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TCSP Federal Register Notice-FHWA Docket No. FHWA-98-4370

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION [4910-22-P]
Federal Highway Administration [FHWA Docket No. FHWA-98-4370]
Transportation Equity Act For the 21st Century (TEA-21);
Implementation for the Transportation and Community and System Preservation Pilot Program

SECTION II: Requests for FY 2000 TCSP Grants

Introduction

The grants and research funded under the TCSP program will develop, implement and evaluate transportation strategies that support transportation and community and system preservation practices. The program will demonstrate transportation strategies that incorporate beneficial short- and long-term environmental, economic, and social equity effects to help build sustainable communities.

TCSP is included in the President's Livability Initiative. This initiative strengthens current Federal programs, proposes new ones to help create livable communities, and includes programs in the EPA, the HUD, the Department of Interior (DOI), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other agencies in addition to the DOT (see http:\\www.whitehouse.gov\CEQ\011499.html). Within the DOT, the Livability Initiative will help ease traffic congestion and promote community livability through a 15 percent proposed increase for several DOT programs that provide flexible support to State and local efforts to improve transportation and land use planning, strengthen existing transportation systems, and promote broader use of alternative modes of transportation. The Administration's Livability Agenda includes increased funding for mass transit, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ), Transportation Enhancements, and TCSP. The TCSP pilot program in FY 2000 is proposed to increase from $25 million authorized under TEA-21 to $50 million.

In FY 1999, the FHWA used a two-step procedure to solicit and select TCSP proposals. Applicants were first requested to submit brief LOIs. The FHWA selected a small number of applicants based on these LOIs to prepare full grant requests for further consideration. After the review of the full grant request, 35 proposals from agencies in 28 States were selected to receive TCSP funds. In FY 2000, the FHWA has changed this procedure and is using a one-step process. The FHWA is no longer asking for LOI, but only a grant request. From the grants submitted on July 15, 1999, the FHWA will select those funded in October, 1999.

With almost $400 million requested in FY 1999, competition for these funds is expected to remain high. Grants may be spent over a period of up to two years but no commitment can be made for second or subsequent years of grant awards. Thus, phased projects should stand alone and be capable of being implemented and producing results in each phase. A sample outline and format for FY 2000 TCSP grant requests is provided in Attachment II to this notice.

Eligible Recipients

State agencies, metropolitan planning organizations and units of local governments that are recognized by a State are eligible recipients of TCSP grant funds. This would include towns, cities, public transit agencies, air resources boards, school boards, and park districts but not neighborhood groups or developers. While non-governmental organizations are not eligible to receive TCSP funds under section 1221 of TEA-21, these organizations that have projects they wish to see funded under this program are encouraged to form partnerships with an eligible recipient as the project sponsor.

States or MPOs may be both a project sponsor and endorse other activities proposed and submitted by a local government within its boundary. A State or MPO may consider packaging related activities for submittal as one larger grant request.

Purposes of the TCSP Grant Program

Activities funded under TCSP should address and integrate each of the purposes of the program listed below. Priority will be given to those proposals which most clearly and comprehensively meet and integrate the purposes and are most likely to produce successful results. How well proposed projects achieve each of these purposes will be a principal criterion in selecting proposals for funding. Applicants should develop proposals that specifically address these purposes. Grant proposals should address how proposed activities will meet and integrate all of the following:

  1. Improve the efficiency of the transportation system.

    Proposals for TCSP activities should identify, develop and evaluate new strategies and measures of transportation efficiency that are based on maximizing the use of existing community infrastructure, such as highways, railroads, transit systems and the built environment. Proposals should address the transportation system as a whole rather than focusing on one mode of transportation. This may include for example, improving the integration of various modes of travel such as highway, transit, pedestrian, bicycling, and rail or improving the efficiency of port, rail and highway connections for freight and jobs. Performance measures should include a focus on movement of people and goods and access rather than movement of automobiles, and on services provided rather than vehicle miles traveled.

