Friday, July 24, 2015

How do you read the TIP?

In my last blog post (July 21, see below) regarding public comment (open through August 18) on the Regional Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP, I discussed some overarching questions of the “what” and “why” of the TIP.

In this post, I’m getting deep into the details of how to read – and understand – a TIP project entry.

While every project is different, each project has an entry similar to the one below. I’ve described what each of the elements of the entry are and what they mean to you.

A. Project Title. This provides a high level description of the project and generally includes the project type and where the project is.

B. Key #. This is a unique identification number. It is useful if you want to follow the progress of a project over the years and can be used to search for a project within a TIP document.

C. Requesting Agency: This tells you what agency will receive the funding, do the work, and (usually) is providing the local match, when applicable. In short, it is who “owns” the project.

D. Project Year: This is the last year for which the project is funded. Generally, this is the year the project will be completed.

E. Total Previous Expenditures: The dollar amount shown here represents money approved to be spent prior to the current TIP (in this case, FY2016). Many projects take several years to complete and may have been started before the first year shown in the current TIP. For example, if a project began in 2015, the money approved for expenditure in FY2015 would not be included in the table, as the table begins with FY2016, so it is shown here. If this is blank, it means that no money was approved for expenditure before the first year shown in the table.

F. Total Programmed Cost: This is the total of the costs budgeted in this TIP, as shown in the table. It does not include any previous expenditures.

G. Total Cost: This is the full cost – money already approved plus money budgeted but not yet spent across all years. It is the sum of the “total previous expenditures” and “total programmed cost.” For consistency, all dollar amounts shown in the TIP are in “current” dollars – not adjusted for inflation.

H. Project Description: This describes the project in more detail than the project title and project type, above. Note that maintenance projects typically have a broad description, as they encompass many individual projects. The requesting agency will have more details on these, particularly as the project year approaches. Links to those agencies are provided in the TIP.

I. Funding Source: This refers to the type of funding used for that project (e.g., “Bridge” or “STP”). A description of the funding sources and their abbreviations can be found here. Note that an individual project can have multiple funding sources and that each funding source has its own table, showing how the funds will be spent, and in which year(s).

J. Local Match: This shows how much of the total project will be paid for with local funds -- usually by the “requesting agency,” though in some cases other agencies may contribute as well. As can be seen in the table, the majority of the funding for these projects is federal.

K. Table Column Headings: Each of these (preliminary engineering, right-of-way, etc.) describe the type of activity the funds will be spent on. The “total” column shows a sum of all types of expenditures for each year. The “federal share” and “local share” headings show how federal and local funds are divided each year. Added together, these also sum to the amount in the “total” column for each year.

L. PD: This row (short for “preliminary development”) shows projects where some initial work is budgeted (e.g., purchasing land for right-of-way), but there is not funding budgeted for project construction. Projects listed in PD must show the total cost (all years), regardless of how far into the future the project may be completed. These costs are included in the “total programmed costs” discussed above.

M. Fund Totals: These show the total amounts budgeted for each type of activity across all years shown in the TIP. The “total” is a sum of all types of expenditures (preliminary engineering through construction) and is also a sum of the federal and local shares.

Confused? I get it.

The “shorthand” helps make the document more succinct, which makes it easier to use and navigate, yet at the same time the abbreviations and technical terms require some assistance to understand. It’s a catch-22.

I hope this helps. Don’t hesitate to contact COMPASS at 208/855-2558 or with questions, and remember to comment on the draft TIP by August 18 to share your thoughts on proposed projects.

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Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho

COMPASS is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization responsible for transportation planning in Ada and Canyon Counties. The COMPASS Board comprises 39 members representing the cities, counties, highway districts, educational institutions, state agencies, and other entities within the two counties. COMPASS plays an important role in making decisions about future long-range transportation needs in the Treasure Valley, taking into consideration environmental and economic factors that affect the quality of life.