Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).
The FHWA and FTA propose revisions to the transportation planning regulations to promote more effective regional planning by States and metropolitan planning organizations (MPO). The goal of the proposed revisions is to result in unified planning products for each urbanized area (UZA), even if there are multiple MPOs designated within that urbanized area. Specifically it would result in MPOs developing a single metropolitan transportation plan, a single transportation improvement program (TIP), and a jointly established set of performance targets for the entire urbanized area and contiguous area expected to become urbanized within a 20-year forecast period for the transportation plan. If multiple MPOs are designated within that urbanized area, they would jointly prepare these unified planning products. To accomplish this, the proposed revisions clarify that the metropolitan planning area must include the entire urbanized area and contiguous area expected to become urbanized within 20 years. These proposed revisions would better align the planning regulations with statutory provisions concerning the establishment of metropolitan planning area (MPA) boundaries and the designation of MPOs. This includes the statutory requirement for the MPA to include an urbanized area in its entirety, and the exception provision to allow more than one MPO to serve a single MPA if warranted by the size and complexity of the MPA. The rulemaking would establish clearer operating procedures, and reinstate certain coordination and decisionmaking requirements for situations where there is more than one MPO serving an MPA. The proposed rule includes a requirement for unified planning products for the MPA including jointly established performance targets within an MPA, and a single metropolitan transportation plan and TIP for the entire MPA in order to result in planning products that reflect the regional needs of the entire urbanized area. These unified planning products would be jointly developed by the multiple MPOs in such MPAs where more than one MPO is designated. The FHWA and FTA propose to phase in implementation of these proposed coordination requirements and the proposed requirements for MPA boundary and MPO boundaries agreements over 2 years.