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A SUMMARY - Protecting Our Environment

Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement

The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program, continued in TEA-21 at a total authorized funding level of $8.1 billion for the 6 years of the Act, provides a flexible funding source to State and local governments for transportation projects and programs to help meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act. Eligible activities include transit improvements, travel demand management strategies, traffic flow improvements, and public fleet conversions to cleaner fuels, among others. Funding is available for areas that do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (nonattainment areas), as well as former nonattainment areas that are now in compliance (maintenance areas). Under ISTEA, only nonattainment areas were included in the funding formula. Funds are distributed to States based on a formula that considers an area’s population by county and the severity of its air quality problems within the nonattainment or maintenance area. Further, greater weight is given to carbon monoxide nonattainment and maintenance areas.

A State may transfer up to 50 percent of its increase in CMAQ funds compared to what it would have received if the CMAQ program were funded at $1.35 billion per year nationwide. The funds may be transferred to other Federal-aid programs, but can be used only for projects located in nonattainment and maintenance areas.


Transportation Enhancements (TE)

Transportation enhancement activities continue to be funded through a 10 percent setaside from STP funds. In order to maximize the use of available TE funding, TEA-21 provides innovative financing alternatives for meeting matching requirements. The list of activities eligible for transportation enhancement funds is expanded, but all projects must relate to surface transportation. Newly eligible are safety education activities for pedestrians and bicyclists, establishment of transportation museums, and projects to reduce vehicle-caused wildlife mortality. Provision of tourist and welcome center facilities is specifically included under the already eligible activity “scenic or historic highway programs.” In addition, 1 percent of the transit urbanized area formula funds distributed to areas with populations greater than 200,000 must be used for transit enhancement projects specified in the Act.

TEA-21 allows a State to transfer some of its TE funds to other programs. The maximum amount that may be transferred is up to 25 percent of the difference between the State’s current year TE setaside and the State’s FY 1997 TE setaside.


Bicycle Transportation and Pedestrian Walkways

TEA-21 continues and expands provisions to improve facilities and safety for bicycles and pedestrians. The eligibility of NHS funds is broadened to include pedestrian walkways, and safety and educational activities are now eligible for TE funds. Other changes ensure the consideration of bicyclists and pedestrians in the planning process and facility design.


Recreational Trails Program

A total of $270 million in contract authority is authorized for FYs 1998-2003 to provide and maintain recreational trails. States must establish a State recreational trails advisory committee that represents both motorized and nonmotorized recreational trail users. Of funds distributed to a State, 30 percent must be used for motorized use, 30 percent must be used for nonmotorized use, and 40 percent must be used for diverse trail uses (any combination—the diverse category may overlap with the others). The Federal share is raised to 80 percent (from 50 percent), and Federal agency project sponsors or other Federal programs may provide additional Federal share up to 95 percent. Soft match provisions are allowed, including soft matches from public agencies. The National Recreational Trails Advisory Committee is reactivated until the end of FY 2000.


National Scenic Byways Program

TEA-21 authorizes a total of $148 million for technical assistance and grants to States for the purposes of developing scenic byway programs and undertaking related projects along roads designated as National Scenic Byways, All-American Roads, or as State Scenic Byways.


Transportation and Community and System Preservation Pilot

The Transportation and Community and System Preservation Pilot program is a comprehensive initiative of research and grants to investigate the relationships between transportation and community and system preservation and private sector-based initiatives. States, local governments, and metropolitan planning organizations are eligible for discretionary grants to plan and implement strategies that 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 private sector development patterns and investments that support these goals. A total of $120 million is authorized for this program for FYs 1999-2003.



The core metropolitan and statewide transportation planning requirements remain intact under TEA-21, emphasizing the role of State and local officials, in cooperation with transit operators, in tailoring the planning process to meet metropolitan and State transportation needs.

Continuing at both the metropolitan and statewide level are provisions concerning fiscal constraint, planning horizon, and public involvement, with modification to the list of named stakeholder groups to add freight shippers and public transit users. Current MPOs remain in effect unless redesignated, and retain responsibility for adopting the metropolitan transportation plan.

Metropolitan transportation planning funding remains a 1 percent takedown from certain authorized programs in Title 23 and in Title 49 has changed to specific funding levels. Funding for State Planning and Research supported activities remains a 2 percent setaside of certain apportionments in Title 23 and in Title 49 has changed to specific funding levels.

The key change in the new legislation is the consolidation of 16 metropolitan and 23 statewide planning “factors” into seven broad “areas” to be considered in the planning process, both at the metropolitan and statewide level. A new section exempts plans, transportation improvement plans, project or strategy, and certification actions from legal review for failure to consider any one of the “areas.” The growing importance of operating and managing the transportation system is recognized as a focal point for transportation planning.

Metropolitan planning area boundaries may be maintained as they currently reflect nonattainment areas, at the existing limits on the date of enactment, or they may be extended to reflect increases in nonattainment area boundaries at the discretion of the Governor and the MPO. For new MPOs, the boundaries will reflect the nonattainment area boundaries based on agreements between the Governor and local officials.

Other changes are included to further ensure the involvement of local officials, especially local officials in nonmetropolitan areas; strengthen the financial aspects of the planning process; and improve coordination, cooperation, and public involvement. MPOs and States will be encouraged to coordinate the design and delivery of federally funded non-emergency transportation services. The requirement for a stand-alone major investment study is replaced with a directive that such analyses under the planning provisions of TEA-21 and the National Environmental Policy Act are to be integrated.



The Secretary will establish a coordinated environmental review process for the DOT to work with other Federal agencies in ensuring that major highway and transit projects are advanced according to cooperatively determined time frames. The coordinated process will use concurrent, rather than sequential, reviews. It will allow States to include their environmental reviews in the coordinated environmental review process. The Act also authorizes the Secretary to approve State requests to provide funding to affected Federal agencies in order to meet established time limits. If the Secretary finds that a project-related environmental issue has not been resolved with another Federal agency, the heads of the two agencies will meet within 30 days (of the Secretary’s finding) in order to resolve the issue.


Ozone and Particulate Matter Standards

New and revised National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone and particulate matter (PM) were promulgated in July 1997. Included in the PM NAAQS were new standards for PM2.5—fine particles less than 2.5 microns. TEA-21 ensures the establishment of the new monitoring network for PM2.5 and, within appropriated totals under the Clean Air Act, requires the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide financial support to the States for 100 percent of the cost of establishing and operating the network.

The Act also codifies the timetables for designating areas regarding whether they are attaining the new PM2.5 NAAQS and the revised ozone NAAQS. The EPA is to issue final designations for ozone areas in July 2000, and for PM2.5 areas the earlier of 4 years after the State receives PM2.5 monitoring data or December 31, 2005. The EPA Administrator is also required to submit to Congress a field study of the PM2.5 Federal Reference Method within 2 years. TEA-21 requires EPA to harmonize the schedules for State submissions of regional haze and PM2.5 air quality plans.

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