  2. Reduce the impacts of transportation on the environment.

    Proposals for TCSP activities should explore the long-term direct and indirect social, economic and environmental impacts of transportation investments on the natural and built environment. Consideration of environmental factors should not be limited to air quality but should also address, if appropriate, ecosystems, habitat fragmentation, water quality as well as community and cultural issues such as disadvantaged populations and environmental justice. Performance measures should relate the results of TCSP activities to the larger community and regional environment and the transportation system.

  3. Reduce the need for costly future public infrastructure.

    Proposals for TCSP activities should describe how they will reduce the need for costly future public infrastructure investment or create tools and techniques to measure these savings over the life cycle of the activities. Performance measures should include projected life cycle savings obtained through avoiding future investments or maintenance.

  4. Ensure efficient access to jobs, services and centers of trade.

    Proposals for TCSP activities should clearly demonstrate how they improve efficient, affordable access to jobs, services and centers of trade and address benefits for disadvantaged populations. This could also include the use of new technologies that increase access for people and businesses while reducing the need to travel. Performance measures should include improved access to jobs and services, and improved freight movements.

  5. Encourage private sector development patterns.

    Proposals for TCSP activities should identify and test effective strategies to encourage private sector investments that result in land development patterns that help meet the goals of this pilot program. Effectively linking land use and transportation is a key feature of TCSP. Performance measures should demonstrate and monitor changes in development patterns and private sector investment trends or opportunities resulting from TCSP-related activities.

Priorities for selection of grants

In addition to meeting the purposes of TEA-21 discussed earlier in this preamble, applications for grants will be evaluated based on the following factors:

  1. A demonstrated commitment of non-Federal resources. Although matching funds are not required, priority will be given to projects which leverage non-Federal funds and take advantage of in-kind contributions such as maintenance agreements, land donations and volunteer time. The contribution of local funds and resources for a project demonstrates local commitment to a project and increases the likelihood that it will be fully implemented. In addition to non-Federal funds, grantees are encouraged to pursue other Federal resources to support Livability Initiatives such as Transportation Enhancement, Congestion Management and Air Quality funds, as well as HUD, EPA, DOI and other programs. A description of the President's Livability Initiative can be found on the White House Web site (http://www.whitehouse.gov/CEQ/011499.html) and click on "Virtual Library."
  2. An evaluation component. The plans to evaluate the project's objectives and outcomes is a key element of the grant proposal. The evaluation plan should include major milestones and deliverables for the project. See the discussion on Evaluation in this section.
  3. An equitable distribution of grants with respect to a diversity of populations. The FHWA will also be ensuring the equitable distribution of funds to geographic regions, including an appropriate mix of rural, suburban and urban activities. Applicants should describe the populations that will be served by the project, including disadvantaged populations.
  4. Demonstrated commitment to public and private involvement including the participation of non-traditional partners in the project team. Such partners might include public utility operators, social services agencies, community groups, environmental organizations, non-profit organizations, public health agencies, private land development organizations and real estate investors. The TCSP also envisions non-traditional partners working on the project team and help develop the assumptions and scenarios. This approach would be broader than public involvement processes where transportation professionals prepare projects, scenarios and assumptions and present these in public forums for review and comment. In the proposal, applicants should describe the role and commitments of their partners.

Category of Grantee

The TCSP was intended to support localities which have already begun some preservation practices and to encourage those areas that are just starting. The legislation referred to grants to these types of grantees as implementation grants and planning grants, respectively. These terms proved to be confusing to applicants in FY 1999 because they are common terms used in transportation projects. Many interpreted the terms to describe the activities conducted under a specific grant proposal rather than describing the community preservation activities of the grantee. Therefore, in FY 2000 the FHWA is asking grant applicants to identify themselves as either: (a) grantees that are just beginning to start community preservation practices, or (b) grantees that have already initiated transportation related community preservation programs and policies. This later category would include grantees who have coordinated with State and locally adopted preservation and development plans; integrated transportation and community and system preservation practices; promoted investments in transportation infrastructure and transportation activities that minimize adverse environmental impacts and lower total life cycle costs; or encouraged private sector investments and innovative strategies that address the purposes of the TCSP program.

