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Planning for SAFETEA-LU: MPO Listening Session

Transcript, November 29, 2005

This is Cindy Burbank from the Federal Highway Administration and I am here in Washington, DC with Brigid Hynes-Cherin, my colleague from the Federal Transit Administration. We hope today to give you an overview of the planning provisions in SAFETEA-LU. We realize it has been about three months since legislation was enacted and hopefully you developed some familiarity with it. We would like to talk you through those provisions and talk a little bit about the rule making which we contemplate and mainly get your input on how best to carry out the SAFETEA-LU provisions, not just the rule making, but through other approaches as well such as training and practices and so forth. I understand there are about 100 MPOs online, which is a wonderful turn out, and I hope it is going to be really helpful to you in understanding what is in SAFETEA-LU and in sharing any thoughts that you have with us today.


Hi. My name is Jody Mccullough. I will explain some of the ground rules in the technology we'll be running. Today we are working with a new tool for web conferencing so we'll be able to communicate via chat talk; I see some of you have been using this already. You will be able to type your comments into the pod and we'll be seeing what you're typing and who is typing them and we're going to be using that information during the discussions and we're also going to be recording that for future as we're working on the rule making and to try to get an idea of what your comments and concerns are, so when you type in, we want you to submit your questions and then if you click on the arrow at the bottom of the chat pod to enter, and that will submit the question. You can -- if you want to, submit it privately. There is a drop down menu that says to everyone or to the presenter, and you can choose to just send it to us or you can send it to everyone so that everyone can see your comments. It is really up to you. We're also going to be using the teleconference equipment, and there are 150 people online, well, we have the potential. People are still signing in. All the lines will be automatically muted during the presentation by the presenters, so you'll be listening to us and we will -- when we come to a topic we want to discuss, we will ask -- we will identify you by your organization and we will open up the phone line to you and we can discuss that personally with the person who submitted the question. We'll be highlighting those questions and putting them in a separate pod so you will know what question that we're going to be discussing. And as I said before, we're going to be recording this information so that it is available for viewing at a later date. I am going to turn it over to Brigid Hynes-Cherin to discuss the agenda.


Brigid Hynes-Cherin:

Thanks, Jody. I think most of you were (advised) in advance that we have an extensive agenda today. We have ten items we're going to discuss. Cindy and I are going to move back and forth in answering the questions. We're covering topics since the agenda is not up on the screen so you can prepare yourself for your comments. We're going to talk about planning cycles, annual list of projects, fiscal constraint, planning factors, safety and planning, environment and planning, consultation, existing transportation facilities, public participation plans, coordinated public transit human services transportation plan, air quality and conformity; and at the end we'll have a general session for any comments you might want to raise that haven't been covered. As Cindy said, we're looking for your input and that's what's really important to us today. I will turn it over to Cindy to start talking about planning cycles.


Cindy:

Great, thanks, Brigid. We will move through this rather quickly. We want to cover a lot of ground and leave lots of time for you. On planning cycles, the key number to remember is four (4). Almost everything in the planning area now has a cycle of four-years, not everything but almost. Transportation plans. Now will have to be updated at least every four-years in air quality non-attainment and maintenance areas. The exception to 4 is that if you're an attainment area, you can do your updates every five years for transportation plans. For metropolitan TIPs, it is a 4-year cycle. (TIPs) must contain at least 4-years of projects and strategies and in our implementation of it, we're saying that the four-year cycle and the requirements for a four-year program of project go hand in hand and you need to implement them together as you begin to phase in to the SAFETEA-LU requirements. Finally and a very important date to keep on your horizon (is), July 1, 2007. After that date every TIP, and plan adopted or amended, revised, or updated, must comply with all of the SAFETEA-LU planning requirements. Until July 1, 2007, you can begin phasing them in. We encourage you to begin phasing them in. The key is if you want to take advantage of the four-year cycle in your phase in and do it sooner than July 1 of 2007, then it needs to be a TIP or a STIP that has a four-year program of projects. The key: four-years for the cycles, four-year program projects, and a July 1, 2007, deadline for compliance with all the SAFETEA-LU provisions. Having hit the high points there, I am going to check to see if we have any questions or comments at this point. I don't think so. If they occur to you later, at the end of the program, we have sort of a general category and questions that didn't come to mind when we did the discussion you can bring up then. So there is nothing here right now, right?


Jody:

We encourage people to submit questions. We have the chat pod on back up now, and they can get active in submitting. Any time they can just, you know; if we passed on, if they want to identify the category.


Cindy:

Send the questions in at any time. We'll try to get to them. I am trying to read off the slide here.

The Wastach Front Regional Council: If a plan is adopted before July 1, 2007, is it good for three years or four years? If you choose to implement the requirements early, you can take advantage of a four-year cycle if you have a four-year program of projects and what you submit to us. Next question. I see.[i]

Does the four year TIP still have a biennial Element or is it a four year fiscally constrained program? Fiscal constraint still applies. We will discuss that more in the program and so fiscal constraint applies to the entire TIPs and the entire STIPs and the entire metropolitan plan. That has not changed.

From Houston. Do you recommend MPOs implement the Plans and TIPs at the same time? I would. How about you, Brigid?


Brigid:

Yes. Since they're both four-years (it) makes a lot of sense. I suppose one thing we would like to get is some comments from you as well on the issues like that, and whether or not we should allow longer time than four-years as we do now.


Cindy:

We have a mandatory two-years and you can go longer if you want to. I think the other issue is I expect that some states will continue to adopt more frequently than every four-years, and if so, is that something we need to cover in the rule, or just something that can happen? As I said, we're looking for your comments on this.


Brigid:

Sure. We seem to have more questions. Hey, everybody out there, think about comments, too. We'll try to deal with the questions.

Can the four-year TIP contain funding pools or must all projects be individually identified? As I recall, it doesn't change in that regard. You can still group projects, especially the smaller projects, the smaller safety improvements and so forth. Certainly we would expect major projects would be individually identified in the tips.

From Volusia County, where did it go? It went back down. Does the four-year cycle only apply to non-attainment/maintenance areas? Correct for the plan. For all TIPs, there is a four-year cycle for everybody. If you're not in an nonattainment area, you are on a five-year cycle for the metropolitan plan.

The (Oregon) MPO consortium sent a letter requesting clarification on the four-year planning cycle, and whether it can be implemented immediately. Will FHWA be responding to this letter during today's conference? We're getting a lot of questions on the phase in and what happens on July 1st, 2007. We're still looking for comment on that and trying to figure out the best way. Send us your comments on that.[ii]

Will an extension be made to allow plan updates under TEA-21 rules to accommodate SAFETEA-LU? I am not sure I understand that question. Can we un mute (so that )the MPO in Washington State (can help us) to get clarification on that station? Could the operator open that up?


Yes, would you repeat that location, please?


Am I pronouncing it correctly? Whatcom MPO in Bellingham, Washington.


One moment. Are you there? If your line is un mute, perhaps you can explain your question.


Conference Call Operator: Please press star zero.


We're not hearing from Whatcom MPO. I don't know if it is a technical problem.


Conference Call Operator: Your line is open for Bellingham.


Whatcom MPO:

(I would like to know if) we're in the process of updating our plan currently. It is due to be adopted by our board on in the October of this next year, and my question relates to getting a one-year extension in order to accommodate all the new rules rather than the going through the process now under the old rules.


Cindy:

That's not something we have contemplated. We'll make a note of it, but you do understand if you adopted it next year you would have three years before you had to do a new one.[iii]


Whatcom MPO:

Actually we're an attainment area so it would be five years.


Cindy:

For the plan. Yeah.


Whatcom MPO:

It makes more sense to accommodate the new rules now and be under the new rules for the next four years.


Cindy:

Okay. Let us ponder that a little bit and get back to you. Perhaps our field office or someone here could make a note. Are there any other MPOs that face a similar situation, let us know and we'll share that.


