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Peer Exchanges, Planning for a Better Tomorrow, Transportation Planning Capacity Building

Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program

— Peer Exchange Report —

Vail, CO: Best Practices Of Planning Partnerships
Peer-to-Peer Exchange

Cooperative Revenue Forecasting and Annual Listing of Projects

July 18, 2001


This peer to peer exchange to discuss cooperative revenue forecasting and annual listing of obligated projects was organized by the Association of Metropolitan Planning Association (AMPO) as part of the Transportation Research Board's Summer Conference in Vail Colorado. In early 2001, the US Department of Transportation launched the Metropolitan Capacity Building (MCB) program and as part of this initiative, AMPO was selected to survey MPO practices in the subject area of cooperative revenue forecasting and the annual listings of obligated projects. AMPO contracted with Wilbur Smith Associates to assist in this effort and the discussion for the peer to peer session focused on information stemming from AMPO's technical memorandum published in May, 2001 and titled: Results of Scoping and Background Research on MPO Practices Related to Cooperative Revenue Forecasting and Annual Listings of Obligated Projects. The memorandum reports on the results of AMPO surveys on these two topic areas.

  • There are many approaches used for revenue forecasting State-MPO cooperation is the basic element of successful approaches

  • The sophistication of forecasting process is driven by the complexity of the revenue source structure


"The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) requires (1) the states and MPOs to cooperatively develop estimates of funds that will be made available to support plan implementation, and (2) the MPO, the state and public transit agency to cooperatively develop estimates of funds that are reasonably expected to be available to support program implementation."

"The state of Arizona and Maricopa County have worked to make this statement a reality" -- James Bourey Executive Director Maricopa County Association of Governments.


Maricopa County, Arizona

Maricopa County has six regional planning districts in Maricopa County, four MPOs and two TMAs. Maricopa currently has a population of three million people and is experiencing rapid growth throughout twenty-six communities. The population of Maricopa County is projected to grow to approximately seven million in the future. In the 1990's, there was no process in place for preparing revenue estimates in Maricopa County. For example, in 1997, the Maricopa COG had 60 percent of the population but was receiving only 10.5% of the federal funds. According to their estimates now, they should be getting 43.5 percent of federal funds.

There was a natural tendency to talk about M&O efforts in the context of "projects". However, most of the participants view the ultimate success of an integrated M&O/planning perspective as being a "mindset" that views transportation as a system where capital projects and M&O strategies don’t compete, but are rather considered as complementary and supportive to one another. This often goes counter to the structure of decision making in most regions where local officials are concerned (not surprisingly) with their own jurisdiction’s infrastructure needs and the corresponding amount of funding that their locality will receive (although monitoring system performance might provide information for a more "systems" perspective). The structure of transportation funding programs (not just federal), the historical mandates for planning products that result in project lists, the organizational and professional culture that focuses on project development, and the political desire for ribbon cuttings are formidable challenges to creating this mindset.

Developing a Process for Cooperative Revenue Forecasting

The Arizona DOT began the process by trying to work with the MPOs to develop cooperative estimates and program projects. They worked to develop forecasts for all types of revenues, including lump sums such as bridges and pavements, and to agree on the distribution of those funds. But the negotiations were difficult and it became clear that a new approach was needed. A regional meeting was held to develop a new cooperative revenue forecasting process in which there would

The process for developing cooperative revenue forecasting in Arizona has gone through some growing pains but the resulting changes that have occurred in the statewide process has the support of the stakeholders. Partnering sessions between the State DOT and MPOs have helped MPOs to have access to state data and to facilitate discussions that are now project based rather than the more traditional context of broader programs and the larger context of the system. For program needs, accident rates and volume/capacity data and allocated money based on data are used. The staff who vote on the program know that the decisions may limit their ability to get specific projects to their area or region. This process allows effectiveness to be measured but also allows room for negotiation on what's reasonable and what may be supported practically and politically.

People may hesitate to place too much emphasis on data should it threaten projects in which they have a special interest.

Lessons learned from MPO perspective:
  • Information is power. It is crucial to do analysis to know where money is going.

  • It is important to involve the business community for political support.

The regional meeting produced the following outcomes, which fundamentally changed the relationship between the MPOs and the State DOT:
  • The State TIP will be based on good estimates and all other plans will fall from the TIP.

  • Each region was given a "fair share".

  • The implementation of the Plan and Program is monitored on a common database.

  • Stakeholders began to work together because they are "all in this together."

  • A resource allocation advisory committee was created. Committee operates on consensus only (no votes).

