[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 142 (Wednesday, July 23, 2008)]
[Pages 42898-42901]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-16825]

[[Page 42898]]



Federal Transit Administration

[Docket No. FTA-2007-29126]

Program Guidance for Metropolitan Planning Program and State 
Planning and Research Program Grants: Final Circular

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of Availability of Final Circular.


SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has placed in the 
docket and on its Web site final guidance in the form of a circular on 
Metropolitan Planning and State Planning and Research Program Grants. 
The final circular revises and combines into one document the contents 
of previous Circular 8100.1B for the Metropolitan Planning Program 
(MPP) and previous Circular 8200.1 the State Planning and Research 
Program (SPRP). The final circular also provides information on 
Consolidated Planning Grants (CPG) between FTA and the Federal Highway 
Administration (FHWA).

DATES: Effective Date: September 1, 2008.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Victor Austin, Office of Planning and 
Environment (TPE), Federal Transit Administration, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590, phone: 202-366-2996, or e-mail 
[email protected]. Legal questions may be addressed to Christopher 
Van Wyk, Office of Chief Counsel (TCC), Federal Transit Administration, 
U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., 
Washington, DC 20590, phone: 202-366-1733, or e-mail, 
[email protected].


Availability of Final Circular

    You may download the circular from the Federal government's 
electronic docket at http://www.regulations.gov. You may also download 
an electronic copy of the circular from FTA's Web site at http://www.fta.dot.gov. Paper copies of the circular may be obtained by 
calling FTA's Administrative Services Help Desk at 202-366-4865.

Table of Contents

I. Overview
II. Summary of and Response to Comments
    A. Chapter I--Introduction and Background
    B. Chapter II--Metropolitan Planning Program
    C. Chapter III--State Planning and Research Program
    D. Chapter IV--Consolidated Planning Grants (CPG)
    E. Chapter V--Application Instructions
    F. Appendices

I. Overview

    The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity 
Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) (Pub. L. 109-59, Aug. 10, 2005) 
updated Chapter 53 of Title 49 of the U.S. Code with new requirements 
for metropolitan and statewide planning (49 U.S.C. 5303, 5304). On 
February 14, 2007, FTA and FHWA jointly published a final rule, 
``Statewide Transportation Planning; Metropolitan Transportation 
Planning,'' updating 23 CFR parts 450 and 500 and 49 CFR part 613 to 
reflect the new provisions enacted by SAFETEA-LU (72 FR 7224, Feb. 14, 
2007). The new regulations govern the work performed under the 
Metropolitan Planning Program (MPP) (23 CFR part 450) and the State 
Planning and Research Program (SPRP) (23 CFR part 420).
    The rulemaking process included extensive public outreach conducted 
jointly by FTA and FHWA. This involved publication of a Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register and a 90-day comment period 
during which over 150 comments were submitted to the docket. This 
effort was supported by six public outreach sessions, two national 
telecasts on the Internet, and a series of informational sessions in 
conjunction with various transportation stakeholder association events, 
including the Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 
(AASHTO), American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the 
National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), the Association of 
Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) and State DOTs.
    Although SAFETEA-LU made several changes to the planning process, 
the legislation did not make substantive changes to the eligibility for 
and processes of the MPP. SAFETEA-LU did change the funding eligibility 
of the SPRP to include only funds from 49 U.S.C. 5305, 5315, and 5322. 
Thus, funding activities under Sections 5312 and 5317, allowable under 
the previous legislation for SPRP, are no longer eligible activities.
    SAFETEA-LU also unified the MPP and SPRP programs under the same 
section in 49 U.S.C. 5305. Prior to SAFETEA-LU, program eligibility and 
criteria for the MPP could be found in 49 U.S.C. 5303(g), but program 
eligibility and criteria for the SPRP was found in 49 U.S.C. 5313(b). 
In addition, SAFETEA-LU restricts the use of planning funds under both 
the MPP and SPRP to the States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto 
Rico and places responsibilities for the funds to these entities. The 
final circular adds information on the Consolidated Planning Grants 
(CPG), a program administered by FTA and FHWA.
    FTA reserves the right to update this circular due to changes in 
other revised or new guidance and regulations that undergo notice and 
comment, without further notice and comment on this circular.