Whatcom MPO:

Thank you.


Cindy:

How are we doing on time here? Take another couple of these and move on. Okay. Please explain the changes to the new start program. Brigid.


Brigid:

Well, there are quite a few changes to the new start program that have to do with the criteria and some of the other factors. It is something we're going to be coming out with. It also includes a small starts program. We will be coming out with a small starts advanced notice of proposed rule making in January and also with policy guidance for the new starts program of changes that will be in effect for the next new starts submittal and with the final regulation on both of new starts and the small starts, NPRMs coming out together in the fall, so I don't think we have time to go through all the details on the new starts.


Cindy:

Okay. Another question here. MPOs and non-attainment area. Our last plan was deemed conforming in December of '03. Will we now simply add four years such that the new plan would be due by December 2007? I think you can opt to do that if you would like, as long as you comply with the SAFETEA-LU planning requirements. Gloria, speak up. We'll leave it at that.

Orange County New York. At an NTINHI training course two weeks ago I spoke with an attorney working in the council's office. I was told at that time that July 2007 was not a threshold, but an absolute deadline for having a SAFETEA-LU compliance plan. That appears to be at odds with the language of SAFETEA-LU. For example, if an MPO has a plan approved many September '05, the attorney related with the MPO would have to turn right around and develop a new plan update. That's not the case. That's not correct. The July 2007 deadline applied to any plan or TIPs or update that is adopted after that date. Before that date (if you) adopt one you don't have to comply with the new SAFETEA-LU requirements. All right. So I think either the attorney misspoke or there was some miscommunication there. Hopefully I put your concerns to rest.

Oklahoma. It is difficult to read the question. Would it be possible to expand the chat area? Did that help by highlighting them? Better now? We'll hope it is. I will try to read them more slowly. Let's see. I want to skip down to the Memphis MPO.

Memphis MPO next plan is due March of 2007. The next TIP will be due in September of '07. There is a five-month gap between the two plans. The long-range plan would be under TEA-21 and the TIP would be under SAFETEA-LU. Will we be granted an extension? I suggest we'll take that under advisement as we deliver our proposal for you. We'll consider that a suggestion, not just a question. Let's see. Anything else?

A comment. Good. A comment. Thank you. A four-year TIP update cycle maybe impractical. Too long for my MPOs and states due to frequency and there can be TIP project funding changes that can occur over that time frame. We clearly recognize that. We realize that most MPOs and states as well are amending and updating more frequently than four years. We recognize that. That's consistent with our existing regulation, which calls for a two-year plan, but we do it every year if that's the request of the state. We don't have to put that in the regulation in order for that to be able to happen. We just have done that. That's a good comment and we'll keep that in mind.


Cindy:

Great. We used up our time for this segment. Brigid will talk about the annual projects.


Brigid:

The Annual Listing of Projects is a pretty simple requirement. It was in TEA-21, and it just says that the MPO will identify which federal funds have been obligated in the preceding year and publish, or otherwise make available what states do. (What) SAFETEA-LU did was add to new requirements. One that says the development shall be a cooperative effort of the state transit operator and the MPO; I think that was done in recognition of the fact it is not the MPO who obligates the funds, and they often don't have access to the information of when they have been obligated; unless they get some information from the state and the MPO. I think there was also an interest to identify pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities as specific types of projects that need to be on the annual listing. Again, I think that's a response to some stakeholders who have an interest in those kind of projects and wanted to make sure that they were listed so they could see if they had been implemented or not. Since TEA-21 we've had good examples of MPOs that have done this annual listing. Generally we've seen an uneven effectiveness nationwide, which is why we think perhaps some of these changes were made in SAFETEA-LU. We know that the MPOs are dependent upon the states and the transit operators and sometimes even on FHWA or FTA for the information so what should we put in the regulation to ensure you have the information you need? What guidance material would be useful to you in that regard as well? As I said, the legislative intent was also to increase the transparency of the transportation decision making process, so what should the regulations do to ensure access and user friendliness? What kind of guidance materials would be useful? Then what type of capacity in the systems would be helpful? In other words, what are the things you would like us to put in the regulations in this area?

So you're saying you already do it Cheyenne? You don't have a problem with doing this. Cheyenne is asking that only federally funded project listed. Yes, only requirement of law would be federally funded projects. If you want to list more you would be welcomed to do that. The only requirement would be for federal projects. I might let you answer that, Cindy.


Cindy:

The Annual Listing of Projects to the MPOs. Since the state actually obligates the money. I don't think we obligate the money, but we will certainly assist. The state is in the best position to provide that information, and we would like to see the state DOT provides it. If you need our help in getting that information, our Division office and we in headquarters, will assist in doing that and cover any gaps needed.


Brigid:

I see Lance is asking for the same thing. I assume (the) FTA notification as well would be helpful to you. I think FTA does not allow access to our TEAM system to the MPOs except for their own grants and I am not sure if we want to open up that. That is something we can look at as to how if you can't get the information from the MPO, for the transit operator, whether the feds can become the fall back is something we're interested in.

MTC is asking if we have constrained four-year TIP, can we use this as the annual element or do we need to develop a separate document? This is a separate document. The annual element is what you propose to fund. This is a document of what you've actually funded and so it can only be prepared after the fact.

I think we have time for the last question from Wichita. Wichita Area MPO adopted TIP in November 2005 and it includes projects up to 2010. When will our next update be? I don't think that's an annual element question. The annual element would come out every year, so even though we have a four-year TIP, each year you would then list what projects in that TIP were obligated within that year.


We did say they could submit questions all the time. That's okay.


The time is up. I will pass it to Cindy to talk about physical constraints.


Cindy:

Okay. Fiscal constraint. This is an area that SAFETEA-LU did not change; there were not any provisions that affected this. We wanted to include it in the presentation because we think it is very important area for planning and we issued interim guidance on it this past summer to our field offices. Hopefully you have all had access to copies of it as well to reinforce the requirements that dates back to ISTEA, I think, that TIPs, STIPs and metropolitan plans need to be fiscally constrained, that is they have to have realistic and reasonable assumptions about the costs of the projects and the operation and maintenance of the existing system and realistic assumptions and information about the funds that will used to cover those costs in the plan STIPs and TIPs. Very important so that plans and STIPs and TIPs are not wish lists and that the planning process is meaningful and the public involvement is meaningful, so that continues to be a requirement that applies to TIPs and Metro plans, and we issued very thorough guidance on it this summer. I think it was before September. You see on the screen the website where you can access the guidance. Any comments or questions about fiscal constraint?


Cindy:

From Exeter, New Hampshire, perhaps the rules can contain standard information to be supplied to the MPO from the state or other obligation authority. I think that relates to the annual listing of projects and thank you for that comment.

From Charlie Trainor: Including the MPOs in the 2101 and other funding authorization process, even just cc'd would help MPOs understand the commitment status. Again, I think that is a comment about the annual listing.

And from Louisville, please define realistic assumptions in terms of the long-range plans. The keyword is really reasonable. Of course that's the judgment call. For the long-range plans, it is truly a judgment call because when you're going out twenty years, getting a good handle on the costs, twenty years out for the transportation program, and for the available revenues is a challenge. We recognize that, so we are very flexible in what is reasonable. It might be easier to say what is unreasonable. An example of an unreasonable financial assumption might be that a major project in year 10 of the plan is going to cost 500 million when if you compared it to a comparable project nearby, recently it costs $2 billion. That would not be realistic. Similarly on the revenue side, if the state has been seeking a gas tax increase from the legislature for the past five years and the legislature turned it down each time, that unless there has been a clear change in circumstances, it is probably not reasonable to assume that gas tax is going to be adopted by the legislature in the next two years. Circumstances could change in the state, so that could convert to a reasonable assumption, but it is really a judgment call, and you have to look to what the track record has been to determine what's reasonable. Okay. Time is up. Brigid.


