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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about the TIP PROCESS

 The following list of projects was not developed by the Office of Transportation Planning alone. We work cooperatively with the state's thirteen Metropolitan Planning Organizations to develop lists of regional priority projects known as Transportation Improvement Programs, or TIPs. TIPs are updated annually and developed within a defined budget that ensure their credibility as planning and programming documents. The following frequently asked questions about how TIPs are put together and the Statewide Road and Bridge Program is developed every year.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is responsible for planning, developing and constructing hundreds of projects annually. Every year, MassDOT spends more than $400 million on construction of projects in the Statewide Road and Bridge Program. The basis of the Statewide Road and Bridge Program is the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), a compilation of regional priority lists developed within a set budget.

Before using this document, readers should be familiar with the fundamental terms, definitions and concepts contained within it. The following frequently asked questions and answers will provide some of this information. More detailed responses are available from the Office of Transportation Planning.

What is the STIP?

The State Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP, is a compilation of the thirteen regional Transportation Improvement Programs prepared annually by the state's Metropolitan Planning Organizations. It is essentially a listing of priority transportation projects (highway and transit) listed by funding category and fiscal year. The STIP is reviewed and approved by state and federal transportation and environmental agencies.

What is a regional TIP?

Every year, each region must prepare and update its Transportation Improvement Program, a staged multi-year program of capital improvements that reflect the needs of the regional transportation system. Under federal regulations, the TIP must be constrained to available funding, consistent with the long-range Regional Transportation Plan, and include an annual element, or listing, of projects to be advertised in the first year of the TIP. Like the STIP, the regional TIP has a highway component and a transit component.

What is an MPO?

An MPO is a regional body made up of state, regional and local officials and is responsible for conducting transportation planning and programming. In Massachusetts each MPO traditionally has at least four members; the Executive Office of Transportation, which acts as chair, MassHighway, the Regional Planning Agencies and the Regional Transit Authority. Virtually all MPOs have expanded to include elected local officials such as mayors and selectmen. The Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration serve as non-voting members of MPOs.

Are RPAs and MPOs the same thing?

No. RPAs and MPOs are often confused because they encompass identical geographical boundaries. RPAs, working under contract with the Office of Transportation Planning and EOT, conduct transportation and other planning in their region. RPAs conduct much of the staff work for, and are voting members of, MPOs. However, MPOs and RPAs serve different functions, and the terms should not be used interchangeably. For example the full MPO, including state agencies, regional planning and transit agencies and local elected officials, is responsible for approving the Transportation Improvement Program.

How long does it take to put the TIP together?

The TIP must be in place every year by October 1st, the first day of the federal fiscal year. The process takes several months, and generally begins in late winter or early spring.

Who approves the TIP?

TIPs are approved by a majority vote of the region's Metropolitan Planning Organization.

How are projects added or subtracted a project from the TIP?

The STIP is a "living" document that is modified during the course of the year. MPOs must be involved in the decision to add, remove or adjust projects in the TIP. In some cases, this requires formal MPO endorsement of a TIP "amendment," a process that can take two months or more. In other cases, the change can be accomplished with a TIP "adjustment" with a less formal MPO notification and approval process.

 

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