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AASHTO Journal

House Passes Senate Bill to Repeal Widely Panned MPO Rule

The House of Representatives voted 417-3 April 27 to pass a Senate-passed measure that would repeal a widely criticized rule from the last days of the Obama administration that would have required operational changes for many of the nation's metropolitan planning organizations.

capitol0816.jpgThe Senate had passed the bill March 8 by unanimous consent, so it now goes to President Trump to sign into law and remove the regulation that had drawn criticism from many state DOTs as well as MPOs. DOTs work closely with MPOs in their states in developing transportation project plans, so anything that alters or adds regulatory burdens to the local planning agencies can affect the state agencies as well.

After the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration issued its proposed rule last year, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and many state DOTs filed comments urging the USDOT agencies to withdraw it. The commenters objected that the rule would impose major changes on the existing MPO system that state DOTs viewed as working well.

The federal agencies issued a final, revised rule in December that simplified some aspects but retained much of the original's complexity. It took effect Jan. 19, one day before Trump took office and therefore was not subject to his administration's order halting all pending regulations.

On March 1 Carlos Braceras, the Utah DOT's executive director and AASHTO's secretary/treasurer, told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on behalf of both his state agency and AASHTO that the final MPO rule was a "problematic USDOT regulatory action" that imposed an "onerous and unanticipated" new coordination requirement.

He said the rule was expected "to impose costly requirements with no benefits."

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