Mark Debald, Transportation Program Administrator
The Council relies on federal planning funds to carry out the metropolitan transportation planning process. These funds, allocated on an annual basis and programmed through the Council’s UPWP, stem from two primary sources: the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Planning Program (PL) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Section 5303 Metropolitan Planning Program (MPP). The funds are authorized through each federal surface transportation authorization, with the most recent being the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act). For State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2016-2017, the FACT Act-based federal allocation for New York State is estimated to total over $31 million. Based on a formula that accounts for the population of each MPO planning area and their TMA status, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) distributed the funds to the 14 MPOs in New York State.
These planning funds, like most other federal transportation programs, are administered through NYSDOT on a reimbursement basis. The Council (through its host agency relationship with Dutchess County) must first perform the planning work, after which it is reimbursed for the federal share of the activity. Council staff, housed under the Dutchess County Planning Department, administers UPWP activities and submits quarterly reimbursement requests and activity reports to NYSDOT.
As required by most federal transportation programs, a local match of 20 percent is required for the federal planning funds used in the UPWP: the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) provides a 15 percent toll credit/in-kind service match for the federal funds, while Dutchess County provides a five percent monetary match.
The Council’s 2016-2017 UPWP annual funding estimate totals $680,884 ($559,780 in FHWA funding and $121,104 in FTA funding). In addition to this base funding allocation, the Council has $487,610 in FHWA funding available from previous program budgets. This amount does not include any savings from the 2015-2016 program year.The unexpended funds are available for programming as needed. The Council will program $250,000 of these funds for the 2016-2017 program year; these funds will support projects that require staff support from the Dutchess County Planning Department, other County Departments, as well as consultant services. The total remaining unexpended balance of $237,610 will be reserved for future projects as appropriate and work needed to implement planning requirements in the previous transportation law – Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) – and the newly passed FAST Act. The Transportation Council expects the total savings backlog to be spent down within the next two years, likely by the start of SFY 2018-2019.
Shared Cost Initiatives (SCI)
The New York State Association of MPOs (NYSAMPO) and NYSDOT routinely pool a portion of their federal metropolitan planning funds to undertake planning tasks of statewide significance. These projects, known as Shared Cost Initiatives (SCI), are funded through a combination of FHWA and FTA planning funds and NYSDOT Statewide Planning and Research (SPR) funds, depending on the subject and sponsor. The MPOs and the NYSDOT Policy and Strategy Division jointly identify potential tasks, reach consensus on priorities for the year, and develop a scope of work for each selected task. Most of these projects are undertaken by a consultant under contract with one of the MPOs or NYSDOT. The Council will participate in the following SCI/SPR tasks in 2016-2017: