Home | Extensions | SAFETEA | Senate | House | Conference | Press Releases | Related Links | Clocks

The Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient
Transportation Equity Act of 2003

Section-By-Section Analysis



Subsection (a) would add a new chapter 52, Transportation Planning, to subtitle III of title 49, U.S.C. It would incorporate FHWA and FTA planning provisions from titles 23 and 49, to make maintaining identical provisions more straightforward.

Section 5201--Policy would provide a common policy section for both Metropolitan and Statewide Transportation Planning.

Section 5201(a)(2) would be added to reflect the growing importance of improving the decisionmaking and planning conducted under the Federal-aid program. This section would not require modification of existing planning processes, but would clearly indicate that planning and plan development are not static activities. The language would reflect the innovation being undertaken by many metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and States in the conduct of metropolitan planning to encourage others in the same fashion. The provision specifically encourages use of performance-based approaches as guided by the planning factors identified in subsections 5203(f) and 5204(d). Among these planning factors are protection and enhancement of the environment. Therefore, MPOs should become involved early in environmental planning activities.

Section 5201(a)(3) would be added to reflect congressional intent that Statewide Planning should have private enterprise participation in projects and services.

Section 5202--Definitions would include definitions used in chapter 52.

Section 5203--Metropolitan Planning would combine and make revisions to existing section 134 of title 23, U.S.C., and sections 5303, 5304, and 5305 of title 49, U.S.C.

Section 5203(a)(1) would revise existing law by substituting the word "metropolitan" for urbanized. This is an acknowledgement that the metropolitan planning process addresses the urbanized area plus that area that is anticipated to become urbanized over a twenty-year period.

Section 5203(a)(4) would provide that the MPO, the State DOT, and the appropriate public transit provider must agree on the approaches that will be used in the metropolitan decisionmaking process regarding complex transportation improvements. This section would indicate that planning and sponsoring organizations are jointly responsible for the planning and development of projects.

Section 5203(b)(1)(A) would modify existing law to reflect a change in procedure by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census Bureau did not define central cities in the designation of urbanized areas under the 2000 Census. In the absence of such definition, there is no independent determination of central cities to fit current statutory language. The Census Bureau, however, does name urbanized areas by largest incorporated jurisdiction(s) within an urbanized area. This is the same basis upon which it defined central cities. Therefore, this section would substitute the word "named" for "defined" to clarify current practice with a more appropriate term.

Section 5203(b)(2) would modify existing legislation to clarify terminology regarding a transportation management area (TMA). The current statute uses the term "designation" regarding the institution responsible for metropolitan planning and the special geography for a TMA. It also links the two by indicating that when a TMA is designated certain requirements apply, including changes in MPO board membership and certification. TMAs are designated by the Secretary based on population information from the Census Bureau. MPOs may be designated and redesignated upon agreement of local officials and the Governor at any time. To clarify that the geography identification does not force a change in the MPO policy board, the word "identified" is being proposed.

Section 5203(b)(2)(B) would modify existing law to remove an obsolete provision in section 134(b)(2)(B) relating to agencies included in MPOs in 1991. The current provision was adopted in 1991 for the purposes of clarifying the limits of the new statutory language. Two authorizations have existed with this language in place. DOT believes that there is no continuing need for this provision.

Section 5203(b)(5) would modify existing law to reflect a change in Census Bureau policy regarding definition of central cities. The 2000 Census does not include such definitions. As an alternative, the Department is proposing the use of the largest incorporated city as used by the Census Bureau in naming the urbanized area.

Section 5203(c)(2)(B) would modify existing law to reflect that the Office of Management and Budget, not the Census Bureau, designates standard metropolitan statistical areas.

Section 5203(c)(3) would be added to provide clarification of new urbanized area designation consequences inside an existing metropolitan planning area. Since a metropolitan planning area is already identified for such cases, creating a new MPO would not contribute to an efficient or effective regional planning process. Although it would not be prohibited under this provision, designation of a second MPO is not necessary.