II. Summary of and Response to Comments

    The FTA circulars that previously covered Metropolitan Planning 
(Circular 8100.1B) and State Planning and Research Programs (Circular 
8200.1) were last updated in 1996 and 2001, respectively. Although 
SAFETEA-LU did not make substantive changes to the eligibilities and 
procedures for funding under the Metropolitan Planning and State 
Planning and Research Program, FTA believes it is necessary to update 
the circulars that apply to the above programs so that they reflect the 
new and revised planning provisions in law and subsequent regulations.

A. Chapter I--Introduction and Background

    This introductory chapter is a general overview of what FTA plans 
to include in all the new and revised program circulars for the 
orientation of readers new to FTA programs. Chapter I also includes 
definitions and a history of FTA's planning programs.
    One commenter suggested that there be further public notice and 
comment if FTA amends or updates this circular due to changes in other 
circulars or regulations that undergo notice and comment. FTA 
disagrees. When the revision of a circular or regulation requires an 
opportunity for notice and comment, there is no need to satisfy that 
requirement again just to update a reference to that revised document 
in this circular. FTA has clarified that statement, however, in the 
text of this notice and in the final circular itself.
    Another comment stated that FTA should adopt the Bureau of Census 
abbreviation of Urbanized Area and use the abbreviation ``UA'' rather 
than ``UZA.'' Upon careful consideration, FTA has determined that this 
change should not be made in order to preserve consistency with 
references made in other FTA circulars and documents.

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B. Chapter II--Metropolitan Planning Program

