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RULE §16.105Unified Transportation Program (UTP)

(a) General. The department will develop a unified transportation program (UTP) that covers a period of ten years to guide the development and authorize construction and maintenance of transportation projects and projects involving aviation, public transportation, and the state's waterways and coastal waters. In developing the UTP, the department will collaborate with local transportation entities and public transportation operators as defined by 23 C.F.R. Part 450.

(b) Requirements. The UTP will:

  (1) be financially constrained for planning and development purposes based on the planning cash flow forecast prepared and published in accordance with §16.152(a) of this subchapter (relating to Cash Flow Forecasts);

  (2) list estimated funding levels and the allocation of funds to each district, metropolitan planning organization (MPO), and other authorized entity for each year in accordance with Subchapter D of this chapter (relating to Transportation Funding);

  (3) list all projects and programs that the department intends to develop, or on which the department intends to initiate construction or maintenance, during the UTP period, and the applicable funding category to which a project or program is assigned, after consideration of the:

    (A) statewide long-range transportation plan (SLRTP);

    (B) metropolitan transportation plans (MTP);

    (C) transportation improvement programs (TIP);

    (D) MPO annual reevaluations of project selection in MTPs and TIPs, if any, in accordance with subsection (c) of this section;

    (E) statewide transportation improvement program (STIP);

    (F) recommendations of rural planning organizations (RPO) as provided in this subchapter; and

    (G) list of major transportation projects in accordance with §16.106 of this subchapter (relating to Major Transportation Projects); and

  (4) designate the priority ranking within a program funding category of each listed project in accordance with subsection (d)(2) of this section.

(c) MPO annual reevaluation of project selection. An MPO may annually reevaluate the status of project priorities and selection in its approved metropolitan transportation plan (MTP) and transportation improvement program (TIP) and provide a report of any changes to the department at the times and in the manner and format established by the department. The reevaluation must be consistent with criteria applicable to development of the MTP and TIP in accordance with federal requirements.

(d) Project selection.

  (1) The commission will consider the following criteria for project selection in the UTP as applicable to the program funding categories described in §16.153 of this chapter (relating to Funding Categories):

    (A) the potential of the project to meet transportation goals for the state, including efforts to:

      (i) maintain a safe transportation system for all transportation users;

      (ii) optimize system performance by mitigating congestion, enhancing connectivity and mobility, improving the reliability of the system, facilitating the movement of freight and international trade, and fostering economic competitiveness through infrastructure investments;

      (iii) maintain and preserve system infrastructure; and

      (iv) accomplish any additional transportation goals for the state identified in the statewide long-range transportation plans as provided in §16.54 of this chapter (relating to Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan (SLRTP));

    (B) the potential of the project to assist the department in attainment of transportation system strategies, the measurable targets for the transportation goals identified in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, and other related performance measures; and

    (C) adherence to all accepted department design standards as well as applicable state and federal law and regulations.

  (2) The commission may also consider the potential for project delivery based on other factors such as funding availability and project readiness, after consideration of the criteria described in paragraph (1) of this subsection.

  (3) With respect to Category 12 Strategic Priority, the commission may also consider if the district and MPO will commit funding from other categories to the project or as a condition for project selection, may require the district and MPO to commit funds from other categories to the project.

  (4) The department will coordinate project selection criteria relating to the transportation goals identified in paragraph(1)(A) of this subsection with the MPOs for the purpose of achieving consistent, common goals, particularly with respect to mobility projects using a mix of several funding sources.

  (5) The department will consider performance metrics and measures to evaluate and rank the priority of each project listed in the UTP based on the transportation needs for the state and the goals identified in paragraph (1)(A) of this subsection. A project will be ranked within its applicable program funding category, using a performance-based scoring system, and classified as tier one, tier two, or tier three for ranking purposes. The scoring system will be used for prioritizing projects for which financial assistance is sought from the commission and must account for the diverse needs of the state so as to fairly allocate funding to all regions of the state. Major transportation projects will have a tier one classification and be designated as the highest priority projects within an applicable funding category. A project that is designated for development or construction in accordance with the mandates of state or federal law or specific requirements contained in other chapters of this title may be prioritized in a funding category as a designated project in lieu of a tier one, tier two, or tier three ranking.

