California Department of Transportation

Frequently Asked Questions

            Q: To whom does the District regional transportation planner send draft Regional Transportation Plans (RTPs) for review?

     

    A: Like the OWPs, the Districts route the draft RTPs to those in the Department who need to know what is proposed and who need to have the opportunity to react to it. Some examples are: Advance and System Planning, Community Planning, Traffic Operations, Local Assistance, Aeronautics, Mass Transportation, Goods Movement, and Rail. For a complete list of reviewers, please reference the OWP Guidance.

     

            Q: The Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA) in our rural county has not spent its Rural Planning Assistance (RPA) funds as quickly as expected and will have an unspent balance of $6000 on June 30. Can the RTPA use the $6000 next year?

     

    A: Yes.  Starting July 1, 2009 RTPAs may carry over up to 25% of their annual RPA allocations into the next fiscal year (FY). These funds will not be eligible for reimbursement in the future FY until close-out of the prior FY has occured. The close-out process includes submission of a FINAL RFR, a signed Certification of Expenditures by Fund Source, a Final Statement of Expenditures, and a signed Reconciliation Letter.

     

            Q: The Overall Work Program Agreement (OWPA) does not have a line for Transportation Development Act (TDA) Funds. Where do we list them on the OWPA?

     

    A: TDA Funds are not included in the OWPA. The OWPA is only for funds administered through the Office of Regional and Interagency Planning (ORIP). These funds include the state Rural Planning Assistance (RPA), federal Consolidated Planning Grant (CPG), Regional Blueprint, and Prop 84 funds. The CPG includes FHWA Metropolitan Planning (PL), FTA Metropolitan Planning Section 5303, FHWA State Planning and Research-Partnership Planning Element, and FTA State Planning and Research Section 5304. Contact the Division of Mass Transportation for more information about TDA encumbrance documents.

     

             Q: Last December’s OWP Guidance reflected that our county received $41,000 in RPA. In mid-July, our ORIP liaison told us we would receive $45,000. How much RPA will our county get?

     

    A: They will get $45,000. The RPA amounts in the OWP Guidance are estimates. At Present, the total amount of RPA available to rural counties is $6 million per fiscal year, divided among the 28 rural RTPAs. This money is available only after passage of the State Budget, which includes RPA. The amount each RTPA receives is based on its population. The estimate in the OWP Guidance uses population numbers from the previous fiscal year. The Department of Finance publishes new population numbers in January. If there are significant population changes, the RPA calculation will need to be revised. This may result in an increase or decrease in the amount of RPA the county will actually receive.

     

            Q: Our ORIP liaison told us out Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) could not spend FHWA Metropolitan Planning (PL) funds to prepare a Project Study Report (PSR) for one of the actions listed in our approved Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). If it is in our RTP, what is the problem?

     

    A: Planning funds can only be used for planning activities. A PSR is a part of project development. The MPO can use Planning, Programming, and Monitoring (PPM) funds for PSRs. MPOs can use up to 1 percent of their State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) money for PPM, and RTPAs who do not get federal metropolitan planning funds (PL and Section 5303) can use up to 5 percent of STIP money for PPM. PPM can be used either for planning activities or for project development. (AB 608, effective January 1, 2002, increased PPM for MPOs from ½ percent to 1 percent, and for RTPAs who do not get federal metropolitan planning funds from 2 percent to 5 percent).

     

           Q: Who generates the Quarterly Progress and Expenditures Report and what is its purpose?

     

    A: The Quarterly Progress and Expenditures Report is generated by the MPO/RTPA. It is an OWP progress monitoring tool. In addition to attending MPO/RTPA advisory committee meetings, serving on task forces, and tracking invoices (Request for Reimbursement). District planning staff can use these reports as another way to review whether the regional agency is completing work on its Overall Work Program (OWP) and is invoicing reimbursement for these activities in a timely manner. If the agency is behind schedule, an OWP amendment might be needed. Each quarter, the Districts send copies of these reports to the ORIP liaison. After the end of the fiscal year, the Districts also send the MPO’s reports to FHWA, which shares them with FTA.

     

            Q: Our MPO/RTPA just submitted its draft RTP to the District. What does District Regional Planning staff do with the draft RTP?

     

    A: District Regional Planning is responsible for the initial review of the RTP. Based upon its review, the District determines who else in Caltrans needs to review it. Most draft RTPs should be routed for comment to e.g. Headquarters DOTP, District Traffic Operations, the District Local Assistance Engineer, Community Planning, Mass Transit, New Technology and Research, Aeronautics, and any other function in the District or Headquarters which is impacted by the draft RTP. District Regional Planning compiles all Caltran’s comments on the draft RTP in a single comprehensive comment letter to the MPO/RTPA. Additionally, the District Regional Planning staff is responsible for assuring the RTP environmental document is reviewed. RTPs are considered projects under the California Environmental Quality Act and therefore require an environmental review (CEQA). It is recommended District Regional Planning staff always review the environmental document for the RTP or whether it is reviewed by another unity in the District (e.g., IGR/CEQA), District Regional Planning staff needs to make sure someone in the District reviews it.  District Regional Planning Staff should always be familiar with the environmental document even though someone else is responsible for reviewing and commenting on it.

