I realize that there is a great deal of reading needed to grasp all of the laws that govern the actions of a metropolitan planning organization (MPO), including the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC).  So, I will send it in pieces to shorten the reading curve.

My goal is for everyone in our group to understand why the PSRC simply does not have the authority as an MPO to withhold transportation funds over development issues.  Nor to dictate where and how much development a county MUST do, (including to create a new city), to get road project funding that they falsely believe they have authority to dictate over.  They have skewed the requirements for this funding and actually believe that they have authority to withhold transportation/roads funding if a county does not develop the areas THEY dictate, to the levels THEY dictate.

They could not be more wrong!  Below is listed the only authority an MPO has for certification of transportation funding projects under US code section 450.334.  This finding is important, as it enables us as a group to request federal highways investigate their actions and perhaps cut their funding until they fix themselves.  If they insist on being a “sub government” group of multi-county “leaders”, they will have to break away from being an MPO.

The next email in the series will address what Pierce County needs to become our own MPO.  With the recent State attention to, and forming lawsuits against, the vehicle licensing tax raise promulgated in large part by the PSRC, some of these issues will surely surface.  The State acknowledges that Pierce County voted no on this tax.  It is a prime time for us to request Pierce County becoming its own MPO. 

State law authorizes the voluntary association of governments for transportation planning purposes in the form of regional transportation planning organizations (RTPOs).The federally-mandated MPOs are designated as the RTPOs under the state’s 1990 Growth Management Act (GMA). State requirements for regional transportation planning largely mirrored federal requirements and also include a requirement to certify that the transportation elements of local comprehensive plans conform with the GMA and are consistent with the regional transportation plan.

***PSRC did not clarify which part of Pierce County’s comp plan TRANSPORTATION element did not “meet their approval”, and at no time was the PSRC ever authorized to tell any local government where and how much to develop in order to receive this federal transportation (roads) funding!

Sec. 450.334 Metropolitan transportation planning process: Certification.

(a) The State and the MPO shall annually certify to the FHWA and the FTA that the planning process is addressing the major issues facing the area and is being conducted in accordance with all applicable requirements of:
(1) Section 134 of title 23, U.S.C., section 8 of the Federal Transit Act (49 U.S.C. app. 1607) and this part;
(2) Sections 174 and 176(c) and (d) of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7504, 7506(c) and (d));
(3) Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Title VI assurance executed by each State under 23 U.S.C. 324 and 29 U.S.C. 794;
(4) Section 1003(b) of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (Pub. L. 102-240) regarding the involvement of disadvantaged business enterprises in the FHWA and the FTA funded planning projects (sec. 105(f), Pub. L. 97-424, 96 Stat. 2100; 49 CFR Part 23); and
(5) The provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Pub. L. 101-336, 104 Stat. 327, as amended) and U.S. DOT regulations “Transportation for Individuals with Disabilities” (49 CFR Parts 27, 37, and 38).

(b) The FHWA and the FTA jointly will review and evaluate the transportation planning process for each TMA (as appropriate but no less than once every three years) to determine if the process meets the requirements of this subpart.

(c) In TMAs that are nonattainment or maintenance areas for transportation related pollutants, the FHWA and the FTA will also review and evaluate the transportation planning process to assure that the MPO has an adequate process to ensure conformity of plans and programs in accordance with procedures contained in 40 CFR part 51.

(d) Upon the review and evaluation conducted under paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section, if the FHWA and the FTA jointly determine that the transportation planning process in a TMA meets or substantially meets the requirements of this part, they will take one of the following actions, as appropriate:
(1) Jointly certify the transportation planning process;
(2) Jointly certify the transportation planning process subject to certain specified corrective actions be taken; or
(3) Jointly certify the (transportation) planning process as the basis for approval of only those categories of programs or projects that the Administrators may jointly determine and subject to certain specified corrective actions being taken.

(e) A certification action under this section will remain in effect for three years unless a new certification determination is made sooner.

(f) If, upon the review and evaluation conducted under paragraphs (b) or (c) of this section, the FHWA and the FTA jointly determine that the transportation planning process in a TMA does not substantially meet the requirements, they may take the following action as appropriate, if after September 30, 1993, the transportation planning process is not certified:
(1) Withhold in whole or in part the apportionment attributed to the relevant metropolitan planning area under 23 U.S.C. 133(d)(3), capital funds apportioned under section 9 of the Federal Transit Act, and section 3 funds under the Federal Transit Act (49 U.S.C. 1607(a)); or
(2) Withhold approval of all or certain categories of projects.

(g) If a transportation planning process remains uncertified for more than two consecutive years after September 30, 1994, 20 percent of the apportionment attributed to the metropolitan planning area under 23 U.S.C. 133(d)(3) and capital funds apportioned under the formula program of section 9 of the Federal Transit Act (49 U.S.C. app. 1607a) will be withheld.

(h) The State and the MPO shall be notified of the actions taken under paragraphs (f) and (g) of this section. Upon full, joint certification by the FHWA and the FTA, all funds withheld will be restored to the metropolitan area, unless they have lapsed.

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