[Note: This document has been incorporated into and/or superseded by the FHWA/FTA Final Rule on statewide and metropolitan transportation planning and programming and congestion management processes / systems which was published in the Federal Register on February 14, 2007 and became effective on March 16, 2007. This Final Rule can be accessed at: HTML version: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2007-02-14/html/07-493.htm PDF version: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2007-02-14/pdf/07-493.pdf (394KB).]
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September 2, 2005
Most of the transportation planning requirements became effective immediately when SAFETEA-LU was signed into law on August 10, 2005. However, many of these provisions require rulemaking to implement the changes. FHWA and FTA expect to initiate a comprehensive rulemaking to update the metropolitan and statewide planning regulations in the near future. In the interim, FHWA and FTA realize that the planning process must continue to function as a whole. It would be difficult for States and MPOs to separate out the schedule requirements in the current regulations from the content requirements. Therefore, FHWA and FTA have determined that, in order to not require a State or MPO to "deviate from its established planning update cycle," States and MPOs are allowed to continue to comply with existing planning regulations for this current set of updates. Any transportation plans, metropolitan transportation improvement programs (TIPs), and state transportation improvement programs (STIPs) currently under development (per TEA-21 schedules), may be completed under the pre-SAFETEA-LU planning requirements, including adherence to plan and TIP update cycles and content requirements.
While all TIPs, STIPs, and plans adopted after July 1, 2007, must comply with SAFETEA-LU planning provisions. States and MPOs may wish to take advantage of the SAFETEA-LU provisions prior to July 1, 2007, and they are encouraged to do so. If a State or MPO opts to implement the SAFETEA-LU planning provisions prior to July 1, 2007, they must meet all SAFETEA-LU requirements in Section 6001, since the various provisions are closely interrelated. If plans and TIPs are prepared under the new update cycle described below, they must also comply with the expanded scope, consultation, mitigation, and participation requirements set forth in SAFETEA-LU. In addition, in no instance should the next update of a STIP or TIP be more than 4 years from the most recent update.
Implementation of the new 4-year cycle allowed for FHWA/FTA certification of planning processes in Transportation Management Areas (TMAs) is the responsibility of the FHWA/FTA field offices and can take place immediately under certain circumstances, as discussed below.
We have provided some basic guidance below for those States and MPOs that opt to implement SAFETEA-LU immediately.
Metropolitan Plan Cycles: Metropolitan transportation plans shall be updated at least every four years in air quality nonattainment and maintenance areas, and at least every five years in attainment areas. To align the MPO adoption of the transportation plan in nonattainment and maintenance areas and conformity determinations, the date of the FHWA/FTA conformity determination on the transportation plan is to be used as the basis for tracking update cycles in nonattainment and maintenance areas.
TIP/STIP Cycles and Scope: STIPs and metropolitan TIPs must be updated at least every 4 years and must contain at least 4 years of projects and strategies. The 4-year frequency cycle and the 4-year scope requirements go hand-in-hand and must be implemented together, for any STIP or metropolitan TIP adopted after July 1, 2007.
Metropolitan and Statewide Plans -Environmental Mitigation: Metropolitan and statewide transportation plans must include a discussion of types of potential environmental mitigation activities, to be developed in consultation with Federal, State and Tribal wildlife, land management, and regulatory agencies. Details on these "discussions of types of potential environmental mitigation activities" are outlined in amended 23 U.S.C. 134(i)(2)(B) and 23 U.S.C. 135(f)(4), respectively, based on the consultation requirements highlighted below. Identical provisions for transit appear in the amended 49 U.S.C. 5303(i)(2)(B) and 49 U.S.C. 5304(f)(4). The environmental mitigation requirement must be in place prior to MPO and State adoption/approval of transportation plans addressing SAFETEA-LU provisions.
New Consultations: MPOs and States must consult "as appropriate" with "State and local agencies responsible for land use management, natural resources, environmental protection, conservation, and historic preservation" in developing long-range transportation plans. Additionally for the Long-Range Statewide Transportation Plan, States must consult with Federally-recognized Tribal agencies responsible for land use management, natural resources, environmental protection, conservation, and historic preservation. These new requirements must be in place prior to MPO and State adoption/approval of transportation plans addressing SAFETEA-LU provisions. Details for metropolitan and statewide planning are outlined in the amended 23 U.S.C. 134(i)(4) and 23 U.S.C. 135(f)(2)(D), respectively, and for transit, in the amended 49 U.S.C. 5303(i)(4) and 49 U.S.C. 5304(f)(2)(D).
Consistency of Transportation Plan with Planned Growth and Development Plans: Revises the previous planning factor related to environment to add "promot[ing] consistency between transportation improvements and State and local planned growth and economic development patterns." This new requirement must be in place prior to MPO and State adoption/approval of transportation plans addressing SAFETEA-LU provisions.
Transportation System Security: SAFETEA-LU calls for the security of the transportation system to be a stand-alone planning factor, signaling an increase in importance from prior legislation, in which security was coupled with safety in the same planning factor. This new requirement must be in place prior to MPO and State adoption/approval of transportation plans addressing SAFETEA-LU provisions.
