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Transportation Planning Update Newsletter

Summer 2000 Edition

In This Issue:

Featured Article: Workshops on Statewide, Metropolitan Planning and Programming, NEPA and ITS are Going Well
Bike Lanes and Wide Curb Lanes Both Aid Bicyclists
Greener Roadsides
The FTA and FHWA Advance Planning Seminar
National MOU Signed
8-hour Nonattainment Designations
Kennedy Center Access Study
NTI, NHI Training Opportunities
ITS Training Opportunities


Featured Article:

Workshops on Statewide, Metropolitan Planning and Programming, NEPA and ITS are Going Well
By Deborah R. Burns, FTA

On May 25, 2000, the joint FTA/FHWA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Statewide and Metropolitan Transportation Planning and Programming was released in the Federal Register. The purpose of the statewide rulemaking is to implement U.S.C. 135, which requires each State to carry out a transportation planning process that shall be continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive based on the transportation problems to be addressed. The transportation process shall be intermodal and shall develop a statewide transportation plan and transportation improvement program for all areas of the state.

Similarly, the purpose of the metropolitan rulemaking is to implement 23 U.S.C. 134 and 49 U.S.C. 5303-5306 which require that a Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization (MPO) be designated for each urbanized area (UZA) and that the metropolitan area also have a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive planning process that results in transportation programs that consider all transportation modes and support metropolitan community development and social goals.

A second document which was issued concurrently on May 25, 2000 by FTA and FHWA was a joint NPRM to update and revise their National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) implementing regulations for projects funded or approved by FTA and FHWA. Under the proposed rulemaking the FTA/FHWA regulation for implementing NEPA would be redesignated and revised to further emphasize using the NEPA process to facilitate effective and timely decision making.

A third document published in the Federal Register by FTA on May 25th was a Request For Comment (RFQ) on the FTA National ITS Architecture Consistency Policy for Project Development. The Notice proposed to require the development of an ITS regional architecture, consisting of a concept of operations and a conceptual design. That concept plan would draw from the National ITS Architecture, but is tailored to address the local situation and ITS investment needs. It also proposed the requirement of applicable standards and interoperability tests adopted by the US DOT. The Notice recommends the use of the National ITS Architecture and provisional standards and interoperability tests.

A fourth document published in the Federal Register by FHWA that day was a NPRM by FHWA which proposed to implement section 5206(e) of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), requiring Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) projects funded through the highway trust fund to conform to the National ITS Architecture and applicable standards. Conformance with the National ITS Architecture is defined under this proposal as development of an ITS regional architecture based on the National ITS Architecture, and the subsequent adherence of ITS projects to the ITS regional architecture.

The original "close date for comment" of the Federal Registers was August 23, 2000. Per the Federal Register notice of July 7, 2000, the comment date has been extended until September 23, 2000 for each proposed Notice.

Seven joint FTA/FHWA workshops on the NPRMs have been conducted throughout the country. The last one was scheduled for San Francisco, California, for July 19, 2000. The sessions have been well attended with approximately 60 -100 people. Feedback received thus far has shown that the sessions were helpful and stimulated questions and comments.

For further information regarding the joint FTA/FHWA metropolitan and statewide planning NPRMs contact for the FTA are: Mr. Charles Goodman, Metropolitan Planning Division (TPL-12), (202) 366-1944, or Mr. Paul Verchinski, Statewide Planning Division, (TPL-11), (202) 366-6385). For the FHWA, please contact Dr. Sheldon Edner, Metropolitan and Planning and Policies Team, (HEPM), (202) 366-6385, or Mr. Dee Spann, Statewide Planning Team (HEPS), (202) 366-4086.

For further information regarding the NEPA NPRM contact for the FTA are: Mr. Joseph Ossi, Office of Planning, (TPL-22), (202) 366-0096. For the FHWA, please contact Mr. Fred Skaer, Office of Planning and Environment, (HEPE), (202) 366-2058.

