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Census Urbanized Areas and MPO/TMA Designation

FAQ Topic 6: Funding

Which population number is used for PL and 49 USC 5305(d) funding allocation among States?

Population is a minor factor in determining PL funding apportionment. The Census Bureau population for the UZA is used for all funding formulas, not the population of UCs or the adjusted UZA.

The PL funding distribution formula is: 1.25 percent deduction from amounts authorized for the Interstate Maintenance (IM), National Highway System (NHS), STP, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ), and Bridge programs is apportioned to the States based on a ratio of UZA population in individual States to the total nationwide UZA population. The minimum apportionment per State is 0.5 percent of the total nationwide PL funding apportionment.

49 USC 5305(d) fund authorization levels are not determined as a "take-down" from another program, but are set explicitly in law.

Do adjusted UZA boundaries have any implications for funding?

The adjusted UZA boundary is not used for funding allocation formulas, it may be used to determine eligibility for certain Title 23 funding categories (e.g., STP funding) and will impact Functional Classification (urban vs. rural).

When will the distribution of FHWA and FTA Metropolitan Planning (MP and PL) funds have to change to account for new UZAs?

The apportionment of metropolitan planning (MP and PL) funds to the States based on new UZAs will begin with FY2013 funds, apportioned on or after October 1st, 2012. States need to evaluate and revise their intra-state formula immediately (if necessary), using the population figures released by the Census Bureau in the spring of 2012. FHWA and FTA will request that States and their MPOs reaffirm the existing formula, or agree on a new intra-State formula. Each State should work cooperatively with the existing MPOs (and elected local officials in newly-defined UZAs) to review and revise the formula, then submit it for approval to the appropriate office (FHWA Division Office for PL funds; FTA Regional Office for MP funds). Current and prior-year FTA apportionments of MP funds can be found here. States should reference this information when reaffirming or revising their intra-State MP funding distribution formulas.

By fall 2012 FHWA will complete a national study of PL funding distribution approaches and formulas used by State DOTs. This study will be posted on the FHWA Census Issues website when it becomes available.

How will the new UZA populations impact the apportionment of Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds?

STP funds are sub-allocated within each State between UZAs with a population over 200,000 and the rest of the State, in proportion to their relative share of the total State population. Each UZA with a population over 200,000 receives a share of the funds sub-allocated for such areas, based on the area's share of the total population in all areas with over 200,000 residents in the State. This sub-allocation formula will use population totals from the 2010 Census beginning with FY2013.

In some instances where an existing UZA has been split, or if other UZAs in the State have grown at a faster rate, a UZA's population share, and therefore the UZA's share of STP funds, may decrease.

How will STP funds be sub-allocated between two or more MPOs that cover the same TMA that includes a UZA with over 200,000 residents?

There is no specific provision in Federal transportation legislation for allocation of STP funds among multiple MPOs serving the same TMA that includes a UZA with over 200,000 residents.

Does each TMA receive its own CMAQ, STP, and 49 USC 5307 funding allocations? Are these funds eligible to be used for projects outside the designated TMA area, but within the MPA?

CMAQ funds are distributed to the States, but must be spent in air quality nonattainment or maintenance areas designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Many States then allocate CMAQ funds to nonattainment/maintenance areas (usually located within MPO planning areas) and allow MPOs to decide how to spend the funds. However, some States retain control of all or part of apportioned CMAQ funding and have various ways of deciding how and when to distribute CMAQ funds and which projects to support. In such cases, the States must work with the MPO(s) covering the nonattainment/maintenance area to determine how to use the apportioned CMAQ funds.

In general, CMAQ funds can only be used for projects located within EPA-designated air quality nonattainment or maintenance areas for carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), or particulate matter (PM). Projects may also quality if they are located in proximity to, and will provide air quality benefits to a nonattainment or maintenance area. In CMAQ minimum apportionment States and in other States that meet certain criteria, all or a portion of CMAQ funds are considered to be "flexible" and can be used in any area that meets the eligibility requirements of either CMAQ or STP.

Please refer to the CMAQ funding program guidance for more details on the program:

Each TMA receives STP "attributable" and direct 49 USC 5307 funds based on UZA population (see 23 USC 133 for STP) and authorization level. Funds from these programs can be spent on projects located anywhere within the MPA.

The local match requirement for CMAQ is 13.5% for FHWA, and 20% for FTA. Our transit agency had to scramble to find 6.5% more in local match at the last minute. How can this discrepancy be avoided?

The match ratios for FHWA and FTA funds are set by law. All agencies anticipating using Federal funds need to be aware of the matching requirements to avoid the situation referred to above. In this case, it appears the State receiving the CMAQ funds is a "sliding scale" State, whereby the non-Federal match for FHWA funds is reduced based on the proportion of Federal land in the State. Otherwise, the match for FHWA would be the same as FTA (20%). Sliding scale match ratios do not apply to FTA funding programs.

Can FY2012 FHWA metropolitan planning (PL) funds be set aside for areas expected to be designated as UZAs in the spring of 2012?

No, the new UZA definitions will be used to allocate FY2013 PL funds. However, a State may provide State Planning and Research (SPR), NHS, STP, and Minimum Guarantee (MG) funds to support "start-up" planning activities in anticipation of a new MPO designation.

Can a new UZA receive FHWA or FTA metropolitan planning (PL or MP) funds (FY2013) if an MPO has not yet been designated?

No, a new UZA cannot receive PL or MP funds until its intra-State formulae have been approved by the FHWA Division Office or FTA Regional Office (respectively) and an MPO has been designated. FY2013 funds allocated by the adopted intra-State formulae to the proposed MPO should be reserved by the State and allocated upon MPO designation.

How is the "designated recipient" selected for the 49 USC 5307 funding program?

In UZAs of 200,000 in population or greater, the designated recipient of Section 5307 funds must be designated jointly by the Governor(s), publicly owned operators of mass transportation services, and responsible local officials acting through the MPO.

When will FTA begin using new UZAs for annual funding apportionment? How do changes to UZA population affect apportionment and eligible activities? How does this affect National Transit Database (NTD) reporting?

FTA is required by law to use the Census-designated 2010 UZAs for the Fiscal Year 2013 apportionment, which will be based on National Transit Database (NTD) Report Year 2011 data. For more information on the implications of 2010 Census UZAs for FTA formula grant annual apportionment and eligible activities, please visit

New NTD UZA reporting numbers can be found on the NTD website under "Census 2010 Updates." Each transit system must identify which UZA(s) it serves. In addition, operators must identify any rural or non-urbanized areas served. An area is served by a transit system if the system picks up passengers in that area.

Note: Some demand response systems allow passengers to travel to a particular location, but do not allow trip originations in that area. In these cases, do not list these destinations as "served" by the transit system. All areas served by the system must be identified, regardless of whether or not the system plans to allocate service data to those areas.

Updated: 2/11/2013
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