    This chapter replaces the former Chapter II--``Eligibility,'' in 
previous Circular 8100.1A and consolidates it with Chapter I--``General 
Overview,'' Chapter II--``Eligibility,'' Chapter III--``Metropolitan 
Planning and Assistance: Formula and Notification,'' Chapter IV--
``Unified Planning Work Program,'' Chapter V--``Application 
Instructions,'' Chapter VII--``Grant Agreement,'' and Chapter VIII--
``State Management,'' of the previous Circular 8100.1A, with minor 
updates. This new consolidated chapter provides an overview of the 
entire MPP program with regard to its statutory authority and program 
goals. It defines the role of the individual States, metropolitan 
planning organizations (MPOs), and FTA, and it explains the program's 
relationship to other FTA-funded programs. The chapter also provides 
information on eligible planning activities, steps required in 
developing a Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP), the MPP assistance 
formula and notification, the grant agreement, and the administration 
of MPP grants.
    One commenter asked that the words ``engineer'' and ``design'' be 
eliminated from the Program Overview section where the circular 
discusses the program and projects available for grant assistance. 
Because FTA's use of these terms is taken from statutory language in 49 
U.S.C. 5305, it is appropriate for FTA to reference them here. FTA 
noticed that through an oversight that it removed language from the 
previous circulars on Project Task Budget, Local Share, and Cost 
Allocation Plan/Indirect Costs. FTA has added this language back into 
the final circular.
    One comment asked that the circular address the relationship of the 
MPO and transit operators when there are several designated recipients 
(DRs). Because the focus of this circular is on the MPP and SPRP 
funding programs, only brief mention is made of the role of the DR 
under FTA's Section 5307 program relative to the role of the MPO in 
preparing the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). More detailed 
discussion of the roles and responsibilities of DRs under the Section 
5307 program is more appropriately provided in FTA Circular 9030.1C, 
which focuses on the Section 5307 program. FTA Circular 9030.1C is 
undergoing review, and FTA will consider the above comment in that 
    Another comment suggested that FTA clarify that UZAs with a 
population over 200,000 are designated as Transportation Management 
Areas (TMAs) in the section ``Relationship to Other DOT Programs under 
Urbanized Area Formula Program.'' FTA agrees with this comment and will 
add the abbreviation ``TMAs'' in the above referenced section.
    One commenter suggested that there should be a system in place to 
better define which MPO or agency has responsibility for a particular 
metropolitan planning area (MPA) in situations where geographic 
boundaries of MPAs cross State lines. FTA notes the planning 
regulations already address this issue at 23 CFR 450.312 
(``Metropolitan planning area boundaries''). Thus, there is no need to 
provide resolution of this issue in the circular.
    One commenter stated that MPOs should not be responsible for 
conducting any of the system planning and corridor-level alternative 
analyses for specific transit projects. FTA has addressed this issue by 
regulation at 23 CFR 450.318. That regulatory section allows, but does 
not require, MPOs, States, or public transportation operators to 
undertake a multimodal, system-level corridor or subarea planning study 
as part of the metropolitan transportation planning process. Planning 
within an MPA is a collaborative, coordinated process. Determinations 
of individual agency responsibilities in conducting systems planning 
and alternative analysis studies are local decisions within the bounds 
of the statutory and regulatory provisions on planning.
    One commenter stated that MPOs should not be directly responsible 
for safety, security, and emergency transportation and evacuation 
planning. This comment is outside the scope of this circular, which 
only makes these types of planning activities eligible for Federal 
financial assistance, rather than setting forth the MPOs' 
responsibilities in these areas. FTA has delineated the role of MPOs in 
safety and security planning in FTA's planning regulations at 23 CFR 
part 450. Pursuant to those regulations, MPOs are required to address 
safety and security through the metropolitan transportation planning 
    One commenter stated that the information required for a UPWP and 
Simplified Statement of Work (SOW) should be consistent and should 
contain some detailed information about costs, timeframes, and 
objectives of the proposed projects. The requirements for the UPWP for 
TMAs and optional SOWs in non-TMAs are already described in the 
regulations at 23 CFR Part 450, but for purposes of clarity, FTA has 
expanded the description in the circular to incorporate language taken 
directly from the regulations.
    To lessen reporting the burden, one commenter stated that the 
sentence, ``Additionally, the UPWP should list the accomplishments from 
the previous fiscal year,'' should be deleted from the UPWP section of 
the circular. FTA supports the suggestion and has deleted that sentence 
because progress reports already are required under terms of the grant 
agreement for receiving MPP funds, per FTA Circular 5010.1C, as 
referenced in Section 7, Administration of MPP Grants.
    FTA received six comments on MPP Assistance Formula and 
Notification. In general, three of the comments asked for more 
information and clarification on the formula allocation for MPP 
assistance. In response, FTA refers these three commenters to FTA' 
annual Federal Register notice, ``Apportionments and Allocations,'' 
which reports the apportionment of both basic and supplemental MPP 
funding among the States. FTA's most recent notice, ``FTA Fiscal Year 
2008 Apportionments and Allocations and Program Information; Notice'' 
(73 FR 4958, Jan. 28, 2008) describes Fiscal Year 2008 funding. The 
apportionment formula is further addressed by 49 U.S.C. 5305. FTA will 
add the following clarification to the section in the circular on 
supplemental MPP assistance: ``FTA has determined that only States that 
have one or more UZAs with a population greater than one million in 
each are eligible to receive supplemental MPP assistance.'' The 
responsibility for sub-allocating the entire amount of MPP funds is 
placed at the local level. Section 5305(d)(2) of Title 49, U.S. Code 
states that each State must allocate its MPP assistance consistent with 
the formula developed by the State in cooperation with its MPOs and 
approved by FTA. More information may be obtained from the State 
representatives in the State(s) of interest.
    The fourth comment on the MPP asked that the sentence in the 
section on MPP ``Authorization'' be expanded to add the phrase: ``and 
17.28 percent for statewide planning'' to include the formula for the 
SPRP in the same section as the as the MPP. To this, the commenter is 
referred to the statutory formula mentioned in Chapter III on SPRP. The 
focus of Chapter III is on the SPRP, and it appropriately addresses the 
formula allocation (17.28 percent) for this program; Chapter II focuses 
primarily on the MPP.
    The fifth comment on the MPP asked that the circular clarify that 
the State is

[[Page 42900]]

the grantee and that the MPO is the subrecipient. FTA agrees, and the 
language has been revised to refer to the State as both DR and grantee 
for the MPP and SPRP.
    The sixth comment on the MPP stated that a sentence in the section 
on third party contracts was unclear. FTA agrees with the commenter 
and, in response, has rewritten the sentence in question exactly as 
suggested by the commenter: ``In the case of the MPP, the procurement, 
execution, audit and closing of third party contracts are both MPO and 
State responsibilities.''
    One comment on the administration of MPP grants stated that the 
planning grants should not be closed out solely due to the amount of 
time a project is inactive, but rather should also consider factors 
that may have stalled progress. FTA does not agree that the current 
process for closing out planning grants is based solely on the amount 
of time a project is inactive. The guidelines established by FTA for 
grant close-out does provide flexibility for the MPO to complete the 
planning work elements and activities in a reasonable timeframe. The 
final circular continues this flexibility by allowing the State and MPO 
to specify a reasonable amount of time to complete planning work 
elements and activities.
    Finally, as a result of continuing internal staff review and 
discussion that took place during the comment period, FTA has decided 
to include an explicit provision enacted in SAFETEA-LU that requires 
States to allocate MPP ``Basic Assistance'' to MPOs within 30 days of 
apportionment. The statutory language has been included verbatim.

