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11 CHAPTER TWO STATE OF THE PRACTICE IN TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM REVISION PROCEDURES The survey of 45 MPOs asked recipients to describe the TIP 120 days of funding award. The 20052008 period represents revision process issues that they were encountering, as well a more typical period for analysis of TIP modifications. as the strategies employed to address those issues (refer to Appendix A for details on survey questions). The survey used the following definitions: Administrative Modification of the Transportation Improvement Program: A minor revision to a long- range statewide or metropolitan transportation plan, TIP, or STIP that includes minor changes to project/ project phase costs, minor changes to funding sources FIGURE 2 TIP changes during two time periods. of previously included projects, and minor changes to project/project phase initiation dates. It does not require public review and comment, redemonstration Thirty-six percent of the responding MPOs indicated of fiscal constraint, or a conformity determination (in that they had more than 50 changes to the TIP during the nonattainment and maintenance areas). most recent 2-year period. Forty-four percent said that they Amendment of the Transportation Improvement had more than 50 changes to the TIP during the 4-year Program: A revision to a long-range statewide or period. Although it is to be expected that more changes metropolitan transportation plan, TIP, or STIP that would occur over a 4-year than a 2-year period, many of the involves a major change to a project, including the addi- MPOs surveyed--particularly those that processed a rela- tion or deletion of a project or a major change in project tively small number of changes to begin with--indicated cost, project/project phase initiation dates, or a major instead that they processed fewer changes in the 4-year change in design concept or design scope (e.g., chang- period, possibly because the most recent 2-year period ing project termini or the number of through traffic included the ARRA adjustments. lanes). Changes to projects that are included only for illustrative purposes do not require an amendment. It Responses to questions about what process elements were requires public review and comment, redemonstration a part of the adoption and processing of TIP amendments of fiscal constraint, or a conformity determination (for and modifications, and for how many weeks the particular metropolitan transportation plans and TIPs involving process element typically required, are shown in Figures 3 "nonexempt" projects in nonattainment and mainte- and 4, respectively. nance areas). In the context of a long-range statewide transportation plan, it is approved by the state in accor- dance with its public involvement process. The first content-related question in the questionnaire dealt with the number of TIP amendments and administra- tive modifications conducted over two time periods. Figure 2 illustrates the number of TIP amendments and modifications made during the ARRA period (20082009), and a 4-year period leading up to and slightly overlapping with the nearly 2-year ARRA period (20052008). The survey intentionally singled out the ARRA period as it represented an extenuating circumstance: the need to quickly program federal funds and update TIPs so that projects could move to construction with FIGURE 3 Elements of TIP amendments.

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12 FIGURE 4 Elements of TIP administrative modifications. Note that each of the process elements common to both a source of delay in some open-ended comment opportuni- amendments and administrative modifications, on average, ties on the survey, compared with other potential sources required as much or more time for amendments in terms of delay in this question, the issue of "Our agency's public of schedule duration. One finding from this study is that participation plan or process requires extensive public input TIP administrative modifications are being handled almost on TIP administrative modifications" got the least support entirely internally, with minimal review of the MPO techni- of any of the issues specified in this question. When the cal, policy, or other boards. case study respondents discussed this issue, the suggested rationale was that many of the agencies studied conducted Figure 5 shows the survey responses to a question on how minimal or no public engagement for TIP administrative specified issues impacted the timely and effective process- modifications. ing of TIP amendments or administrative modifications. As with previous questions, "1" indicates the least impact and Figure 6 indicates the survey results to the question "5" indicates the greatest impact. By a substantial margin, "What is the degree of satisfaction with the overall TIP the issue specified as "The American Recovery and Rein- amendment/administrative modification procedure as it is vestment Act (ARRA or "stimulus bill") has placed addi- practiced currently?" tional pressures or requirements on our TIP amendment/ administrative modification processes" generated the most Nearly the same percentage of respondents (46%) indi- responses that indicated the greatest impact. Conversations cated that they were "Satisfied" with the current TIP change conducted during the development of the case examples sug- process used by their MPO as the percentage (43%) of MPOs gest that this impact goes beyond simple delays to schedul- that indicated that their satisfaction with the current process ing and carries over into additional pressures on the MPO "Varies or [is] Uncertain." Only small percentages of MPOs staff to "drop everything" and process sudden amendments were "Unsatisfied" (8%) or "Very Satisfied" (3%, or one and modifications. respondent). Other issues cited as particularly impactful include "Get- Additional research was also conducted for MPOs that ting internal stakeholders (e.g., member agencies and gov- processed a higher volume (more than 50) of TIP amend- ernments) involved" and "Getting external stakeholders ments compared with MPOs that processed a lower volume (e.g., resource agencies, affected public, state and federal (fewer than 50) between January 1, 2008, and December 30, transportation agencies) involved." Again, this result was 2010. Note that the specific period here is simply to desig- validated by several MPO representatives during the devel- nate responses as being high-volume or low-volume in terms opment of the case examples. of the number of TIP revisions; the actual length of time required for TIP revisions (shown in Figure 7) does not nec- Although the case example participants did note the 10- essarily refer to how TIP revisions were processed during to 30-day public review and comment requirements as being this specific period.