Section 5203(d) would provide that the planning process should consider the impacts of plans and planned projects that may affect adjacent areas.

Section 5203(e)(2) would modify existing law to include operation and management of the transportation system.

Section 5203(e)(3) would be added to emphasize the need for coordination where an improvement does not actually cross an MPO boundary, but still has impacts (in some cases, miles beyond boundary) on transportation facilities in other areas.

Section 5203(e)(4) would be added to encourage coordination of the transportation planning process with officials responsible for other types of planning activities that are affected by transportation, including State and local planned growth, economic development, environmental protection, airport operations, housing, and freight.

Section 5203(f)(1) would modify existing law to be consistent with the statewide planning language.

Sections 5203(f)(1)(B) and (C) would modify existing law to give added emphasis to security and safety by making each a separate planning factor.

Section 5203(f)(1)(E) would add a reference to planned growth patterns.

Subparagraphs (A), (D), (F), and (H) under section 5203(f)(1) would reference opportunities to engage public and private operators in metropolitan planning.

Section 5203(g) would modify existing law by dropping the adjective "long-range" in association with plan. There is only one plan and it has a 20-year horizon. The continued use of "long-range" has reinforced the perception that there is a "short-range" or another plan that must also be created.

Section 5203(g)(1) would modify existing law by extending the minimum update cycle from every 3 years to every 5 years. This change recognizes the level of effort required of State/local agencies.

Section 5203(g)(2) would provide that the transportation plan now includes what was formerly the TIP. All projects, from both the short-range program and the long-range plan, would now be described within one document called the plan.

Section 5203(g)(2)(C) would modify existing law to strengthen the importance of operations and management in the planning process.

Section 5203(g)(3) would modify existing law to encourage stronger coordination among transportation and air quality planning processes.

Section 5203(g)(4) would be added to clarify the relationship of air quality and transportation planning horizon references and how they apply to the transportation plan. This section would also clarify treatment of projects that extend beyond the plan horizon year for conformity purposes.

Section 5203(g)(5) would modify existing law to reflect elimination of the TIP in relation to the approval process and public involvement. This provision would significantly expand the parties participating in planning and would explicitly include private providers. It would also add bicyclists and pedestrians to the list of parties afforded a specific opportunity to comment on the plan before its approval.

Section 5203(g)(6) would modify existing law to reflect the new role of the Governor in approving a portion of the plan (in response to elimination of TIP). The Governor would approve only the first five years of the plan.

Section 5203(g)(7) would be added to implement elimination of the TIP by making the first five years of the plan the key focal point for project programming. The FHWA and FTA roles in plan action and approval would be established.

Sections 5203(g)(8) and (9) would reflect elimination of the TIP.

Section 5203(h) would modify existing law to provide clarification for the meaning of transportation management areas. The term "designation" would be replaced by "identification" to reduce confusion between institutional change and geographic area identification. The section allowing a request to designate an area below 200,000 in population would be eliminated because it has seldom been used, and has no direct funding implications. The term "metropolitan planning organization serving" would be added to highlight the fact that a TMA is a geographic area, not an institution that conducts planning

Section 5203(h)(3) would modify existing law to streamline and integrate the congestion management process into overall planning process and plan development.

Section 5203(h)(4) would modify existing law to highlight the role of the MPO as an institution, as discussed above.

Section 5203(h)(5) would modify existing law to reflect focus on the MPO planning process and clarify that all Federal funds available to the metropolitan area could be withheld as a sanction for not being certified. In recognition of the level of effort required of State/local agencies, the minimum cycle for certification would be extended from three to five years.

A provision related to transfer of ISTEA funds would be removed because it is outdated. Transfer of funds is still covered by 23 U.S.C. 104(k).

Section 5203(j) would modify existing law to reflect streamlining and integration of congestion management planning into the overall planning process.

Section 5203(l) would indicate that funds set aside under 23 U.S.C. 104(f) and 49 U.S.C. 5305(h) are available to carry out the metropolitan planning process.

