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Section 2: Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)

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The MPO, in cooperation with the department and public transportation operators, must develop a Transportation Improvement Program ( TIP) for the metropolitan planning area ( 23 CFR §450.324). The TIP is a four-year program of transportation projects and strategies formally implementing the MPO's Metropolitan Transportation Plan ( MTP). A region’s means of allocating limited transportation resources to projects and programs, the TIP establishes a clear set of short-term transportation priorities. Every two years, each MPO must develop a four-year TIP. The twenty-five Texas MPO TIPs are then incorporated verbatim along with the twenty-four TxDOT rural TIPs to form the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program ( STIP) for Texas.

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Authorities for the TIP include:

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Requirements for the TIP include:

  • Development in cooperation with TxDOT and public transportation operators.
  • Criteria and process for prioritizing implementation of transportation plan elements.
  • Financial plan, including operations and maintenance.
  • Identification of the agencies responsible for carrying out the project or phase.
  • Updated at least every four years.
  • Reasonable opportunity for public comment.
  • Publish draft and final on website.
  • A minimum four-year timeframe.
  • Financial constraint by year, by funding program.
  • Consistency with the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP);
  • For each project or phase, estimated total project cost, description, amount of federal funds, and sources of non-federal funds proposed to be obligated during each program year for the project or phase.
  • Conformity with the State Implementation Plan ( SIP).
  • Status of SIP Transportation Control Measures ( TCM) implementation if applicable.
  • Capital and non-capital surface transportation projects (or phases of projects) of federal and state financed highway, transit, bicycle, enhancement, and other eligible transportation projects ( 23 USC Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, and 49 USC Chapter 53).
  • All regionally significant projects requiring an action by the FHWA or the FTA.
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The TIP records a program or prioritized listing of transportation projects covering a period of four years for the MPO area, and including projects and strategies sponsored by a variety of agencies. While the TIP is a federal requirement, it also serves as a focal point for the planning process as the short term vehicle for implementation of the MTP.

Funding Source Impact. The TIP partners cooperatively set priorities for the program, project selection, and funding that are consistent with the goals and objectives of the MTP. Each partner has a responsibility in the development of the TIP. Most partners bring federal, state, or local funds to the process. The ultimate decision on particular projects depends upon the source of funds. Certain federal funds allow the state the final decision in cooperation with the MPO, while other federal funds allow the MPO the final decision in collaboration with the state. Local project sponsors have the final lead on projects funded primarily with local funds, and the state has final lead on state funded projects.

Public Access. Each MPO should review the public participation activities in its approved Public Participation Plan (PPP) and develop a strategy for engaging the public. This process must include specific activities which allow the public access to the TIP development process and reasonable opportunity to comment on the draft TIP.

Air Conformity. For air quality non-attainment areas, the MPO, FHWA, and FTA must make a conformity determination that the TIP conforms to the State Implementation Plan (SIP). In nonattainment and maintenance areas, priority shall be given to the timely implementation of Transportation Control Measures (TCMs) contained in the applicable SIP.

EJ Population Impacts. The TIP must include an analysis of the impacts of the projects on the Environmental Justice ( EJ--scroll down) populations.

Establishing a uniform format for listing projects in the TIP and the accompanying financial summary is a joint effort by TxDOT, FTA, FHWA, and TEMPO.

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Essential Components

A TIP's essential federal components include:

  • Documentation of public participation activities, written comments and their disposition.
  • Environmental Justice (EJ) assessment of disproportionate, adverse impacts and equitable distribution of benefits among targeted populations.
  • A process to prioritize projects and strategies for transportation with limited resources.
  • Air quality conformity documentation, including emission burdens and projects in each analysis scenario.
  • Financial analysis, including fiscal forecasts, projects funded, limits on project funding, and any special funding arrangements.
  • Accomplishments and delays on major projects from previous TIP.
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  • Demonstration that the existing transportation facilities are adequately operated and maintained.
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Approval Process

The MPO's proposed TIP must be adopted by the MPO policy board following completion of the MPO public participation process. Following board action, copies of the TIP, including air quality conformity documentation as applicable, must be submitted to the district. The district will review and forward to TPP. The individual TIPs will be included verbatim into the STIP. After federal review and approval of the STIP, including air quality conformity determinations for the nonattainment and maintenance area MPOs, TPP will notify the district office and the MPO of the federal approval.

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50% Rule. The MPO may amend the TIP as necessary to address regional needs; there are also several circumstances in which an amendment to the TIP is required. Adding a federally funded project or changing the major source of funding of an existing project are situations that mandate amendments to the TIP. An amendment to the TIP is also required when changes in an estimated federal cost exceeds 50 percent and results in a revised total cost exceeding $1,499,000. A STIP revision is not required when a change in estimated federal cost results in a total project cost of under $1,500,000. Note that the 50 percent rule applies only to the federal-aid share of the project cost, while the greater than $1,499,000 applies to the total cost of the increase of the project revision. The following examples identify when a revision will and will not be required:

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Initial Cost

Revised Cost

Revision Needed (rationale)




(increase > 50%, total < 1.499 M)




(increase > 50%, total > 1.499 M)




(increase < 50%, total > 1.499 M)




(increase > 50%, total > 1.499 M)

TIP Revision Requirement. An amendment to a TIP is not completed until the change has also been included in the STIP. Therefore, federal funds cannot be authorized for a project amended to an MPO TIP until the project is also amended into the STIP and approved. The STIP is amended on a quarterly cycle. Any TIP amendments approved by the MPO after a scheduled STIP revision will be incorporated in the next quarterly revision.

Verifying Project Funds. In order to better manage the TIP amendment process, the MPO and district should verify the status of projects’ current funding prior to requesting federal authorization by following these recommended district steps:

  • Periodically review the TIP funding status of TxDOT sponsored projects
  • Verify that the TIP includes the most current
    • funding information
    • funding source (federal, state, or local)
    • cost estimate
    • project scope.

By verifying this information on a routine basis, districts will be able to provide timely TIP amendment requests to the appropriate MPO. The MPO should work with other project sponsors to monitor project funding changes.

Transit Amendments. For transit amendments to the TIP, FTA's threshold is a flat +/- 25 percent.

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