Brigid:

Okay. I am going to talk about the planning factors. The planning factors were in law already. What SAFETEA-LU did was to separate the safety and security factors, and expand on the definition of consistency of the plan with the planned growth and development. This was originally just related to the environment in TEA-21 and ISTEA. And then it also adds promoting consistency between transportation improvements and state local plans, growth and economic development. One of our questions there of course is that the MPOs often don't have control over the state's planned growth and economic development and the planning that goes on in that area may be going to at different times than when the TIPs and plans are -- transportation plans are being updated. One question is how should we in the regulation, or can we in the regulation, promote consistency across the processes when you have very little experience and control over that plan? Is there something that we should be doing in that area that would make sense? I guess in addition it does call for more and more involvement by the public and by stakeholders and how should we make this occurs is something we're looking at in particular. The other factor is transportation security. The TEA-21 has safety and security as one factor. Security has now been separated out as a stand alone planning factor and obviously this signals the importance of this from the prior legislation and one of the questions that we have is the security in this instance referring to homeland security or is it also security referring to personal security. In other words, are you safe standing up at the transit stop? (Are) those the kinds of things we should treat differently within the regulations? So those are the kinds of things we're looking at in this area. Questions?


Brigid:

An additional Fiscal constraint question. I think unfortunately you're typing the questions after we do the presentation. We're not catching up with them. If we have time at the end we can answer some of these. We also will be taking all of these questions as mentioned and will be considering them as we develop our material.

Okay. Let the MPOs and DOTs figure out how to meet these new requirements and issue rules only if you find there are issues that warrant it. So don't be prescriptive instead go with a best practice is what you're saying. Okay.

We see the comment about the chat box moving around. We'll do our best to keep that under control.

It is hard when the box keeps moving around. Okay. Regulations. Should do a great deal to clarify the security factor. As you suggest, it is potentially broad. Sharing good practices will be helpful. Okay? This one you're saying we should give you a little bit more understanding of what is meant by security when we write the regulations.


Cindy:

Although it looks like Steve (Gayle) you're being a little schizophrenic there in saying the regulation should deal with it and sharing good practice. If we could open up the line to Steve (Gayle) and tell us if you really want a lot of regulatory language on it or more in the area of good practices and training and so forth? Non-regulatory efforts? Can the operator open it up to the MPO.


Conference call operator: Please press star 1. Your line is open.


Cindy:

Hi, Steve.


Steve Gayle:

Hello. Yeah, it is schizophrenic.


(laughter).


Cindy:

Sorry. Shouldn't have called you that in front of everybody.


Steve Gayle:

Considering how broad this can be, I think some clarification is needed. Some of your thoughts are needed in the regulation, not prescritively, but clear thoughts about what Brigid just said. Is (the security factor) it personal passenger security, freight security, boarder and crossing security? Is it evacuation plans, on and on and on, and then to back it up with substantial (information) as MPOs develop efforts to develop plans. Promptly share those (best practice) across the planning community.


Cindy:

You're saying best practice is what we need to do. Good. Can we go back up to the question about -- here we go.

St. Paul. Our locally planned growth and development exceeds our fiscal capacity to keep up with needed transportation improvements. How can we have a consistent plan? Fiscal constraint again?


Brigid:

No, no. We say their plan has to be consistent with growth. I think the transportation plan has to identify what the growth is; if that means that there's going to be demand out there that isn't met by existing facilities. And you don't have enough money to build in facilities. I think that is something people need to know in the plan and we always allowed the vision plan to show what are the things that need to be done in order to meet the demand but can't be afforded. I think we would continue to talk to vision plans. Cindy.


Cindy:

Later in the presentation we're going to talk about the congestion management process. Not that it will be panacea for the circumstances, but a way of analyzing it and setting priorities when the growth exceeds the capacity of the system.

Okay. From AMBAG. We have been told SAFETEA-LU includes at least a four-year program for TIPs and told by the state that federal officials are saying a maximum four years. What is it? We advocate flexibility for additional years. The TIP would have to include four years, but whether you have to wait four years before you can do a new one I think is where we have flexibility.


Brigid:

I think they're wondering if they can have a five year program or more than four years on projects.


Cindy:

If they want to go beyond the four-year minimum. You have to demonstrate fiscal constraint on the number of years you have to encompass exactly the way it is now. You can put five years in now on a two-year or three year or one year more than we require and you can add more years. It would be the same kind of thing.

What is meant by illustrative projects? Can they address needs outside fiscal constraint? Unless the projects are something already in regulation? Yes, they do address needs outside of the fiscal constraint and they say these are the things that we would like to fund if we have the money to fund them. A lot of MPOs have used that kind of document in order to get additional funding resources at the state and local level. They've also been able to use that to move projects if projects are having trouble they can move in a lesser project they have to do a TIP amendment to do that but they can move them.


Cindy:

Got a note here asking participants, that's all of you MPOs out there, to set the chat boxes to everyone, not just to presenter. If you look at the very bottom of the left-hand column where it says 2, you have the option of clicking it on everyone or presenter. If you click it on everyone, you will get better or clearer information.


Okay. Are there any other questions? Okay. Time is up.


Time is up. Safety. Not safety. Safety.


Cindy:

As Brigid said, SAFETEA-LU separates what used to be a combined planning factor of safety and security. They're each separate planning factors. The safety is a separate planning factor, which implies greater emphasis on safety. There is something even more significant in SAFETEA-LU that increases the emphasis on safety. One thing is there is a significant stand alone safety funding program, and relating to that, a requirement for State DOTs to develop a Strategic Highway Safety Plan, and this SHSP has to include policies, priorities and strategies to make transportation safer, the states have the lead responsibility for developing the SHSP in consultation with stakeholders including MPOs and Regional Planning Organizations. Although this requirement for strategic highway safety plans is not found in the planning section of the legislation, it is found in the safety section. We want to link it very much to the planning process and we'll be looking to see that TIPs, STIPs and metropolitan plans reflect the goals, objectives and priorities of the SHSP. That this strategic highway safety planning process should translate into having a very real impact on planning products on programs and plans. We would welcome your suggestions on how to ensure that that happens both through what we could write in the regulation and also what we could do through technical assistance, training, guidance and so forth, so as to really use the planning process better to improve the safety of our transportation system. I don't think I need to remind anybody in transportation that, 43,000 lives are lost every year on the highway system and millions of people are severely injured and we really need to turn up our emphasis on making transportation safer.


Cindy:

Okay. I am scanning to see if there is some questions or comments on this.

Suggestion. Provide examples of what FHWA is looking for under safety. Okay. We'll take that on. Not only provide examples but maybe good models of safety conscious planning efforts carried out by those MPOs and state DOTs that are a good foundation for safety planning and provide some good models. It will vary from state to state in that the strategic safety plans and their priorities that move into the STIPs and TIPs should be based on good data analysis; using safety data to figure out where the problems are and where the opportunities to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries. Thank you for that comment.

Houston Galveston. Previous legislation allowed safety funds to be used for all public roads. - FHWA needs to insist that the state DOT allow - it moved. Scroll down. What happened?


Computer Operator:

I will pull it back to read the rest of the question.


Cindy:

FHWA needs to insist the state DOTs allow some of the safety funds to be used for local roads. We will certainly encourage this heavily especially to the extent that the data indicates that for the safety problems and the opportunities to improve safety are needed.

Okay. Time is up. We will take one more. Guidance on the strategic highway safety plan needs to clearly identify MPO roles in plan development. Yes. I agree. We will work on that and if you have specific suggestions for what should be in the guidance, feel free to let us know at any time. Brigid.


