Frequently Asked Questions: FTA Waiver of Non-Federal Match for Complete Streets Planning
FTA has approved a waiver regarding federal funding for the Metropolitan Planning Program and State Planning Research Program funds for Complete Streets planning activities. The waiver is available to metropolitan planning organizations and state departments of transportation that receive federal funds [authorized by 49 U.S.C. § 49 5305]. By removing non-federal match requirements, the waiver provides 100-percent federal funding for activities that improve safety and accessibility through activities described in the Bipartisan infrastructure Law [section 11206 (c)]. The waiver mirrors and can be used in coordination with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) waiver for Complete Streets planning.
These FAQs do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. Grantees and subgrantees should refer to FTA’s statutes and regulations for applicable requirements.
Table of Contents
Q1. Why did FTA issue this Complete Streets match waiver?
A. FTA’s non-federal match waiver for Complete Streets planning has been issued to promote and support full consideration of public transportation in development and implementation of Complete Street policies. On March 10, 2023, FTA approved a Local Match Waiver for Complete Streets of the non-federal match for the MPP (49 U.S.C. § 5303) and the SPRP (49 U.S.C. § 5304). The waiver applies to funds authorized at 49 U.S.C. 5305(b)(1) for Complete Streets planning activities conducted by states and MPOs in their transportation planning processes and is consistent with the FHWA waiver under the same program. See FTA Circular 8100.1D for program guidance for MPP and SPRP grants.
Q2. What are Complete Streets policies?
A. Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the term ‘‘Complete Streets standards or policies’’ indicates standards or policies that ensure the safe and adequate accommodation of all users of transportation systems, including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation users, children, older individuals, individuals with disabilities, motorists, and freight vehicles. For more information on Complete Streets, please see Transportation Planning Capacity Building (TPCB).
Q1. Who is eligible for the Complete Streets planning match waiver?
A. The waiver applies only to 49 U.S.C. § 5305 funds that are programmed under MPP (49 U.S.C. § 5303) and SPRP (49 U.S.C. § 5304) for Complete Streets planning activities identified under Section 11206(c) of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These funds are distributed through a formula to MPOs and state DOTs. Other entities may not apply directly for MPP or SPRP funds because 5305 is a non-discretionary program. For a list of eligible planning activities, see question 7.
Q2. Is my agency required to use the waiver? Can my agency opt out of spending planning funds on Complete Streets?
A. No, agencies are not required to use the FTA match waiver for Complete Street planning activities or report to FTA if agencies opt not to use the FTA waiver. However, Section 11206(b) of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law requires spending at least 2.5 percent of FHWA planning funds on Complete Streets planning activities or otherwise applying to opt-out of the FHWA requirements. In order to opt-out of FHWA requirements, agencies should follow the steps outlined in the FHWA Increasing Safe and Accessible Transportation Options Implementation Guidance which details the process described in the Section 11206(e) of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Opt-out requests need to be filed with the agency’s FHWA division office and the agency’s FTA regional office should be copied on the request. For each federal fiscal year, opt-out requests need to be filed by July 1. If an agency opts out of the FHWA Complete Streets planning requirements, the agency will not be eligible for the FHWA or FTA waiver match. Even if an agency does not use the waiver, it may be entitled to a lower non-federal match pursuant to the terms of 49 U.S.C. 5305(f)(2)(A). For more information, please refer to the FTA Toolkit - Applying Increased Federal Share Toward Planning Grants 49 USC 5305(f)(2).
Q3. Is the waiver applicable to Consolidated Planning Grants?
A. Yes, Complete Streets activities utilizing 49 U.S.C. 5305(b)(1) funding and performed under a Consolidated Planning Grant (CPG) may qualify for a match waiver. Consistent with FTA Circular 8100.1D (Program Guidance for Metropolitan Planning and State Planning and Research Grants), states, in cooperation with MPOs, may combine FHWA SPR (Part I) and/or PL funds with FTA’s SPRP and/or MPP funds into a single CPG for administrative purposes to further promote multimodal metropolitan and/or statewide transportation planning. When FTA’s MPP or SPRP funds are transferred to FHWA under a CPG arrangement, FHWA division offices and FTA regional offices will coordinate to ensure that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Section 11206 requirements are satisfied. In conjunction with a request to transfer funds to FHWA, the FTA regional office should indicate the amount of funds intended to be obligated for Complete Streets activities.
Q4. Are Rural Transportation Planning Organizations (RTPOs), tribes, and territories eligible for the Complete Streets planning match waiver?
A. Yes, these entities are eligible to apply the waiver to eligible activities through coordination with the MPO or state DOT. RTPOs, tribes, or territories that would like to support the development and implementation of Complete Streets policies and activities must coordinate with their regional MPO and/or state DOT for inclusion in an applicable work plan such as the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) or Statewide Planning Work Program (SPWP). FTA encourages coordination between MPOs and state DOTs to effectively implement the waiver while reallocating non-federal match funds to meet other state and regional transportation needs, pursuant to federal requirements under 49 U.S.C. § 5303 and 49 U.S.C. § 5304, as well as 23 CFR part 450.
Q1. What planning activities are eligible for the Complete Streets planning match waiver?
