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Section 7: Unified Planning Work Program

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Federal Requirements

The metropolitan transportation planning process mandates the development of a UPWP, which is required by 23 CFR §450.314. In general, the purpose of the UPWP is to identify how federal funds made available to the MPO will be spent and to identify each of the agencies spending those funds as part of the transportation planning process.

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TxDOT Responsibilities

TxDOT’s responsibility is outlined in detail in the 43 TAC §15.4. In general, TxDOT will be responsible for reviewing and processing the UPWP through the federal agencies. Where federal laws or regulations require the monitoring of the MPO’s activity performance and fund expenditures under the UPWP, TxDOT will be responsible for this monitoring. Where federal monitoring is not required, TxDOT will monitor, comment on, and make suggestions relating to the MPO’s activities and expenditures. TxDOT will design a uniform format for UPWPs and reports to be submitted by MPOs. This format is developed in consultation with various MPOs in the state.

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MPO Responsibilities

The MPO, in cooperation with the department and operators of publicly owned transit systems, must annually develop a UPWP that meets the requirements of 23 CFR §420 and 23 CFR §450.314. The MPO will be responsible for adhering to the UPWP development time frame and document format developed by TxDOT. Failure to adhere to these requirements may result in funding delays to the MPOs.

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General Information

Purpose and Overview. The UPWP reflects metropolitan transportation planning work tasks to be funded with federal, state, or local transportation funds. It also outlines the agency responsible for implementing various tasks included in the program.

Content, Development, and Format. The UPWP contents reflect the priorities and wishes of the local officials represented on the policy board. As a minimum, the contents should reflect tasks addressing the transportation planning elements as outlined in the federal regulations. As previously mentioned, those tasks should be outlined in the document format approved by TxDOT.

Task Eligibility. Tasks outlined in the UPWP are subject to funding eligibility. The use of federal metropolitan transportation planning funds shall be limited to transportation planning activities affecting the transportation system within the Metropolitan Area Boundary (MAB). If an MPO determines that data collection and analysis activities relating to land use, demographics, or traffic/travel information, conducted outside the MAB, affect the transportation system within the MAB, then those activities may be undertaken using federal planning funds provided that the activities are specifically identified in an approved UPWP. Any other costs incurred for transportation planning activities outside the MAB will not be eligible for reimbursement.

Fiscal Constraint. The use of federal transportation planning funds is limited to corridor/subarea level planning or multimodal or systemwide transit planning studies. Major investment studies and environmental studies are considered corridor-level planning. The use of such funds beyond environmental document preparation or for specific project-level planning and engineering (efforts directly related to a specific project instead of a corridor) is not allowed.

Program Management. The MPO may not incur any costs for work outlined in the UPWP or any subsequent amendments (i.e., adding new work tasks or changing the scope of existing work tasks) prior to receiving approval from TxDOT. Any costs incurred prior to receiving department approval will not be eligible for reimbursement from federal transportation planning funds.

Budgeting and Administration. The MPO may not spend more funds than are authorized by the latest TPP Work Order. If the MPO UPWP budget is greater than the amount authorized in the work order, the MPO must obtain additional work order authorization to spend up to the budgeted amount. TPP will make available to the MPO all federal funds currently available to TxDOT up to the budgeted amount. Since federal funds become available at various times during the fiscal year, the initial work order will most probably be less than or, possibly, equal to the budgeted amount.

Costs incurred by the MPO may not exceed the total budgeted amount of the UPWP without prior approval of the MPO policy board and TxDOT. Costs incurred on individual work tasks may not exceed that task budget by 25 percent without prior approval of the MPO policy board and the TxDOT. If the costs exceed 25 percent of the task budget, the UPWP shall be revised, approved by the MPO policy board, and submitted to TxDOT for approval.

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