Transportation Improvement Program

The transportation plan is implemented through the development of regional programs and projects that are defined and funded in a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The process varies from location to location, but generally, project sponsors from operating agencies define the projects and submit project applications for funding. One of the key challenges of a regional programming and budgeting process is that there are many different agencies that sponsor transportation projects. Each agency has their own needs for ITS and their own priorities. Cities, counties, transit agencies, toll authorities, state DOTs, and MPOs may all wish to sponsor transportation projects that they view as high priority. One of the inspirations for the National ITS Architecture program was the desire to define a framework that provides a regional context for collaboration on the list of projects in the TIP.

Architecture Use

The regional ITS architecture defines key relationships between the projects that are listed in the TIP. The architecture helps you understand how the projects are related to each other and to existing and future transportation systems in the region. The architecture can be used to support each major step in the TIP process.

The TIP process addresses the competing interests of agencies in the region through an application process where each project sponsor submits an application for their priority list of projects. This requires substantial work by the project sponsors since each identified project must be specified in some detail including estimated project costs. The project sponsor's application must also show how the project is consistent with the long range plan and assists in meeting the region's goals and objectives. Many regions also require that the sponsors submit architecture-related information about the project. Some agencies merely require yes/no questions to be answered regarding the project's inclusion in the regional architecture while others request more detailed information such as the elements, services, and/or interfaces of the architecture to be deployed in the project. The sequence of projects can be used to gain insight into the timelines and project dependencies, including opportunities to coordinate with capital projects. The project sequencing may also include cost and benefit estimates, technical feasibility, potential institutional issues, necessary agreements, and other information that can be used to clearly define the project.

The federally designated planning agency - usually an MPO or State DOT, reviews and prioritizes projects, providing a forum in which elected officials and operating agencies select the projects to include in the TIP. In this step, the architecture may be used as a criteria for project prioritization.