Draft Memorandum for the Record
Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization
TIP Project Cost Ad Hoc Committee Meeting Summary
August 19, 2021, Meeting
10:00 AM–11:20 PM, Zoom Video Conferencing Platform
Eric Bourassa, Chair, representing Marc Draisen, Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)
Materials for this meeting included the following:
E. Bourassa called the meeting to order, read the accessibility statement, and called the roll of attendees.
There were none
A motion to approve the minutes of the meetings of June 17, 2021, and July 8, 2021, was made by the Inner Core Committee (City of Somerville) (Tom Bent) and seconded by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Advisory Board (Brian Kane). The motion carried.
M. Genova provided an overview of the three
potential policy interventions that emerged during the Ad Hoc Committee’s first
four meetings. A detailed memorandum of these interventions is available on the MPO website.
This policy change would be complemented by three additional policy
M. Genova stated
that there is an outstanding question for this recommendation: Should the 25
percent design threshold apply to projects already included in the MPO’s
Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)? He stated that the current policy is to
score LRTP projects before they are programmed in the TIP. But the board should
also set clear expectations for these proponents on when they will be
considered for funding and the extent to which they need to have steps in the
design process completed before being considered.
B. Kane stated
that projects already programmed in the TIP should not be addressed by the new
policies, and the new policies should be applied to new projects programmed in federal
fiscal year (FFY) 2027 onward. He suggested that the proposed policy should be
applied to unprogrammed projects in the LRTP on a case-by-case basis.
John Romano (MassDOT) suggested providing a checklist of costs included
by MassDOT, such as police detail, to proponents in
any future guidance documents. This would ensure that certain costs would be
accounted for at an early stage in design and would prevent cost increases in
later stages of design due to oversight.
(Regional Transportation Advisory Council) supported this suggestion.
L. Diggins stated
that the 25 percent submission threshold should apply to current LRTP projects
and that this policy change should be clearly communicated to proponents of
LRTP projects. E. Bourassa supported this suggestion, stating that large-scale
projects, such as those included in the LRTP, can be subject to large cost
Steve Olanoff suggested that the MPO board should receive a
breakdown of the costs of a project, including contingencies, rather than only
seeing one overall cost estimate.
L. Diggins asked
about the significance of the 25 percent design public hearing. He stated that
setting the programming threshold to this level could prevent cost increases
more effectively than the 25 percent design submission threshold. E. Bourassa
stated that municipalities engage the public during the conceptual stages of
project design, and that the 25 percent public hearing is a requirement to
receive federal funding. He expressed that there are informal processes at the
municipal level that allow for public input outside of the 25 percent public
John Bechard (MassDOT) expressed
hesitance at setting the programming threshold to the 25 percent design public
hearing, stating that the gap between the 25 percent design submission and the
design public hearing can be three to nine months. He acknowledged that there
are occasions where a project reaches the public hearing phase and members of
the public are not fully informed of the entire project scope but added that MassDOT recommends engaging the community prior to reaching
the 25 percent design submission.
(Federal Highway Administration [FHWA]) stated that FHWA has found that some
proponents engage the public in early stages of design better than others. He
noted that FHWA does not have a public design hearing requirement.
expressed that the proposed policy change would encourage proponents to conduct
outreach prior to reaching 25 percent design submission, as large cost increases
could occur based on public input.
establishing biannual check-ins between MPO staff, project proponents, and MassDOT Highway District staff (This would be over and
above current levels of communication with proponents.);
to include MPO staff on design submissions to MassDOT;
presentations to the MPO when there are major project cost or scope changes.
M. Genova stated that there are three key reasons behind this proposed
It would provide the
MPO board with more complete and timely information to inform decision making.
It supports proactive
conversations between all parties to address problems before they impact a
project’s schedule or cost.
It fosters greater
proponent accountability for their project.
M. Genova expressed an outstanding question
for this policy change: What action should the MPO take if project proponents
do not meet the requirements for engagement?
L. Diggins expressed that proponents should
meet this requirement or risk jeopardizing their project funding.
In response to the presentation and rescoring, the MPO board may elect
to make changes to a project’s status, also considering:
After consideration, the decisions made by the MPO on a project’s status
M. Genova stated that proponents could
request that the MPO reconsider their decision via written or oral comments.
This would reinforce the collaborative nature of continuing, cooperative, and
comprehensive (3C) document development. He added that the rescoring of projects
would occur during development of a new TIP document or an amendment to the
existing TIP. The MPO may suspend the rescoring process if exceptional
circumstances arise, including an unexpected influx of new funding or a shift
in MPO funding priorities.
M. Genova provided an overview of the key reasons for this proposed
M. Genova posed outstanding questions regarding this proposed policy
K. Miller supported using comparative metrics,
adding that project types could carry their own metrics for comparison. He
suggested evaluating cost-effectiveness during project programming and using
this as a metric for comparison for future cost increases. He noted that a
project can increase in cost and still be cost-effective.
Jay Monty (City of Everett) supported using
cost-effectiveness as a metric. He added that cost-effectiveness should be
considered for all projects, not just those with cost increases.
J. Monty stated that the Committee should
consider the repercussions of a proponent being unable to find an alternate
funding source for a project. E. Bourassa agreed that this should be considered
but noted that the proposed policy explains the avenues available to the MPO,
and that asking proponents to seek an alternate funding source is a more
extreme option. M. Genova stated that this could be an opportunity to open a
dialogue with a proponent to discuss potential funding options. He expressed
that this policy would provide the MPO with the greatest flexibility while
maintaining avenues for discussion with municipalities.
B. Kane stated that the policy
recommendations proposed by M. Genova provide a significant improvement to the
current TIP process and supported the current TIP criteria.
L. Diggins expressed that MPO staff’s policy
of comparing projects within a given funding category provides a distinction
like those requested by K. Miller. He suggested that cost increases across
multiple FFYs be treated as independent events. E. Bourassa suggested that the
total project cost should be communicated when discussing cost increases for
projects spanning multiple FFYs.
M. Genova confirmed that projects would be compared within their funding category and clarified that the proposed policy would put all programmed projects on the current 100-point TIP evaluation scale, and projects would be plotted on a four-quadrant matrix. Cost changes would be evaluated based on this matrix.
M. Genova posed the following questions to Committee members:
T. Bent suggested that MassDOT
evaluate the impact of increasing the annual inflation rate, and suggested
meeting with MassDOT to discuss their flexibility
regarding cost escalation within their contracts. He noted the increasing costs
of construction materials and how this might affect project cost, depending on
the date of purchase of raw materials. L. Diggins suggested incorporating
compounding inflation into the TIP. E. Bourassa expressed concern that being
overly conservative with project programming could impact the advancement of
project design, noting that TIP programming prioritizes projects for MassDOT. He suggested that the Ad Hoc Committee advocate
for the proposed policy changes and discuss changes to the inflation rate after
analyzing the efficacy of these policies.
L Diggins supported not fully programming the
TIP in a given FFY to better mitigate the effects of project cost increases. In
addition, he suggested that the rescoring policy should take effect in FFY
J. Monty noted that this policy would likely
result in few new projects in the upcoming TIP, as the time between a project
reaching PRC approval and 25 percent design submission can exceed one year.
E. Bourassa asked about the status of
projects in the TIP Universe of Projects. M. Genova stated that the Universe
includes 14 projects that have been previously evaluated but not programmed,
and five projects that will reach 25 percent design submission by early 2022.
This is in addition to projects submitted through the Community Connections
program, which are evaluated on different criteria.
J. Monty asked if, given the potential lack
of competition and abundance of funding in FFY 2027, all projects meeting the
25 percent design submission threshold would be programmed regardless of their
evaluation score. E. Bourassa requested that M. Genova provide more information
about potential programming scenarios for the upcoming TIP at the next Ad Hoc
Committee meeting. L. Diggins noted that the MPO is not required to fund a
project simply based on having been evaluated, adding that having a relatively
open TIP year would help mitigate issues seen in the past two TIP cycles.
