ISTEA established a requirement in 23 U.S.C. 134 and 49 U.S.C. 1607 calling for FHWA and FTA to certify jointly the transportation planning processes in metropolitan areas with over 200,000 population, known as Transportation Management Areas (TMAs), every three years.
In TEA-21, 23 U.S.C. 134(i)(5) continues to require that FHWA/FTA jointly certify the metropolitan transportation planning processes in TMAs, with new emphasis on public involvement. 23 U.S.C. 134(i)(5)(B) states that these certifications may be issued if:
(i) the transportation planning process complies with 23 U.S.C. 134 and 49 U.S.C. 1607 (as amended), and
(ii) there is a TIP for the TMA that has been approved by the MPO and the Governor.
The certification remains in effect for three years, unless a new finding is issued sooner. In practice, Certification Reviews are conducted jointly by FTA/FHWA field staff, with findings published in a final certification report. These reports note:
1) Recommendations for Improvement (areas that could be improved but do not represent a regulatory deficiency),
2) Corrective Actions (areas where action needed to be taken to correct a regulatory deficiency, and timelines for such action) and
3) Commendations (areas of noteworthy planning practices or performance).
These findings provide an overview of the Metropolitan Planning program, and identify areas where FTA/FHWA needs to provide guidance or direction to the process.