U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Original Signed by: James A. Cheatham
Federal Highway Administration
Director, Office of Planning
Charles R. Goodman
Federal Transit Administration
Director, Office of Systems Planning
FHWA Division Administrators
FTA Regional Administrators
Date: November 17, 2008
Reply to: Attn of: EPP-1/TPE-1
The purpose of this memorandum is to clarify the eligibility and criteria for use of FHWA/FTA metropolitan and statewide planning program funds to support UPWP and SPR work activities addressing the integration of transportation, land use, and climate change. Current FHWA/FTA planning requirements (23 U.S.C. 134 and 135, 49 U.S.C. 5303 and 5304) call for metropolitan planning organizations, and State DOTs to consider land use and economic development impacts in their transportation planning processes. It is also recommended that plans be coordinated with others or regional planning organizations and transit agencies.
To reiterate, the transportation planning process needs to consider the coordination between transportation, land use and other planning issues to maximize the effectiveness of public investments. Coordination of transportation and land use planning is an important issue; and particularly now, this is receiving heightened scrutiny and attention due to the climate change and energy issues. For more information on climate change and reduction of transportation-related GHG emissions, please refer to the climate change FAQ document developed by the Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty, which was sent to all FHWA division offices in March 2008.
In 49 U.S.C. §5305 (b), FTA developed guidance1 outlining eligible activities under the Metropolitan Planning Program and State Planning and Research Program. The guidance states that "comprehensive transportation planning is not limited to transit planning or surface transportation planning, but also encompasses the relationships among land use and all transportation modes, without regard to the programmatic source of Federal assistance." The FHWA has applied similar eligibility interpretation for PL and SPR funding, as long as these transportation-related activities support and are necessary to carry out the transportation planning process (23 U.S.C. §104(f) and §505(a)).
The law and regulation allow latitude in determining the eligibility to fund transportation and supporting planning activities through the Federal-aid (UPWP/SPR) work programs. However, in reviewing and approving funding for those activities, FHWA/FTA staff must first judge the ability of the planning processes to fulfill the critical Federal requirements, including the preparation of federally required planning products, before funding other transportation-related work activities. The FHWA and FTA need to ensure that limited transportation planning funds are used in the most cost-effective manner, do not work at cross-purposes with other State and local decision-making policies and programs, and that funds are prioritized based on the highest needs that benefit the transportation planning process.
Since planning needs, capabilities, approaches, and strategies vary among MPOs and States, it is not possible to provide a definitive list of eligible activities. The criteria listed below, however, will help to assist FHWA and FTA field staff in determining the appropriateness of funding transportation-related activities through planning work programs.
When agencies request transportation planning funds for activities related to climate change, primarily to reduce VMT and GHG emissions in an effort to meet state, regional or local or future Federal GHG emission reduction targets, they must employ generally-agreed to and reasonable assumptions, as well as state of the practice methodologies for the calculation of those VMT and GHG emissions reductions.
Attached are examples of projects that may use or are using Federal-aid transportation planning funds to foster "smart growth," transit oriented development, and related planning activities. For questions and further information, please contact the following individuals:
1 Circular 8100.1C, Program Guidance for Metropolitan Planning and State Planning and Research Program Grants, September 1, 2008. http://www.fta.dot.gov/legislation_law/12349_8454.html.