AASHTO Journal, 29 April 2016
The organizations representing state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations sent a joint letter to Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau asking for more time to prepare comments on a new proposed rule that is part of the 2012 surface transportation law known as MAP-21.
On April 22, the Federal Highway Administration released a proposed regulation that would set new performance measures for state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations to assess travel reliability, congestion and emissions in the highway movement of people and goods.
The proposed new rule – “National Performance Management Measures; Assessing Performance of the National Highway System, Freight Movement on the Interstate System, and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program” – said that in addition to MAP-21 performance measures, FHWA was seeking comment on “whether and how to” establish a greenhouse gas emissions measure which was not specified in MAP-21.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations sent the April 26 letter asking that the deadline for comments be pushed to Oct. 19, 2016, which would be 60 additional days beyond the 120 days provided in the proposed rule docket in order to provide “adequate time to provide the USDOT with a substantive response that will serve as a valuable input to the rule-making process,” the letter said.
The letter said that AASHTO and AMPO have been working with their respective member departments and organizations to prepare comments for this notice of proposed rule-makings.
“After initial discussions with our State DOT and MPO members…it became apparent that the scope and complexity of this NPRM far exceeds the breadth and depth of other NPRMs and will require a more extensive review by the State DOTs, coordination by AASHTO and AMPO staff, and coordination with our member departments in order to provide the USDOT with a comprehensive and robust response.”
AASHTO and AMPO anticipate the agencies’ comments will require coordinating with a larger number of persons at the state and MPO level than previous rule-makings. Also, the organizations are concerned about the amount of time and resources that will be required to respond to the greenhouse gas questions posed by USDOT in the notice of proposed rule-making.
“… the USDOT has included a specific request about potential GHG performance measures which, as part of our initial assessment, goes significantly beyond the statutory authority given to the USDOT by Congress under the MAP-21 legislation to develop and implement national-level performance measures.”
AASHTO Executive Director Bud Wright said in response to the April 22 proposed rule-making that “As we implement the new national-level performance management framework and the 19 associated measures established in MAP-21, it is critical to complete this implementation process by not adding any new performance measures as part of the Federal transportation program. Establishment of any additional measures should be left to the full discretion of States and their metropolitan planning organization partners in a way that best addresses their unique and diverse transportation challenges.”