Brigid:

Oh, I am next. Moving onto the topic of environment in the planning process. There is a provision in SAFETEA-LU that metropolitan and statewide transportation plans now have to include a "discussion of potential environmental mitigation". This discussion is to be developed in consultation with federal, state and tribal wildlife land management and regulatory agencies. This discussion -- this does not require a discussion of environmental mitigation for individual projects, and I can't stress this enough because in our conversations so far with states and MPOs, the word mitigation has been so often used at the project level that the assumption is this is talking about project level mitigation. It is not. This provision in SAFETEA-LU focusing on the plan or the entire geographic area covered by the plan on the twenty-year time frame and the idea is that there are opportunities at the level of the planning documents for protecting the environment. An example could be that the plan discusses areas in the metropolitan area or state where there are endangered species or important habitats, and opportunities to protect that habitat and opportunities to -- without encroaching on valuable environmental areas. Opportunities perhaps in the planning process to do some environmental banking, wetlands mitigation banks or endangered species banks of habitat for endangered species. When you think about this provision, and you give us comments on it, don't think about project mitigation. Think about planning level mitigation and consideration of environmental needs at that level.

Okay. Any comments?

Define discussion. Okay. We'll have to figure out how to do that in the regulations, but I suspect it is a discussion. It is some paragraph that lays out your thinking and the opportunities for environmental mitigation. It is not a commitment. A discussion is not a commitment. It is an exploration of needs and opportunities. And it is focused -- the discussion would definitely be key to what's relevant in your particular planning area. If you're in Hawaii, you don't need to discuss protecting habitat for a species that's not in Hawaii. If you're in a desert, you probably don't need to discuss wetland banking. Okay. Anything else?


Cindy:

Brigid is just pointing out a little more information on environment. If we go to the next slide I want to cover that before we kickback to any questions. In TEA-21, we were required to eliminate the stand-alone requirements for a major investment study, but integrate that concept into transportation planning. We never quite figured out how to do that after TEA-21. That responsibility still rests upon us. To our delight it seems like most MPOs and states have figured out how to do it without much guidance from us, but we did issue some guidance on linking planning and NEPA back in February of '05. You can see the website for it here which we think is a major opportunity to accomplish what's intended here. To add the level of planning environmental analysis can be corridor level environmental analysis and setting the stage for project development and projects that will go into programs.

So I am checking for questions. In California... California environmental quality act requires environmental impact support on long range plans. Does this apply to the federal requirements? Gloria (Shepherd) thinks it does. Brigid, what do you think having been a California expert? Brigid nods "yes". It is above the floor. It should certainly meet the requirements for discussion.

What are the funding requirements for this mitigation? There are no funding requirements for this mitigation. It is a discussion, not a commitment. Hopefully you'll do good planning. If it makes sense, you'll commit to perhaps some funding for environmental mitigation at the plan level like wetland banking. It is not a requirement. It is your good judgment.

From Atlanta. This has to be explained better!!! This is very confusing. ) If the operator could open up the lines for the Atlanta Regional Commission, I just want to ask for clarification. The part that you find confusing, is it the part about the discussion of environmental mitigation and plans, or is it the part about MIS or is it both.


Atlanta Regional Commission: Hello.


Cindy: Hi.


Atlanta Regional Commission:

What's confusing is environmental mitigation at a plan level versus a project level. When you were explaining some of those things that you thought might be included in a plan, it was -- just difficult for us to imagine how that can be part of a long range plan and then what federal funds are appropriated to make sure these things get done and can you explain a little more what you mean about this land banking or environmental banking that you just mentioned?


Cindy:

Okay. Are you familiar with wetland banking?


Atlanta Regional Commission:

Is that something that needs to be a project in the transportation plan?


Cindy:

No. It doesn't have to be. Many states fund wetland banks because it gives them credit so when they have a project that will affect wetlands. They can get credit for the wetland banking, so the idea is that the plan level, like North Carolina is doing a lot of this. Several other states as well. That is upfront they know they have a lot of wetlands. They need to protect them in North Carolina. They are supporting wet land bank and then when they have a project that needs to be built, they try to avoid the wetland. They try to minimize the impact. In some cases you still take some wetlands so they can get credit from the (Army) Corps of Engineers for the funding they put into a wetland bank. Now, you can do that not only for wetlands, you can do it for habitats and endangered species. Several states are doing this. Perhaps what we can do that would be helpful is provide specific examples of how this is done and who is doing it, maybe even sponsor some work shops for those that would like to learn more about it.


Atlanta Regional Commission:

I guess we just need to know how the state DOT will help us with these requirements.


Cindy:

Okay. Okay. Another question here, about a minute left, from George Johnson. National Park Service ruling requires state recreation plans to identify priority wet land areas. This could be a starting point for wetland mitigation discussion. Yes, thank you very much. That would be a good starting point. Start with your recreation area or the National Park Service and they may have some areas they will identify for you that serve special consideration and you could discuss in your plan.

From Ellen Roundtree. Will we send out power points along with questions, comments and answers? Look to go to our crew here.


Crew:

We are recording the session and the recording will be available.


Cindy:

We're recording the session and the recording will be available on FHWA's website.

Okay. From Philadelphia. Many environmental research agencies do not support off site mitigation. How have those agencies coordinated with this section? We are working on those agencies especially at the federal level because in many cases off site mitigation is far more valuable and effective and cost effective than the piece-by-piece mitigation that occurs in conjunction with projects. So our division office might be able to help you if you're encountering a problem with a federal resource agency that's an obstacle there. Our time is up. Now it is back to Brigid. Thank you.


Brigid:

Consultation and cooperation is used a number of times in the statute. We tried to consolidate it into a couple of core principles we're looking at here. For instance with respect to the statewide plans, and again I think many of you know the difference between consultation and cooperation as it is in the regulation currently and that language is in the law. But it talks about cooperation and statewide plans shall be developed in cooperation with the metropolitan planning organization, and in consultation with effective non-metropolitan official, and is in consultation with tribal governments and the Secretary of Interior. The tribal governments obviously are independent properties so they are treated separately. There are three pages on consultation so I will quickly go through those first. With respect to the statewide plan, it says it shall be developed as appropriate as I said with the state and the tribal and the local agencies, but it specifically spells out what kind of agencies need to be involved. These are land use management, natural resource, environmental protection, conservation and historic preservation. The other thing it does which goes beyond the regulation that we had on consultation in the past and it says consultation shall involve comparison of transportation plans to state and tribal conservation plans en mass if available and to inventories of natural or historic resources if available indicating that consultation is not just a discussion. It is looking at what is out there and available and comparing between what is being recommended in the plan and what is being recommended in the other plans that are available in the state. The last slide is metropolitan planning consultation. It is very similar to what is at the state level except that it does not include coordination with the tribal government. Those are left to the state level only.


Brigid:

Any questions? We need better guidance regulations as to what exactly constitutes coordination and consultation. I guess what you're saying is what's in the existing regulation is not adequate? There is a definition in existing regular on consultation and coordination. You might take a look at that and let us know. Are you saying that's not adequate or that's what I was unsure. Maybe we can ask if we can open that up and ask. Could the operator open up the line for Volusia County?


Conference Call Operator:

Please press star 1.


Conference Call Operator:

Okay. One moment, please. Your line is open.


Volusia County MPO:

Hi, this is Karl, Volusia County MPO. My question goes more to what are the different roles between the state and the federal government, not the state and the MPO. Rather when we're developing, for instance, our financial forecasts which is meant to be done "coordination and consultation" with the state, and the state doesn't do it? So that's what I am getting at. We need a better definition here because my understanding of consultation and coordination and cooperative it is a two way street. And we're not seeing that too much in Florida.


Brigid:

Right. I think that's not a definition problem. I think we tried to be pretty specific in the definitions of what the difference is. Whether or not the communications happens the way it is, it is supposed to is the problem.


