Section 10: Transportation Improvement Program

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The TIP is the region’s spending plan for transportation improvements. It is the investment program consisting of capital and operational improvements to the metropolitan transportation system. The TIP is the means of implementing the goals and objectives of the long-range regional transportation plan.

The scope of the TIP has been expanded over the last few years. Initially, it included only those projects that had an element of federal funding and those that required a federal action (Corp of Engineers permit, etc.). The TIP is now a more comprehensive transportation investment program than in previous years. The CAAA requires regions to include projects that affect air quality. The MPO must determine whether the package of proposed improvements in the area, regardless of how it is funded, results in better air quality.

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Federal Requirements

Mandates of 23 CFR §450.324 require the metropolitan transportation planning process to include the development of a TIP for the metropolitan planning area that contains a list of projects approved for development in the near term. The TIP is required to be developed in cooperation with the department and public transit operators and must be approved by the MPO and the department. After approval and after any needed conformity findings, TIPs are included without modification in the STIP.

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TxDOT Format and Requirements

Guidance in 43 TAC §15.7 establishes the rules for TIP development in Texas. Each MPO is required to develop its TIP using the uniform format developed cooperatively by TxDOT and the MPOs. The TIP is to include (in general):

  • a cover page
  • an introduction
  • the federally funded highway project listing
  • the federally funded transit project listing
  • the state funded highway project listing
  • the locally funded regionally significant project listing
  • the financial plan
  • the annual self-certification.

Adherence to this format is necessary to be included in the STIP.

TxDOT will provide the MPO estimates of available federal and state funds to be used in developing the financial plan. The TIP covers the metropolitan planning area and must be updated and approved at least every two years by the MPO and the department.

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Revision Information

Content of 43 TAC §15.7(k) describes the conditions and requirements for a revision to the TIP. Because of the complexities of air quality and conformity issues, revision requirements are different in nonattainment areas versus attainment areas.

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Fiscal Constraint

The need to balance expected income with anticipated expenditures is part of running a household, business, or government. In the area of transportation planning, the TIP is the set of transportation investments (the anticipated expenditures), and the financial constraint is the budget limit (the expected income). A spending plan like the TIP is reasonable only to the degree that it is based on reasonable projections of available resources. A financial constraint means that a region cannot plan for more money than can reasonably be expected.

The TIP shall be financially constrained yearly and include a financial plan that demonstrates project implementation based on available revenues. The financial plan will be developed by the MPO in cooperation with TxDOT and the transit operator. TxDOT, through the UTP, will provide the MPO with estimates of available federal and state funds. In addition, area transit operator(s) must provide estimates as well. Only projects for which construction and operating funds can reasonably be expected to be available may be included. In the case of new funding sources, strategies for ensuring their availability shall be identified. In nonattainment and maintenance areas, projects included for the first two years of the current TIP shall be limited to those for which funds are available or committed.

Just as in the MTP, TEA-21 includes a provision that allows an illustrative list of projects. TEA-21 states that the financial plan may include, for illustrative purposes, additional projects that would be included in the adopted TIP if reasonable additional financial resources beyond those identified in the financial plan were available.

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