allow tolled vehicles or low-emission/energy-efficient vehicles, if the operation of the facility is deemed "degraded," the State has 180 days to bring the facility into compliance with the minimum average operating speed performance standard. To improve the operational performance of the facility, States may take any appropriate action to change the operation of the facility including, but not limited to the following: i) increasing the occupancy requirement for HOV lanes; ii) varying the toll charged to HOT vehicles to reduce demand; iii) discontinuing allowing non-HOV vehicles to use HOV lanes; and iv) increasing the available capacity of the HOV facility. Failure to bring the facility back into compliance within the 180 days shall subject the State to program sanctions under 23 CFR 1.36 until the facility is no longer degraded. (23 U.S.C. 166(d)(1)(D) & (E))
Extension of Public Transit Vehicle Exemption from Axle Weight Restrictions (Section 1522)
Section 1023(h) of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (23 U.S.C. 127 note; Public Law 102-240) established a single axle weight temporary exemption for "over-the-road" and public transit buses operating on the Interstate, raising the single axle weight threshold from 20,000 lbs. to 24,000 lbs. The exemption was to expire on October 1, 2009, but it was extended by SAFETEA-LU. Section 1522 of MAP-21 makes the exemption permanent, and adds motor homes, as defined in section 571.3 of title 49, to the list of exempted vehicles.
Question 1: Does the 24,000 lb. single axle exemption apply on all roads?
Answer 1: No. Federal weight limitations and this exemption apply on the Interstate only. States are free to establish weight limitations on State and local roads. (23 U.S.C. 127 note)
Question 2: What is meant by an "over-the-road" bus?
Answer 2: An over-the-road bus means a bus characterized by an elevated passenger deck located over a baggage compartment, and typically operating on the Interstate System or roads previously designated as making up the Federal-aid Primary System. (23 U.S.C. 127 note; 42 U.S.C. 12181(5))
Question 3: Are "over-the-road" and public transit buses the only vehicles affected by the single axle weight exemption on the Interstate System?
Answer 3: No. Section 1522 of MAP-21 includes motor homes in the single axle weight exemption.
Rest Areas (Section 1539)
Question 1: Does section 1539 of MAP-21 require State DOTs to change how they manage or operate rest areas on the Interstate System?
Answer 1: No. Section 1539 does not require State DOTs to change how they operate rest areas on the Interstate System, but the State DOTs are now authorized to conduct limited commercial activities as described in Question 2 below. State DOTs have the flexibility under existing law to pursue innovative sources of financing, sponsorships, and partnerships to generate revenue to pay for the operation, maintenance, or construction of rest areas (as specified in 23 CFR 752.7 and FHWA Order 5160). States may choose to allow private interests to manage and operate rest areas, permit limited commercial activities, provide travel-related information, and advertise in a manner that is consistent with Federal laws and regulations (as specified in 23 U.S.C. 111(b)).
Question 2: Does section 1539 of MAP-21 allow States to conduct over-the-counter sales of limited commercial items?
Answer 2: Yes. Section 1539 of MAP-21, which amends 23 U.S.C. 111, allows State DOTs to conduct over-the-counter sales to customers using rest areas on the Interstate System. However, over-the-counter sales are restricted to the following commercial items:
- Items promoting tourism in the State, limited to books, DVDs, and other media;
- Tickets for events or attractions in the State of a historical or tourism-related nature;
- Travel-related information (e.g., maps, travel and coupon booklets); and
- Lottery machines.
All revenue to the State DOT derived from these activities must be used for the acquisition, construction, operation and maintenance of Interstate rest areas (23 U.S.C. 11(b)(4)). Additional guidance on this section will be issued at a future date.
Question 3: Does Section 1539 of MAP-21 require State DOTs to change how they use vending machines?
Answer 3: No. State DOTs may install vending machines to dispense "such food, drink and other articles as the State DOT determines are appropriate and desirable." (23 U.S.C. 111(c))
Question 4: Does section 1539(a) of MAP-21 change how State DOTs provide access to rest areas on the Interstate System?
Answer 4: No. Section 1539(a)(1) clarifies that projects shall not be allowed to alter the boundary of the right-of-way to accommodate the construction of or access to automotive service stations or other commercial establishments from the Interstate System. This revision does not change the requirement that all ingress and egress points with the Interstate System must only occur at interchanges connecting to public streets, which prohibits direct access to private or commercial establishments from the Interstate System. (23 U.S.C. 111(a))
Question 5: One of the amendments in section 1539 would permit the installation of signs that acknowledge the sponsorship of rest areas. Isn't this already allowed under current policy?
Answer 5: Yes. Section 1539 codifies Federal policy contained in FHWA Order 5160.1 (Policy on Sponsorship Acknowledgment and Agreements within the Public Right-of-Way: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/legsregs/directives/orders/51601.htm) by recognizing the benefit of sponsorship opportunities and allowing the use of signs to acknowledge the provision of highway-related services under both corporate and volunteer sponsorship programs.
Question 6: What are the criteria for the installation of rest area sponsorship acknowledgment signs?
Answer 6: Criteria for both the design and placement of rest area sponsorship acknowledgment signs are currently included in FHWA Order 5160.1 and the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The current criteria for sponsorship acknowledgement signs will be assessed to determine if any enhancements may be appropriate.
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Architecture and Standards (Section 53005)
Question: What changes does MAP-21 make to ITS National Architecture and standards?
Answer: Section 53005 of MAP-21 supports the ITS program for development, implementation, and maintenance of the National ITS Architecture and all related provisions. Section 53005 also requires USDOT to promote the use of systems engineering methods in the widespread deployment and evaluation of intelligent transportation systems. This is similar to the current provision for ITS projects funded by the Highway Trust Fund at 23 CFR 940.11. Section 53005 also requires that ITS projects conform to the appropriate regional ITS architecture, applicable standards, and protocols. This is similar to the current provision for ITS projects at 23 CFR 940.5.