Operational and Management Strategies: Metropolitan transportation plans shall include operational and management strategies to improve the performance of the existing transportation facilities to relieve vehicular congestion and maximize the safety and mobility of people and goods (see amended 23 U.S.C. 134(i)(2)(D)) and 49 U.S.C. 5303(i)(2)(D)). The requirement for the inclusion of operational and management strategies must be in place prior to MPO adoption of transportation plans addressing SAFETEA-LU provisions.
Participation Plan: MPOs must develop and utilize a "Participation Plan" that provides reasonable opportunities for interested parties to comment on the content of the metropolitan transportation plan and metropolitan TIP. Further, this "Participation Plan" must be developed "in consultation with all interested parties". This consultation requirement is intended to afford parties who participate in the metropolitan planning process a specific opportunity to comment on the plan prior to its approval. A participation plan must be in place prior to MPO adoption of transportation plans and TIPs addressing SAFETEA-LU provisions. FTA/FHWA particularly expect this to encompass governmental and nonprofit organizations that receive Federal assistance from a source other than the Department of Transportation to provide non-emergency transportation services and recipients of assistance under section 204 of title 23, U.S.C.
Visualization Techniques in Plans and Metropolitan TIP Development: As part of transportation plan and TIP development, MPOs shall employ visualization techniques (see amended 23 U.S.C. 134(i)(5)(C)(ii)) and 49 U.S.C. 5303(i)(5)(C)(ii)). States shall also employ visualization techniques in the development of the Long-Range Statewide Transportation Plan (see amended 23 U.S.C. 135(f)(3)(B)(ii)) and 49 U.S.C. 5304(f)(3)(B)(ii)). States and MPOs must employ visualization techniques prior to adoption of statewide and metropolitan transportation plans and metropolitan TIPs addressing SAFETEA-LU provisions.
Publication of Plans and TIP/STIP: MPOs shall publish or otherwise make available for public review transportation plans and TIPs "including (to the maximum extent practicable) in electronically accessible formats and means, such as the World Wide Web" (see amended 23 U.S.C. 134(i)(6) on plans and 23 U.S.C. 134(j)(7)(a) on TIPs, and for transit, amended 49 U.S.C. 5303(i)(6) and 49 U.S.C. 5303(j)(7)(a)). States also shall use a similar approach for the Long-Range Statewide Transportation Plan (see amended 23 U.S.C. 135(f)(8)) and 49 U.S.C. 5304(f)(8)). These publication requirements must be in place prior to adoption of transportation plans and TIPs addressing SAFETEA-LU provisions.
Annual Listing of Obligated Projects: SAFETEA-LU specifies that the development of the annual listing "shall be a cooperative effort of the State, transit operator, and MPO" and also shall include two new project types, "investments in pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities" for which Federal funds have been obligated in the preceding year. This revised requirement for an annual listing must be in place prior to adoption of transportation plans and programs addressing SAFETEA-LU.
Congestion Management Processes in Transportation Management Areas (TMAs): Within a metropolitan planning area serving a TMA, there must be "a process that provides for effective management and operation" to address congestion management (see amended 23 U.S.C. 134(k)(3)) and 49 U.S.C. 5303(k)(3)). This provision is similar to the ISTEA/TEA-21 requirement for a Congestion Management System (CMS) to be developed and implemented in TMAs. Each TMA (with input from the FHWA Division Offices and FTA Regional Offices) should assess the extent that the TMA's existing CMS meets the new statutory requirements for a congestion management process under amended 23 U.S.C. 134(k)(3) and 49 U.S.C. 5303(k)(3) and define a plan and schedule to implement this process. Consistent with previous FHWA/FTA guidance, the phase-in schedule for this provision in newly designated TMAs is 18 months after the identification of a TMA.
TMA Certification Cycle: FHWA/FTA must certify each TMA planning process at least every four years (as opposed to the prior legal/statutory requirement of every three years). This provision is effective immediately and allows FTA/FHWA to add one year to existing TMA certifications. The only exception is "conditional certifications" issued for a TMA, which must be completed in accordance with the schedule previously defined by the FHWA Division Office and FTA Regional Office. The timing for certification reviews remains a joint FTA/FHWA decision, and SAFETEA-LU extends the minimum allowable frequency to "at least every 4 years." This does not preclude FTA/FHWA from initiating a Certification Review more frequently and at any time it is warranted. The status and quality of MPOs' Plan and TIP development, the potential for conformity lapse, and other MPO performance indicators should be considered by FTA/FHWA in deciding whether to delay (as allowed under SAFETEA-LU), or accelerate, Certification Reviews.
Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan (Sections 3012, 3018, and 3019): As a condition for receiving formula funding under the following 3 FTA programs, proposed projects must be derived from a locally developed public transit-human services transportation plan: (1) Special Needs of Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities [49 U.S.C. 5310(d)(2)(B)(i) and (ii)]; (2) Job Access and Reverse Commute [49 U.S.C. 5316(g)(3)(A) and (B)]; and (3) New Freedom [49 U.S.C. 5317(f)(3)(A) and (B)]. The plan must have been developed through a process that included representatives of public, private, and non profit transportation and human services providers, as well as the public. This new requirement reinforces the broadened list of entities to be involved in the MPO's Participation Plan (23 U.S.C. 134 (i)(5)(A) and 49 U.S.C. 5303 (i)(5)(A)), as described above. In preparing the local public transit-human service transportation plans, service providers seeking assistance under these programs should ensure full coordination with the applicable metropolitan and statewide planning processes.