New section 5203(n) would be added to clarify the linkage between transportation planning and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and support appropriate utilization of planning information and analyses to facilitate streamlining of the NEPA process, and to clarify the manner in which planning studies can be utilized in the NEPA process. The transportation planning process is a local function, which, by statute, is undertaken by State and local governments. Although the Department of Transportation has an oversight role, it does not conduct the process and, therefore, there is no Federal action to trigger the application of NEPA. This is different than the "big picture" planning process undertaken by other Federal agencies with respect to lands that they manage, where action by the Federal agency is involved and NEPA applies. To the extent that the transportation planning process has included procedures similar to those required under NEPA, the DOT should be able to rely on the studies produced in the planning process.

Section 5204--Statewide Planning would incorporate, with revisions, existing section 135 of title 23 and would provide a common statewide planning section for both FTA and FHWA.

General Modifications
The term "long-range" which modifies "transportation plan" would be deleted, since the plan is already identified as a 20-year plan.

For brevity, the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program is referred to as the "STIP" throughout this section.

TEA-21 used various references when describing local officials in rural areas. A consistent reference would be used throughout: "affected officials with responsibility for transportation."

"Non-metropolitan local officials" would be defined in a new section 5202--Definitions.

In order to advance planning streamlining, required products and reviews of the planning process would generally be placed on a 5-year schedule.

Section 5204(a)--General Requirements
Existing section 135(a)(1) of title 23 would be moved to section 5201--Policy, which would provide a common policy section for both Metropolitan and Statewide Transportation Planning.

Existing section 135(a)(2) of title 23 would now be section 5204(a)(1), with amended language: "To accomplish the objectives stated in section 5201" inserted before "each" and "Subject to ... title 49" deleted; "subject to section 5203" would be added after the end of the paragraph to recognize the integration of Metropolitan Transportation Planning (MTP).

Existing section 135(b) of title 23 would now be section 5204(b), with added language: "with other related Statewide planning activities such as trade and economic development and related multi-State planning efforts," after "areas of the State and" to recognize the importance of trade and economic development in each State and with other States; and adding a new paragraph "(3) participate in the integration of planning and environmental studies pursuant to section 5203(n) of this title." to note that States need to participate in these studies.

Section 5204(c)--Interstate Agreements
Section 5204(c) would be added to allow States to enter into compacts or agreements for the purpose of formal planning cooperation and coordination, since so many projects have multi-State implications. A similar provision is included in existing section 134(d)(2), Metropolitan Planning, and would be included in the metropolitan planning section in proposed section 5203(d)(2).

Section 5204(d)--Scope of Planning Process (existing section 135(c))
In section 5204(d)(1), the phrase "and implementing projects and services" would be added after "strategies" to reflect the concept that not only projects, but also transportation services, are developed through the planning process.

In section 5204(d)(1)(A), the term "non-metropolitan areas" would be inserted into this factor after "States." The Department has been increasingly concerned about these often-neglected areas and this would require States to consider economic vitality for rural areas. ("Non-metropolitan areas" is defined in a recent amendment to the joint FHWA/FTA planning regulations).

Sections 5204(d)(1)(B) and (C). In existing law, "security" was a joint factor with "safety." After the terrorism attacks of September 11, 2001, security has taken on a new dimension. Security would now be a separate factor in subparagraph (C) to highlight this concern at all levels of government.

In section 5204(d)(1)(D), the term "options available to" would be deleted after "mobility" so that it is clear that this is more than just considering options.

Section 5204(d)(1)(E). Transportation plans and growth patterns should be reasonably consistent. Both guide various major infrastructure investments at all levels of government and facilitate private enterprise. Language would be added to require consistency so that investments are made where they will have the best impacts.

Section 5204(f)--Transportation Plan (existing section 135(e))
Section 5204(f)(1) would require State plans to be updated every five years. There is no current time requirement for State plan updates. This update cycle would provide consistency between updates for plans at the metropolitan and State levels.