Cindy:

I think our field office ought to assist you in working that out with the state. Feel free to contact the division or maybe we'll let them know that maybe they ought to take a look at that area and encourage the state to be more forthcoming.


Brigid:

Right, and we can also look at whether we can come out with some guidance on examples of what is good coordination, what is good consultation.


Volusia County MPO:

That would be helpful. Thank you.


Brigid:

Comments. State cooperation with MPOs on development of the state transportation plan is important and needs to reflect a consideration of the MPOs priorities and needs assessments this should be reflected in guidance and in a general way regulatory language. Okay. Other comments? There aren't any more comments. I could go on to the next -- come back. Yeah.


Cindy:

We'll move on to the next two slides that focus on existing transportation facilities and in particular operation and management strategies. Our planning process for so many years has been focused on capital investment, but increasingly I think at the federal level as well as MPOs and states we realized we've got to focus a lot more on effective operations and management of the existing system. And SAFETEA-LU reinforces that at the metropolitan level it includes a requirement from metropolitan plans to include operational and management strategies focused on improving performance and maximizing safety and mobility. Now, for some reason when it comes to the statewide transportation plan, Congress was not so definitive. It said they should, not that they shall but that they should include capital operations and management strategies, investments, procedures, etcetera. So for those for MPOs it is a requirement that your plans include operational and management strategies. I think many of you are already moving in that direction if you're not already there and certainly support that and let us know what we can do to be helpful on that score. Linked to this, the next slide, there is a provision in SAFETEA-LU on the congestion management process. You may recall that ISTEA had requirements for congestion management system. SAFETEA-LU replaces that with this requirement for a process for congestion management, and says that each transportation management area, large MPOs must define a plan and a schedule for implementing a congestion management process. We would welcome any suggestions you have on how to help you implement that. The extent to which we need to provide information the regulation, or through training best practices, and so forth. With that I will check and see if there are any questions or comments. Operations and maintenance or congestion management plans.


From Volusia. I understand that no funds are dedicated to MPOs to address O&M issues with the state controlling most of the funds how do MPOs adequately address this issue? Right. I can't think of a dedicated source of funding for O&M although certainly in non-attainment and maintenance areas, the CMAQ funds have been heavily used for operation and maintenance strategies as long as they benefit air quality, which usually they do. And often the MPO has a very large say in how CMAQ funds are spent. There is that opportunity to tap that funding source. Beyond that, the funds that are still reserved out of the STP program or MPOs certainly have pretty wide latitude to use it for operation and maintenance as well as for capital investments, and beyond that to know that I think increasingly state DOT's realize that the public expects better operation maintenance of the existing system. As the public becomes aware of ITS strategies, traveler information systems and synchronized signals, there is more and more demand for that, and I think that's a good argument for you to use with the state DOT when they're deciding where to invest their funds. I think FHWA has been strong advocate of using the federal funds for operations and maintenance.

Okay. What's the difference -- what's the difference between a system and a process? Very good question. I am not sure. (laughter). Not clear to us why Congress made that change. Okay. Are there any changes to funding share for any project types? TEA-21 has safety projects at 100% federal. I am not aware of a change to that 100% funding for safety. Maybe for certain types of safety projects, not all. I am not aware of other changes in the federal share. No one else here is either. Other than the Transportation Community System Preservation Program (TCSP) m which used to be 100% and now it is a standard sliding scale.

Would short-range transit plans meet the operational management what? I lost it. Requirements. It would be part of it. They also have the capital projects in it, but, yes, to the extent they address the capability to fund the operation and any strategies that would be needed in terms of fare increases or other arises -- fare increases or other sources of funds.


Brigid:

By itself it wouldn't be enough though you need to address the operation of the highway system as well as the transit (system). The O&M also goes out within five years. In terms of the discussion.


Cindy:

Right. Our issues with congestion are related with moving from point A to B. We receive no funding for that situation. I beg to differ. Most of the federal highway funds and I expect a good share of the transit funds can be used to deal with congestion, and on the operation management side in particular, most of the time federal aid highway funds can be used to implement operation and management strategies. Now, we recognize that capital projects tend to be more attractive and historically claim much of the federal funding, but I think that's shifting because of the high pay off from operation and maintenance -- operation and management strategies and they are competing better and better to get federal funding.

Do MPOs need to have their current approved CMS documents reapproved as a congestion management process? Yes.

Unfunded mandate. What about those of us who don't receive CMAQ funding? As I said before, most traditional federal funds, the NHS and so forth can be used for ITS improvement and other strategies that improve operations. Including the portion that is reserved for the TMAs out of the STP program. The systems equals conceptual framework. Process equals activities and their sequencing. I guess you're suggesting an answer to the earlier question. Okay. Let's think about that. Any other comments or questions? And maybe we can open that up. Yeah. Okay. Could the operator open up the line to AMPO in Washington?


Operator: One moment.


Cindy: Is it mandate a typo?


Operator: Your line is open.


Okay. We'll consider that a typo or fragment of a thought. We'll move on. If yes for approval of the congestion management process...what constitutes an approval process? Gloria (Shepherd) thinks it should be through the certification review, which in not annual. We're open to suggestions on that. Okay. If we run out of questions and comments in this area we can go on to public participation plans.


Brigid:

What the law is doing is taking a lot of what we already had in regulation and putting it into the statute. It says the maximum extent possible MPOs and states must publish or make available for public review transportation plans, TIPs, and STIPs, at convenient and successful times and locations and employ visualization techniques to describe plan, TIPs, and STIPs and indicate that they can vary, of course. So basically I think the issue here is, do we want to be prescriptive of what a visualization technique is or just want some general definition within best practices be made available on what works and what doesn't work? Or do we just kind of stick with what's already in our existing regulation which already talks about having this information be available and having the participation plan being adopted by - the MPO?


What are examples of visualization techniques? Basically using the web. You can put maps on the web so people can understand where the projects are located. You could have a tool which allows people to go in and identify by punching in a number how much of the projects are going to their community. You can do some scenario planning techniques. Those are the kind of things that would certainly be qualified as visualization techniques.

Does this replace the requirement for federal public involvement procedures? No. No. It will be a component of it.


Is there an additional plan? We would expect you would probably take the two and combine them into one document. They don't have to be two separate documents.


Keep going. (inaudible).


Public Participation Plan. How will the PPP differ from the currently required PIP? I think the main difference is it does ask for more information about how you will -- what visualization techniques you're going to use in order to make this information available. Another thing we would like to comment on is should we include more discussion of the consultation process and have that be in the Public Participation Plan?


Inaudible.


Compete with all of the safety and projects. Yeah, that's why what you do, you decide what it is that you need to do and you put it into your plan and you get comment on it and if your community finds it acceptable, it is acceptable.


Cindy:

I would like to interject for a second. A clarification on that question about the difference between the existing public involvement process and this new requirement for a participation plan. One of the key differences is that in developing this public participation plan and in developing the plan you need to consult with interested parties in developing the plan itself instead of just developing it say within the MPO. That's a key difference. Don't go in a closet somewhere and develop your public participation plan. You need to invite the key interested parties into that or allow them to influence what that plan is.

Do we need to approve the new participation plan if we already have a public involvement plan?-- Yes because they are so different and we said there are different components to it, and also the visualization in particular, and also there must be some very specific consultations with stakeholders in the development of it, and so you would need to at least go through that process of a discussion and comment period to make sure that everyone has been involved. More flexibility and visualization.

Okay. We especially recognize huge variation among MPOs, the size of MPOs, their capabilities. The new MPOs versus the established ones. Some MPOs may have far more sophisticated ability to use visualization techniques and others not. We do expect to be very flexible on that.

Denver is asking when does the new public participation plan have to be adopted. Obviously it will be after any plan that is submitted after July 1, 2007, the new public participation plan must in place. It is the July 1, 2007 date that is the same date.

