DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION [4910-22-P] Transportation Equity Act For the 21st Century (TEA-21);
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SECTION I: Program Background and Implementation of TCSP in FY 1999
The TCSP provides funding for grants and research to investigate and address the relationship between transportation and community and system preservation. States, local governments and MPOs are eligible for discretionary grants to plan and implement strategies which improve the efficiency of the transportation system, reduce environmental impacts of transportation, reduce the need for costly future public infrastructure investments, ensure efficient access to jobs, services and centers of trade, and examine development patterns and identify strategies to encourage private sector development patterns which achieve these goals. Through the TCSP, States, local governments, and MPOs implement and evaluate current preservation practices and activities that support these practices, as well as develop new and innovative approaches. FY 2000 is the second year of the TCSP program.
The TCSP supports high priority goals of the administration for transportation systems to foster sustainable communities and minimize greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change. Transportation systems interact with built, social and natural systems to produce short and long term environmental, social equity and economic results. The TCSP strengthens these inter-relationships between transportation plans, strategies and investments and community development and preservation to help create sustainable communities. Within the context of sustainable communities, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector is one focus for the TCSP.
FY 1999 TCSP Program Implementation Process
The DOT established this program in cooperation with other Federal agencies, State, regional, and local governments. The FHWA is administering this program and has established a working group with representatives from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Research and Special Programs Administration/Volpe Center (RSPA), the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The working group prepared the initial design and implementation of this program. In the first year of the program, the working group gathered input through a Federal Register notice (under FHWA Docket No. 98-4370) ( September 16, 1998, 63 FR 49632) and through meetings with stakeholders conducted as part of DOT's outreach activities following the passage of the TEA-21.
In FY 1999, the FHWA received more than 520 Letters of Intent requesting TCSP funding. These requests totaled almost $400 million and were received from agencies in 49 States and the District of Columbia. To review and evaluate the Letters of Intent, the FHWA established a review process which included review and comments from the field staff of the FHWA, the FTA, and the EPA as well as a 20-person review panel comprised of technical program experts representing the agencies participating in the working group described above. The review panel recommended to the FHWA Administrator the applicants that were asked to develop full proposals for further consideration. A similar panel reviewed the full proposals. Information on the review process is included below.
On April 26, 1999, the FHWA announced the award of 35 TCSP grants for FY 1999. Grants were awarded to 28 States and the District of Columbia. A list of the grants awarded in FY 1999 and a brief description of each proposal are included under Attachment I to this notice.
Summary of Comments to the Docket
The September 16, 1998, Federal Register notice (63 FR 49632) requested comments on TCSP program implementation in FY 2000 and beyond. Letters from the following organizations were submitted to the docket (FHWA-1998-4370):
American Public Transit Association (APTA)
Most of these letters included several comments. Some comments responded directly to questions posed in the September 16, 1998, Federal Register notice, while some comments expressed other perspectives and concerns. Comments that respond to a question posed in the Federal Register notice have been presented in items numbered one through six in this section. Other comments have been grouped to provide a logical presentation and avoid repetition and are included under items numbered 7 though 10 in this section. Many of the comments received were extensive, and have been paraphrased. The complete docket may be viewed at the locations provided under the captions ADDRESSES and Electronic Access in this preamble.
Comments: Several commenters offered suggestions for factors that should be considered when evaluating TCSP proposals, including: Evidence that the applicant can effectively complete the project in a timely manner; whether the results could be replicated both locally and nationally (i.e., avoid projects that are unique to local circumstances); projects that have a high likelihood of success; and planning proposals that would lead to implementation activities. A commenter also suggested that TCSP proposals should be selected based on how well they help answer key research questions and data uncertainties. This commenter also proposed that the overall project selection could be balanced using an "Experimental Design" that provides a mix of different types of projects that focus on each of the key research issues.
