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This brochure explains how municipal officials, interest groups, and individuals from the general public can get involved in the region's transportation project development and programming processes. A major milestone occurs when a project is included in the Delaware Valley's regional Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP. A project cannot receive federal transportation funds unless it is in the TIP. This handbook will explain what the TIP is, why it exists, and how it works.
I-95 construction in Philadelphia, looking southbound, adjacent to reconstructed Richmond Street and existing Interstate 95
The reconstruction of I-95 in Philadelphia is a multi-year project that includes improvements to the interstate facility, local city streets, transit infrastructure, and amenities for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Source: Jim Bergmaier, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation


Who is DVRPC?
What is the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)?
How is the TIP Funded?
How Does the TIP Relate to the Long-Range Plan (LRP) and the Congestion Management Process (CMP)?
How Does the TIP Relate to the Clean Air Act?
Environmental Justice (EJ) and the TIP
How Does a Project Get on the TIP?
What Happens to a Project Once it's on the TIP?
TIP Development Versus TIP Maintenance
Who Participates in Developing the TIP?
How Can You Participate?
For More Information


Created by the Pennsylvania and New Jersey legislatures in 1965, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Greater Philadelphia metropolitan area. An MPO is a regional entity responsible for transportation planning and approval of federal transportation funding for the region.

DVRPC's mission is to plan for the orderly growth and development of the Delaware Valley region, a service area that covers almost 4,000 square miles and encompasses 352 municipalities. DVRPC serves Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania; and Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Mercer counties in New Jersey. DVRPC provides transportation, environmental, community, and economic development planning, and is a resource for regional data. The Commission also supports local municipalities with outreach and assistance, initiates new partnerships, and facilitates stakeholder meetings. Though involved in all aspects of the region's growth and development, the largest share of DVRPC's work is devoted to the efficient transportation of people and goods.

The Commission is governed by an 18-member board which establishes regional policy, defines committee duties, and adopts the annual Work Program. Members include elected officials from the four major cities and eight suburban counties in the region, and three representatives from each state. The state representatives include the Pennsylvania and New Jersey departments of transportation (DOTs), appointees of both governors, and the Pennsylvania Governor's Policy Office and the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Up to 115 professional and support staff comprised of city and environmental planners, transportation planners and engineers, technology and mapping specialists, and many others provide technical assistance to the Board.

DVRPC is dedicated to uniting the region's elected officials, planning professionals, and the public with a common vision of making a great region even greater. Shaping the ways that we live, work, and play, DVRPC builds consensus on improving transportation, promoting smart growth, protecting the environment, and enhancing the economy.


The TIP is the agreed-upon list of specific priority projects and is required for the region to receive and spend federal transportation funds. The TIP lists all projects that intend to use federal funds, along with non-federally funded projects that are regionally significant. The TIP represents the transportation improvement priorities of the region and is required by federal law, currently the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act ('FAST Act'). The list is multimodal; in addition to the more traditional highway and public transit projects, it also includes bicycle, pedestrian, and freight-related projects.

The TIP shows estimated costs and schedules by project phase. The TIP not only lists the specific projects but also documents the anticipated schedule and cost for each project phase (preliminary engineering, final design, right-of-way acquisition, and construction). Inclusion of a project phase in the TIP means that it is seriously expected to be implemented during the TIP time period.

The TIP covers a four-year period by regulation, follows the federal fiscal year schedule, and is updated every other year. Federal regulation requires that the TIP cover a minimum of four federal fiscal years of programming. DVRPC TIP documents for both Pennsylvania and New Jersey demonstrate a longer planning and programming horizon (12 years for Pennsylvania; 10 years for New Jersey) in order to better understand expected resources, and to provide the region with a more realistic timeframe for advancement of TIP projects and more accurate project costs. The TIP operates on a federal fiscal year schedule that begins on October 1 of a given year and ends on September 30 of the following year. The Pennsylvania and New Jersey TIPs are updated every other year, in alternate years.

