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Transportation Conformity Highlights

December 2005

Transition and Implementation of SAFETEA-LU Planning Provisions. On December 8, 2005 FHWA/FTA issued additional clarifying information and guidance on the transition and implementation of the SAFETEA-LU planning provisions to the FHWA/FTA Divisions and Regions. In short, the guidance indicates that before June 30, 2007 metropolitan transportation plans, TIPs and STIPs may be completed under TEA-21 requirements. On or after July 1, 2007, projects contained in TIPs and STIPs must be consistent with transportation plans based on SAFETEA-LU requirements. Finally, MPOs in nonattainment and maintenance areas may take advantage of the four-year SAFETEA-LU update cycles for transportation plans immediately. Therefore, the next transportation plan update (and FHWA/FTA conformity determination) must be completed within four years of the date of the FHWA/FTA conformity determination on the current transportation plan. However, the plan must reflect all SAFETEA-LU planning provisions at the time of the next FHWA/FTA conformity determination. For more information, see: www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/planningtransition.cfm.

Project level conformity in PM2.5 nonattainment areas. On November 17, 2005, FHWA issued an alert to Division staff on issues associated with the implementation of transportation conformity under the PM2.5 standard. FHWA wanted to ensure that state DOTs and MPOs are aware of approval and authorization issues for projects in PM2.5 nonattainment areas after April 5, 2006. Transportation conformity requirements apply in PM2.5 nonattainment areas and a conformity determination by FHWA/FTA must be made by April 5, 2006, or the restrictions of a conformity lapse will apply. However, this deadline also affects project authorizations and approvals.

After April 5, 2006, project-level conformity determinations must be made prior to final NEPA approval and/or project authorizations for non-exempt projects or project phases. This applies to project authorizations made after April 5, 2006, even if the final NEPA approval was before April 5, 2006. This requires that the project come from a conformity transportation plan/TIP or associated PM2.5 regional emissions analysis. In addition, a PM2.5 hot-spot analysis may be required. However, EPA has yet to finalize PM2.5 hot-spot requirements, and may not do so until March 31, 2006. Therefore, although project-level conformity determinations will be required after April 5, 2006, we may not know the final criteria and requirements for PM2.5 hot-spot analysis until only a few days before. State DOTs, MPOs and project sponsors may therefore wish to closely examine their project schedules in PM2.5 nonattainment areas. Project schedules may warrant adjustment to either advance the scheduled approval or authorization to before April 5, 2006, or to allow additional time to allow for the project-level analysis. The alert is available at: www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/air_quality/conformity/research/plc.cfm.

EPA Issues First Draft Staff Paper on Ground-level Ozone. On November 17, EPA issued an initial draft staff paper on ground-level ozone as part of a process to gather public, technical and scientific input to ensure that federal air quality standards reflect the latest air pollution and health effects research. The draft staff paper, "Review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone," includes scientific and technical information about ozone related health and welfare effects, initial results from a human exposure analysis and health risk assessment, and discussion of a planned vegetation-related environmental assessment. The preliminary draft Staff Paper is available online at: www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/standards/ozone/s_o3_cr_sp.html.

EPA Posts Final Version of NONROAD model. This month, EPA posted NONROAD2005 which is the final version of the NONROAD model and it supersedes all previous versions of this model. NONROAD2005 calculates past, present, and future emission inventories for all nonroad equipment categories except commercial marine, locomotives, and aircraft. For more information see: www.epa.gov/otaq/nonrdmdl.htm#model. Questions on NONROAD should be emailed to nonroad@epa.gov.

EPA Posts Final Version of NMIM2005. The National Mobile Inventory Model, NMIM2005, has been posted on EPA's web site at: www.epa.gov/otaq/nmim.htm. NMIM2005 estimates county emission inventories by month and calendar year using county-specific input parameters. NMIM2005 is essentially a graphical user interface that uses MOBILE6.203, NONROAD2005, and a database, which contains modeling information for each county in the U.S. to generate highway and/or nonroad inventories. Users may change the database to add their own information. Questions on NMIM2005 should be emailed to mobile@epa.gov.

NTI Course: Introduction to Transportation Conformity. The course will be offered in Chattanooga, TN on January 17-19, 2006. For information and to register go to: www.ntionline.com/CourseInfo.asp?CourseNumber=FP213

FHWA Resource Center Training Activities.FHWA's Resource Center Air Quality Technical Services Team is available to offer air quality-related training opportunities and information can be found at: www.fhwa.dot.gov/resourcecenter/teams/airquality/courses.cfm.

MOBILE 6.2 Workshops Scheduled. MOBILE6.2 workshops are scheduled for February 14-15 in Hartford, CT, and February 22-23 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. For more information, contact Michael.Roberts@fhwa.dot.gov.

Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting. The Annual TRB meeting will take place in Washington, D.C. on January 22-26. To see the air quality sessions planned and information on the January 22 all-day workshop see: http://www.trbairquality.com/.

If you have any suggestions for future monthly conformity highlights, please email: ssiwek@aol.com.

FHWA Resource Center Air Quality Team Contacts:
www.fhwa.dot.gov/resourcecenter/teams/airquality/index.cfm.

Updated: 07/10/2014
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