For further technical information regarding the FTA RFQ, contact Mr. Ron Boenau, Advanced Public Transportation Systems Division, (TRI-11), (202) 366-0195. For legal information, contact Ms. Linda Sorkin, Office of the Chief Counsel (TCC-20), (202) 366-1936.

For further information regarding the FHWA ITS NPRM, contact Mr. Bob Rupert, Office of Travel Management, (HOTM-1), (202) 366-2194 or Mr. Mike Freitas, ITS Joint Program Office, (202) 366-9292.

Both agencies are located at 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC 20590.

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Bike Lanes and Wide Curb Lanes Both Aid Bicyclists
By: Andy Clarke, FHWA

A new FHWA study analyzing the impact of striped bike lanes (BL) and wide curb lanes (WCL), (typically 14-15 feet wide) concludes that both facility types can and should be used to improve conditions for bicycling. The comparison was based on videotapes of almost 4600 "real world" bicyclists in three cities and the results will help planners and engineers select the appropriate facility to accommodate bicyclists in different locations.

Among the findings were:

The authors of the report concluded in a 1999 paper to the Transportation Research Board that "given the stated preference of bicyclists for bike lanes in prior surveys, along with the increased comfort level found on bike lanes found in the development of the Bicycle Compatibility Index [also for FHWA] use of this facility is recommended at sites where there is adequate width for a standard 1.2m (4-ft) bike lane, in that bike lanes are more likely to increase the amount of bicycling than wide curb lanes."

In addition to the implementation report (FHWA-RD-99-035), there is a final report (FHWA-RD-99-034) containing a complete discussion of the research method, data collection procedures, and data analysis. Later in the year a guidebook (FHWA-RD-99-036) about innovative bicycle accommodations will also be published.

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Greener Roadsides
By: Bonnie Harper-Lore, FHWA

Greener Roadsides is a FHWA quarterly newsletter for roadside decision-makers. Annually the newsletter hosts a photo competition among State Highway agencies. Photo categories include: planted native wildflowers, protected native wildflowers, planted garden wildflowers, public awareness, close-ups, and restoration and management examples. The 1999 winning photos will be on our website: fhwa.dot.gov/veg_mgt along with notes on entering the 2000 competition. All photos are due by November 3, 2000 at the Greener Roadsides Office. The winners will also be featured in the spring issue of Greener Roadsides, available by June 1.

For more information, contact:
Bonnie Harper-Lore, Editor
Greener Roadsides
Office of Natural Environment
FHWA/USDOT, HEPN-30
400 Seventh Street SW
Washington D.C. 20590
e-mail: bonnie.harper-lore@dot.gov

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The FTA and FHWA Advance Planning Seminar
By: Kenneth Lord, FTA

The FTA/FHWA Advanced Planning Seminar was held May 8-12, 2000 in Room 3200 of the Nassif Building. Attendees included over 40 FTA/FHWA Headquarters and Field staff, who generally found the program to be very successful.

The week-long session revisited some issues raised in last January's FTA/FHWA Planners Meeting, including an update on Environmental Justice/Public Involvement, NPRM Status, Implementation of the Planning Program, Air Quality Conformity/CMAQ, Fiscal Constraint, Safety, Metropolitan and Statewide Planning, Management/Operations, and ITS Architecture Consistency.

An initial tally of evaluation forms found that participants generally felt the seminar was a success, rating the overall event at 7.7 out of 10. Most Participants listed most sessions as being very helpful, including the time allotted for meetings between headquarters and field staff. Suggestions were made to add more time for FTA/FHWA coordination issues, more time for meetings between headquarters and field personnel, and more in-depth coverage of topics discussed, possibly through break-out sessions.

Preparations are underway for next year's Planning Seminar, and new ideas for topics are always welcomed.

