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Office of Local Assistance | FAQ

Funding and Programming

Procedures

Miscellaneous


Q: What is Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)? Why is it important? [Top]
A: TIP stands for Transportation Improvement Program. The TIP is a federally required document that must be produced at least every two years by regional transportation planning agencies(RTPA) or metropolitan planning organizations(MPO). MTC is the Bay Area's MPO. The TIP sets forth MTC's investment priorities for transit and transit-related improvements, highways and roadways, transit, and other surface transportation improvements in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. Only projects programmed in the current TIP are official and fundable.

Q: Where can I find the TIP documents? [Top]
A: You can access the MTC's TIP information from MTC's Web site.

Q: What is a TIP amendment? [Top]
A:Per MTC's Resolution No. 3302:
"...Federal requirements and MTC policy distinguishes between two types of TIP amendments - formal amendments and administrative amendments - which differ based on the magnitude of the proposed change and the level of review required by various federal, state and local agencies. As a general rule, significant changes to the cost, scope and schedule of a project listing requires a formal amendment, whereas minor changes in fund sources, description, lead agency, years, project limits, etc. may be processed administratively. Formal amendments must be approved by the full Commission, ABAG, Caltrans, EPA, FTA and FHWA. Approval of administrative TIP amendments, however, has been delegated to MTC's Executive Director, and are processed internally by MTC. This streamlined procedure bypasses several steps in the amendment process, and may expedite approval by several months.

More specifically, a formal TIP amendment is required when:

a) A change would add a new project with Federal or State funding, or that requires a federal permit.
b) The requested change triggers a new air quality conformity analysis.
c) The total change in federal or state funds is either more than 20% of the current programmed federal or state funding amount, or the change in federal or state funding is more than $1 million, or the change invalidates the overall financial constraint of the TIP.
d) The change would affect the overall merit of a project in the TIP.
e) The change would delete a project from the TIP because it will no longer be delivered, or the change moves a project from years 1, 2, or 3 of the TIP into year 4 or beyond.

An administrative TIP amendment may be processed in lieu of a formal amendment if:

a) The change in project funding is either less than $1 million or less than 20% of programmed federal or state funding.
b) A new project that is 100% locally-funded (that is not regionally significant and does not trigger a new air quality conformity analysis), is added.
c) The change moves a project within the first three years of the TIP.
d) A change in fund source categories, sponsor, project description, or other minor changes where the project scope and overall project merit is not changed.
e) The change removes an obligated, or completed project from the TIP.

To request a TIP amendment, please complete the required TIP amendment forms (downloadable MS Excel file). Instructions on filling out the forms are also provided at the same location. The sponsor should then forward the request to MTC TIP Administrator, along with any necessary city, county or other agency concurrence with the requested change. The sponsor of the amendment will be notified by e-mail once the change has been approved."

Q: What is State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)? [Top]
A: The STIP is a multi-year capital improvement program of transportation projects on and off the State Highway System, funded with revenues from the State Highway Account and other funding sources. STIP programming generally occurs every two years. The programming cycle begins with the release of a proposed fund estimate in July of odd-numbered years, followed by California Transportation Commission (CTC) adoption of the fund estimate in August (odd years). The fund estimate serves to identify the amount of new funds available for the programming of transportation projects. Once the fund estimate is adopted, Caltrans and the regional planning agencies prepare transportation improvement plans for submittal by December 15th (odd years). Caltrans prepare the Interregional Transportation Improvement Plan (ITIP) and regional agencies prepare Regional Transportation Improvement Plans (RTIPs). Public hearings are held in January (even years) in both northern and southern California. The STIP is adopted by the CTC by April (even years). This process, as well as the fund distribution process are outlined in charts available on the Caltrans' Division of Transportation Programming Web site.

Local agencies should work through their Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA), County Transportation Commission, or Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), as appropriate, to nominate projects for inclusion in the STIP.

Once projects are programmed, agencies may begin the project implementation process. It is important to note that there are timely use of funds rules associated with STIP projects that are established by statute and outlined in both the STIP Guidelines adopted by the CTC and Chapter 23 of the Local Assistance Program Guidelines.