The TIP is financially constrained. The list of projects in the TIP must be financially constrained to the amount of funds that are expected to be available. In order to add projects to the TIP, others must be deferred, or additional funding to the region must be identified. As a result, the TIP is not a wish list; competition between projects for inclusion in the TIP clearly exists.

The TIP is authorization to seek funding. A project's presence in the TIP represents a critical step in the authorization of funding to a project. It does not, however, represent a commitment of funds, an obligation to fund, or a grant of funds.

The TIP may be changed after it is adopted. Under the provisions of federal law and regulation, the approved TIP can be modified or amended in various ways in order to add new projects, delete projects, advance projects into the first year, and accommodate cost and phase of work changes or major scope changes to a project. The criteria and procedures for changing the TIP are outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).


The TIP is not a final schedule of project implementation. The timeframe shown in the TIP is the best estimate at the time of TIP development, which ranges from six to nine months prior to the beginning of the first fiscal year of the TIP period. Projects quite often cannot maintain that schedule and are reprogrammed to later years.

The TIP does not guarantee project implementation. Unforeseen problems may arise, such as engineering obstacles, environmental permit conflicts, changes in priorities, and additional financial constraints. These problems can slow a project and cause it to be postponed or even dropped from further consideration. They can also increase the project's overall cost.


Regional consensus is a crucial element of the TIP. The production of the TIP is the culmination of the region's transportation planning process and represents a consensus among state, regional, and local officials as to what near-term improvements to pursue. Consensus is crucial because the federal and state governments want assurance that all interested parties have participated in developing the priorities prior to committing significant sums of money. A project's inclusion in the TIP signifies regional agreement on the priority of the project and establishes its eligibility for federal funding.

Aerial view of the I-295, NJ 42, and I-76 interchange in New Jersey, showing construction activity
The Route 295/42/I-76 Direct Connection project in Camden County, New Jersey, will provide significant safety and operational benefits when completed.
Source: New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT)


The TIP is funded by a variety of sources. The major funding source for the projects in the TIP is federal transportation legislation, currently the FAST Act, which authorizes the federal surface transportation programs for highways, highway safety, and transit, and is administered through the U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT's) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

Federal transportation funding for roads and bridges is made available through the Federal Highway Trust Fund generated primarily by an 18.4 cents-per-gallon (as of 2017) motor fuel tax and supplemented by general funds. The federal motor fuel tax has not been increased since 1993. Federal funds are then apportioned among the states and metropolitan areas by formula. Most FHWA sources of funding are administered by the state DOTs, which allocate the money to urban and rural areas based on state and local priorities and needs. Most transit funds for urban areas are sent directly from the FTA to the transit operator. As noted previously, federal funds are not 'cash up front' programs, so although the authorized amounts are 'distributed' to the states, no cash is actually dispersed at this point. Instead, states are notified that they have federal funds available for their use. Projects are approved and work is started; then the federal government reimburses the states, MPOs, and transit operators for costs as they are incurred, reimbursing up to the limit of the federal share.

In addition to federal funds, state matching funds are made available by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of New Jersey to match federal funding in varying ratios and to provide 100 percent financing for selected projects. Local counties, municipalities, and private developers or toll authorities, as well as transit operators, may also participate in providing matching funds for federal aid. New funding sources and innovative funding techniques are constantly being sought.

The DVRPC region benefits from a well-developed transportation network, and approximately half of our regional TIP funds go toward transit projects and programs, while the other half goes to projects that are funded with highway dollars. The multimodal nature of the program means that 'highway funding' is used for many purposes, including roads, bridges, traffic signals, bike and pedestrian trails, streetscapes, and railroad improvements.

