[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 185 (Friday, September 23, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 65592-65593]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-22907]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration

23 CFR Part 450

Federal Transit Administration

49 CFR Part 613

[Docket No. FHWA-2016-0016; FHWA RIN 2125-AF68; FTA RIN 2132-AB28]


Metropolitan Planning Organization Coordination and Planning Area 
Reform

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Transit 
Administration (FTA); U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM); reopening of comment 
period.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The FHWA and FTA are reopening the comment period for the NPRM 
that was published on June 27, 2016, at 81 FR 41473, in order to 
receive additional public comment on targeted issues. The NPRM proposes 
revisions to the transportation planning regulations to promote more 
effective regional planning by States and metropolitan planning 
organizations (MPO). The original comment period closed on August 26, 
2016. The FHWA and FTA received a number of requests to extend the 
comment period. The FHWA and FTA recognize that those interested in 
commenting on this important program may not have had the opportunity 
to provide comments and that the comment period should be reopened. 
Therefore, the comment period is being reopened.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before October 24, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Mail or hand deliver comments to: Docket Management 
Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue 
SE., Washington, DC 20590, or

[[Page 65593]]

submit electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, or fax comments to 
(202) 493-2251. All comments should include the docket number that 
appears in the heading of this document. All comments received will be 
available for examination and copying at the above address from 9 a.m. 
to 5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Those 
desiring notification of receipt of comments must include a self-
addressed, stamped postcard or may print the acknowledgment page that 
appears after submitting comments electronically. Anyone is able to 
search the electronic form of all comments in any one of our dockets by 
the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the 
comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, or labor 
union). You may review the DOT complete Privacy Act Statement in the 
Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477).

Electronic Access and Filing

    This document and all comments received may be viewed online 
through the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov. 
The Web site is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. An 
electronic copy of this document may also be downloaded by accessing 
the Office of the Federal Register's home page at: https://www.federalregister.gov and the Government Publishing Office's Web site 
at: http://www.gpo.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For FHWA: Mr. Harlan W. Miller, 
Planning Oversight and Stewardship Team (HEPP-10), (202) 366-0847; or 
Ms. Janet Myers, Office of the Chief Counsel (HCC-30), (202) 366-2019. 
For FTA: Ms. Sherry Riklin, Office of Planning and Environment, (202) 
366-5407; Mr. Dwayne Weeks, Office of Planning and Environment, (202) 
493-0316; or Mr. Christopher Hall, Office of Chief Counsel, (202) 366-
5218. Both agencies are located at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC 20590. Office hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., ET for 
FHWA, and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., ET for FTA, Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    On June 27, 2016, the FHWA and FTA published a proposed rule to 
revise the transportation planning regulations to promote more 
effective regional planning by States and MPOs. See 81 FR 41473. The 
goal of the proposed revisions is to promote unified planning products 
for each urbanized area, even if there are multiple MPOs designated 
within that urbanized area. Specifically, the NPRM proposed that MPOs 
would develop 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 would clarify that 
the metropolitan planning area (MPA) must include the entire urbanized 
area and contiguous area expected to become urbanized within 20 years.
    As discussed in the NPRM, these proposed revisions would better 
align the planning regulations with statutory provisions concerning the 
establishment of MPA boundaries and the designation of MPOs. This 
includes the statutory requirement for the MPA to include an urbanized 
area in its entirety together with the contiguous area expected to 
become urbanized within 20 years, 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. This return to the original legislative intent 
is in alignment with the findings of the draft report Beyond Traffic: 
Trends and Choices 2045. Beyond Traffic was released by the Department 
in February 2015. It examines the long-term and emerging trends 
affecting our Nation's transportation system and the implications of 
those trends. It describes how demographic and economic trends, as well 
as changes in technology, governance, and our climate, will increase 
the importance of our metropolitan regions in making decisions that 
cross State, political, socioeconomic, and often transportation 
planning lines. By 2045, the population is anticipated to increase by 
70 million people, with most of that growth occurring in metropolitan 
areas.
    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 would require 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.

Additional Public Comments Sought on Specific Issues

    The FHWA and FTA are reopening the comment period in order to 
receive public comment on certain issues raised in the NPRM. 
Specifically, the FHWA and FTA are looking for specific and detailed 
comments that contribute to the understanding of the impact of the 
proposed requirements for unified planning products where multiple MPOs 
serve the same urbanized area, potential exceptions that should be 
included in the final rule, and criteria for applying such exceptions. 
The FHWA and FTA also seek specific and detailed comments on the 
expected costs of implementing the proposed rule. The FHWA and FTA are 
seeking comments specific to these issues as we decide whether to 
finalize any provisions within the scope of the NPRM. Previously 
submitted comments should not be resubmitted.
    The original comment period for the NPRM closed on August 26, 2016. 
The FHWA and FTA ask commenters to focus on the specific issues open 
for public comment, as discussed in the above paragraph. Other comments 
will be considered to the extent practicable. To allow time for 
interested parties to submit comments on the targeted issues 
highlighted above, the comment period is being reopened until October 
24, 2016.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on September 19th 2016, under 
authority delegated in 49 CFR 1.85 and 1.91.
Gregory G. Nadeau,
Administrator, Federal Highway Administration.
Carolyn Flowers,
Acting Administrator, Federal Transit Administration.
[FR Doc. 2016-22907 Filed 9-22-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-22-P