One commenter proposed that TCSP applications should be given priority based on their ability to demonstrate: Adopted regional and local policies that show a commitment to linking transportation investments with land use development; a commitment to State growth management requirements (such as having urban growth boundaries); and substantial financial commitment to local transportation investments that support alternative modes of travel and environmentally sensitive land use development. Another commenter suggested that program eligibility should require that proposals clearly address the link between land use and transportation in the preservation of the viability and effectiveness of the transportation system and the community it serves. This commenter argued that the TCSP program criteria and guidance, as currently written, would allow activities with no relation to this land use/transportation link. While supporting these points, another commenter added that the role transit can play in land use considerations should also be emphasized in program guidance.
A commenter proposed that implementation grants in regions pursuing a consistent set of mutually supportive policies should be given higher priority and areas pursuing conflicting policies should receive lower priority. The following example was given for a high priority implementation grant: projects reinforcing established urban growth boundaries, which would prevent "leapfrog" development and the need to build additional highway capacity. An example of a lower priority project would be in an area that proposes a transit-based development project while simultaneously building new highway capacity in the same corridor without a planning study demonstrating that these actions are consistent.
Similar perspectives were offered by commenters who said that implementation grants should be awarded in areas demonstrating an understanding of the "land use/transportation link" and are currently applying that understanding towards transportation system and community preservation. These commenters proposed that priority be given to areas that have demonstrated a strong commitment to these principles through planning, public outreach, adoption of supportive land use regulations, and commitment of Federal, State, and local funding to these activities.
Response: We concur with the comments made regarding factors that should be considered. With the intense competition during the first round of the Letters of Intent (LOIs) review, the workgroup focused on proposals that could begin immediately upon selection, where the sponsor appeared to have the resources to produce a successful project, and those LOIs that would produce results, tools, and lessons that would be transferrable to other areas.
Language clarifying the distinction between planning grants and implementation grants has been added to this notice. The FHWA will continue to rely on input from the FHWA, the FTA, and the EPA field offices to address concerns about the "lower priority" project described by the commenter in this item number 1. This type of concern also underscores the importance of funding only those activities that are consistent with the Statewide or metropolitan planning processes (see item number 2, "Planning").
The FHWA has added information in this notice about the types of projects that were selected, grant and research themes for consideration, and abstracts of the selected grants. It is the intent of this pilot program to fund activities which address the interaction of transportation and community and system preservation. The FHWA believes that effectively linking land use and transportation planning is a principle strategy to be investigated under TCSP. However, the FHWA is also interested in pursuing other strategies that should also be developed and evaluated under TCSP.
Comments: In general, there was strong support that TCSP proposals should be consistent with and supported by statewide and metropolitan planning processes. However, several commenters expressed concern that the TCSP pilot could circumvent the existing statewide and metropolitan planning processes, and proposed that the FHWA should require all LOIs to include written confirmation or a letter of support from the applicable State or MPO that the proposed project is consistent with the statewide or metropolitan planning process. One commenter contrasted the TCSP pilot to other discretionary programs (e.g., Access to Jobs) that explicitly require coordination with the metropolitan planning process.
Regarding the involvement of non-traditional partners, one commenter suggested that letters of support from these partners should be required as part of the LOI. A similar comment was made that a demonstration should be made that all appropriate parties are involved, including affected governments and transportation agencies, as well as neighborhood, business, environmental, and social interest groups.
One commenter said that it is appropriate in the first year of the pilot program to award grants for projects which have not been included in the metropolitan or statewide transportation improvement program (23 CFR Part 450), and went on to say that beyond the first year, projects should be part of the metropolitan transportation planning process before an LOI is submitted. This commenter suggested that to meet the Transportation Improvement Plan(TIP)/State TIP fiscal constraint requirement, the TIP/STIP could note that the project is conditioned upon DOT's approval of the project, but establish the area's commitment to the project. Otherwise, this commenter added, including the project in the TIP/STIP becomes a pro forma activity with the decision to support the project coming from the Federal rather than the local level.
