Per federal metropolitan transportation planning requirements, an MPO is responsible for the development of a transportation plan addressing at least a twenty-year planning horizon. The plan shall include both long-range and short-range strategies/actions that lead to the development of an integrated intermodal transportation system that facilitates the efficient movement of people and goods. The transportation plan shall be reviewed and updated at least triennially in non-attainment and maintenance areas and at least every five years in attainment areas to confirm its validity and its consistency with current and forecasted transportation and land use conditions and trends and to extend the forecast period. The transportation plan must be approved by the MPO.
Specific Transportation Plan Requirements
An MPO transportation plan shall:
1. Identify the projected transportation demand of persons and goods in the metropolitan planning area over the period of the plan;
2. Identify adopted congestion management strategies including, as appropriate, traffic operations, ridesharing, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, alternative work schedules, freight movement options, high occupancy vehicle treatments, telecommuting, and public transportation improvements (including regulatory, pricing, management, and operational options), that demonstrate a systematic approach in addressing current and future transportation demand;
3. Identify pedestrian walkway and bicycle transportation facilities in accordance with 23 U.S.C. 217(g);
4. Reflect the consideration given to the results of the management systems, including in TMAs that are non-attainment areas for carbon monoxide and ozone, identification of SOV projects that result from a congestion management system that meets the requirements of 23 CFR part 500;
5. Assess capital investment and other measures necessary to preserve the existing transportation system (including requirements for operational improvements, resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation of existing and future major roadways, as well as operations, maintenance, modernization, and rehabilitation of existing and future transit facilities) and make the most efficient use of existing transportation facilities to relieve vehicular congestion and enhance the mobility of people and goods;
6. Include design concept and scope descriptions of all existing and proposed transportation facilities in sufficient detail, regardless of the source of funding, in non-attainment and maintenance areas to permit conformity determinations under the U.S. EPA conformity regulations at 40 CFR part 51. In all areas, all proposed improvements shall be described in sufficient detail to develop cost estimates;
7. Reflect a multimodal evaluation of the transportation, socioeconomic, environmental, and financial impact of the overall plan, including all major transportation investments in accordance with Sec. 450.318;
8. For major transportation investments for which analyses are not complete, indicate that the design concept and scope (mode and alignment) have not been fully determined and will require further analysis. The plan shall identify such study corridors and sub-areas and may stipulate either a set of assumptions (assumed alternatives) concerning the proposed improvements or a no-build condition pending the completion of a corridor or sub-area level analysis under Sec. 450.318. In non-attainment and maintenance areas, the set of assumed alternatives shall be in sufficient detail to permit plan conformity determinations under the U.S. EPA conformity regulations (40 CFR part 51);
9. Reflect, to the extent that they exist, consideration of: the area's comprehensive long-range land use plan and metropolitan development objectives; national, State, and local housing goals and strategies, community development and employment plans and strategies, and environmental resource plans; local, State, and national goals and objectives such as linking low income households with employment opportunities; and the area's overall social, economic, environmental, and energy conservation goals and objectives;
10. Indicate, as appropriate, proposed transportation enhancement activities as defined in 23 U.S.C. 101(a); and
11. Include a financial plan that demonstrates the consistency of proposed transportation investments with already available and projected sources of revenue. The financial plan shall compare the estimated revenue from existing and proposed funding sources that can reasonably be expected to be available for transportation uses, and the estimated costs of constructing, maintaining and operating the total (existing plus planned) transportation system over the period of the plan. The estimated revenue by existing revenue source (local, State, and Federal and private) available for transportation projects shall be determined and any shortfalls identified. Proposed new revenues and/or revenue sources to cover shortfalls shall be identified, including strategies for ensuring their availability for proposed investments. Existing and proposed revenues shall cover all forecasted capital, operating, and maintenance costs. All cost and revenue projections shall be based on the data reflecting the existing situation and historical trends. For non-attainment and maintenance areas, the financial plan shall address the specific financial strategies required to ensure the implementation of projects and programs to reach air quality compliance.
12. There must be adequate opportunity for public official (including elected officials) and citizen involvement in the development of the transportation plan before it is approved by the MPO, in accordance with the requirements of Sec. 450.316(b)(1). Such procedures shall include opportunities for interested parties (including citizens, affected public agencies, representatives of transportation agency employees, and private providers of transportation) to be involved in the early stages of the plan development/update process. The procedures shall include publication of the proposed plan or other methods to make it readily available for public review and comment and, in non-attainment TMAs, an opportunity for at least one formal public meeting annually to review planning assumptions and the plan development process with interested parties and the general public. The procedures also shall include publication of the approved plan or other methods to make it readily available for information purposes.
13. In non-attainment and maintenance areas for transportation-related pollutants, the FHWA and the FTA, as well as the MPO, must make a conformity determination on any new/revised plan in accordance with the Clean Air Act and the EPA conformity regulations (40 CFR part 51).
14. Although transportation plans do not need to be approved by the FHWA or the FTA, copies of any new/revised plans must be provided to each agency.
Impact of Air Quality Rules on Transportation Plan Update
The Winchester area is currently in non-attainment for air quality, however the non-attainment status has been deferred due to the participation of the City of Winchester and Frederick County in the Ozone Early Action Program (OEAP) jointly with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The OEAP was developed in accordance with protocol endorsed by the EPA on June 19, 2002.
The agreement for the Winchester/Frederick County area is titled “The Early Action Compact for the Northern Shenandoah Valley Region in the Commonwealth of Virginia.” Currently, with this OEAP in place, the transportation plan must be updated every five years. If the OEAP were to be voided due to non-compliance or lack of progress in reducing emissions, then the transportation plan schedule would change to every three years.
The OEAP offers a more expeditious time line for achieving clean air than expected under EPA’s 8-hour implementation rulemaking. Key features of the OEAP include:
The OEAP allows for more local control in selecting emission-reduction measures.
The OEAP provides deferral of non-attainment designation and related requirements, as long as Plan requirements and milestones are met. This would prevent any related stigma associated with a non-attainment designation.
The OEAP is designed to achieve clean air faster than under the traditional SIP process.
Should any milestones be missed in designing or implementing the OEAP, the area would automatically revert to the traditional SIP requirements, with appropriate credit given for emission reduction measures already implemented.