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20 CHAPTER FOUR CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH NEEDS This synthesis identified three subject areas in particular-- tions as well as formal amendments. Electronic processing technology, procedures, and standardization--that encap- enables MPOs to keep the TIP current without having to sulate the major techniques and practices that metropolitan reprint it after its initial release, relying instead on digital, planning organizations (MPOs) have adopted to streamline web-based dissemination of updated TIP information. This the TIP revision process. can also be a good data management tool for the MPO to comply with key state and federal project tracking require- Technology advancements. For the larger MPOs sur- ments. Of course, compliance with Section 508 of the Reha- veyed, a trend appears to be emerging that allows TIP bilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. 794d), and the revisions (particularly administrative modifications) Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is required even to be initiated and managed through adoption in a with electronic dissemination. web-based program dedicated to this purpose. Where a dedicated program was unavailable, project revision Several MPOs are providing detailed guidance to proj- forms or templates were made available for download- ect sponsors regarding the information required to process a ing and submission. TIP revision. In some cases, this guidance takes the form of Procedural changes. The MPOs studied often group an electronic submittal form; in others, it is simply providing together Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) project sponsors with a clearer understanding of the infor- revisions for processing at a single, regularly scheduled mation needed to efficiently process a revision and reduce set of board meetings. Similarly, an annual update of the time spent getting clarification. the TIP captures the revisions made during the preced- ing year. In some instances, MPOs have enacted spe- Finally, MPOs noted that there are a number of oppor- cial meetings or even absentee voting to process TIP tunities to share information on the TIP revision process at revisions more quickly, whereas others have modified meetings and conferences targeted to MPOs, such Asso- their public participation requirements to move a TIP ciation of Metropolitan Planning Organizations planning revision forward. conferences and TRB sessions for MPOs. Some states have Standardization. To provide the level of information nec- statewide organizations and MPO planning conferences that essary to process TIP revisions efficiently, some MPOs are a good forum for sharing strategies and lessons learned have developed a template that contains the project for making the TIP revision process more efficient. name, scheduling, annual costs, and other information. This synthesis focused specifically on the TIP revision Several MPOs surveyed for this synthesis have reached process as conducted by MPOs. It revealed a number of gaps agreement with their federal and state partners on project in the body of knowledge related to efficient TIP revision cost thresholds that distinguish between administrative processes. Following is a list of suggested future research modifications and full amendments. Such thresholds help to fill those gaps and a brief description of what form that those MPOs avoid more time-consuming amendment pro- research might take: cesses because all the regulatory agencies are in agreement about what constitutes a minor change that can be made in a The relationship of voting structures to TIP revi- streamlined fashion. sion efficiencies. Studying the presence or absence of weighted voting and how those voting schemes might Some MPOs have adopted procedures, with agreement impact the timeliness of TIP revisions may provide from their state and federal partners, that allow them to make additional clarification on the ability to call special revisions to the TIP without having to publish a new paper meetings to expedite fast-paced approval processes. version. They produce only one hard copy a year, regardless Conduct an analysis of MPO, along with the roles of how many revisions are made in that time. played by their respective state department of trans- portation (DOT), and federal agencies (FHWA/FTA) MPOs are increasingly processing and disseminating in managing the TIP revision procedures. State DOTs TIP revisions electronically for administrative modifica- and MPOs do not manage TIPs in a vacuum. The TIP

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21 revision process informs and is informed by MPO, ence on various approaches to TIP reviews and processes state DOT, FHWA, and FTA processes. This synthesis can shed light on areas for increased efficiency. indicates that these processes at the state and federal Impact of electronic media on the TIP revision pro- levels vary as they do at the MPO level. Truly under- cess. Based on the frequency of changes and revisions standing efficient TIP management practices at the in some TIP documents, the traditional view of the TIP MPO level then entails understanding the correspond- as a primarily printed document that is infrequently ing state DOT, FHWA, and FTA processes. Research changed is inaccurate. Several MPOs publish changes tracing the TIP management process vertically through only on a website until the TIP is updated. This unique MPOstate DOTfederal relationships would more flexible and dynamic digital medium--where shed important light on efficiencies practiced at higher TIP revisions are approved by one agency, reviewed levels than the individual MPO. by another, then adopted by a federal agency almost Analysis of the perceived purpose of the TIP by MPOs entirely through digital means with minimal delays-- and state and federal agencies, and the ways these may imply a change in the role of the TIP for transpor- perceptions influence how each agency manages the tation agencies and is an area of potentially important revision process. This synthesis suggests that different research. The speed of these transactions, combined agencies intend to accomplish different things with the with the lack of public engagement noted by several TIP. Varying interpretations of the purpose of the TIP-- MPOs, may also have implications for how well the letter of the law versus spirit and intent of the law--may MPO and state and federal partners communicate their contribute to inefficiencies in how the TIP is managed. future plans, particularly to populations with restricted Additional research on these differences and their influ- access to the Internet.