Two commenters supported using TCSP grants for a stand-alone phase of a multi-phased project that has already been partially funded.
Response: Section II of this preamble, "Relationship of the TCSP to the Transportation Planning Process," describes the FHWA's commitment to the transportation planning process that was established by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) (Pub. L. 102-240, 105 Stat. 1914 (1991)). Generally, the LOIs demonstrated coordination with the appropriate State DOTs, MPOs, and transit providers in the text of the LOI and some submitted letters of support. Also, input from the FHWA, the FTA, and the EPA's field offices was specifically sought on this topic because these offices are familiar with metropolitan and statewide planning processes and practices. This notice did not require States or MPOs to act as "clearinghouses" for LOIs, but rather encouraged coordination and partnerships. The Federal Register notice for FY 2000 continues to emphasize that the TCSP pilot should support statewide and metropolitan planning processes. In addition, the notice encourages TCSP applicants to notify the appropriate State DOT and MPO of their application to further promote this coordination. Future reviews of full grant applications will continue to look for evidence of this support.
As one commenter suggested, TCSP projects could be included in a TIP/STIP for informational purposes. If the applicant is successful in receiving funds through the competitive process, the project could then be formally incorporated into the TIP/STIP. In general, projects should not be included in the TIP/STIP as a pro forma activity, but should reflect consistency with the appropriate regional or statewide long-range transportation plan, which has been developed in accordance with the requirements in the planning rule (23 CFR part 450). A single phase of a multi-phased project would be eligible for TCSP funds if the project meets the appropriate criteria. However, as noted in the FY 1999 Federal Register notice, TCSP funds are intended to fund new and innovative activities, and not to be applied towards routine or ongoing activities that would otherwise be undertaken by the State or MPO.
Comments: One commenter proposed that initially there should be no fixed percentage between grants to localities that are new to community preservation practices (referred to as planning grants in the FY 99 program) and those localities that have already implemented some of these practices (referred to as implementation grants in the FY 1999 program) and research, but early in the TCSP program, higher priority should be placed on research and evaluation in the first three years and equal weight on start-up and on-going grantees. In comparison, two commenters advocated that there be no cap on grants or a specific split between planning and implementation activities, but recognized that given the available funds, a large grant request may not be feasible. Another commenter supported a mix of grants, but recommended that most of the TCSP funds should be used for grantees that are already involved in community preservation activities since the greatest benefits of the TCSP program will come from the demonstration of actual practices.
Another commenter said that proposals for grantees already involved in community preservation practices should demonstrate that prior public information and involvement has occurred with all potentially affected parties and that the project has already been approved by the appropriate MPO. In addition to public involvement, proposals for larger grants should also be able to demonstrate by analysis of data and forecasts the expected impact of the project on the region and perform a benefit and cost analysis that quantifies all expected impacts.
Four commenters stated that land acquisition and right-of-way purchases should be eligible for funding. One commenter clarified that with the high cost of these types of activities the DOT should make certain that they meet all of the TCSP criteria.
Response: Rather than setting specific limits on the types of grantees, the FHWA will continue to seek a range of proposals, which would take into consideration the category of grantee, type of project, geographic location, population served, and urban/suburban/ rural mix. One immediate goal of the pilot is to fund activities that will provide demonstrable results, be instructive to future applicants and contribute to the body of knowledge regarding the relationship between transportation and community and system preservation. The FHWA will also consider the percentage of grantees that are new to community preservation and those that have already begun some of these practices. The FHWA will use the results of evaluations of individual projects and research to set priorities for the program in the future. Because it is too early in the program for these results, in FY 2000, the FHWA is not setting specific priorities but offers suggestions of new areas to consider (see "Strategic Priorities" in Section II of this preamble).