Section 5204(f)(3). The term "representatives of transportation agency employees," wold be replaced by "representatives of public transportation employees," and the term "representatives of users of public transit," would be replaced by "representatives of users of public transportation" to provide greater consistency with the definitions in 49 U.S.C. 5302. The term "representatives of users of pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities," would be inserted after the term "users of public transportation" to identify the importance of this class of users.

Section 5204(f)(6). A new paragraph, "Existing System," would be added to address the need for assessment of the existing system to maximize its potential through various means, such as Intelligent Transportation Systems.

Section 5204(g)--Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) (existing section 135(f))

Section 135(f)(1)(B)(ii)(II) required that States submit to the Secretary, within one year of TEA-21's passage, the details of their consultation process with non-metropolitan officials. This requirement has been accomplished, so the provision would be eliminated.

Section 5204(g)(3) (existing section 135(f)(1)(C)) would substitute the term "State" for the term "Governor." This reflects the current practice in most States. The same changes proposed for the listed parties in section 5204(f)(3) above would be made in this section.

Section 5204(g)(4) would establish 5-year increments and updates for the STIP. This is consistent with section 5203(g)(6), which would provide that the first five years of projects in the metropolitan plan may be selected for advancement. Provisions similar to those proposed in section 5203 for a cooperative process in arriving at the annual listing of obligated projects would be included. An annual list should be reflected in section 5204 since the State is the recipient of substantial funds from both FTA and FHWA.

Section 5204 (g)(4)(B)(ii) (existing section 135(f)(2)(C)(ii)) would be amended by inserting "in each year of the initial five years of" after "described." This would ensure that the identical projects programmed in the metropolitan transportation plans are brought into the STIP without modifications.

Section 5204(g)(4)(F) (existing section 135(f)(2)(G)) would emphasize transportation control measures as a STIP priority by inserting "and transportation control measures included in the State's air quality implementation plan." after "of this title."

In section 5204(g)(5), section 5311 of title 49 would be added to the NHS, bridge, and other projects that require "consultation" and that are excepted from "cooperation" since this program is generally run by the States as a discretionary program after criteria are set.

Section 5204(g)(6) (existing section 135(f)(4)) would be renamed "STIP Approval" and would require a STIP approval "at least every five years by the Secretary." A new section 5204(g)(7), Planning Finding, (existing section 135(f)(4)) would be set out separately.

A new section 5204(k) would be added for "Integration Of Planning And Environmental Studies" to reflect the process for Environmental Streamlining included in proposed new section 5203(n).

Subsection (b)--Transportation Conformity Related Provisions
Section 5203(g)(4), discussed above, would add a provision to better integrate the transportation planning and air quality planning processes, and to closely align the transportation and air quality planning horizons for purposes of transportation conformity.

Currently, transportation conformity must be determined for the entire 20-year planning horizon of metropolitan transportation plans. On the other hand, air quality State implementation plans (SIPs) usually cover a much shorter timeframe (10 years or less). This mismatch in timeframes does not provide for an integrated planning process beyond the life of the SIP. In order to address this issue, the conformity requirement of a transportation plan would be revised to more closely align with the timeframe of a SIP. However, in no case would conformity analyses cover a period of fewer than 10 years, and it could be longer if the SIP emissions budget extends beyond ten years. It is also recognized that MPOs may desire to include certain projects whose completion dates may extend beyond the minimum timeframe of 10 years, but that currently need approval or funding to proceed. In such a case, the conformity analysis must extend beyond the minimum time horizon through the completion date of the project.

Subsection (b) would revise the frequency for which new conformity determinations are required. In metropolitan areas in nonattainment or maintenance, the transportation plan must currently be updated once every three years and conformity redetermined. Updating transportation plans and requiring conformity determinations every five years instead of every three years would allow MPOs more time to develop better, more comprehensive transportation plans. Also, there is no existing requirement for regular update cycles to keep air quality plans current. Consequently, frequent conformity updates result in the planning assumptions and models that were used to develop the motor vehicle emissions budgets in the SIP and those that were used to complete the conformity analysis becoming out of sync with one another.

