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Fiscal Constraint Definitions

[Note: This document has been incorporated into and/or superseded by the FHWA/FTA Final Rule on statewide and metropolitan transportation planning and programming and congestion management processes / systems which was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). - ed.] To view PDF files, you need the Acrobat® Reader®.

Term Definition Source
Advance Construction A technique which allows a State to initiate a project using non- federal funds while preserving eligibility for future Federal-aid funds. Eligibility means that FHWA has determined that the project technically qualifies for Federal-aid; however, no present or future Federal funds are committed to the project. After an advance construction project is authorized, the State may convert the project to regular Federal- aid funding provided Federal funds are made available for the project. This can be accomplished as one action, or the project may be partially converted over time. FHWA Innovative Finance
Website http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovativefinance/sc308510.htm (inactive)
Allocation An administrative distribution of funds for programs that do not have statutory distribution formulas. Financing Federal-Aid Highways, FHWA-PL-99-015 http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/fifahiwy/ffahappa.htm
Apportionment The distribution of funds as prescribed by a statutory formula provided in law. Financing Federal-Aid Highways, FHWA-PL-99-015 http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/fifahiwy/ffahappa.htm
Appropriations Act Action of a legislative body that makes funds available for expenditure with specific limitations as to amount, purpose, and duration. An appropriations act specifies amounts of funds that Congress will make available for the fiscal year to liquidate obligations. Financing Federal-Aid Highways, FHWA-PL-99-015 http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/fifahiwy/ffahappa.htm
Attainment Area An area considered having air quality that meets or exceeds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health standards used in the Clean Air Act. An area may be an attainment area for one pollutant and a nonattainment area for others. Nonattainment areas are areas considered not to have met these standards for designated pollutants. FHWA Planning Glossary http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/glossary/index.cfm
Authorization Upper limits of funding made available to a program. Financing Federal-Aid Highways, FHWA-PL-99-015 http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/fifahiwy/ffahappa.htm
Authorization Act Substantive language that establishes or continues Federal programs or agencies and establishes an upper limit on the amount of funds for the program(s). Financing Federal-Aid Highways, FHWA-PL-99-015 http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/fifahiwy/ffahappa.htm
Available Funds Applies to the first two years of the TIP and STIP in air quality nonattainment and maintenance areas. Includes funds derived from an existing source of funds dedicated to or historically used for transportation purposes. For Federal funds, authorized and/or appropriated funds and the extrapolation of formula and discretionary funds at historic rates of increase are considered "available." Preamble to the FHWA/FTA statewide and metropolitan planning rules (Federal Register; Volume 58, Number 207; October 28, 1993; page 58060).
Budget Authority Empowerment by Congress that allows Federal agencies to incur obligations that will result in the outlay of funds. Budget authority is granted through the appropriations act at the level of appropriations, which may be equal or lower than the originally authorized level of funding. Financing Federal-Aid Highways, FHWA-PL-99-015 http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/fifahiwy/ffahappa.htm
Capital Expenses Includes highway construction (e.g., resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation improvements; construction of additional lanes, interchanges, and grade separations; and construction of a new facility on a new location) and acquisition of transit vehicles and equipment. Overview Of Current Practices In Revenue Forecasting And Cost Estimation For Transportation Plans And Programs
Committed Funds Applies to the first two years of the TIP and STIP in air quality nonattainment and maintenance areas. Includes funds that have been bound or obligated for transportation purposes. For State funds that are not dedicated to or historically used for transportation purposes, only those funds over which the Governor has control may be considered as "committed." In this case, approval of the TIP by the Governor is considered a commitment of the funds. For local or private sources not dedicated to or historically used for transportation purposes (including donations of property), a commitment in writing/letter of intent by the responsible official or body having control of the funds constitutes a "commitment." Preamble to the FHWA/FTA statewide and metropolitan planning rules (Federal Register; Volume 58, Number 207; October 28, 1993; page 58060).
Contract Authority A form of budget authority that permits obligations to be made in advance of appropriations. Financing Federal-Aid Highways, FHWA-PL-99-015 http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/fifahiwy/ffahappa.htm
Cost Estimate A prediction of all costs and the value of any resources needed to complete the design, right-of-way activities, environmental studies, construction, project management, etc. as well as costs and resources paid to others for work related to a project such as utility adjustments, environmental mitigations, and railroad relocations. FHWA Program Administration website: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ipd/project_delivery/tools_programs/cost_estimating/guidance.htm
Financial Plan A comprehensive document that reflects revenues and costs of a transportation plan or program and provides a reasonable assurance that there will be sufficient financial resources available to implement and complete all the elements in the plan or program. Identified funding shortfalls shall be highlighted, along with proposed resource solutions. 23 CFR 450.322(b)(11) and 23 CFR 450.324(e)
Fiscal Constraint A demonstration of sufficient funds (Federal, State, local, and private) to implement proposed transportation system improvements, as well as to operate and maintain the entire system, through the comparison of revenues and costs. Overview Of Current Practices In Revenue Forecasting And Cost Estimation For Transportation Plans And Programs
Illustrative Projects Additional projects that would be included in the adopted/approved transportation plan/program if reasonable additional resources beyond those identified in the financial plan were available. 23 U.S.C. 134(g)(2)(B), 23 U.S.C. 134(h)(2)(B)(iv), 23 U.S.C. 135(e)(4), and23 U.S.C. 135(f)(2)(E)
Maintenance Activities to ensure the preservation of an existing highway or transit line (e.g., highway surface, shoulders, roadsides, and structures; traffic control devices; and road, rail, and signal repair). Overview of Current Practices in Revenue Forecasting and Cost Estimation for Transportation Plans and Programs (Based largely on the definition in 23 U.S.C. 101(a)(14).