While research is an important component of the TCSP program, the FHWA disagrees with the comment that a majority of TCSP funds should be used for research, rather than for grant activities. All over the country, States, MPOs, local governments, and their partners are engaged in, or are planning to begin activities consistent with the TCSP objectives. The FHWA intends to use the available TCSP funds for grantees to test, evaluate, and share these activities. In addition, because TCSP requires evaluation and measurable results from grants, the individual projects will further the knowledge base on community preservation practices. As discussed under item number 5 in this section evaluation is an important component of each successful grant. Since the FHWA is interested in increasing the knowledge base, producing tools, and lessons which can be replicated across the country, projects which would produce quantitative data and forecasts (including benefit and cost analyses) would be reviewed favorably.
Public involvement is a high priority in the TCSP pilot and is a fundamental component of the metropolitan and statewide planning process. To the extent that TCSP proposals implement or are linked to the transportation planning process, these proposals should receive adequate public involvement (including the involvement of non-traditional partners). The involvement and participation of non-traditional partners was a priority for all grants that were submitted in FY 1999.
Right-of-way and land acquisition are currently eligible activities within the context of a project or program that meets the TCSP criteria. As stand-alone activities, they would still need to meet the appropriate criteria.
Comments: Some commenters thought timeliness was a very important consideration in grant selections, while others thought it should not be a primary concern. One commenter replied that timeliness of grants to States, local governments, and MPOs that have already initiated community preservation programs and policies is less important than for other applicants because public involvement and benefits and costs may have already been estimated in a prior planning study. The commenter also stated that timing is less important for grantees that are just beginning preservation practices since a primary purpose of TCSP planning grants is to provide the opportunity for '"learning by doing" through integration of transportation, land use, community development, and environmental planning. In comparison, another commenter stated that timing is important for grants to recipients that have not yet initiated community preservation programs and policies. A third commenter stated that timely implementation is very important and should be used as a mandatory criterion for the program, adding that grant awards should only be made if results are available to impact the next transportation authorization bill in 2003. Another commenter agreed that timely implementation should be used as a mandatory criterion for the program, and that awards should only be made if the grantee can show it is ready to implement the project in the year the grant is made.
Response: The FHWA agrees with the commenters that timeliness of the projects is important and should be a consideration in grant selection. The FHWA will look at the applicant's ability to carry out the TCSP proposal in a timely fashion and produce results that could be shared nationally.
Comments: One commenter responded that collecting the appropriate data and analyzing complex relationships for evaluation purposes can be expensive, and that the level of resources devoted to evaluation will vary depending on the type of project. At a minimum, the desired results of the project should be defined in terms of travel behavior, land use, and community design and amenities. A means of measuring whether these results have been achieved should be included in the evaluation plan. A recommendation was made that a certain percentage of projects be evaluated by an independent party, preferably by an academic institution, adding that since the funding for research and evaluation is limited, it may be useful to focus these activities at a few centers, with each center specializing on one specific type of project or research issue. Two other commenters proposed that the FHWA contract with independent groups or non-profit associations to assess the results of the program, and to inform the reauthorization process in 2003.
Another commenter was concerned about the TCSP's emphasis on performance measures because this is an area of much debate and practical examples are difficult to identify and implement. This commenter stated that the major focus of the TCSP program should be on achieving the primary objectives for which the program was created and not directing a disproportionate share of limited TCSP funds to measuring outcomes, adding that project evaluation will be determined in part by the objectives of a particular project which may be difficult to measure with quantitative measures or analytical procedures. Ultimately, this commenter argued, the first few years of the program will reveal how projects can be deemed successful or not.
Response: The FHWA agrees with the commenters above which stated that evaluation was very important to TCSP. The FHWA is working with the DOT's Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and an independent consulting firm to evaluate the TCSP program, during the time frame of TEA-21. Furthermore, detailed guidance on evaluating individual grants has been provided to FY 1999 TCSP grantees and is electronically available on the website www.fhwa.dot.gov. The FHWA does not anticipate that an appropriate project evaluation would use a significant portion of project funding.
