Transportation Planning

Transportation Planning Responsibilities

1. Funding

Overall Work Program (OWP)

The Overall Work Program (also known as an Overall Work Plan or OWP) is a one-year scope of work for transportation planning activities and funding. It explains the LCTC’s decision-making, partnering, coordination, public participation, financing, and other approaches. It proposes a statement of work and estimated costs tied to specific funding sources for actions taken during the fiscal year.

The Caltrans Regional Planning Handbook describes an OWP as “the transportation planning structure for the state fiscal year” and says it can also be used for other purposes including:

  • The MPO’s/RTPA’s annual operations plan for the state fiscal year;
  • The MPO’s/RTPA’s planning budget for the state fiscal year;
  • An activity tracking and management tool for the MPO/RTPA Governing Board;
  • A contract and monitoring tool for local, state, and federal entities to track the completion of annual transportation planning and expenditure of funds;
  • An easy reference for members of the public who wish to know the “who/what/when/where/how much” of transportation planning activities in the region; and,
  • The OWP also is part of the annual funding contract between the state and the RTPA for Rural Planning Assistance (RPA) funding.

The current OWP can be found in the Transportation Planning Documents page of the LCTC website.

State Transportation Improvement Plan

The State Transportation Improvement Program (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 (RTIP5). 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).

Local agencies 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.

Guidance for preparing the region’s STIP and past year’s reports of STIP balances is located in the California Transportation Commission’s amended STIP Guidelines at the following link:

The current STIP can be found in the Transportation Planning Documents page of the LCTC website.

Local Transportation Funds (LTF)

The TDA creates in each county an LTF for the transportation purposes specified in the Act (“Mills-Alquist Deddeh Act”, also known as the Transportation Development Act, PUC Section 99200). Revenues to the LTF are derived from 1/4 cent of the 7.25-cent retail sales tax collected statewide. The State Board of Equalization returns the 1/4-cent to each county according to the amount of tax collected in that county.

There is a three-step process: (1) apportionment, (2) allocation, and (3) payment. One step does not always imply or require the next. Annually, the Transportation Planning Agencies (TPA) determines each area’s share of the anticipated LTF. This share is the area apportionment. Once funds are apportioned to a given area, they are typically available only for allocation to claimants in that area. Allocation is the discretionary action by the TPA, which designates funds for a specific claimant for a specific purpose. Payment is authorized by allocation instructions issued by the TPA, which may call for payment in a lump sum, in installments, or as funds become available.

Generally, revenues from the county’s LTF must be apportioned, by population, to areas within the county. An area can be a transit district, city, county, etc. For a county without a transit district, apportionments are made for the incorporated area of each city and for the county’s unincorporated area. Where there is a transit district, separate apportionments are made to areas within and outside the district. Area apportionments are defined in PUC Sections 99231 through 99232.6. It is important to remember that an area’s apportionment represents an estimate of the amount of LTF the area can expect to get allocated to it.

The LTF is allocated in a specific priority order. Claims for administration, planning and programming, pedestrian and bicycle projects, passenger rail projects, and Consolidated Transportation Service Agency activities are funded in priority order before Article 4 and Article 8 claims. Article 4 claims are funded before Article 8 claims. Payments from the LTF are made by the county auditor but only in accordance with written allocation instructions issued by the county’s transportation planning agency (TPA).

Guidance for LTF is located in throughout the TDA Guide Book. Assistance on the establishment and application of the LTF is located at the following link:

2. Grants

Federal Grants

A major way FTA helps communities support public transportation is by issuing grants to eligible recipients for planning, vehicle purchases, facility construction, operations, and other purposes. FTA administers this financial assistance according to authorization, SAFETEA-LU, which was signed into law in August 2005. SAFETEA-LU authorizes specific dollar amounts for each program. Each year Congress provides an annual appropriation which funds the programs specified in SAFETEA-LU. Upon receiving this appropriation, FTA apportions and allocates these funds according to formulas and earmarks. These FTA apportionments are published annually in the Federal Register. FTA programs are typically identified by a name and/or a section number (of Title 49 of the United States Code) — for example, the “Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities” or “Section 5310” grant program. Each year Congress appropriates funds for each program and FTA awards grants to eligible recipients to meet the goals of that program. Generally, FTA funds are available to designated recipients that must be public bodies (i.e. states, cities, towns, regional governments, transit authorities, etc.) with the legal authority to receive and dispense federal funds. The recipients of these grants are responsible for managing their projects in accordance with federal requirements. FTA conducts oversight reviews to ensure that these requirements are met.