Eligible Activities

Activities eligible for TCSP funding include activities eligible for Federal highway and transit funding (title 23, U.S.C., or Chapter 53 of title 49, U.S.C.) or other activities determined by the Secretary to be appropriate. This allows a broad range of transportation activities to be funded. Grants will be awarded for new and innovative transportation activities that meet the purposes of the TCSP program, but remain unfunded under the current Federal-aid program.

Strategic Priorities for FY 2000 TCSP

Grants will be awarded for activities that meet the purposes of the program described above and are innovative. The goal of the TCSP is to develop a broad range of strategies for urban, suburban and rural communities to help promote liveable communities through transportation investments and operations. The legislative language that created TCSP is general and provides States, MPOs and local agencies flexibility to create innovative approaches to addressing the goals. As the program evolves over the next four years, the FHWA will use individual project evaluations conducted by grantees, the results of research, and overall program evaluation to determine the strategic priorities for TCSP. This information is not yet available since this is the first year of the program and grants were just recently awarded. Therefore, in the second year of the program, rather than setting specific strategic priorities, the FHWA is providing information on the proposals funded in FY 1999 and several suggestions to prospective applicants of areas that are of interest to the FHWA. The FHWA continues to seek additional strategies that are innovative and can be replicated by others. Applicants should highlight innovative and unique aspects of their proposals, and how the results of their proposal will further the purposes of the TCSP.

Examples of preservation strategies being developed by TCSP grantees in the first year of the program include transportation initiatives which: Integrate land use and transportation planning; balance economic growth, environment and community values; create a long range vision for a community or region; reuse existing infrastructure to meet the purposes of TCSP; develop urban, suburban and rural strategies for communities; and establish non-traditional partnerships to meet TCSP goals. A common theme in the proposals was that the objectives were to use transportation solutions in unique ways to help to meet long-term community goals rather than to only address current mobility needs. Applicants should not seek to duplicate the strategies being evaluated in FY 1999 unless there is a significant change in the scope, application, or results of the strategy.

The FHWA is also interested in proposals which measure the results and broad impacts on communities of current preservation practices including urban growth boundaries, infill development, and land use changes. This suggestion is also included in the request for research proposals below as an opportunity for an independent assessment of the outcomes of current preservation practices. Other areas that may be considered include integrating community health and safety goals with transportation to promote livable communities; planning or implementing regional and local strategies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions; using technology and communications that provide people and businesses with improved access to goods and services to promote livable communities; and enhancing intermodal and freight access to promote economic growth and access to jobs in communities.

The FHWA is particularly interested in supporting projects that are ready to begin and have plans to collect and document results that can be shared with others quickly and successfully. The proposal should highlight when the proposal would be initiated and when results are expected.

Evaluation

Every proposal funded under the grant program should include a description of the applicant's plans for monitoring, evaluation and analysis of the grant activity, and for providing the results of this analysis to the FHWA. This information is necessary to provide an opportunity for the DOT, States, MPOs, and local governments to learn more about the practical implications of integrating land development, transportation, and environmental decisionmaking. The grant request may include funding for travel for one representative to attend two national workshops to present the plans, status, and results of the project.

The measures used to evaluate project results should be based on the goals and objectives of the project. In addition to individual project evaluations, an overall program evaluation will be conducted by the FHWA under the research component of the program described in Section III of this notice.

Developing measures to determine the results of the projects is difficult and there is no general consensus on operative measures. A resource guide on program evaluation for TCSP projects is available on the FHWA Web page (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/tcsp/index.html). Methods to measure and evaluate current and future performance may include, for example:

  1. Quantitative assessments such as measurement of changes in traffic flow and mode choice (e.g., increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic), environmental impacts and reduced vehicle miles of travel or number of trips;
  2. Analytic procedures which forecast the current and future impacts of projects, such as, travel demand, land development, or economic forecasting; or
  3. Qualitative assessment, such as, interviews, surveys, changes in local ordinances, or other anecdotal evidence.