  (6) The commission will determine and approve the final selection of projects and programs to be included in the UTP, except for the selection of federally funded projects by an MPO serving in an area designated as a transportation management area (TMA) as provided in §16.101(n) of this subchapter (relating to Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)). A federally funded project selected by an MPO designated as a TMA will be approved by the commission, subject to:

    (A) satisfaction of the project selection criteria in paragraph (1) of this subsection;

    (B) compliance with federal law; and

    (C) the district's and MPO's allocation of funds for the applicable years.

(e) Approval of unified transportation program (UTP). Not later than August 31 of each year, the commission will adopt the unified transportation program for the next fiscal year. The UTP may be updated more frequently if necessary to authorize a major change to one or more funding allocations or project listings in the most recent UTP. For the purpose of updating the UTP, the term "major change" refers to the authorization of new projects or the revision of project funding allocations which exceed 10 percent of the project cost or $500,000, whichever is greater, occurring in non-allocation program categories, excluding revisions to local funding contributions and projects designated under miscellaneous state and federal programs. The foregoing does not apply to project funding allocations in Category 12 Strategic Priority as described in §16.153(a) of this subchapter (relating to Funding Categories) and all revisions to projects funded in that category must be first included in an update to the UTP approved by the commission.

(f) Administrative revisions. The UTP may be administratively revised at any time and for any reason that does not constitute a major change as described in subsection (e) of this section, with the exception of project funding allocations in Category 12 Strategic Priority as described in subsection (e), or does not affect the total amount of funding allocated to a district for specific corridors in Category 4 Statewide Connectivity Corridor Projects as described in §16.153(a) of this subchapter (relating to Funding Categories).

(g) Public involvement for the unified transportation program.

  (1) The department will seek to effectively engage the general public and stakeholders in development of the UTP and any updates to the program.

  (2) The department will hold at least one statewide public meeting to present the draft UTP as early as the department determines is feasible to assure public input into the program prior to its final adoption. The department will also hold at least one statewide public meeting to present each proposed update to the program. The department will publish notice of each public meeting as appropriate and use communications strategies to maximize attendance at the meeting. The department may conduct a public meeting by video-teleconference or other electronic means that provide for direct communication among the participants.

  (3) The department will report its progress on the program and provide an opportunity for a free exchange of ideas, views, and concerns relating to project selection, funding categories, level of funding in each category, the allocation of funds for each year of the program, and the relative importance of the various selection criteria.

  (4) The department will hold at least one statewide hearing on its project selection process including the UTP's funding categories, the level of funding in each category, the allocation of funds for each year of the program, and the relative importance of the various selection criteria prior to:

    (A) final adoption of the UTP and any updates; and

    (B) approval of any adjustments to the program resulting from changes to the allocation of funds under §16.160 of this chapter (relating to Funding Allocation Adjustments).

  (5) The department will publish a notice of the applicable hearing in the Texas Register a minimum of 15 days prior to its being held and will inform the public where to send any written comments. The department will accept written public comments for a period of at least 30 days after the date the notice appears in the Texas Register. The department may also accept public comments by other means, as specified in the notice. A copy of the proposed project selection process, the UTP, and any adjustments to the program, as applicable, will be available for review at the time the notice of hearing is published on the department website and, on request, will be available at district offices and at the department's Transportation Planning and Programming office in Austin.

  (6) The department will present information regarding the development of the UTP and any updates to the commission not later than the month prior to final adoption of the UTP and any updates.

(h) Publication. The department will publish the entire approved unified transportation program, updates, adjustments, and administrative revisions together with any summary documents highlighting project benchmarks, priorities, and forecasts on the department's website. The documents will also be available for review, on request, at district offices and at the department's Transportation Planning and Programming Division office in Austin.

Source Note: The provisions of this §16.105 adopted to be effective January 1, 2011, 35 TexReg 8388; amended to be effective November 15, 2012, 37 TexReg 8981; amended to be effective January 4, 2017, 41 TexReg 10670; amended to be effective September 1, 2018, 43 TexReg 5240; amended to be effective February 16, 2022, 47 TexReg 660

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