Located below is a list of major grant programs that FTA sponsors. Each grant program is referred to by name and by a number that correlates to the section number of Title 49 of the United States Code.

Information, applications and guidance can be found for each one of these programs located at the link below. Note: programs applicable or potentially applicable to Lassen County have been bolded.

  • Metropolitan & Statewide Planning (5303, 5304, 5305)
  • Large Urban Cities (5307)
  • Clean Fuels Grant Program (5308)
  • Major Capital Investments (New Starts & Small Starts) (5309)
  • Rail and Fixed Guideway Modernization (5309)
  • Bus and Bus Facilities (5309, 5318)
  • Transportation for Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities (5310)
  • Rural and Small Urban Areas (5311)
  • Rural Transit Assistance Program (5311 ((b)(3)))
  • Public Transportation on Indian Reservations (5311(c))
  • Transit Cooperative Research Program (5313)
  • National Research & Technology Program (5314)
  • Job Access and Reverse Commute Program (5316)
  • New Freedom Program (5317)
  • Alternative Transportation in Parks and Public Lands (5320)
  • Alternatives Analysis (5339)
  • University Transportation Centers Program (TEA-21 5505)
  • Over the Road Bus Program/Over the Road Bus Accessibility (3038)
  • Flexible Funding for Highway and Transit
  • National Fuel Cell Technology Development Program (SAFETEA-LU 3045)
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Grants

The FHWA administers the following discretionary programs through its various offices. These discretionary programs represent special funding categories where FHWA solicits for candidates and selects projects for funding based on applications received. Each program has its own eligibility and selection criteria that are established by law, by regulation, or administratively. More information on each of these programs is available under the FHWA Discretionary Program Information.

Information is also available on Current Solicitations for Projects and Recent Awards. Information regarding each program can be located at through the link below:

  • Bridge
  • Corridor Planning and Development and Border Infrastructure (Corridors & Borders)
  • Delta Region Transportation Development Program
  • Ferry Boats
  • Highways for LIFE
  • Innovative Bridge Research and Construction
  • Innovative Bridge Research and Deployment Program
  • National Historic Covered Bridge Program
  • ITS Deployment Program
  • Interstate Maintenance
  • Public Lands Highways
  • Scenic Byways
  • Transportation and Community and System Preservation Program
  • Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA)
  • Truck Parking
  • Value Pricing Pilot Program
  • State Grants

California state transportation funding comes from general sales tax, state fuel taxes, gasoline sales tax, truck weight fees, tolls, diesel fuel sales tax, bond acts, and other sources as well as receiving transportation funding from the federal government. California transportation funding is used for transportation planning, maintenance and operations, streets and highways, mass transit capital acquisitions and operations, and non-motorized transportation improvements. Though the majority of funding for state programs goes through the STIP; Propositions 1B and 116; and the TDA in the form of LTF and STA funds, there are state grants that assist in the funding of transportation related projects.

California Regional Blueprint Planning Program

The Regional Blueprint Planning Program is intended to better inform regional and local decision-making, through pro-active engagement of all segments of the population as well as critical stakeholders in the community, business interests, academia, builders, environmental advocates, and to foster consensus on a vision and preferred land use pattern. It is anticipated that the regional blueprint planning grants will build capacity for regional collaboration and integrated planning that will in turn enable regions to plan to accommodate all their future growth, thereby reducing need for sprawl. The regional blueprint efforts will include development of regional performance measures that can measure progress toward the region’s own vision for future land use and transportation. Each region will also select several statewide performance measures to measure progress toward statewide transportation system and housing goals.

This is a relatively new program that Lassen County is currently in the process of developing. For information and guidance regarding this grant program, please refer to the link located below.

Transportation Planning Grants

The transportation planning grants are primarily used to seed planning activities that encourage livable communities. These grants assist local agencies in better integrating land use and transportation planning, to develop alternatives for addressing growth and to assess efficient infrastructure investments that meet community needs. These planning activities are expected to help leverage projects that foster sustainable economies, increase available affordable housing, improve housing/jobs balance, encourage transit oriented and mixed use development, expand transportation choices, reflect community values, and include non-traditional participation in transportation decision making. Transportation Planning grant funded projects demonstrate the value of these new approaches locally, and provide best practices for statewide application.