C. Chapter III--Statewide Planning and Research Program (SPRP)

    This chapter replaces Chapter III--``Metropolitan Planning and 
Assistance: Formula and Notification,'' in previous Circular 8100.1A. 
This new chapter consists of information found in Chapter II--``State 
Planning and Research: Formula and Notification,'' Chapter IV--``State 
Planning,'' Chapter V--``Training Activities,'' and Chapter VII--
``Human Resource Activities'' of previous Circular 8200.1, with some 
minor updates. The new chapter provides an overview of the SPRP program 
in terms of its statutory authority and program goals, and it explains 
the program's relationship to and coordination with other FTA-funded 
programs. The chapter also defines the role of the individual States 
and FTA, and provides information on eligible grant activities, SPRP 
assistance formula and notification, and State planning activities.
    One commenter stated that it is unclear whether a change in the 
Governor of a State would also result in the change of the State 
recipient of SPRP funds. The final circular keeps the same language 
from the previous circular, which states, ``The Governor of each State 
must designate a State recipient for its SPRP funds.'' FTA believes the 
above language is clear and that the authority of the Governor to 
designate a State recipient carries forward to newly installed 
Governors when they take office.
    One comment suggested that FTA add a definition for ``youth'' in 
the section ``Relationship to the Locally Developed Coordinated Public 
Transit Human Services Transportation Plan.'' FTA has slightly revised 
this section to more closely track the applicable statutory provisions; 
as a result, the word ``youth'' is no longer used in this section.

D. Chapter IV--Consolidated Planning Grants (CPG)

    This new chapter, which provides information on the CPG, a program 
administered by FTA and FHWA, replaces the former Chapter IV--``Unified 
Planning Work Program,'' in previous Circular 8100.1B. The CPG program 
allows FTA and FHWA funding that supports metropolitan and statewide 
transportation planning to be combined into a single consolidated 
grant. This program fosters a cooperative effort between the Federal 
agencies and the participating States to streamline the delivery of 
their planning programs by providing the flexibility to transfer the 
planning funds to either FTA or FHWA for processing. States electing to 
use the CPG programs must consolidate grants for administration under 
either FTA or FHWA.
    There was one comment that stated that the consolidation process of 
the CPG program might be infeasible and difficult to manage for transit 
or highway-only UPWP tasks. The comment also requested further 
clarification on the CPG process. FTA notices that the CPG has been 
offered for the past 11 years to States and MPOs as an optional program 
for combining FTA and FHWA planning funds. Since 1996, the CPG Program 
has been listed in the Federal Register notice, ``Apportionments and 
Allocations and Program Information'' (73 FR 4958, Jan. 28, 2008). The 
FHWA's July 19, 2007, Memorandum, ``Information: Fund Transfers to 
Other Agencies and Among Title 23 Programs,'' available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/legsregs/directives/policy/fundtrans20070719.htm, 
outlines provisions to consolidate processes and procedures for 
transfers between FHWA and FTA.
    One comment sought clarification on the length of time required for 
participation in the CPG program. FTA's response is that there is no 
required timeframe for participation in the CPG program.
    Another comment asked whether all MPOs in a State must participate 
in the CPG program and whether MPOs can go back to separate grants at a 
later time. FTA wants to clarify that participation by MPOs in the CPG 
program is voluntary. Furthermore, MPOs can go back to a separate grant 
system if they later decide that they no longer want to participate in 
the CPG program.
    One comment asked for clarification on what activities are eligible 
and whether transit projects are eligible if FTA funds are consolidated 
in FHWA. To clarify, any project eligible under the UPWP would remain 
eligible if funds are consolidated in FHWA, including any transit 
projects listed in the UPWP.
    Another comment asked whether FHWA would administer the entire CPG 
program and asked what role FTA would play. The CPG program is a 
cooperative effort between FTA and FHWA to streamline the delivery of 
their planning programs' resources. The intent is not to have FHWA or 
FTA as the sole manager of the CPG program. The designated ``lead 
agency'' will have day-to-day responsibility for grant administration 
(e.g., work program changes, allowable cost determination, and audit 
processing), but the lead agency will coordinate with and solicit input 
from the other agency on all matters of policy and program 
significance, such as work program approval, progress reporting, and 
satisfaction of work commitments for grant closeout.
    One commenter stated that the benefits of the CPG program are 
unclear. The commenter wanted to know who makes the decision to 
consolidate planning funds. The benefits and explanation of the CPG 
program are detailed in Chapter IV--``Benefits of the CPG to States and 
MPOs.'' States and MPOs decide together whether planning funds will be 
consolidated and administered either by FTA or FHWA.
    One comment on the CPG program stated that no matter which agency 
the funds are consolidated under, there should be no restrictions on 
the use of the consolidated funds as long as they are applied toward 
projects in the UPWP. FTA does not support including a blanket 
prohibition against restrictions on the use of the consolidated 
planning funds. Importantly, the multimodal context and project 