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National MOU Signed
By Abbe Marner, FTA and Cecilia Ho, FHWA

On April 19, 2000, a National Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) between DOT (FHWA and FTA) and EPA on Transportation Conformity was signed for the purpose of improving coordination and consultation on conformity issues and the key transportation provisions in State Implementation Plans. The intent of this MOU is to provide for timely review and comment on transportation and air quality planning documents and to establish a framework for trying to resolve outstanding issues before final decisions are made. This MOU does not alter DOT's statutory responsibility for making conformity determinations, nor does it alter EPA's important consultative role in the process. This MOU was developed in response to a commitment that was included in the Atlanta MOU, dated January 16, 1998.

Two subjects covered by the MOU are highlighted below:

Process for resolving disputes - The MOU recognizes the FHWA Divisions'/FTA Regions' authority for making conformity determinations. We expect in the great majority of cases that disagreements on conformity issues will be settled by the DOT and EPA field offices. However, in the event that disagreements cannot be settled by the senior managers of the field offices, there is a provision for escalating the outstanding issues to the agencies' headquarters offices. The purpose is to provide a full airing of the issues, within a 30-day time period, before DOT makes its decision. The decision to escalate a specific case to headquarters should be coordinated among DOT and EPA field offices.

Advancing TCMs during a conformity lapse - The process for advancing TCMs during a lapse is covered in a three-page appendix to this MOU. This is a relatively recent addition to the MOU, although we have been discussing this subject with EPA for a long time. The wording in the appendix states as clearly as possible that we expect TCMs to have documented emission reductions. Note that TCMs cannot advance during a conformity lapse unless they have already been approved into the SIP by EPA. When dealing with new TCMs, the combined transportation planning/SIP approval process will take a minimum of six months to complete, and likely much longer. Thus this guidance states that if the lapse is estimated to last less than six months, the MPO should focus on reestablishing plan/TIP conformity while advancing the TCMs which have already been approved in the SIP.

In addition, it should be noted that under the MOU we can no longer grant TIP extensions in non-attainment and maintenance areas. This provision was included to make it more consistent with statutory provisions, and because of controversy associated with TIP extensions in non-attainment areas.

If you have any questions on this MOU, please contact Cecilia Ho of FHWA at 202-366-9862, or Abbe Marner of FTA at 202-366-4317. The National MOU is available on FHWA's website at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/air_quality/conformity/index.cfm

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8-hour Nonattainment Designations
By: Gary Jensen, FHWA

On March 29, 2000, EPA issued guidance on the designation of nonattainment areas under the 8-hour ozone standard, as well as guidance on the development of boundaries for these areas. EPA has committed to providing ample amount of time and notification to State and local officials to meet all the requirements throughout the designation process. According to EPA's schedule, final designations will not be effective before early 2001.

EPA has encouraged States to base nonattainment area boundaries on the Consolidated/ Metropolitan Statistical Area or the existing 1-hour nonattainment area, whichever is larger. States may suggest different boundaries, but they must provide a rationale for any boundary changes and explain how they meet Clean Air Act requirements. The new standards may result in larger nonattainment areas than those that currently exist. Also, the new boundaries may require significant new institutional relationships, because counties may be added that are outside of the existing MPO. Transportation officials should be involved in the designation process.

While the issues raised in the appeals court decision (American Trucking Assoc. vs. EPA; May 14, 1999) have not yet been addressed and the decision itself is under appeal, EPA's authority to fully implement the 8-hour standard remains questionable. However, EPA's current thinking expressed in their boundary guidance memo, is that new source review (stationary sources) and conformity requirements would apply on the "effective date" of the designations of nonattainment areas for the 8-hour standard. Throughout the uncertainty, DOT's main concern has been to provide adequate time for transportation planners to meet the conformity requirements and avoid falling into an immediate conformity lapse. EPA shares this concern and that is why there will likely be a longer than usual time period between the Federal Register publication of new designations and the effective date for the designations. This also provides more time for the legal issues to be resolved.

