Frequently Asked Questions
UZAs and MPAs
Geography: Boundaries and Maps
Census 2000 Effects
- What major program changes or requirements affect Section 5307 grantees that moved to the over 200,000 population threshold, as a result of Census 2000?
- What major program changes or requirements affect Section 5307 grantees within a UZA that moves from the over to the under 200,000 population category, as a result of Census 2000?
- What major program changes or requirements affect a non-UZA that becomes a UZA under 200,000 in population, as a result of Census 2000?
- Are there any provisions for a transition period for areas that moved from one status to another or for the use of operating assistance for UZAs that move from a population less than 200,000 to one greater than 200,000?
- What National Transit Database (NTD) reporting requirements can be expected when a transit provider moves from non-UZA to UZA status, as a result of Census 2000?
- What NTD changes or requirements can be expected when a Section 5307 grantee moves from the under 200,000 population category to the 200,000 and over population category, as a result of the Census 2000?
- Will NTD report data have to be resubmitted using the 2000 Census UZA designations?
- How is conformity assured in non-attainment and maintenance areas that were previously isolated rural areas, but are now designated UZAs as a result of population growth recorded in the 2000 Census?
- What is transportation planning and why does it exist?
- The transportation
planning process exists to provide the information needed
for decisionmakers to choose among alternative strategies
for improving transportation system performance.
Transportation planning is the process of:
- Establishing a community/regional
vision and identifying how transportation fits into this
- Developing/utilizing a
cooperative and inclusive transportation vision and
operations concept for the region.
- Understanding the types of
decisions needed to achieve this vision.
- Assessing the opportunities and
limitations of the future in relation to goals and desired
system performance measures.
- Identifying near- and long-term
consequences of alternative choices.
- Relating alternative decisions to
goals, objectives, and system performance measures.
Presenting this information to decisionmakers.
- Helping decisionmakers establish priorities and develop an investment program.
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- What is the importance of transportation planning in my metropolitan area or state?
- The Intermodal
Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991
emphasized transportation planning with a focus on
intermodal transportation. The Transportation Equity Act for
the 21st Century (TEA-21) of 1998 continues the vision of
ISTEA with seven planning factors that directly relate to
quality of life in states and metropolitan areas. Transportation
planning is the process used to identify priorities and determine
how transportation funds are allocated to different projects and areas.
developing transportation plans, planners should seek
transportation solutions that:
- Support economic vitality.
- Increase safety and security.
- Increase accessibility and
- Protect the environment and
improve quality of life.
- Enhance system integration and
- Promote efficient system
management and operation.
- Emphasize system preservation.
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- What is a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and what is its role in the planning process?
- The MPO is the forum for cooperative transportation decisionmaking
for the metropolitan planning area. The MPO members are reprentatives
of the local units of government. An MPO is required in each urbanized
area having a population of over 50,000. There are currently 340 MPOs in
the United States. These MPOs, in cooperation with states, transit operators, local municipalities, counties,
and other key transportation entities in the metropolitan area carry out the
planning process. These same agencies, under the coordination of the MPO,
also cooperatively develop the annual Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP)
and the 3-year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
- Where do MPOs and states get the money for long-range transportation planning?
- The TEA-21 legislation guarantees $198 billion in surface
transportation investment. Surface transportation funds have
been reauthorized every 6 years, in the past, and should be reauthorized again in 2003.
These funds are allocated through programs like the National Highway System
(NHS), the Surface Transportation Program (STP), and the Congestion Mitigation
and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ), before being redirected to states.
TEA-21 also provides planning funds for states and MPOs, called State Planning
and Research Funds and Planning Funds respectively. The actual money for Federal
transportation funding comes from the Federal excise tax on gasoline, which is
collected by each State government and turned over to the Federal Highway Trust Fund, the primary source of Federal transportation funds.
States also generate their own funds for transportation projects through a
variety of means.
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- What is meant by attainment, nonattainment, and maintenance?
nonattainment, and maintenance are classifications of
regional air quality based on the 1990 amendment of the
Clean Air Act legislation enforced through the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA uses six "criteria
pollutants" as indicators of air quality, and has
established for each of them a maximum concentration above
which adverse effects on human health may occur. The six
"criteria pollutants" are:
- Carbon monoxide.
- Nitrogen dioxide.
- Sulfur dioxide.
- Particulate matter (including
dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid).
- These threshold concentrations are called National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). When an area does not meet the air quality standard for one of the criteria pollutants, it generally is subject to the formal rule making designating it as nonattainment. Nonattainment classifications may be used to specify what air pollution reduction measures an area must adopt as well as when the area must reach attainment. Areas that were previously designated as nonattainment become maintenance areas when they achieve attainment status.
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- What topics must a long range transportation plan include?
- A long-range
- Documents conclusions and
decisions of the planning process.
- Includes long-term and short-term
policies, strategies, and actions.
- Covers both capital projects and
- Includes preservation of the
existing system, system expansion and operation.
- Addresses the movement of both people and goods.
- Common issues addressed in long-range transportation plans may include air quality, asset management, conformity (integrating transportation and air quality planning into areas designated by the EPA), economic development, environmental justice, financial planning and programming, freight movement, Intelligent Transportation Systems, performance measures, safety, smart growth, and system management (to name a few).
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- What is public involvement and why is it important to long-range transportation planning?
- People want to have
a voice in transportation decisionmaking for their
communities. Agencies must have public involvement to
create a successful planning or project development process.
A public involvement program:
- Informs people through outreach
and participation (including people who are underserved by
- Involves people "face to face"
- Gets feedback from participants.
- Uses special techniques to enhance participation.
- For long-range transportation planning, public involvement is important to help articulate the communitys/states vision and goals, provide the public with the opportunity to champion a variety of transportation interests, and receive valuable input into the planning process. For transportation planning, public involvement can include regional agencies, local government, user/special interest groups, tribal governments, and states, as well as the private sector, legal system, and Federal government.
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The Environmental Protection Agency Homepage: The EPA Greenbook. http://www.epa.gov/oar/oaqps/greenbk/index.html.
Metropolitan Transportation Planning: Lecture Series. The National Transit Institute, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. April 2001.
Overview of the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Process and Summary of Key Issues - A Briefing Notebook for Local Officials Participating in the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Process. FHWA/FTA. Draft, March 2001.
Public Involvement Techniques for Transportation decisionmaking. FHWA/FTA. Publication No: FHWA-PD-96-031. September 1996.
TEA-21: Moving Americans Into the 21st Century. TEA-21 Fact Sheets. www.fhwa.dot.gov/Tea21/.