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13 FIGURE 5 Issues affecting timely and effective TIP changes. a.The definition or interpretation of the term "administrative modification" is too narrow. b.Getting internal stakeholders (e.g., member agencies and governments) involved. c.Getting external stakeholders (e.g., resource agencies; affected public, state, and federal transportation agencies) involved. d.Our agency's public participation plan or process requires extensive public input on TIP administrative modifications. e.Our agency's public participation plan or process requires extensive public input on TIP amendments. f. Redemonstration of fiscal constraint (for TIP amendments) is time-consuming and problematic for our agency. g.The definition or interpretation of "administrative modification" and/or "amendment" is confusing or poorly understood by our MPO officials, state DOT, or other partners. h.Major revisions (TIP amendments) are often contentious to one or more stakeholder groups that "watchdog" the MPO. i. An unclear understanding of the roles and responsibilities between our MPO and the state DOT causes delays to the TIP amendment or administrative modification process. j. Conflicts between the requirements for TIP amendments/administrative modifications and other regulatory or statutory requirements creates issues with the effective and timely processing of TIP amendments/ administrative modifications. k.The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has placed additional pressures or requirements on our TIP amendment/administrative modification processes. l. Occasional personality conflicts not related to other process issues between the MPO and state or federal agencies create various problems with processing TIP amendments or administrative modifications. The four TIP amendment process elements shown in Fig- ure 7 exhibited the greatest degree of differentiation among the high-volume TIP amendment MPOs and the remain- ing MPOs in the survey. Staff reviews before board meet- ings and technical committee reviews took less time for the lower-volume MPOs, whereas public comment periods and FHWA review and approval took less time for the higher- volume MPOs. For both the low-volume and high-volume amendment processing MPOs, public comment typically takes 2 to 6 weeks. This is not surprising given that adopted public par- FIGURE 6 Satisfaction with the overall TIP amendment/ ticipation plans with required minimum review times govern administrative modification process. the time spent on public review. Perhaps of more significance

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14 is that regardless of the volume of amendments, FHWA turns less than 2 weeks. Again, findings indicate that it is unusual around the majority of reviews and approvals within 6 weeks. for this process to take more than 6 weeks regardless of the number of amendments being processed. Bigger differences lie between high-volume and low- volume MPOs when looking at pre-board review. The vast When the same assessment is done for TIP administrative majority of reviews at MPOs conducting lower volumes of modifications, the results are somewhat different, as shown TIP amendments occur in less than 2 weeks, whereas at in Figure 8. those with high volumes of amendments the reviews are as likely to be completed in less than 2 weeks as they are to be Here, the lower-volume MPOs tended to take longer than completed within 2 to 6 weeks. In both cases, it is unlikely the high-volume MPOs to receive state DOT and FHWA to take more than 6 weeks. approval, as well as take a longer time overall to process the administrative modification. If the assumption is made that Technical committee review is more likely to take 2 to the higher-volume MPOs have more motivation to streamline 6 weeks to complete at MPOs processing low volumes of their revision processes, then these results are intuitively cor- amendments, whereas at those processing high volumes, rect and may further suggest that some of the streamlining technical review is much more likely to be completed in processes described in this report have a net positive effect. FIGURE 7 Length of time for TIP amendments of high-volume/low-volume MPOs. FIGURE 8 Length of time for TIP administrative modifications of high-volume/low-volume MPOs.