Knoxville Regional TPO states that holding MPO board meetings in the evening when board members have other meetings can be problematic. Boy, the MPO board members are busy. They have multiple meetings in the evening. I guess that is true for elected officials. As long as the plan indicates what the process is and when it occurred, and you get input on that that is acceptable. Yeah. Right.


Brigid:

If you can scroll back on the screen, just above DRCOG. TMA COG comments. As planning requirements expand, please provide as much detailed assistance as possible. Examples, I guess, description of environmental mitigation techniques that we can incorporate appropriate description of specific visualization techniques. Okay. Now, I guess the question is do you want those, and I am sorry, I am really getting a bad cold here. Did you want those to be in the regulation or just something that we would have available as best practices and guidance and available to help you with technical assistance? You might just add your comments there on that.


I am going to read into the word a system. If you're not --


Okay.


Brigid:

Knoxville said holding meetings at night could be problematic. Okay. Best practices it not legislative but descriptive. Good. (inaudible) if there is nothing else on that, I will go to coordinated public transportation, which fortunately is my last presentation.


Cindy:

You're running out of voice here.


Brigid:

I am Sorry. Coordinated human services transportation plan is something that is primarily in the FTA program although it is also mentioned in the planning section that it is a requirement in order to receive funding under our 5310 Special Needs of Elderly and Individuals with Disabilities, 5316 (g) Job Access Reverse Commute and 5317 (f) the New Freedom Program. Proposed projects for those programs must be derived from a locally developed public transit human services transportation plan. Obviously I think as many of you know FTA has been supporting coordinated transportation planning for the last, certainly the last five years on a non-regulatory basis, and the statute gives us more credibility and the need to make sure that the plan is developed through a process that includes representatives of public, private and nonprofit transportation and human service providers as well as the public, and that the service providers should ensure full coordination with applicable metropolitan and statewide planning processes. The projects that will be funded must come out of this plan and out of this process. Any comments?

Who should take the lead in developing the plan it should be the MPOs. Okay. So one option is to leave it vague. It has to be developed. The MPO may want to be the one to take the lead or not. It is a service plan and it is not the long-range plan. It is what kind of projects they need and where do you actually coordinate and where do you make the link up and out of those kinds of things. The main thing is make sure we are eliminating duplicative services.

Are these plans to be developed by the MPOs state or transit operator who is the lead? Are they incorporated with the LRTP? They are incorporated with the LRTPs as I said; we can be flexible on who takes the lead. If you feel we need to be, you should weigh in on the MPOs role in that. That's something we would like to hear specifically from you on.

Regional commission: who is responsible for developing the plan, already answered that. The PPACG. We are in the process of developing our RFP for this is anyone else.


Cindy: What is the PPACG? Am I the only one that doesn't know the acronym?


Cindy: Can we open up the line to the PPACG?


Operator: One moment.


Operator: Your line is open.


PACG Representative: We're the MPO for Colorado Springs, Colorado. Council governments.


Cindy:

Thank you. Anybody out there having issues with what they're looking for with our RFP.


Great. Great.


East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission: Will transit development plans cover this? It depends on how many will be prepared. Generally not. Generally they're not as involved in coordinating with all of the other operators in the area. If you have been doing that that may be a potential way of covering that. You do need to include the participation of the MPO and other stakeholders.


Brigid:

Next one. Yeah. Previously listed in the plan. Not previously listed in the plan. It must be listed in the plan. Yeah. If you're talking about the grants, yes, the grants would have to come out of the plan. Again, plan at this level plans don't necessarily list every single project, they list kinds of projects and they list opportunities in those kinds of things. It may be that there are not specific projects. That's something we'll have to work on as we go through this. Certainly we don't have a list of every street overlay you will do when you do the plan you talk about your process for doing street overlays and so it would be similar to that kind of thing. We will be having an out reach for Job Access about what that local coordination plan is and what it should include.

Please clarify how this will be matched with -- I think it is up a little bit. With the United We Ride initiatives. It will be very closely coordinated with that. As we said, that's what we have been using to do this in the past. We expect that activity to continue. We expect however to give it more credence than it has thereby having it be in the transportation planning process and be involved.


Brigid:

Okay. Grants. We didn't get to the end of the sentence. The plan, the United We Ride planning grants can be used to help the coordination happen.

Chicago can projects derive from in the sense of meetings specific objectives or must they be named? Again, as I said, I think it depends on the nature of the project. If it is a big project, it is probably going to be named specifically. If not, it can be something that is a description of this is the kind of coordination we're trying to achieve. These are the agencies that would be involved in that. It may not be as specific as an individual dollar amount for an individual operator. On the other hand, if that's the level of detail that's wanted at the local level, I think that's the kind of detail that will be in the plan. We would probably be flexible on that. Abilene, MPO, Abilene.


Cindy:

Jackie Eastwood: In WI, transit providers can submit directly to the State for 5310, JARC (WETAP), etc. I'm assuming that with the new legislation, transit providers could no longer do this without the projects coming out of one of these plans.

Texas. Texas guidance on the intended clients for 5310 would be helpful. Is there a preference for elderly disabled or persons who are both? - No. (laughter). We want everybody to go -

It would be very helpful to provide best practices for the process of getting all stakeholders to the table to develop the transit plan. Okay? Good.

ITC Ithaca, New York. In our area, the transit agency doesn't own -- does its own transit planning. It would be procedurally difficult to involve the MPO as the lead agency for a transit service plan. Again, we are interested in whether we do need to be prescriptive of what the roles of the individual agencies are. One thing that we may require that may solve this problem is that the agreements that are the requirement now would be subject to the agreement and you would spell out for your own area how this coordination would take place.

Who has programming authority for 5317, 5316? The MPO has programming authority, but it has to come out of planning.

MPC Oakland. In the San Francisco bay area, nine counties are responsible for developing countywide transit and human services plans. Will this meet the MPO requirement? As I said, the requirement on the MPO is that this be part of the planning process. Who actually does what is going to be left up to decide and so if that's the way you want to work in your area, I guess that would meet the requirements.

Chicago, just noting that the 5310 is a statewide program, JARC and New Freedom are local. One plan would be covering all of them within the region.


Brigid:

That is correct. And the programming of the 5310 is through the state level.


Brigid:

Did we miss that Houston Galveston one? Comment transit projects should be consistent with locally developed plans, -- okay. Okay. All right. Okay. We got one more scintillating topic before we move on (to) open discussion where you can ask any question or make any comment that you would like. Before you get to that, we have to go through air quality conformity at this time.


Cindy:

A favorite topic for all too many of you. Fortunately SAFETEA-LU provided several changes, which increased the flexibility of the air quality conformity at this process. Starting with creating a new grace period for conformity where as in the past if your conformity at this -- then you couldn't advance projects unless they were conformity exempt projects and now you will get an extra twelve months to continue advancing projects after you miss the conformity deadline. If which is a (inaudible) it will not apply when you have to meet a new conformity budget under a new attainment standard. That is this spring the new PM2.5 particulate standard conformity deadline kicks in. You won't get a grace period from that because of the way Congress wrote the provision. Don't expect grace period for that. For virtually every other conformity deadline you will have an extra twelve months before you have to before projects cannot be advanced. Another area of flexibility is that it increased the update cycle for conformity to termination to every four years. Now, in most cases you're going to do a change in your plan or your TIP or an amendment, whatever which will trigger a new conformity determination in conjunction with your new planning document. If you're not making a change, if for some reason you're not making a planning change for another reason, you could go as long as four years in between updating conformity. For existing plans and TIPs, when EPA takes an action on a TIP, you will now get two years before you have to redetermine conformity, at least it used to be eighteen months. It is a little extra time. Also an issue that we've been grappling with for a long time is that under the old law when you demonstrated conformity you had to do it for the 20 year plan horizon. Even though often the state implementation plans had a much shorter horizon in them. We recommended to Congress and they went along with it fortunately to allow a shortening of this time horizon so that it can be a short as every ten years, or certain other provisions in the statute where it might have to be longer than ten years, and you need to consult with your air quality agency if you're going to shorten the time horizon. Again, makes conformity a little easier. And finally, for those of you who have put transportation control measures into state air quality plans, and then found you couldn't or didn't want to implement them for some reason, as San Francisco discovered to their dismay, SAFETEA-LU allows for you to substitute something else and makes it easier to do that than through a prolonged TIP amendment process. Hopefully that doesn't apply to many of you because we kind of discouraged you from putting TCMs into your SIP because you tie yourself down. If you have done so, you have an easier process to substitute something else just as effective. Those are the main changes in the conformity area. EPA is required to issue a regulation implementing these changes revise their current regulations, within, I think it is two years, but we are working with them to get out interim guidance hopefully by right after the end of this calendar year, around January, so that you can take advantage of this new flexibility now before the EPA has revised their regulations. Okay. Looking for questions here.