A. The non-federal match waiver for SPRP and MPP funds are limited to Complete Streets planning activities as identified in Section 11206(c) of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. If permissible under state and local laws, these include:
- Adoption of Complete Streets standards or policies
- Development of a Complete Streets prioritization plan that identifies a specific list of Complete Streets projects to improve the safety, mobility, or accessibility of a street
- Development of transportation plans to:
- Create a network of active transportation facilities, including sidewalks, bikeways, or pedestrian and bicycle trails, to connect neighborhoods with destinations such as workplaces, schools, residences, businesses, recreation areas, healthcare and childcare services, or other community activity centers
- Integrate active transportation facilities with public transportation service or improve access to public transportation
- Create multiuse active transportation infrastructure facilities, including bikeways or pedestrian and bicycle trails, that make connections within or between communities
- Increase public transportation ridership
- Improve the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians
- Regional and megaregional planning (i.e., multi-jurisdictional transportation planning that extends beyond MPO and/or state boundaries) to address travel demand and capacity constraints through alternatives to new highway capacity, including through intercity passenger rail
- Development of transportation plans and policies that support transit-oriented development
Q2. Can I use the waiver for any planning activity, such as the development of a Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), or multi-jurisdictional plan?/p>
The non-federal match waiver can be used to develop the portions of those plans that are eligible Complete Streets activities under Section 11206(c) of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These plan development activities must be broken out and clearly indicated in the UPWP or Statewide Planning Work Program. FTA encourages coordination between MPOs and state DOTs to effectively implement the waiver while reallocating non-federal match funds to meet other state and regional transportation needs, pursuant to federal requirements under 49 U.S.C. § 5303 and 49 U.S.C. § 5304, as well as 23 CFR part 450.
Applying the Waiver
Q1. What is the effective date of the FTA waiver of non-federal match for MPP and SPRP funds used for Complete Streets planning activities?
A. Funds for Complete Streets planning activities are effective for each fiscal year under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (FY22 through FY26), effective immediately, subject to the following condition: funding ends once the state or MPO receives FHWA approval to opt out of meeting the requirements as described in Section 11206(e) of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The funds apportioned under the MPP or SPRP will remain available for FTA to obligate to recipients for four fiscal years, which include the year of apportionment plus three more years.
Q2. Can I use the waiver retroactively for Bipartisan Infrastructure funds already expended or MPP/SPRP funds from previous fiscal years that are currently unobligated?
A. The waiver cannot apply retroactively to expended funds. However, applying the waiver to unobligated MPP funds under 49 U.S.C. 5305(d), or SPRP funds under 49 U.S.C. 5305(e), apportioned under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for FY22 through FY26 is allowable. If funds have been obligated but remain unliquidated, re-obligation to apply the waiver can be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Q3. How does my agency identify eligible activities and apply for the Complete Streets planning match waiver?
A. The proposed planning activity must be included in the current UPWP or the Statewide Planning Work Program, as appropriate, for grant award. FTA regional offices will work with grant recipients to ensure that appropriate planning scopes and Activity Line Items (ALIs) are selected when developing the grant application in the Transit Award Management System (TrAMS). Complete Streets activities should be submitted in TrAMS using the new Complete Streets Program Scope codes. See also FTA Circular 8100.1D Appendix B for ALI codes in sample budgets.
Q4. Do the Complete Streets planning activities need to be included in my agency’s UPWP or Statewide Planning Work Program? How does this work if the document is already approved?
A. Recipients of MPP and SPRP funds should continue to follow program guidance on how to spend the funds on eligible projects, including the inclusion of projects in the UPWP or Statewide Planning Work Program. For future work plans, FTA encourages agencies to include a dedicated section for Complete Streets activities in a UPWP or Statewide Planning Work Program. For more information about Complete Streets and other suggested sections for planning programs, please refer to the joint FHWA and FTA Planning Emphasis Areas for UPWP and Statewide Planning Work Programs.
For existing or previously approved plans, agencies should follow existing procedures for adding new planning activities to a work plan. At a minimum, agencies should indicate in the task description if a planning activity is a Complete Streets activity. For example, if an MPO must include activities in a UPWP to spend MPP funds, then the MPO may need to make an amendment to the UPWP to add a new Complete Streets activity. See FTA Circular 8100.1D for program guidance for MPP and SPRP grants.
Q5. Is there a limit or cap to the amount of non-federal matching funds that can be waived?
A. There is no limit to the FTA waiver of match requirements if the unmatched federal funds are used for eligible Complete Streets planning activities. However, pursuant to Section 11206(b) of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, at least 2.5 percent of FHWA planning funds must be spent on Complete Streets planning activities. The current FHWA waiver of non-federal match only applies to this 2.5 percent of the FHWA planning funds. Any additional funds spent will require the prescribed match. For more information on FHWA’s waiver, see FHWA’s Increasing Safe and Accessible Transportation Options Implementation Guidance Under Section 11206 of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Q6. Can my agency claim both the FTA and the FHWA waiver?
A. Yes, a grant recipient may be eligible to waive match requirements for both FHWA and FTA funds used on eligible Complete Streets planning activities. However, if a recipient opts out of the FHWA requirement to spend at least 2.5 percent of funds on Complete Streets activities, they will no longer be eligible for the FTA waiver. For questions about opting out of the FHWA Complete Streets requirements and the FTA waiver, see question 4.