Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
[Note: This document has been incorporated into and/or superseded by the FHWA/FTA Final Rule on statewide and metropolitan transportation planning and programming and congestion management processes / systems which was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®.
In 1991, Congress strengthened the transportation planning and programming process. Among other things, Congress added specific requirements for fiscal constraint for STIPs, TIPs, and Metropolitan Plans. The purpose of these fiscal constraint requirements is to ensure that planning and programming are meaningful, based on realistic assumptions about funding all capital, operating, and maintenance costs associated with the surface transportation system. If plans and programs are developed without regard to realistic funding, they are unreliable. Without fiscal constraint, public participation is undermined, as is coordination with local governments, tribes, and others. Transportation systems are challenged to accommodate many competing needs, and fiscal constraint is needed to set priorities for allocating resources to address those needs. Fiscal constraint also helps clarify what is possible with existing funding sources, and can inform debate about the need for new funding sources.
In 1993, FHWA and FTA's planning regulations were amended to include fiscal constraint requirements. Over the years, FHWA and FTA HQ have also provided some limited guidance on fiscal constraint, as well as specific assistance in states and metropolitan areas where demonstration of fiscal constraint has been a particular challenge. In the past 5 years, fiscal constraint issues have arisen in at least 10 states and several metropolitan areas. Some have raised concerns about whether FHWA/FTA have been applying fiscal constraint adequately and consistently across the country.
In response to these recent issues and the need for consistency, FHWA and FTA developed the attached interim guidance, references, and worksheets. This material is intended to be a tool to assist FHWA and FTA field offices in fulfilling current law requirements for fiscal constraint. As with all guidance, utilization of the specific approaches proposed in the guidance is not mandatory, and the guidance itself does not have the effect of regulations. It does, however, explain and interpret statutes and regulations that are mandatory, providing your Offices with useful information with which to ensure that all legal and regulatory requirements are being met. This guidance was developed in close consultation with over 20 FHWA/FTA field staff to ensure it was informed by the knowledge and experience of those who are most familiar with day-to-day planning and programming of states and MPOs.
We characterize this guidance as "interim" because we expect to revisit all planning regulations and supporting guidance once Congress has enacted new reauthorization legislation. There are no changes to the requirements for fiscal constraint in the pending bills in the House and Senate, but it may be appropriate to refine this guidance based on other changes to planning requirements. In addition, we are open to receiving comments and questions to help improve this guidance in the future.
We hope this interim guidance is helpful to FHWA/FTA field offices. We encourage you to review it carefully, and then meet with your states, MPOs, and transit operators to discuss it.