DATE: May 3, 2018
TO: Boston Region MPO
FROM: Sandy Johnston, UPWP Manager
This memorandum discusses proposed Amendment 1 to the FFY 2018 Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP), which suggests removing one Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS) discrete study and reallocating its budget to other program items per details below.
When developing the FFY 2018 UPWP, staff expected the quadrennial federal certification review to occur in late-fall 2019; thus funding for this review was not included as a program element in the current UPWP. However, we received notice from our federal partners that the review process would begin in July 2018.
As a result, we recommend removing funds from the discrete study, Potential Impacts of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, and reassigning those funds to Federal Certification Review and Support to the MPO and its Committees.
This study, a follow-up to the FFY 2017 CTPS study, Planning for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, project ID 13277, was intended to further the Boston Region Metropolitan Organization’s (MPO) research into and familiarity with the emerging connected and autonomous vehicles (C/AV) field. A couple of factors contributed to the decision to recommend removal of this study from the FFY 2018 UPWP. First, the staff members who were supposed work on this study at the time the UPWP was being developed are no longer available, as their time was reassigned to cover other needs. Second, amidst staff discussions, it became clear that some elements of the C/AV study as proposed in the UPWP were unnecessary or redundant, while others—notably, the need for MPO staff to maintain familiarity with developments in the C/AV field—could be covered through other program elements and budgets.
Hence, we recommend removing the discrete study, Potential Impacts of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, from the FFY 2018 UPWP and reallocating its $50,000 in funds to the Federal Certification Review and the Support to the MPO and its Committees studies, as follows.
Federal regulation requires that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) jointly review and evaluate the transportation planning process conducted in each transportation management area, defined as an urbanized area with a population of more than 200,000. This certification review must be conducted at least once every four years.
Subjects of focus for a certification review include compliance with the federal requirements of 23 United States Code (U.S.C.) 134, 49 U.S.C. 5303, and other associated federal laws; the challenges and successes of the planning process; and the cooperative relationship between the MPO, the public, and other transportation planning stakeholders.
Certification reviews generally consist of four components: 1) a “desk review” of MPO planning products and documents, 2) a site visit and meeting(s) with the MPO (including a public meeting), 3) a final report by the Federal Review Team that summarizes the review and offers findings, and 4) a letter transmitting the report and announcing the findings of the review.
MPO staff anticipates that the desk review phase of the work, as well as planning for the site visits and meetings, will occur in the summer and early fall of 2018, supported by these funds. Staff support for the desk review will include responding to federal agency requests for information and documentation, and creating printed and graphical materials for the reviewers. It is unclear how much work will be entailed in this phase, but past experience indicates that it could involve several different people across the agency providing extensive written responses to myriad questions from our federal partners.
For perspective, $70,000 was spent on the last recertification. Staff believes that it is prudent to budget the same amount for this next round of recertification (ignoring inflation), which will span two federal fiscal years. Thirty thousand dollars has already been budgeted in the draft FFY 2019 UPWP for this activity; hence, the estimated need for $40,000 in the current federal fiscal year.
Staff proposes reallocating the remaining $10,000 from the Potential Impacts of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles budget to Professional Development and other subaccounts within Support to the MPO and its Committees, further proposing a split of $4,000 to the former and $6,000 to other subaccounts. Staff anticipates needing supplementary funding for Professional Development because the annual Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) conference is unexpectedly scheduled in the current FFY in late September (in many past years, it has occurred in October). In addition, Support to the MPO and its Committees could benefit generally from receiving an extra $6,000. Expenditures within this line item tend to vary as staff responds to the needs of the MPO, and current expenditures are ahead of budget expectations for the current fiscal year.
The attached documents listed below reflect components of the UPWP that are affected by the proposed FFY 2018 UPWP Amendment 1:
MPO staff requests that the MPO release Draft Amendment 1, as proposed by staff, for a 30-day public review period.