President Trump signed into law May 12 a measure that repeals a controversial new regulation to reform metropolitan planning organizations, which the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration promulgated last year.
The new rule had drawn widespread industry concern for the burdens it would impose on MPOs, and disruptions it could bring in relationships between MPOs and their partners. The Senate had passed the repeal measure by unanimous consent before the House passed it April 27 in a 417-3 vote.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials was among the many groups supporting the repeal legislation. State departments of transportation work with their MPOs in crafting federally required long-term transportation project plans and in developing individual projects that affect the local areas under MPO jurisdiction.
The two federal agencies had surprised transportation agencies in 2016 with that regulatory effort, since they had not held discussions beforehand with MPOs and related groups such as state DOTs in how the government might reshape the local and regional planning agencies.
AASHTO along with a number of state DOTs objected that the new rule would require MPOs to shoulder extensive extra costs and other burdens, and could disrupt a system that had long been working well.
AASHTO and others also asked the FHWA and FTA to withdraw the rule. Instead, those agencies finalized it in December saying they had made a number of changes to simplify it, but it retained much of the proposal’s original complexity. It took effect on Jan. 19, a day before President Trump took office.