FTA/FHWA Statewide and Metropolitan Transportation Planning and Programming Final Rule "Federal Register" and Overview

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Overview of the FHWA/FTA Final Rule on
Statewide and Metropolitan Transportation Planning and Programming

Background:  The former rules on statewide and metropolitan transportation planning and programming (based on ISTEA) were more than 13 years old. Since ISTEA, Congress has added detailed requirements in areas such as public involvement/participation, interagency coordination, and environmental considerations in transportation planning. Further, because there were no regulations promulgated after TEA-21, the former rules do not reflect the provision in section 1308 of TEA-21 calling for the elimination of the Major Investment Study (MIS) as a stand-alone requirement. See below for additional information on this provision.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)

The FHWA/FTA issued the NPRM in the Federal Register on June 9, 2006. The NPRM comment period closed on September 7, 2006. Approximately 150 sets of comments were submitted to the docket, including more than 1,600 separate comments from partner and stakeholder groups.

Major issues raised in the NPRM comments focused largely on:

• Fiscal constraint;
• The phase-in schedule to meet the July 1, 2007 SAFETEA-LU implementation deadline;
• Linking the transportation planning and project development/NEPA processes; and
• Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plans.

Over the past four months, FHWA and FTA staffs have reviewed, analyzed, and responded to the docket comments, as well as developed the Final Rule. To ensure that State DOTs, MPOs, and public transportation operators have ample time and opportunity to meet the July 1, 2007 SAFETEA-LU implementation deadline, timely issuance of the Final Rule is critical.

General Information on the Final Rule:

• This Final Rule was published in the February 14, 2007 Federal Register, and takes effect on March 16, 2007.
• Like the rules promulgated following ISTEA enactment, the new rules are codified in 23 CFR Part 450 (with the counterpart FTA cross-reference contained in 49 CFR Part 613). In addition, this rulemaking contains a revision in 23 CFR 500.109 related to congestion management processes (formerly congestion management systems) in Transportation Management Areas.
Key New Provisions:

Fiscal Constraint

• As of December 11, 2007, revenue and cost estimates for the STIP, metropolitan transportation plan, and TIP must use an inflation rate(s) to reflect “year of expenditure dollars” [see 23 CFR 450.216(l), 23 CFR 450.322(f)(10)(iv), and 23 CFR 450.324(h), respectively].
• The financial plans that support the metropolitan transportation plan and TIP (and, by default, the metropolitan portions of the STIP) shall include financial information containing systems-level estimates of costs and revenue sources that are reasonably expected to be available to adequately operate and maintain Federal-aid highways (as defined by 23 U.S.C. 101(a)(5)) and public transportation (as defined by 49 U.S.C., Chapter 53) [see 23 CFR 450.216(m), 23 CFR 450.322(f)(10)(i), and 23 CFR 450.324(h), respectively].
• In air quality nonattainment and maintenance areas, projects included in the first two years of the STIP and TIP shall be limited to those for which funds are “available” or “committed” [see 23 CFR 450.216(m) and 23 CFR 450.324(i), respectively].
• MPOs may use “cost ranges/cost bands” for the outer years of the metropolitan transportation plan [see 23 CFR 450.322(f)(10)(v)].

Transportation Planning and Project Development/NEPA

• The Final Rule fulfills the intent of TEA-21 section 1308, particularly the elimination of the stand-alone MIS requirement [see 23 CFR 450.212(a) and 23 CFR 450.318(a), respectively].
• Final Rule contains a provision on metropolitan transportation planning linkages to project development involving FTA’s Alternatives Analysis [see 23 CFR 450.318(d)].
• Appendix A (Linking the Transportation Planning and NEPA Processes) provides additional, non-binding explanations of these linkage opportunities that reflects the spirit and intent of SAFETEA-LU sections 6001-6002.
Phase-In Schedule

• Phase-in schedules for implementing these new regulatory provisions for statewide and metropolitan transportation planning are based largely on the May 2, 2006 FHWA/FTA clarifying guidance on transition/implementation of SAFETEA-LU planning provisions [see 23 CFR 450.224 and 23 CFR 450.338, respectively].
• Any amendments or updates to long-range statewide transportation plans, STIPs, metropolitan transportation plans, or TIPs on or after July 1, 2007 shall be based on the provisions and requirements of the Final Rule. However, administrative modifications may be made to long-range statewide transportation plans, STIPs, metropolitan transportation plans, or TIPs on or after July 1, 2007 without meeting Final Rule requirements.