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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Final Rule on Statewide and Nonmetropolitan Transportation Planning and Metropolitan Transportation Planning


The final rule on Statewide and Nonmetropolitan Transportation Planning and Metropolitan Transportation Planning, published on May 27, 2016, implements changes to the planning process, including:

  • requiring a performance-based approach to planning
  • a new emphasis on the nonmetropolitan transportation planning process, by requiring states to have a higher level of involvement with nonmetropolitan local officials and providing a process for creating regional transportation planning organizations 
  • adding a structural change to the membership of large metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to include transit provider representation 
  • adding a framework for voluntary scenario planning
  • implementing new authority for integrating the planning and environmental review processes as well as programmatic mitigation plans

Performance management and performance-based planning and programming increases the accountability and transparency of the federal aid program and offers a framework to support improved investment decision-making by focusing on performance outcomes for national transportation goals. State DOTs and MPOs are expected to use the updated regulations to make better-informed transportation planning and programming decisions. The new performance aspects of the federal aid program allow FHWA and FTA to better communicate a national performance story and more reliably assess the impacts of federal funding investments. Learn more about the transportation planning process.

FHWA and FTA will issue supplemental guidance to support implementation and provide assistance and technical support to state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and providers of public transportation. 


FHWA and FTA have worked in partnership since June 2012 to prepare this final rule, with input from MPOs, state Departments of Transportation, transit agencies and stakeholder groups.  

The rule implements the changes to the planning process established by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act). The changes make the regulations consistent with current statutory requirements. MAP-21 transformed the federal aid program by establishing new requirements for performance management and performance-based planning and programming to ensure the most efficient investment of federal transportation funds. The FAST Act continued the performance management and performance-based planning and programming requirements of MAP-21 with minor changes. 

The final rule is the sixth in a series of rules that FHWA and FTA are issuing to establish the performance management framework introduced by MAP-21 and continued by the FAST Act:

  • FHWA published Final Rules that established safety performance measures and integrated performance management into the Highway Safety Improvement Program (March 2016)
  • FHWA published an NPRM to propose performance measures to assess condition of bridges and pavements (January 2015)
  • FHWA published an NPRM proposing a process for the development of State Asset Management Plans (February 2015)
  • FHWA published a System Performance/Freight/CMAQ Performance Measures NPRM, with a comment period open until August 20, 2016. (April 2016)
  • FTA published an NPRM to propose the requirements for the Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (February 2016)
  • FTA published an NPRM on Transit Asset Management to establish performance measures to assess state of good repair of transit agency vehicles and facilities and equipment (September 2015)