Urban transit systems will need to maintain their project information in the statewide planning document, the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP). Lack of preparation or diligence in updating of the STIP could result in delayed funding.
State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP): The STIP is a federally mandated, 10‐year planning document showing how Federal/state/local transportation funds will be spent throughout the state. FTA or FHWA funded transit projects managed by designated recipients and without IMD oversight must be reflected in the STIP. Projects in which IMD is the designated recipient (5311, etc.) are entered by IMD and do not need to be entered by the transit system.
Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Plan (MTIP): Each MPO has their own 10‐year plan which serves the same purpose as the STIP only at a local level. MTIP amendments are required to go through an approval process with the MPO’s governing Board (TAC/TCC). A project cannot be formally added to the STIP until it has been approved by the MPO’s governing board. Projects in the MTIP must identically reflect the way it is presented in the STIP.
Transit Providers need to make an amendment to the STIP/MTIP when a project is altered or awarded. The STIP is in current year dollars; FTA uses the year in which money is expended. STIP Amendments come in four (4) forms: additions, modifications, administrative modifications, and deletions. Amendments to the STIP are made using the STIP Amendment Request Form which can be found in the Document Library on the NCDOT CONNECT
site. To request a STIP Amendment, please contact your Regional Grant Specialist.
STIP Additions: Additions to the transit STIP are new projects currently not listed in the STIP. IMD will assign a new STIP ID # upon request.
STIP Modification: Modifications occur when an existing project needs to be modified to reflect a change in scope, years of funding, funding source, or a funding amount increase or decrease greater than 25% of the original amount or do not exceed $1,000,000.
STIP Administrative Modifications: Administrative Modifications occur when a minor modification to an existing project falls below a certain threshold mentioned above. Administrative modifications are not subject to a thirty (30) day public comment period and therefore have an expedited process for approval. See Attachment 3004‐1 for NCDOT’s administrative modification information.
Transit System Responsibility in Managing STIP Projects: Transit systems need to diligently coordinate with IMD and their MPO/RPO to ensure projects are correct and up to date. Failure to plan could lead to delayed funding due to the extensive process to amend the STIP.
Timeline: STIP Amendments usually take 2‐3 months. IMD needs the STIP Amendment Request Form sent to the Regional Grant Specialist at least one (1) month prior to the Board of Transportation meeting to include the project in the agenda. Amendments need to be available for public comment for at least 30 days prior to this approval. STIP amendments need both NCDOT Board of Transportation (BOT) approval and approval by the governing board of the MPO/RPO. FTA must endorse any changes to the STIP through a formal letter after BOT approval. See Attachment 3004‐2 for more information regarding the STIP approval timeline.
FTA STIP Endorsement Letter: FTA must approve all amendments made to the transit STIP. FTA does this by way of formal Endorsement Letter between NCDOT and FTA. Transit systems will need to include the STIP endorsement letter for their project when applying for a grant in TrAMS.
Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) Grants: Transit systems can utilize some grants provided through FHWA. These include primarily Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) and Surface Transportation Block Grant Direct Attributable Program (STBGDA). In this case, FHWA transfers their funds to FTA for the transit system to utilize in the form of 5307 or 5311 funds. This process is known as “flexing funds.”
Flexing Federal Funds: To initiate this process, the MPO sends the Flex Fund Request Form to IMD Regional Grant Specialists. Project must be properly included the STIP and endorsed by FTA to flex. The transit system will also need a “draft grant ID number” in TrAMS which tells FTA which grant the funds should be placed in. Once the Flex Fund Request Form is received the process requires that:
- IMD prepares the flex letter and emails it to FTA Region IV, NC FHWA, NCDOT staff and the requesting MPO after the STIP is amended.
- The NCDOT Financial Management Division's Federal Funds Management Section prepares the Flex Form (1576) and sends it to NC FHWA, NC FHWA sends signed 1576 form back to IMD.
- NC FHWA processes the request locally and submits to FHWA Headquarters; funds are transferred to FTA in Washington, DC.
- IMD forwards the signed 1576 to MPO and transit system. The TrAMS application is completed with Form 1576 attached.
The entire flexing process can take 4-9 months. FTA Grant approval can be done in 3 months. IMD than utilizes EBS and the FTA Grant if the transit system is our subrecipient. See Attachment 3004-2 for a flow chart.