Q: How do I know if my project has a funding deadline? [Top]
A: If your project is RSTP, CMAQ, or Regional TEA funded, the deadline is subjected to AB 1012 (Refer to MTC's TIP documents for deadline); if project is STIP funded, then SB 45 deadline applies. For all others Caltrans-administered federal programs' deadline, check with your Local Assistance Area Engineer.

Q: What kind of federal and state funds are available for transportation projects? [Top]
A: Refer to the Division of Local Assistance Web site for available funding programs. Also refer to the publication titled Transportation Funding Opportunities for more information.

Q: How do I get started with my federal funded project? [Top]
A: Refer to the Federal-aid flow chart. In addition, if you are new to the federal-aid process, we offer a 5-day Federal-Aid Project Development Series annually. The 5-course series is offered to local agencies free of charge. Contact Jose Reyes, Training Coordinator for training schedule.

Q: Where can I find all the forms in the Local Assistance Procedures Manual? [Top]
A: For all forms use in the LAPM, refer to Division of Local Assistance Web site.

Q: What is an E-76? [Top]
A: Formally called an "Authorization to Proceed" or E-76, is a federal authorization of funds to establish the reimbursement date for a phase of work. A separate E-76 request is required for preliminary engineering (PE), right of way, utility relocation, and construction phases if federal funds are to be used in that phase of work.

Q: What is meant by authorization, obligation, and allocation? [Top]
A: Prior to beginning reimbursable work, the project (or project phase) eligible for reimbursement from federal funds must be formally authorized (approved) by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) or by Caltrans for exempt project. Following authorization, FHWA obligates federal funds. However, both terms have been used interchangeably. On the other hand, allocation of funds is an approval process by which California Transportation Commission (CTC) votes on State-funded project. Non-regional TEA federal program, however, also requires a CTC vote. This CTC vote should precede the E-76 request of federal funds for federal/state-funded project.

Q: What is a field review? Is it mandatory? [Top]
A: A field review is to define the scope of work, project costs, and schedule. A Local Assistance area engineer typically will conduct an informal field review with local agency. Generally, a formal field review will only be required for major National Highway System (NHS) projects.

Q: Why is my project required a CTC vote? [Top]
A: Project funded with State funds or Federal-aid project matches with State funds will require a CTC allocation vote. A CTC vote is required for State programs like State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), Traffic Congestion Relief Program (TCRP), Grade Separation Program, Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation (EEM) Program, Bicycle Transportation Account (BTA), Pedestrian Safety Program, and Petroleum Violation Escrow Account (PVEA). The only Federal program requires CTC vote is the Transportation Enhancement Activities (TEA) program. The Regional TEA program, however, does not require a CTC vote as it is matched with local funds.

Q: Where can I find DBE information? [Top]
A: Refer to Caltrans' Division of Local Assistance Web site.

Q: I am working on a local project within the State's right of way, do I need a encroachment permit? [Top]
A: Yes. Refer to District 4 Office of Permits (510-286-4434) or HQ Division of Permits. Typically, if construction cost within the State's right of way is less than $1 million, the District Permit Engineer will handle the review. For project cost more than $1 million, a Caltrans project manager will be assigned and a Cooperative Agreement (see below) may be executed.

Q: What is the difference between the Caltrans' Cooperative Agreement and Master Agreement? What about Program Supplement? [Top]
A: A Cooperative Agreement is an agreement between a city, county, or other local public agency and the State defining the responsibilities and financial obligations. It is generally required for locally administered project within the State's right of way. A Master Agreement, however, is an agreement between a city, county, or other local public agency and the State defining the general terms and conditions which must be met to receive Federal-aid or State funds. Any local agencies who have requested federal and/or State funds through the Office of Local Assistance are covered by a Master Agreement. To supplement the Master Agreement, a Program Supplement will be executed for each project upon local's request. This agreement covers project specific rules and regulations, which are called special covenants.

Q: Where can I download Caltrans' publications? [Top]
A: Refer to Division of Local Assistance Web site for publications related to local assistance project. For other Caltrans publications, contact Publication Distrbution Unit.

Q: What kind of assistance does the Office of Local Assistance provide? [Top]
A: See the Enhanced Services program.

Q: I need the address for a city's public works department, where can I find it? [Top]
A: See the Local Agency Directory.