Cindy:

Maricopa Association of Governments in Phoenix. We will be conducting conformity next spring. In the absence of FHWA guidance, actually it is really EPA guidance on this matter although we're working with them on it. It is their regulations, their guidance. In the absence of that, how do we go about electing to determine conformity only through the last year of our approved SIP conformity budget? Okay. I am looking around. Do you have anything?


Did you get the gist of the question?


Cecilia Ho: Cindy mentioned we are working with EPA on the guidance and hopefully the guidance will layout the process how you can go about sharpening the conformity horizon. In the meantime if you want to go about doing that, you basically you can do it right now. Going through your process to do that. If you have any questions, specific questions, give us a call or if you need us to call a division office or call us directly or talk to EPA about that. You don't have to wait until the guidance to take advantage of this.


Cindy (to Cecilia): Don't go away. We'll need your help.


Cindy:

Our RTP conformity will be in February '09. We will have a TIP in '08. Does that mean we need to reconform our existing RTP to conform our existing TIP?


Cecelia:

Can we open up the phone lines to the MTC in Oakland?


Operator: Please press star 1 at this time.


MTC in Oakland:

Inaudible. Regulations will be doing our next conformity for -- '09. We're going to be conformity in '06, which we should be able to do existing one-hour ozone budget, but we're -- inaudible.


Cindy:

It will be a long discussion. Susan Payne asks if the new air quality grace period applies to existing plans and TIP conformity determinations. I think I mentioned referring to the last grace period.


Cecelia:

Right. I think so.


Cindy:

Yes. The answer is yes.


Cindy:

From SCAG. Any restrictions in the planning process during the one-year conformity grace period? None, other than the normal restrictions. I think they're talking about all the scenarios that we are pondering for the grace period, so it will be discussed in detail in the guidance, so if you have any specific questions, you know, you want to discuss, let us know. That will be some limitation in terms of how you can -- what kind of project you can fund during the last grace period, but all in all, there will not be a lot of restrictions. There will be some restrictions. We still have to meet some of the planning requirements.


Fiscal constraints, existing requirements.


The grace period for conformity won't relieve you of any planning requirements.


That's right. They will still stand.


Cindy:

Memphis MPO. Under the twelve-month grace period conformity lapse will projects in the long-range transportation plan and TIPs continue to move forward with funding? Yes. Yes. Yes.


Cindy:

Regional Council in Salt Lake City. Any word on whether tighter air quality standards are coming and when?


Cecilia Ho:

Stay tuned.


(Laughter.)


Cindy:

SAFETEA-LU. A comment. Thank you. Please do not loose your perspective that already a lot of small MPOs populations less than 100,000 out here with limited funding with maybe one or two person staff. May be Jack-of-all-trades and cannot be masters of anything. Otherwise we'll just have superficial discussion just to meet the requirement. No matter what happens small MPOs need flexibility. Amen. We recognize that. We sympathize with the challenge and we'll look for every opportunity to provide flexible to the small MPOs. Everybody agrees.

We agree with the SAFETEA-LU as does Alexandria. Amen. Will future certification reviews include questions regarding types of visualization techniques that can be used in public participation plan? Most certainly. Yes. Okay. Anything else?

The NCT. Oh, North Central Texas. Will there be any provisions for a conformity lite process if only minor amendments are made to a few projects in the MTP, or will a full conformity need to be done as we do now. The answer is yes. There will not be any conformity lite process, as we understand what you're referring to. Sorry.


Cecelia:

A conformity determination is still required but you might have some flexibility in terms of whether you need to run or not. The existing conformity requirements will not change for the particular requirement.


Cindy:

Okay. If we covered conformity issues.


Brigid:

We have ten minutes where we can take comments. I don't think it is probably worthwhile to scroll back and find out what we didn't answer previously. We will be looking at the questions that came in.


Cindy:

If we missed a question you already submitted, just resubmit it now. It is hard for us to go back and find the ones we missed. You can just resubmit. We can open up the lines. To everybody, all 150? (laughter) Hold that thought for a minute.

Here is a question from Phoenix. Who do we call for conformity questions? Try your division office; he FHWA Division office first. If you've got a question they can't deal with, ask them to call Cecilia Ho of our team and they will confer with the division and try to be helpful.

Houston Galveston. Why was the CMS requirement changed? We don't know. Congress proposed it. It wasn't anything the administration proposed.

Okay. I think it is Juanita. I can't see the first part of the name. Can anyone say the last name? She asks does the TIP amendment also always require a plan amendment? It may, but, no, it won't always require it. If it is already in the plan, you don't need to do a planned amendment. If it is not in the plan, we need to do one. It has to be consistent with the plan.


Brigid:

Knoxville regional TTO. Please describe service providers for transportation plan. This will be coming out in -- there is going to be a solicitation for comment on proposed circulars on the FTA programs that require the plan and so we'll be looking for questions like that. Basically it will be service providers funded through any source of funds, not DOT and not just federal. Where is the next question?

Will we get a copy of the presentation? Yes, as we said it will be a recording but it will be a recording. We will post the slides and the questions will be posted. Yes. Yes.


Cindy:

I think so. Rockingham Planning Commission Exter, New Hampshire, well, I can't read it. Can you? We would request that the roles include specific requirements for the type of information the state DOT's must provide to MPOs so a determination of fiscal constraint can be made. Okay. As opposed to... Maybe we can open that up. In regulation, because we have that in the guidance pretty clearly. Can we open up to the Rockingham Planning Commission.


Operator: Okay. Please press star 1. Line is open, Rockingham.


Rockingham Planning Commission:

Yes, hi. I guess our comment is that we in the past at least have been provided information but it is not specific enough for us to be able to actually make fiscal constraint determinations.


Cindy:

If you want more guidance, do you want -- if you want more detail, do you want it to amend the guidance or to put it in regulation or do you want the division office to knock on the doors of the state DOT and say -- be more informative?


Rockingham Planning Commission:

Whatever works I guess is what we would want. I think the information we get is typically at the state level and really not -- we really can't use it to determine whether our MPO area meets that fiscal constraint.


Cindy:

Hard for you to know how much of the funds the state has are going to be available to you?


Rockingham Planning Commission:

That's right.


Cindy:

Program and plans?


Rockingham Planning Commission:


Cindy:

Yeah.


Rockingham Planning Commission:

Thank you.


Brigid:

Okay. I don't think we're back where we went off the questions, but can you scroll up? Okay.

TMACOG. Could you provide for information as to what intermodal connectors qualify as transportation facilities? Yes. We will we would provide that information as a best practice as a regulation.

Anchorage, Alaska: Has the match requirements for bridge funding changed from 20% to 10%. Cindy.


Cindy:

Not that I am aware of. Anybody in this room know? None of our programs, don't go to the bank with my answer. I am not aware that it changed. Okay. Call the division up.