Relationship of the TCSP to the Transportation Planning Process

The TCSP will complement, improve and enhance the Statewide and MPO planning process created by the ISTEA, and refined by TEA-21. This process promotes the ongoing, cooperative and active involvement of the public, transportation providers, public interest groups, and State, metropolitan and local government agencies in the development of statewide and metropolitan transportation plans and improvement programs (23 CFR part 450).

Grant proposals should clearly demonstrate the coordination and consistency with appropriate statewide and metropolitan transportation planning processes. TCSP applicants are encouraged to notify the appropriate State DOT and MPO of their application to ensure this coordination. In addition, the FHWA will post the list of FY 2000 applications and titles of the proposals on its Web site as soon as it is available.

The DOT fully supports this planning process, which has brought diverse constituencies and government agencies together, and views the TCSP activities as a logical step in the continuing improvement of transportation planning at the State and regional level. The TCSP can help broaden the scope and impact of the planning process to better integrate land development planning, environmental goals and objectives, economic development, social equity considerations, and other private sector activities. The integration of interest groups, investors and developers through partnering with government applicants is a goal of the program. The TCSP activities also consider incorporation of much longer planning horizons and consider the impacts on future generations.

Activities funded by this program may be used to test or implement new, innovative planning methods and programs that significantly enhance the existing statewide and MPO transportation planning processes. The TCSP funds are intended to leverage new transportation and community preservation initiatives rather than to fund the ongoing planning activities of States and MPOs. The TCSP-funded activities should demonstrate coordination with the State or MPO to ensure the planning process is not circumvented. In addition, activities should encourage and improve public involvement in the overall planning process as well as in the individual project.

Construction projects funded by the TCSP will ultimately be included in an approved State or MPO TIP. The TCSP funds should not be requested for projects that have already been scheduled for funding and are in the current State or MPO TIP. Highway and transit projects which either use Federal funds or require Federal approvals, and are in air quality nonattainment or maintenance areas, should be included in an air quality conformity analysis required as part of the transportation planning process. Because TCSP projects may target improved air quality as part of their broader goals, documentation of the beneficial air quality impacts of the project will be important.

Non-construction activities funded by the TCSP, such as the development of regional plans and policies, project evaluations and land development code changes, may not need to appear in a statewide or MPO TIP, but should still have the support or endorsement of the State or MPO. Planning activities funded by TCSP should be reflected in the metropolitan area's Unified Planning Work Program. Non-construction activities may result in changes to existing State and MPO plans and, therefore, need coordination with other jurisdictions within a metropolitan region or State.

Schedule and Administrative Processes for FY 2000 Applications

There are several options for the administration of grants under TCSP. The FHWA has established financial management systems with the State Departments of Transportation and anticipates that most TCSP grants will be channeled through this established process. However, if another process such as a cooperative agreement or grant through another eligible agency (e.g., a public transit agency) is preferred, the applicant can work with the appropriate FHWA Division Office to develop a different funding mechanism.

An applicant should send four (4) printed copies and a diskette with a file (optional, as described in Attachment II of this notice) of the TCSP grant request to the FHWA Division Office in the State in which the project is located by July 15, 1999. Applicants should note that the FHWA is not requesting the 4-page LOI's that were used for the FY 1999 selection process. The FHWA will use input from field staff and an interagency technical review panel similar to the process used in FY 1999 to evaluate proposals that will be funded. Questions about the grant program should be directed to the FHWA Division Office in the State in which the applicant is located. The time line for FY 2000 applications for TCSP and a proposed time line for FY 2000 follows:

FY 2000 TIME LINE FOR TCSP

TCSP Milestones

FY 2000

Issue Federal Register Notice Request for FY 2000 Grants, Research proposals, and comments

May 1999

Grant requests and comments due to FHWA Division Offices

July 15, 1999

Research proposals due to FHWA

September 15, 1999

Grants awarded

October 1999

Research projects awarded

January 2000

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