Public Interest Transportation Forum -

Puget Sound Regional Council
 certified by USDOT for compliance
with Federal planning regulations

by John Niles

Questions and Answers Guiding the Review for download in PDF

Comments submitted December 16, 2005 by the Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives (CETA) are available here in PDF for download

The results of the review issued June 7, 2006 are here in PDF for download

Puget Sound Regional Council, PSRC, described at received notice of its recertification in June 2006.

Federal law requires that a routine Planning Certification Review be performed for the central Puget Sound region, and all other metropolitan areas with population greater than 200,000, once every three years. Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration jointly conducted the review Autumn 2005 in accordance with the joint planning regulations contained in 23 CFR 450 Subpart C Metropolitan Transportation Planning and Programming, part of the Federal law.

Professor Ken Dueker, a long-time scholar focused on regional transportation planning processes and who helped CETA prepare critical input to USDOT, commented to PITF on the recertification as follows:

"The perfunctory recertification of the PSRC metropolitan planning function is discouraging, but not surprising. Throughout the U.S., MPOs, including PSRC, have embraced provision of transportation choices rather than transportation efficiency as the goal. The term "choices" is a tacit recognition that efficiency is not important. So, our stressing efficiency can be ignored. And so can the inefficiencies of PSRC's solutions to increase choices. The advocates of providing more "choices" reject transportation plans calling for more auto-mobility. They want to reverse auto dependency. But they are unwilling to recognize that their "choices" will not arrest auto use by an appreciable amount. The choice advocates are so committed to arresting urban sprawl, auto dependency, global warming, and air pollution, that they are willing to embrace ineffective and inefficient policies and plans. In response, we need to stress the importance of "responsible personal mobility," a concept that better manages congestion, pollution, and provides real choices. Real choices do not tolerate increasing congestion to achieve the so-called transportation choices. So the linchpin is to increase personal mobility, responsibly, while reducing congestion. MPOs need to be redirected."

How the USDOT views metropolitan transportation planning is seen at  and at

This certification review was a golden opportunity for the customers of regional transportation planning -- taxpayers who pay the bills and live by the results -- to tell the Feds how well transportation planning is working in the Puget Sound region. A public meeting was held in Seattle on October 18th, 2005 at which sharply critical comments were provided by five regional citizens on the transportation planning process and how the process is meeting the needs of the Puget Sound metropolitan area.

The bottom line response on all of the commentary submitted by citizens was told USDOT as follows:

Although these comments do not alter our findings with regard to PSRC's compliance with the transportation planning process required by Federal law and regulation, we do encourage PSRC to continue working with the public in an open and collaborative manner to seek appropriate resolutions of their concerns regarding the transportation planning process.

Some of the major elements of the review include: the organization and management of the planning process, planning agreements and the cooperative process, plan development and project programming, public involvement, congestion management, project selection & monitoring, recognizing financial constraint, air quality, and intelligent transportation systems (ITS).

A complete guide to topics of interest in the Certification Review is provided by the series of questions asked by USDOT of PSRC, and the answers that PSRC offers.   The questions and answers are posted here, and these amount to a tutorial on how transportation planning works in the central Puget Sound region.

The legal background for the questions is provided in a document sent by the USDOT to PSRC, which can be downloaded here.

The previous certification review was in 2002, with a report from USDOT issued February 2003, available here to download (934 KB PDF image file).

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Last modified: February 07, 2011