Section 5203(g)(1) would revise existing legislation to only require transportation plan updates every five years. Subsection (b) would align the required frequency of conformity determinations for metropolitan transportation plans in section 7506 of title 42, with the revised plan update requirement.

Subsection (b) would also include provisions to allow MPOs to make new conformity determinations whenever the MPO deemed it necessary to amend or update its transportation plans, and to allow EPA to require new conformity determinations triggered by revisions to the applicable SIP, as defined through regulation.

Subsection (c)--Conforming Clarification would amend section 7506 of title 42, U.S.C., to provide consistency between section 7506 and the proposed revised transportation planning provisions in chapter 52 of title 49, which would eliminate separate transportation improvement programs. This section would make clear that references to "programs" and "improvement programs" in section 7506 should now refer to transportation plans developed under section 5203 of title 49, U.S.C.

Subsection (d)--Streamline State Conformity Rule Requirements would amend section 7506(c)(4)(C) of title 42, U.S.C., and would require States to promulgate conformity rules that include only the conformity consultation procedures per 40 CFR 93.105.  State and local governments are currently required to submit State implementation plans that describe an area's specific consultation procedures and include the remainder of the Federal rule verbatim.  The amendment would reduce the number of implementation plans required without compromising the air quality benefits of the conformity program.  The amendment would also ensure that all States could take advantage of administrative changes to the conformity program as soon as they are promulgated.  Currently, State and local transportation planners with approved conformity rules cannot take advantage of any new administrative changes to the conformity program until State conformity rules are updated and approved.


To provide seamless transportation for the traveling public, there is a critical need for the Nation's surface public transportation modes to link to each other and to airports at intermodal facilities. Few intermodal passenger terminals in the country bring together all the surface public transportation modes: motorcoach, intercity rail, urban mass transportation, and rural local transit. Further, current surface transportation programs fail to address the importance of intercity bus service to our Nation's transportation infrastructure. Intercity buses serve over 4,200 U.S. communities in regular service and virtually every community in the United States through regular route, charter, or tour service. Intercity bus service connects sparsely populated rural routes to larger corridors.

For these reasons, the Department believes that it is in the economic interest of the United States to improve the efficiency of public surface transportation modes by ensuring their connection with and access to intermodal passenger terminals, thereby streamlining the transfer of passengers among modes, enhancing travel options, and increasing passenger transportation operating efficiencies.

To that end, this section would amend title 49, U.S.C., chapter 55, Intermodal Transportation, to add a new subchapter III, Intermodal Passenger Facilities. The purpose of this subchapter would be to accelerate intermodal integration among North America's passenger transportation modes by assuring intercity public transportation access to intermodal passenger facilities; encouraging the development of an integrated system of public transportation information; and providing intercity bus intermodal facility grants.

Under this subchapter, the Secretary would make grants, on a competitive basis, to State and local governmental authorities for financing a capital project that the Secretary determines to be justified and to have adequate financial commitment. A capital project, under this subchapter, may be the acquisition, construction, improvement, or renovation of an intermodal facility that is related physically and functionally to intercity bus service and that establishes or enhances coordination between intercity bus service and other modes of transportation. A capital project could also be the added costs of providing better access between intercity bus service and other transportation. The primary criterion for selection would be the extent to which the facility enhances the integration of all modes of intercity and local public transportation, as well as the connection with the private automobile.

The Federal share would not exceed 50 percent of the net project costs, as determined by the Secretary. Up to 30 percent of the non-Federal share could include amounts appropriated to or made available to a Federal department or agency for transportation purposes.

Under the proposal, $100,000,000 in contract authority would be available from the Highway Trust Fund for each of fiscal years 2005 through 2009 to carry out this subchapter. The funding would further assist the intercity bus industry in linking passengers arriving and departing through airports, public transportation facilities, train stations, and seaports with their final home, work, and tourism destinations.

Home | U.S. DOT | TEA-21 | Feedback | Privacy
Excel Viewer | Word Viewer | Adobe Reader