The new federal surface transportation act, “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (MAP-21), was signed into law on July 6, 2012. Under MAP-21, the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) remains as one of the core federal-aid programs. The High Risk Rural Roads (HR3) Program is part of the HSIP Program in MAP-21, not a set-aside as in the previous federal surface transportation act.
For questions not addressed in the “Start Planning for the 2013 Cycle-6 HSIP Call-for-Projects” post published on January 2013, a log of HSIP frequently asked questions has been created here. If you have information that you believe would be helpful to others, please make your recommendation by contacting me.

Q: Do you know if there are any plans/options under discussion as part of the HSIP application possible revamp that would allow city/county HSIP applicants to use local data for the B/C ratio (not just state collision data)? In the unlikely event the local and state programs merge someday, this would probably become even a bigger issue. Does anyone know what the process would be to try to get the HSIP data requirements changed?

A: Our intent in preparing the HSIP guidelines, reference documents, and application instructions has always been to clearly convey and encourage local agencies to use their own local crash data-bases if they find them easier to conduct crash analysis or if they feel the data is more accurate and up to date. At the same time, Caltrans understands that a large percentage of small and rural agencies don’t have access to jurisdiction-wide geo-referenced crash data. Agencies need this mappable-data to help them analyze and detect their high crash concentrations and summarize past crashes within specific project limits. For these small/rural agencies, the UC Berkeley, SafeTREC TIMS tools offer them access to crash data that they would not otherwise have access to. If you re-look at the text in the Caltrans flyer below, you will see this statement “Agencies that don’t have access to crash data and ways to assess their high crash concentrations, should consider using the UC Berkeley, SafeTREC-TIMS website.” We always try to add some kind of text similar to this to reassure agencies that we are not forcing them to use TIMS crash data.

For HSIP Cycle 6: local agencies are required to go to the UC Berkeley TIMS website to calculate the B/C ratio for their project. We specifically tried to make this process as easy as possible for agencies using their own local-crash data WHILE making it easy for agencies to test the TIMS crash display and selection tools. We are trying to make a strong push for local agencies to map their crash data, whether using TIMS or their own system. In the past, we have found that far too many agencies are submitting HSIP applications for relatively low-crash, spot locations and we are trying to get them to become more aware of their network-wide crashes – in hopes that they may consider more low-cost systematic improvements in the future.

Q: Can we request to move up our projects programming dates?

A: For all Safety Program Projects (HSIP, HR3 and SRTS), the projects are Lump-Sum programmed in the FTIP in the first year there is programming capacity. For a local agency: As the project is within the 4-year active FTIP (which for the 2013 FTIP is 12/13, 13/14, 14/15, or 15/16) the agency can submit RFA’s for PE, ROW, or CON in the current year using EPSP. They don’t have to request EPSP until the time they are ready to submit their RFA.

This is critical for all  local agencies to understand. All agencies should be encouraged to deliver their Safety projects on an expedited basis – no matter when their project is programmed in the FTIP.

If you have any questions on how safety projects are programmed, please look at our guidance document on the HSIP website “Using EPSP to Meet Delivery Requirements”.

Q: If I was unable to register for the Cycle 6 webinars and training, are the presentations and handouts available?

A: Presentations and material from the training events are available for download HERE. A set of Questions and Answers from the March 11, 2013 “SRTS Eligibility in the next Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) Call for Projects” webinar are posted on the California Safe Routes to School Technical Assistance Resource Center HERE.

Q: How is the reimbursement authority handled with Tribes that directly apply?
A: When a Tribe submits a complete HSIP application which successfully competes for funding, Local Assistance anticipates the need to transfer the HSIP funding to BIA for distribution to the tribe. (Another viable option would be for the Tribe to partner and apply through a local agency like a City or a County. In this case, the local agency will be the applicant.)

Q: Who should be the point of contact for Tribes in the Districts on calls for projects like these?
A: The first point of contact should be the District Local Assistance staff. Some tribes may also go directly to their Native American Liaison, who can help work through the Districts.