B. Kane and J. Romano supported a blended
approach to implementation.
J. Romano asked how the Infrastructure
Investment and Jobs Act could impact available TIP funding in future years. E.
Bourassa stated that he anticipates that Target funding will increase, although
the extent will be determined depending on the bill’s passage through Congress.
E. Bourassa noted that these policies can be
suspended should the MPO find that they need to program additional projects in
the TIP that have not reached 25 percent design.
E. Bourassa asked M. Genova what changes
would be made to the TIP policy memorandum, based on the Committee’s input. M.
Genova stated that for the next meeting, he could replace the included
questions with draft language based on the meeting’s discussion. This language
could address a blended implementation and clarification of the timeline for implementation.
The focus for the next meeting would be to ensure that members are in consensus
about the direction of the proposed TIP policies prior to presenting
recommendations to the MPO board.
Committee members expressed appreciation for
Matt Genova’s efforts, and the efforts of additional MPO staff.
There were none.
The committee will meet on September 2, 2021, at 12:30 PM.
A motion to adjourn was made by L. Diggins and seconded by B. Kane. The motion carried.
Massachusetts Department of Transportation (Highway Division)
Metropolitan Area Planning Council
Regional Transportation Advisory Council
Inner Core Committee (City of Somerville)
At Large City (City of Everett)
MBTA Advisory Board
Planning Committee (Town of Medway)
MBTA Advisory Board
MassDOT Office of
North Suburban Planning Council/City of Woburn
MetroWest Regional Transit Authority
North Shore Task Force/City of Beverly
Town of Lexington
Town of Norwood
Town of Belmont (School Committee, Community Path Committee)
Staff/Central Transportation Planning Staff
Tegin Teich, Executive Director
Anne McGahan, Chief Planner
Ariel Patterson, Transportation Planner
Betsy Harvey, Transportation Equity Program Manager
Jonathan Church, Manager of MPO Activities
Matt Genova, TIP Manager
Michelle Scott, Chief Planner
Sandy Johnston, UPWP Manager
Kate White, Public Outreach Coordinator
Administrative and Communications Assistant
The Boston Region Metropolitan Planning
Organization (MPO) operates its programs, services, and activities in
compliance with federal nondiscrimination laws including Title VI of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987,
and related statutes and regulations. Title VI prohibits discrimination in
federally assisted programs and requires that no person in the United States
of America shall, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin
(including limited English proficiency), be excluded from participation in,
denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any
program or activity that receives federal assistance. Related federal
nondiscrimination laws administered by the Federal Highway Administration,
Federal Transit Administration, or both, prohibit discrimination on the basis
of age, sex, and disability. The Boston Region MPO considers these protected
populations in its Title VI Programs, consistent with federal interpretation
and administration. In addition, the Boston Region MPO provides meaningful
access to its programs, services, and activities to individuals with limited
English proficiency, in compliance with U.S. Department of Transportation
policy and guidance on federal Executive Order 13166.
The Boston Region MPO also complies with the
Massachusetts Public Accommodation Law, M.G.L. c 272 sections 92a, 98, 98a,
which prohibits making any distinction, discrimination, or restriction in
admission to, or treatment in a place of public accommodation based on race,
color, religious creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability,
or ancestry. Likewise, the Boston Region MPO complies with the Governor's
Executive Order 526, section 4, which requires that all programs, activities,
and services provided, performed, licensed, chartered, funded, regulated, or
contracted for by the state shall be conducted without unlawful
discrimination based on race, color, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual
orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, creed, ancestry,
national origin, disability, veteran's status (including Vietnam-era
veterans), or background.
A complaint form and additional information
can be obtained by contacting the MPO or at http://www.bostonmpo.org/mpo_non_discrimination. To request this
information in a different language or in an accessible format, please
Title VI Specialist
For people with hearing or speaking difficulties,
connect through the state MassRelay service:
TTY or Hearing Carry-over: 800.439.2370
Voice Carry-over: 866.887.6619
Text to Speech: 866.645.9870
For more information, including numbers for Spanish
speakers, visit https://www.mass.gov/massrelay