Since the TCSP program is a discretionary pilot that seeks to encourage innovation and new strategies that go beyond traditional transportation programs, it is incumbent on the FHWA to ensure that appropriate evaluations are conducted to determine the effectiveness of the strategies tested. Measurements should be reasonable based on the objectives of the project and the need to inform future proposals and funding decisions. The FHWA agrees that evaluation should be appropriate and meaningful for guiding future funding decisions and increasing our knowledge base about the interaction of transportation and community and system preservation. The TCSP is a small pilot program to develop new, effective strategies that can then be used through regular transportation and land use programs. It is not intended to implement preservation activities nationwide. Therefore, the evaluation of strategies tested under TCSP is a principle outcome of the TCSP activities.
Comments: One commenter noted that by reducing the cost of living and working outside central cities, U.S. investment in urban and rural interstate highways has been a major influence on the growth of suburbs and low density residential development. As urban population and congestion has grown, transportation investment has improved access to the suburbs, which in turn has encouraged decentralized, sometimes specialized, employment sub-centers. More is known about the impact of transportation investment on land use than the impact of land use patterns on transportation modes. This commenter also added that for a variety of reasons, continued transportation investment in new highway capacity, subsidizing alternative modes, zoning/growth management, and neotraditional planning have been the major policy approaches that have been adopted or pursued. There are very few examples where such programs have been in place long enough to determine cause-effect relationships. Nor have appropriate data always been gathered to develop solid estimates and forecasts of the impact of specific policies. This commenter said the TCSP program is an excellent opportunity to conduct research that would begin to determine the cause-effect relationships of these investments and policy approaches, and proposed the following research questions:
One commenter found that the FY 1999 Federal Register notice placed an emphasis on urban growth boundaries as a growth management tool, but argued that the successes of this tool are limited, and at best not very well understood. This commenter felt that analyses of the relationship among urban growth boundaries, highway planning, mass transit approaches, and housing affordability are needed before more real-world experimentation with this tool is conducted, and encouraged the FHWA to devote a significant portion of TCSP funds to research the effectiveness of land use control policies such as urban growth boundaries. This commenter urged the FHWA to direct TCSP funding toward evaluating current land use-air quality models and creating new models, as well as the relationship between highway expansion, land development patterns, and air quality.
Response: The FHWA agrees with the commenters that there is much to be learned about how to create livable communities. In Section II of this preamble on strategic priorities and research for the FY 2000 TCSP, the FHWA requests grants and research to begin to address these questions.
Comments: One commenter encouraged the FHWA to allow non-governmental entities to apply for implementation grants to provide maximum flexibility to this new program. Another commenter said that given the intent of the TCSP program (to address the relationship between transportation and community and system preservation) it is important that all entities with responsibility for the transportation system be eligible to receive funding. This commenter recommended that toll authorities and agencies be added to the list of eligible recipients for this program particularly since toll authorities provide transportation services that would be provided by the department of transportation in another State.
Response: Eligible grant recipients were established by section 1221 of TEA-21. The September 16, 1998, Federal Register notice further clarified the legislative language by providing the following examples of units of local government: Towns, cities, public transit agencies, air resources boards, school boards, and park districts. If the toll authority is recognized by the State as a unit of local government, then it is an eligible recipient for TCSP grant funds. Non-governmental entities are encouraged to form partnerships with eligible grant recipients as the project sponsor.
Comments: One commenter observed that although the program encourages local matching funds, there is no requirement for a local match. This commenter advocated that local communities would take more ownership of projects that require a firm match of funds generated at the community level, and suggested a mandatory match ratio of 10 to 20 percent of local funds, with a related 80 to 90 percent of Federal funds. According to this commenter, the local match could come from local or statewide nonprofit groups or local, regional, or State governmental entities. Other commenters supported a local match requirement, and added that investment of other Federal funds (including transportation funds authorized under TEA-21, as well as Federal grants for Housing and Clean Water) would also demonstrate local commitment.