     

            Q: Should the Districts share the OWP Guidance with the MPOs and RTPAs?

     

    A: Yes. The OWP Guidance is prepared for the benefit of the Districts and the regional agencies. ORIP provides copies to the Districts with the understanding that the Districts will distribute copies to the MPOs and RTPAs. At the request of the Rural Counties Task Force, ORIP began preparing two versions of the OWP Guidance, one for the MPOs and one for the RTPAs, in the 2001/2002 cycle. District staff should be sure to provide the regional agencies with the application version.

     

            Q: Does the OWP have to be amended if funding amounts change?

     

    A: Yes. The OWP must accurately reflect what transportation planning work will be done and how much that work will cost. When either of those changes, the OWP needs to be amended to keep accurate. If the total amount of ORIP-administered funds in the OWP changes, the OWPA also needs to be amended.

     

          Q: Why do MPOs sometimes get more (or less) FHWA Metropolitan Planning (PL) than is shown in the OWP Guidance?

     

    A: The OWP Guidance is prepared in November or December for the next state fiscal year (FY), which is July through June 30. The federal FY is October 1 through September 30 and the federal budget, which provides the exact amount of PL is passed around October 1, i.e., three months after the July 1 effective date of the OWP. The PL amount listed in the OWP Guidance is the current year’s total, which should be fairly close to what will be available for next year. When the actual PL amounts are known, the OWP needs to be amended to show extra work to be done if the PL amount increases or to delete work if the amount decreases. Because this amendment changes the total amount of PL in the OWP, the OWPA needs to be amended too.

     

          Q: How many copies does ORIP need of the Final OWP?

     

    A: ORIP requires an office hard copy as well as an electronic copy to facilitate lending. The electronic copies are also posted on ORIP's website.

     

          Q: How many original OWPAs are needed and who gets them?

     

    A: The ORIP Fund Administrator retains the original OWPA signed by the MPO/RTPA and the District. The original should be signed in blue ink to make it easily distinguishable from photocopies. The District retains a photocopy of the fully executed original and provides a photocopy thereof to the MPO/RTPA. If the District and/or the MPO/RTPA also requires originals, more than one original can be generated.

     

          Q: Who signs the OWPA?

     

    A: Generally, the Chair of the MPO or RTPA Governing Board and the District Director sign the OWPA. The MPO/RTPA Board may delegate signature authority, in writing, to someone other than the Chairperson. District regional planners need to review authorization carefully to verify that such authorization applies to the OWPA. The District Director may delegate signature authority to the Deputy District Director for Planning and Public Transportation.

     

        Q: The OWPs and the OWPAs are only good for one year. Do we also need to execute a new Master Transfer Funds Agreement (MFTA) every year?

     

    A: Not necessarily. The MFTA does not need to be revised unless or until it is no longer accurate. It includes or references state and federal provisions, with which the MPOs/RTPAs must comply. The annual specifics are added through the OWP and OWPA.

     

          Q: Where can I get an electronic copy of the OWPA form?

     

    A: The current MPO and RTPA OWPA forms are posed on the ORIP website. They are also available through the District’s liaison in ORIP.

     

          Q: Who is responsible for completing the OWPA?

     

    A: It depends upon the procedures established by the District and the regional agency. In some cases, the Districts complete the form and send it to the regional agency for signature. Other Districts forward the blank form to the regional agencies for completion.

     

          Q: How is mandatory local match calculated on the OWPA?

     

    A: For federal sources requiring an 11.47% local match, the total amount of each federal source is

    Divided by .8853. The resultant amount is then multiplied by .1147. The product is the mandatory local match. This calculation applies to FHWA PL, FTA 5304, and FTA 5305. For FHWA State Planning and Research-Partnership Planning Element, which requires a 20% local match, the amount of this grant is divided by .80. The resultant amount is then multiplied by .20. The product of the mandatory local match.

     

          Q: Why do the total amounts of each ORIP-administered funding source on the OWPA need to match the totals in the OWP?

     

    A: The OWP and the OWPA, along with the Master Fund Transfer Agreement, are part of an annual contract between Department and the MPO/RTPA. If the amounts of the ORIP-administered funding listed in the OWP are greater than the amounts reflected on the OWPA, there is no way to know which work described in the OWP will be completed and which will not because insufficient funds are encumbered. If the amount on the OWPA is less then the amount of ORIP-administered funding in the OWP, there is no way to know how the OWPA funds, for which there are not corresponding activities in the OWP, would be spent. Without consistent amounts tied to specific activities, the District Regional Planner and the ORIP liaison cannot successfully monitor expenditures, and the regional agency probably cannot either. Monitoring expenditures is a critical Department and District regional transportation planning responsibility.  However much total local contribution there is in the OWP, the OWPA will only show the "mandatory", i.e., the minimum amount of local match. See question #17 re how to calculate the mandatory local match on the OWPA.

     

            Q: Has the Request for Reimbursement (RFR) process, at the District level, changed due to the implementation of E-FIS?

     

    A: No. District staff is still responsible for reviewing the RFRs. The District Senior Transportation Planner signs the RFR before submitting it to the ORIP Fund Specialist. .