[[Page 42901]]

associated with FTA's MPP and SPRP programs and FHWA's metropolitan 
planning (PL) and statewide planning and research (SPR) programs do not 
change when those funds are combined under a CPG. Another comment 
stated that the benefits of the CPG program would streamline the 
planning process for certain tasks and added that neither transit nor 
highway projects should be granted preferential treatment when being 
considered for funding and that all analyses be conducted on equal 
terms. FTA agrees with this comment and further notes that the 
metropolitan and statewide planning work programs developed through a 
cooperative planning process will be accepted as the grant application 
for both FTA and FHWA planning funds under the CPG program.
    FTA received one comment on the inequity that might occur given the 
long lead time and extra scrutiny that occur when funds are flexed to 
transit agencies. This commenter appears to be referring to the 
flexible funding programs Surface Transportation Program and Congestion 
Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, which are separate 
programs from the CPG and have their own particular requirements. The 
CPG program allows the States and MPOs to combine FTA metropolitan or 
statewide planning funds with FHWA planning funds. Comments on the 
flexible funding programs are outside the scope of this circular.

E. Chapter V--Application Instructions

    This chapter updates Chapter V--``Application Instructions,'' and 
Chapter VI--``Certifications and Assurances,'' in previous Circular 
8100.1A and merges them into one chapter. While providing minor updates 
to information on the MPP program, this chapter also incorporates 
information, with minor updates, from Chapter III--``Application 
Instructions,'' of previous Circular 8200.1. This section details the 
application process of MPOs and States that apply for and receive funds 
from MPP and SPRP grants. This section also discusses the 
certifications and assurances and their location within the FTA's 
Transportation Electronic Award and Management (TEAM) system, a 
streamlined electronic interface between grant applicants, recipients, 
and FTA that allows complete electronic grant application submission, 
review, approval, and management.
    FTA received one comment on the inconsistency in submitting an 
application through TEAM and the requirement for original signatures. 
FTA agrees with this comment and has revised this section to reflect 
the electronic submittal of applications, deleting the requirement for 
original signatures.
    One comment stated that certifications pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 
Section 5333(b) (commonly referred to as Section 13(c)) are not 
required for planning grants and that discussion of the Department of 
Labor certifications and participation should be deleted. FTA agrees 
with this comment and has deleted the reference to Section 13(c) 
certifications and DOL participation.

F. Appendices

    Appendices A through C of Circular 8100.1A have been relabeled and 
reorganized. FTA is also adding an index of common terms used 
throughout the circular following Appendix D. The new Appendix A 
contains an outline of a UPWP document and replaces the former 
``Definitions'' section, which has been moved to Chapter I. Appendix B 
is a revised ``MPP Sample Project Budget,'' which was formerly located 
in Appendix B of previous Circular 8100.1B, as well as a revised ``SPRP 
Sample Project Budget,'' which was formerly located in Appendix B of 
previous Circular 8200.1. Appendix C contains references to other 
sources that are relevant to the planning programs. Appendix D contains 
FTA regional and metropolitan contact information.

    Issued in Washington, DC, this 17th day of July, 2008.
James S. Simpson,
 [FR Doc. E8-16825 Filed 7-22-08; 8:45 am]