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Developing the Tribal Transportation Improvement Program

Developing the TTIP

The projects identified as transportation needs and priorities through the comprehensive LRTP can now take the steps toward implementation through TTIP development. Begin by revisiting the long-range plan and identify projects to more forward into the TTIP.

Tribal governments, like other forms of government, often face difficult decisions as they prioritize transportation needs. Economic development, housing, and safe routes to schools all carry great importance when deciding transportation priorities. So how does one allocate precious limited transportation funds to such a wide area of need? Through use of a proper transportation planning process developed and documented in the LRTP. From the LRTP a short-range program or plan is developed that outlines what transportation projects need to be implemented in 3-5 years to achieve the transportation vision of the Tribal community. The development of the short-range program is an opportunity to involve Tribal members through a public input process to establish and reaffirm consensus on what projects should be advanced in the near future to meet the community's vision. This short-range program is then used to develop the TTIP. Essentially, the TTIP identifies the Tribe's top transportation priorities (those that can be funded) from the LRTP. The TTIP provides specific direction as to what will be done to achieve the community's goals and vision.

If one is new to Tribal transportation planning, he or she may wonder what a TTIP looks like and whether a consultant must be hired to prepare the TTIP. The TTIP is a document that shows the proposed projects of a Tribe over the 3-5 years. A Tribe should work with its BIA regional office to determine the best and most economical way to develop its priority list or TTIP. Procuring the assistance of a consultant is one way to develop the TTIP, but it is neither required nor necessary.
There is no required format for the TTIP; therefore, it can be customized to meet the needs of the Tribal community. The TTIP must be fiscally constrained, meaning that the costs of the projects cannot exceed the amount of funds available within each year. Tribes should work with the transportation planners at the BIA regional offices as well as other local governments to determine what information should be included and how it should be presented.

Begin by revisiting the long-range plan and identify projects to move forward into the TTIP

The following sections provide an overview of the general steps to develop a TTIP including (1) stakeholder identification, (2) programming the TTIP, (3) TTIP funding sources, and (4) cost estimation.

Stakeholder Identification and Public Involvement

It is important to build on the work initiated through the LRTP by involving the public in the development of the TTIP. An important first step in developing the TTIP is to involve the public and other important stakeholders or planning partners in your area. In addition to the internal discussions with the Tribal council and the Tribal membership, it is important to assess who else to involve or who may be interested in the transportation issues of the community. The likely scenario is that there are many stakeholders interested in the transportation system. Everyone depends on the transportation system for one reason or another. Understanding the community's transportation needs and the potential stakeholders may also lead to new partnering opportunities. For example, Tribal transportation funds may be combined with another partner (internal departments, agencies, local governments, and State) in the joint pursuit of a transportation project (either capital or operational investment). Maybe a local casino is willing to share its vans to transport the elderly to medical appointments on the reservation. This may be considered a local match that could leverage FTA rural (5311) transit funds. Perhaps a school needs sidewalks to help children reach the school safely; there maybe opportunities to share funding to accomplish this task as well.

It also is wise to understand the concerns of the community before valuable resources are committed to a project that may meet opposition from the public or from another interested party.

Typical stakeholders might include:

In addition, for projects that are deemed regionally significant (25 CFR 170.108), it is especially critical to coordinate with other agencies who may be impacted or involved.

Programming the TTIP

Tribes are most familiar with Federal Lands Highways (FLH) IRR program, which is in close coordination with the BIA. In addition, there are many other sources of funding that Tribes can access; therefore, all transportation funding sources also should be reflected in the Tribe's TTIP. The next section provides a brief look at the different types of Federal transportation funding sources available to Tribes. This section focuses on the steps for developing the TTIP.

Generally speaking, the TTIP development process includes the following elements:

All projects funded through the IRR program are included in the IRRTIP. According to 25 CFR 170.402a, "All tribes must prepare a tribal TIP (TTIP), or Tribal priority list." Further, before projects can be included in the IRRTIP, Tribes must initiate the pre-project planning process. According to 25 CFR 170.415, preproject planning activities include:

You can use these steps to assist you in developing the TTIP.

TTIP Funding Sources

Tribes are eligible for a number of transportation funding sources including funds through FHWA, FLH FTA, and possible State funding as well. All of these sources should be included in the Tribe's TTIP. Eligible uses include highway construction, reconstruction, safety improvement, bridge construction and replacement, transit capital, and operational improvement projects.

To best respond to the myriad of processes and timeframes associated with each of these funding sources, Tribes should work closely with other government agencies (State, Tribal, MPOs, cities, and counties) in the development of the LRTP and short-range (TTIP) activities. This will enable the Tribe to coordinate existing and future project funding applications and identify both new sources of funding for future projects and opportunities to leverage funding.

Think of program funding as an ongoing, continuous cycle. Whereas funding sources and requirements may change unexpectedly, however, the process is continuous. Good planning, including the TTIP and LRTP, will enable the Tribe to have the documentation and public support needed to act quickly when new or unplanned sources of funds become available.

"…work closely with other governments [to] …coordinate, …identify, …leverage funding."

Project selection processes and corresponding program requirements vary between the funding sources and underscore the importance of coordination with other governments. The following steps include examples of various transportation funding requirements:

Project Cost Estimation

Cost estimates are necessary to compare the transportation needs with available revenues. Costs should be estimated for the following areas:

On the highway side, there are well-established unit costs that can be applied to develop estimates for improvements. Project development costs to consider include planning, environmental analysis and review, engineering, design, construction, right-of-way (property, relocation, and settlement costs), and construction and maintenance costs. To develop the estimates, use rough unit prices (e.g., $3,000/lf of new roadway, $800/lf of new shared bike and pedestrian path, and $200/sq. ft. for new bridge). These unit prices can come from a variety of sources such as the BIA, county, State, FLH, FHWA, or FTA.

Unit costs should also be developed and factored for inflation to reflect the year the funds will be expended. Other transportation modes have less well-established methods for estimating costs; however, most State DOTs now are working to develop consistent assumptions and a rigorous approach to develop cost estimates for other transportation modes.

It is important to estimate transportation systems' operations and maintenance costs as well, since these costs will consume a significant portion of the existing and future revenue resources. Estimates usually are based on existing historic data; meaning that what has historically been spent on operating and maintaining the existing system will likely continue into the future. Operating and maintenance data should be available from the finance officer of the agency responsible for operating or maintaining the mode or facility, including State, transit agency, and city or county. To estimate the operation and maintenance costs for new facilities and services, the formula generally is based on a combination of rough estimates using similar historical data from existing modes, and any specific cost estimates that are available. Detailed cost estimates based on preliminary engineering, right-of-way appraisals, or operating plans only need to be done for the most immediate recommended improvements. Most of the recommended improvements in an LRTP will need an "order-of-magnitude" cost estimate. These estimates are based on factors such as typical "per mile" construction costs for different types of roadways or the operating costs for similar transit services in other counties.

Where Do I Obtain Information to Make Planning Level Cost Estimates?

The BIA regional office can provide information on cost estimation. Tribes can use cost estimates from bid tabs from previous projects or request BIA bid tabs. Listed below are general categories for a typical road project. This list provides only a portion of the cost categories related to projects and is not meant to be an exhaustive list.

  1. Surveying and staking.
  2. Clearing and grubbing.
  3. Quality control and assurance.
  4. Testing.
  5. Rights-of-way.
  6. Aggregate.
  7. Asphalt.
  8. Traffic control.
  9. Contingencies.
  10. Monitoring.
Updated: 5/8/2015
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