Martha, Memphis MPO. SAFETEA-LU legislation has been passed. While FHWA and FTA, are in the rule making process, MPOs are in the planning process of next plans. How long are the MPOs going to have to wait to receive rules and guidance? Well, we've already issued some guidance, initial guidance. We already mentioned the guidance we intend to come out with EPA. We hope to have the NPRM out in April, and then we would take comments on that, and get a final regulation, our hope is to have that out in January of 2007, so that it would be available at least six months before the requirements were in effect. In the meantime, look at the interim guidance FHWA and FTA jointly issued in September of this year because that gives you a road map how you can operate right now. Okay. That's on our website.

Metro suggests that we respond to the Portland Oregon letter and we will respond to that and make that available to people.[iv]

Again, from Memphis. MPO, when the MPOs submit the next required LRTP, is it all or none? Choose TEA-21 prior to July 2007 and SAFETEA-LU after July 2010. Please understand some MPOs will have RTP under TEA-21 and TIPs under SAFETEA-LU. To the extent possible we're trying to avoid a situation when you have a long-range plan under TEA-21. We would encourage you if at all possible to try to at least make a good faith effort to come into compliance with SAFETEA-LU so both the long-range plan and the programming documents are consistent.[v]

In SAFETEA-LU, earmarks how should they be funded i.e. all at once or split equally among remaining five years? Yeah. It won't be all at once. No lottery here. No.

The Houston Galveston area, what is the FHWA outline or milestones for rule making guidance process? I think I just indicated that.

Philadelphia, there were a number of very good questions and comments today. Many of which you did not answer, went past, or needed time for better response. Suggestion. Respond to all questions and comments in visual form for everyone's benefit. We will put those on the web to the extent we respond to them.

Chicago. Our schedule calls for approving our TIPs and plans in October '06. This TIP and plan will not encompass the new planning requirements. Would our next update be in 2010 for both or 2008 for the TIP and 2009 for the plan.


Gloria:

You can use the dates you stated up there. To the extent on July 1, 2007, you make any changes to that plan, that TIP and STIP, we're going to expect full compliance with SAFETEA-LU. If you make an amendment, an update, or even a sneeze, we're going to expect that on July 1, 2007, there is compliance.[vi]


Cindy:

Don't wait.


MTC Oakland. The language says the TIP must include a list of projects within each four-year period. But the power point says TIP projects must be at least four years. I think that was the question we had before about whether it was exactly four years.[vii]


Right.


Or --


Right. Right.


It can be longer.


Cindy:

Roger Del Rio, RTP was approved in December 2004. Is our next update December 2009 or December 2007? I am not sure if you're in an attainment area or non-attainment area.


Under current law until 2009.


Cindy:

Five, right. So you would have five years. 2009.

Volusia county MPO. We agree with Rockingham comments.

Atlanta Regional Commission earmarks received 20% funding for a year of SAFETEA-LU. How should these projects be placed in the TIP? Can they be placed prior to 2009? In a 10 million project received a one million earmark do we have to find the remaining from other sources to the detriment of other priorities? (inaudible). The answer to the latter part is yes, but don't quote me and blame Congress, not us. I think virtually everybody in the transportation sector abhor the extent to which earmarking has gotten out of hand and especially how it is undermining a good planning process, good public involvement, credibility with the public. It is a real problem. Okay. We are running out of time, so are we going to still leave it open to take questions for a bit? Okay. We'll leave it open ten more minutes. There is no time limit.


Computer Operator: Okay. We can leave it open.


Cindy: Okay.


Brigid:

You mean in terms of continuing to answer what pops up? Yeah, the meeting will be on the central website.


Cindy: Why don't we take another five minutes and try to wrap it up. It has been a long afternoon.


Cindy: Where was I? Earmarks and another earmark.

Rosemary, CWCOG, Kelso, Washington, well, it would be a safety requirement. Will ITS be a safety requirement? As an MPO and RPO we have tsunamis and volcanoes as well as congestion to address -- (laughter). You have our sympathy. Will ITS be a safety requirement? No. Certainly in constructing your safety plans and priorities, you should look at ITS as one of the tools to meet safety needs, but it is not a requirement that you implement ITS to meet safety goals.


Cindy:

George Johnson, thank you for the forum. Rhode Island statewide planning looks forward to working with our partners in the division and region office as we sort out all of this new stuff together. Great. We like to work together.

We made a good guess on Roger Dell Rio. The forum shows that MPOs have lots of questions and suggestions but are you planning additional ways of having these types of discussions as a web forum so MPOs can chime in on regulations? Well, once the regulations are out, and the NPRM, is out, we do plan to have some sessions where we go through the regulations. That's a more formal process in terms of we will have docket and comments that we receive because everything has to be on the record. We do expect to do a number of those where we go around and talk about what's in the regulation and what our thinking was behind what's in the regulation.


Brigid: I would expect maybe that would occur in May or June.


Cindy:

May or June we will have 90 days for comments and we will have webcasts that. FTA has money already set aside to do webcasts and we will be doing that. Okay.

Atlanta Regional Commission. Okay. Title VI Section K discusses the selection of projects in TMA's will guidance and/or regulations be published on this section so that it is it is clear whether the MPO or state DOT selects projects not funded out of NHI, IM and Bridge?


Brigid:

That's a continuation of the current provision of law, and if you -- we thought that it was clear in the current regulations but we'll take another look. If anybody else thinks it is unclear, let us know.


Cindy:

Okay. Volusia County MPO, comments would suggest these questions be posted as an FAQ page. Okay.

Central transportation planning staff Boston, our schedule calls for approving our TIP and plans in October '06ment would our next update be 2010 or 2009? Probably a non-attainment area. Assuming you're non-attainment under current law you get three years. It would be '09? Yeah.


Gloria:

Right. This is the question we're wrestling with. Remember that on July 1, 2007, even if we give you four years, any time after that date you make an update, an amendment or a sneeze, we will ask you to be under SAFETEA-LU compliance and we're not going to go to the dictionary to define an amendment or update. Our people are asking what's the difference. It really doesn't matter because, if you change it, you change it, and it is going to have to be SAFETEA-LU compliant.[viii]


Cindy:

Okay. In previous legislation there were personal meetings. Will there be any? Personal meetings? I am not sure what you mean by personal meetings. We try to be available at conferences. Our division offices should be accessible to you so you can provide comments to them and they can confer with us. We're not planning a lot of personal one on ones.


Right.


Cindy:

Okay. Group meeting in various regions. Yes. We will be going around to different places, yes. We will be doing that. In fact, when the NPRM is issued, hopefully in April and as Brigid said at that time we will want to have sessions where we summarize what's in the NPRM and take comments or request for clarification. If you have some suggestions for how and where to do those kinds of sessions, let us know. Preferably through NARC or AMPO.


Right.


Bigid:
We would support additional regulations on project selection in TMA areas for non-NHS maintenance bridge project. Okay.

All right. Thank you. Thank you very much. We really appreciate the widespread participation and lots of good questions. Given us plenty of food for thought, and we look forward to working with you in the future and providing best practices and training as well as regulations that will work for you. Thank you.


Thank you.



[i] FHWA/FTA recently clarified guidance on update cycles. In short, MPOs in nonattainment and maintenance areas may opt to apply the four- year SAFETEA-LU transportation plan update cycle immediately. However, any long-range transportation plan, TIP, or STIP requiring MPO or State adoption action (i.e., amendment, revision, or update) on or after July 1, 2007 must be based on documents that completely reflect all SAFETEA-LU planning provisions. All documents, including the long-range transportation plan must completely reflect all SAFETEA-LU planning provisions at that time.

[ii] See above.

[iii] See above.

[iv] See above.

[v] See above.

[vi] See above.

[vii] See above.

[viii] See above.

Updated: 03/26/2013
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