In order to be prepared, FHWA and FTA have been discussing with EPA about basic conformity questions and conformity tests for the new 8-hour areas. Since state agencies will have three years from the effective date of the designations to submit 8-hour SIPs, conformity before then will be demonstrated by an emission reduction test. The details including which year to use as the baseline year have yet to be worked out. In addition, there is a set of questions which must be addressed concerning areas or parts of areas that are nonattainment for both the 1-hour and 8-hour ozone standards. The responsible agency for conducting conformity analysis is also a major concern since the new 8-hour boundaries will encompass much more area beyond the current MPOs' boundaries. When the questions are sent to EPA, we plan to share them with the FHWA/FTA field offices. We hope this will be a good starting point for the field offices to generate other questions about how the conformity process will work in these new areas. For further information, please see FHWA's conformity website at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/air_quality/conformity/index.cfm.

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Kennedy Center Access Study
By: Douglas Laird, FHWA

The John F. Kennedy Center is a national showcase for the performing arts and a living memorial to the late President. In its dual roles, the Center is a powerful attraction for visitors and residents alike, yet the building is removed from the capital city, isolated by natural and man-made barriers. Its surroundings impede the access of more than 5 million people who attend performances and visit the Center each year.

Arial view of the Kennedy Center The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) directed the Secretary of Transportation to undertake a comprehensive study of ways to improve access to the Center. During the past year, the Federal Highway Administration has worked in partnership with other federal and local agencies to develop long-term multimodal transportation and land-use improvement options that would facilitate safe traffic flow to and from the Center, improve transit service, and make bicycling and walking around the Center safer, more pleasant, and more direct.

The study has found that reestablishing the street grid in front of the Center is essential for integrating the Center with its surroundings--the riverfront, the Mall, Georgetown, and Foggy Bottom--and central to improving transportation linkages to the Center. In addition, it would serve many of the study's other goals and objectives--enhancing safety; improving bicycle and pedestrian connections; relieving congestion suffered by Center patrons before and after performances; and enhancing the Center's setting.

Illustrations of the current setting and proposed improvements are shown below.

illustration of proposed improvements to Kennedy Center transportation issues.
arial photo of the Kennedy Center

The study's findings will be reported to Congress this summer. A web page for he study is under development and should be on line later this spring on the Kennedy Center's home page, www.kennedy-center.org.

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NTI, NHI Training Opportunities

The following National Transit Institute (NTI) training opportunities provided is a partial listing of NTI and National Highway Institute (NHI) courses, please contact the training coordinator at the applicable institutes for specific dates and time offerings.

NTI
Corridor, Subareas, & Major Investment Studies
Contract Administration
Introduction to Metropolitan Transportation Planning
Public Involvement in Transportation Decision-making
Statewide and Metropolitan Transportation Programming
Forecasting Travel Demand for Transit and HOV
ITS for Transit: Solving Real Problems

Additionally, NTI will hold the following workshops: Pedestrian Planning and Facilities, Bicycle Planning and Facilities, and Fare Collection. For more information on the courses listed above and additional course offerings, contact the NTI at 732-932-1700 or access the NTI Internet site at http://policy.RUTGERS.edu/nti

NHI
Access Management and Traffic Analysis of Highways

For more information on NHI courses, contact the NHI at 703-235-0519 or access the NHI Internet site at www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov.

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ITS Training Opportunities

A series of ITS seminars and workshops scheduled at several locations around the country are being conducted as part of the Professional Capacity Building (PCB) program. These sessions are intended to increase the knowledge of local FTA and FHWA field staff, state DOTs, MPOs, transit operators and other interested organizations about ITS technology and planning issues.

The current schedule includes the following sessions:

Deploying Integrated ITS
Telecommunications Shared Resources Workshop
ITS and the Transportation Planning Process

For additional information on the Planning Quarterly Newsletter, please contact Paul Branch (FTA), Deborah Burns (FTA) or Joseph McDuffie (FHWA).

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Updated: 12/03/2012
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