Maintenance area Any geographic region of the United States previously designated nonattainment pursuant to the CAA Amendments of 1990 and subsequently redesignated to attainment subject to the requirement to develop a maintenance plan under section 175A of the CAA, as amended. FHWA Planning Glossary http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/glossary/index.cfm
National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) Federal standards that set allowable concentrations and exposure limits for various pollutants. The EPA develops the standards in response to a requirement of the CAA. FHWA Planning Glossary http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/glossary/index.cfm
New Funding Sources Reasonably available revenues that currently do not exist or require additional steps in securing (e.g., legal, executive, and/or legislative) before a jurisdiction, agency, or private party can commit such revenues to transportation projects Based largely on the preamble to the FHWA/FTA statewide and metropolitan planning rules (Federal Register; Volume 58, Number 207; October 28, 1993; page 58060).
Non-attainment Area Any geographic area that has not met the requirements for clean air as set out in the Clean Air Act of 1990. . FHWA Planning Glossary http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/glossary/index.cfm
Obligation Authority The total amount of funds that may be obligated in a given fiscal year. This is comprised of the obligation limitation amount plus the amounts for programs that are exempt from the obligation limitation. Financing Federal-Aid Highways, FHWA-PL-99-015 http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/fifahiwy/ffahappa.htm
Obligation Limitation An annual Congressional restriction or ceiling on the amount of Federal assistance that may be obligated during a specific period of time. This is a statutory budgetary contract that does not affect the apportionment or allocation of funds. Rather, it controls the rate at which these funds may be used. Financing Federal-Aid Highways, FHWA-PL-99-015 http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/fifahiwy/ffahappa.htm
Operations and Maintenance An overarching term for activities related to the performance of routine, preventive, predictive, scheduled, and unscheduled actions aimed at preventing transportation system failure or decline. See definitions of "Maintenance" and "Transportation System Management and Operations." Overview of Current Practices in Revenue Forecasting and Cost Estimation for Transportation Plans and Programs (Based largely on the definitions in 23 U.S.C. 101(a)(14) and (18).
Over-programming A term associated with the TIP and STIP in which the cumulative total of the programmed projects/project phases, by year, exceed the estimated revenues that are "reasonably expected to be available" to implement the TIP and/or STIP (including funding that is "available or committed" in the first two years of the TIP and STIP in nonattainment and maintenance areas). Based largely on the preamble to the FHWA/FTA statewide and metropolitan planning rules (Federal Register; Volume 58, Number 207; October 28, 1993; page 58061).
Preservation Involves the timely application of carefully selected treatments to maintain or extend an asset's service life. FHWA Construction and Maintenance website http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/fs02010.cfm
Range To vary within specified limits. www.dictionary.com
Reasonableness Being in accordance with good judgment, sound sense fairness, duty, or prudence. www.dictionary.com
Regionally Significant Project A transportation project (other than an exempt project) that is on a facility which serves regional transportation needs (such as access to and from the area outside of the region, major activity centers in the region, major planned developments such as new retail malls, sports complexes, etc., or transportation terminals as well as most terminals themselves) and would normally be included in the travel demand modeling of a metropolitan area's transportation network, including at a minimum all principal arterial highways and all fixed guideway transit facilities that offer an alternative to regional highway travel. 23 CFR 450.104
Transportation Control Measures (TCMs) Any measure that is specifically identified and committed to in the applicable implementation plan that is either one of the types listed in section 108 of the CAA, or any other measure for the purpose of reducing emissions or concentrations of air pollutants from transportation sources by reducing vehicle use or changing traffic flow or congestion conditions. Notwithstanding the first sentence of this definition, vehicle technology based, fuel-based, and maintenance-based measures that control the emissions from vehicles under fixed traffic conditions are not TCMs for the purposes of transportation conformity. 40 CFR 93.101
Transportation System Management and Operations An integrated program for optimizing the performance of existing infrastructure through the implementation of systems, services, and projects designed to preserve capacity and improve security, safety, and reliability. Included are improvements to the transportation system such as traffic detection and surveillance; arterial management; freeway management; demand management; work zone management; emergency management; electronic toll collection; automated enforcement; traffic incident management; roadway weather management; traveler information services; commercial vehicle operations; traffic control; freight management; and coordination of highway, rail, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian operations. Overview of Current Practices in Revenue Forecasting and Cost Estimation for Transportation Plans and Programs (Based largely on the reference document "Getting More by Working Together: Opportunities for Linking Planning and Operations" FHWA-HOP-05-016).
Updated: 04/25/2013
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