Progress in Achieving Consistency between Transportation and Air Quality Plans

Jerry A. Kurtzweg

DOI: 10.2190/02EK-L7QC-7JTR-6Y21


This paper summarizes the progress in implementing a statutory requirement for consistency between federal-aid highways and state plans for implementing national ambient air quality standards. In response to this requirement the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) developed interim regulations in 1973 and final regulations in 1974. Under the regulations, the highway agency responsible for "initiating and carrying forward the action" on federally funded highways requests the policy boards of metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to annually determine the consistency of current transportation plans and programs with the relevant state air quality plan. The FHWA may withhold or condition planning certification for an MPO if sufficient inconsistencies exist. Planning certification is a prerequisite to approval of federally funded highway and public transit projects.

To determine the effectiveness of the consistency determination and review process, a survey was made of the results of the process for 1976. The survey focused on three basic questions: (1) Is the consistency process being completed for all 237 MPO areas? If not, is the process being completed for all those MPOs which should be given priority because of the severity of their air pollution problems? (2) Under the FHWA regulations the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regional offices have a consultive role. What have been the recommendations of the EPA regional offices in their consultation with the FHWA? (3) What has been the FHWA response to EPA recommendations?

This paper describes and analyzes the results of the survey and identifies the resultant policy issues.

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