Response: The September 16, 1998, Federal Register notice, under "Priorities for all Grants" stated that applications for grants will be evaluated, among other factors, on a demonstrated commitment of non-Federal resources. As the commenter correctly stated, matching funds were not required. However, TEA-21 directs the Secretary to give priority to applicants that demonstrate a commitment of non-Federal resources to the proposed project. The FHWA agrees that providing local matching funds demonstrates a stronger commitment at the local level. In response to the comment regarding the use of Federal funds to demonstrate local commitment, the FHWA also considers this to be a demonstration of commitment. A number of successful TCSP applicants in FY 1999 combined grant resources from other FHWA, FTA, EPA and the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs to support an innovative project. However, since the TCSP funds are intended to be used for innovative activities, we did not review favorably proposals that could be funded with other traditional sources of funds.
Comments: One commenter found that the FY 1999 Federal Register notice showed a bias toward larger metropolitan areas, noting that smaller metropolitan areas are under growth pressures and could also benefit from the TCSP pilot program. The suggestion was made that the next solicitation for projects should use a broader range of examples of potential projects to include both rural and small metropolitan areas. In contrast, another commenter suggested that the TCSP program should focus on urban areas, because those areas experience the most intense pressure involving land use, transportation and community preservation.
Response: The TCSP program is applicable in a wide variety of settings where communities are trying to address the integration of transportation and community and system preservation, and that TCSP funds are equally applicable in urban, suburban, and rural areas. As noted in this preamble, the FHWA will continue to seek a range of proposals, which would take into consideration the type of project, geographic location, and a mix of urban, suburban, and rural settings.
Comments: One commenter claimed that through the TCSP program, the FHWA is engaging in local land uses issues where historically local governments and the electorate have made decisions. This commenter expressed concern that the TCSP pilot would provide a precedent by providing Federal funds to governmental entities and non-governmental groups to develop and adopt certain land use policies and restrictions.
Response: The FHWA has no intention of using the TCSP pilot to involve itself in local land use decisions. The FHWA is interested in promoting and funding sound, yet innovative planning that simultaneously considers transportation and community and system preservation in the long-term. The FHWA strongly supports the statewide and metropolitan planning process that was created by the ISTEA, and relies on States and MPOs to use these processes, agency partnerships, and public involvement activities to identify proposals that would be eligible for TCSP funds.
Comments: One commenter strongly supported a joint review and approval process by the FHWA and the FTA.
Response: An interagency work group comprised of the FHWA, the FTA, the FRA, the OST, the RSPA, and the EPA has reviewed all of the FY 1999 letters of intent and full grant applications for the TCSP pilot. Participation has occurred at the field level (Regional and Division/State offices) as well as from each agency's headquarters office. Final decisions have been made by the FHWA Administrator based on the recommendations of this coordinated, interagency partnership.
Information from the Technical Review Panel
A 20-person panel including technical program experts in highway, transit, environment, railroad and planning reviewed the FY 1999 Letters of Intent and grant proposals for TCSP. The feedback from the interdisciplinary experts that participated on the review panel on the FY 1999 TCSP applications will be helpful to those developing proposals for FY 2000. The panel used the criteria that were established in section 1221 of TEA-21 and included in the Federal Register notice (September 16, 1998, 63 FR 49632). In addition, the panel looked for innovative strategies to meet the TCSP goals and geographic and population diversity to include proposals to address urban, suburban, rural, and disadvantaged populations. The panel noted that the more than 520 LOI's submitted were worthwhile projects but that because of funding limitations, it was necessary to identify only a very small number that best met the purposes of the pilot program. The following information from the panel discussions may be helpful to those applicants that were not selected in FY 1999, as well as for those applying in FY 2000:
FY 1999 TCSP Grant Awards
The activities 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 the short- and long-term environmental, economic, and social equity effects to help build sustainable communities. 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. Attachment I to this notice lists the grants selected for TCSP funding in FY 1999 and includes a brief abstract of each project.
Last updated December 8, 2000