Peer Exchanges

Also Keep These Helpful Tips in Mind:
  • Use simple, powerful graphics like pie charts to convey information
  • Give policy officials, media, private sector a vision of what to do with the money
  • Involve others beyond region; Maricopa formed an alliance with Pima (Tucson)
  • Make it as much "win-win" as you can.
  • Make steady, incremental progress; don't insist total change happening overnight
  • Involve the highest-level appointed officials in negotiation, like the head of the state DOT.
  • Have one lead negotiator but keep member staff and elected officials in the loop.
  • Use a database that all parties can agree with.
Puget Sound, Seattle Washington

The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) in Seattle is the largest MPO in Washington State. The region has a population of approximately 3.3 million and approximately $1.7 billion in transportation revenues. Sixteen percent of total revenues in the region come from federal funds. In 1990, the State Growth Management Act required all cities and counties to do a comprehensive plan (including a financial component) as well as a regional plan consistent with comprehensive plan. The legislative direction is reaffirmed in their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and revenue forecasting is therefore a required element of the process. In 1994, the stakeholders formed a committee to develop the revenue-forecasting model for the metropolitan transportation plan and it was adopted in 1995.


In Washington, state and regional forecasting processes are similar. State law requires the collection of data into a database containing current and historical financial data. The model used for a tax base also feeds into land use models and forecasts are updated regularly. This process significantly contributes to the consistency amongst different plans such as at the regional and city level. Financial issues drive the planning process, but revenue forecasts are not the focus. Discussions instead revolve around what investments are being made in the transportation system and where the priorities are for investments.

Success in WA relates to:

  • State and federal mandates
  • Revenue - Local and regional plans must address financial capacity
  • Credible modeling history since 1960s
  • Consistent modeling practices (demographics, travel, revenue)
  • Financial data - state requires reporting of data; data is readily available
  • Consistency – the regional council certifies the consistency of plans

Final Thoughts

Defining what a "listing" means under TEA-21 requirements remains unclear to many MPOs. As a result, some MPOs are either not doing an annual listing of obligated projects because they don’t know what it is or if they are doing it, they are doing it incorrectly. There is a wide variety with both the way listings are formatted and the details that are included. Some MPOs (such as Missouri) developed versions of annual listings existed prior to TEA-21. The bottom line is that success depends upon a good working relationship between the SDOT and the MPO.

Springfield Area Transportation Study Organization
Springfield, MO

The Springfield Area Transportation Study (SATS) is a relatively small MPO in Missouri. In Springfield, the three-year transportation improvement program (TIP) is updated annually. Every project whether it is state, local, or federally funded, is included in the TIP. Springfield had a population of approximately 159,000 according to the 1990 census and expects the 2000 census to indicate a population of over 200,000 in the urban area and around 300,000 in the entire planning area.

Ranking Analysis
  • The long-range transportation plan in the SATS region is reviewed and ranked for all modes and has both a twenty-year constrained TIP and a twenty-year unconstrained TIP. The unconstrained TIP includes projects that were not priorities but could potentially be advanced in the future. Projects that are earmarked go into the constrained version of the TIP. If a project has applied for an earmark it goes into the unconstrained TIP until funding is received. High priority projects in the LRTP take precedence.
  • FTA section 5307 funds are ranked between City Utilities Transit (local transit provider) and Southwest Missouri State University Shuttle System. These two agencies compete for transit funds, which sometimes makes it difficult when assessing priorities among projects.
  • FTA 5310 funds are ranked between all not for profit transportation applicants within the MPO area.

Final Thoughts

SATS gets feedback on project listings at the subcommittee level. The technical staff represents different jurisdictions and must cooperate with each other to resolve conflicts that may arise over projects. The AMPO study identified a range of approaches to address this issue. Very few places are taking active steps to disseminate lists of obligated projects and the information is not distributed in a fashion like a newsletter or a TIP as Metroplan, the MPO in Orlando, does.


In August of last year, AMPO conducted a survey of MPO practices on cooperative revenue forecasting. In particular, the goal was to see to what extent revenue forecasting is a cooperative process between the MPO, state DOT and transit authorities. The survey also asked about how available funding was derived and whether the level of funding or information about how it was derived was an issue in discussion of the Long Range Transportation Plans. More than half of the responding MPOs felt that the process is a cooperative one, with about 25 percent of these MPOs having executed formal Memorandum of Understandings. About a third reported that revenues were an issue in public discussions of Long Range Transportation Plans.

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