Transportation Planning grants are divided into six different categories listed below.

Partnership Planning
Transit Planning Studies
Transit Technical Planning Assistance
Transit Professional Development
Environmental Justice: Context-Sensitive Planning
Community-Based Transportation Planning

Information and Caltrans guidance regarding these programs can be found by following the link located below.

3. Planning Documents

Regional Transportation Plan (RTP)

A Regional Transportation Plan is a state-mandated document prepared biennially by all regional transportation planning agencies. The RTP has a long-term horizon (not less than 20 years within the entire life of the RTP) and identifies existing and future transportation needs in the region. Although it includes rough cost estimates for the transportation proposals and is fiscally constrained (i.e., the total anticipated cost of the proposals is limited to the total reasonably anticipated revenues for the term of the plan), specific fund sources are usually not identified for the individual transportation proposals. Caltrans provides guidance for developing the RTP located at the following link:

The current RTP can be found in the Transportation Planning Documents page of the LCTC website.

Transit Development Plan (TDP)

Under the Urban Mass Transit Act of 1964, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is a principal source of federal financial assistance for planning and operation of mass transit systems. Recipients of FTA funds are required to develop a Transit Development Program (sometimes called Transit Development Plan) (TDP) to support funding requests made in their capital and transportation improvement programs. This plan is a short-range plan over a five-year period that provides for the development and coordination of public transportation systems in the RTPA’s jurisdiction. The TDP must be consistent with the RTP and the RTIP. TDPs are typically prepared for rural areas, while Short Range Transit Plans (SRTP5) are prepared for individual transit operations in urban areas.

The first TDP for Lassen County was adopted in 1996 with updates scheduled every five years thereafter. The current TDP can be found in the Transportation Planning Documents page of the LCTC website.

Coordinated Plan

In accordance with the provisions of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), recipients under the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Sections 5310, 5316, and 5317 programs must comply with all federal coordinated planning requirements to be eligible for funds. The reauthorization stipulates that projects selected for funding under these specified programs must be derived from a locally coordinated, public transit-human services transportation plan (Coordinated Plan).

The California Department of Transportation, Division of Mass Transportation (DMT) is the designated recipient administering the FTA Section 5310 program and the small urban and rural portions of FTA Sections 5316 and 5317 programs. DMT is responsible for certifying that each project selected was derived from a locally developed, coordinated public transit-human services transportation plan and that coordinated plans are developed through a process that includes representatives of public, private, and non-profit transportation and human services providers and participation by the public.

Lassen County’s Coordinated Plan was developed in 2008. The Coordinated Plan will be included in the Transportation Planning Documents page upon its approval. Caltrans offers guidance on developing a Coordinated Plan as well as links to Coordinated Plans recently developed by various rural counties.

Public Participation Plan

The Federal Transportation Equity Act for the 2l Century (TEA-21) and its predecessor, the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act are both emphatic about the role of public participation in the transportation decision-making process. More recently, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) encourages collaboration with stakeholders as well. Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice (1994) and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and a host of other federal laws and regulations, also require public involvement, particularly the underrepresented, in transportation decision making. Caltrans’ policy equally requires that the delivery of transportation programs be consistent with the requirements of these relevant laws, including Environmental Justice requirements to involve all constituents as a precondition to using federal funds for transportation improvements. Caltrans supports a balanced representation of all stakeholders in the planning process and considers it a good planning practice to seek out and consider the needs of all stakeholders, especially those that are traditionally underserved. The Division of Transportation Planning (Division) envisions transportation decisions as the product of collaborative work and choices made jointly by all stakeholders. In order to realize this vision of public participation, the Office of Community Planning is addressing public participation in planning, which can be summarized in the following efforts:

Currently, Lassen County does not have an adopted Public Participation Plan. Expected approval date is June 30th, 2009. Regardless, public outreach and participation is a major theme with Lassen County’s RTP and TDP and is incorporated in all projects that Lassen County develops. Caltrans Guidance regarding Public Participation can be located within the link listed below.