TIP Funding That Comes to the DVRPC Region by State

4 Piecharts showing the breakdown of funding by state (PA and NJ) and by source (FHWA, FTA, State, and Other)
Source: DVRPC's Fiscal Year 2016 TIP for New Jersey and Fiscal Year 2017 TIP for Pennsylvania Note: Pennsylvania figures include $578 million from the Pennsylvania Statewide Interstate Management Program directed toward interstate projects in the DVRPC region. New Jersey figures do not include statewide programs managed by NJDOT for the State of New Jersey, worth slightly over three billion dollars over the first four years of the TIP. These are primarily highway programs that are not specific to any particular MPO region, or that provide direct support to NJDOT, but that do provide benefits to the DVRPC region.


TIPs must be 'financially constrained.' Toward the beginning of each TIP Update, state DOTs develop estimated resources or 'financial guidance' for use by DVRPC and their other MPOs or Rural Planning Organizations. The financial guidance establishes highway and transit funding levels that may be reasonably anticipated by the MPO over the TIP period from appropriate federal and state resources. The guidance explains how each of the various federal and state varieties of funds is distributed to the regions. Each region must develop its TIP within the funding levels established by this guidance, thus maintaining the 'fiscal constraint' of the TIP.


Regionally significant projects must be drawn from the region's LRP, and all projects in the TIP must help implement the goals of the Plan. The LRP, required by federal law, is the document that helps direct transportation and land use decisions over a minimum 20-year horizon. The Plan presents an extensive list of policies and strategies, as well as the actions required to carry them out. The TIP represents the translation of recommendations from DVRPC's current long-range transportation plan into a short-term program of improvements. All projects included in the TIP must be consistent with the LRP.

Projects that add capacity for single-occupant vehicles must meet further federal requirements in a large, highly urbanized region like the Delaware Valley. These projects must also be consistent with the region's CMP, which provides medium-term planning to strengthen the connection between the LRP and the TIP. The CMP attempts to meet increasing travel demand through non-capacity-adding strategies where practical, and ensures the inclusion of multimodal supplemental strategies to get the most long-term value from the investment when additional road capacity is necessary.


The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 require that all transportation plans, programs, and projects conform to the purpose of State Implementation Plans to attain air quality standards. A TIP is said to conform if it is drawn from a conforming plan, as determined by an emissions analysis. This means that DVRPC must demonstrate that projects and programs in the LRP and the TIP do not cause new air quality violations, worsen existing violations, or delay timely attainment of federal air quality standards. The transportation conformity process establishes a connection between transportation planning and efforts to control emissions from transportation sources. In practice, this is achieved by testing the set of major regional projects found in the Plan and the TIP to confirm that the motor vehicle emissions associated with the projects are less than motor vehicle emission limits established by the states.


Planning must be done with the involvement and for the benefit of all the region's residents. DVRPC is guided by federal Title VI and environmental justice mandates, and the Commission strives to not only meet these mandates but also to create an overall transparent, inclusive planning process. There are two primary federal non-discrimination statutes that guide DVRPC's planning efforts: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1994 President's Executive Order on Environmental Justice (#12898). Title VI states that no person or group shall be excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of any program or activity utilizing federal funds. Executive Order 12898 defines environmental justice as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of age, disability, sex, race, ethnicity, income, or education level in the planning and decision-making process. The principle of EJ in transportation ensures that projects, such as highway expansion and interstate building, do not have a disproportionately negative impact on minority and low-income populations.

The TIP is an important component of DVRPC's overall EJ initiatives and Public Involvement Program, as the location of transportation investments can greatly influence the level of mobility and accessibility within and throughout the region. Using U.S. Census American Community Survey five-year estimates, DVRPC's Indicators of Potential Disadvantage (IPD) analysis has identified different geographical areas in which populations may disproportionately bear the burden of planning decisions and/or demographic groups who may be underrepresented in the planning process. DVRPC's IPD method is used to analyze the distribution of projects in both highway and transit TIP programs. Consideration of EJ communities is also included in the criteria used to evaluate projects that are added to the TIP. Beyond the technical EJ analysis, there are various opportunities for the public to participate in and comment on the TIP process, including public meetings and TIP public comment periods.


Securing a spot on the TIP is not a simple task. Sometimes years of pre-implementation research and public input precede a project's inclusion on the TIP. Although there are several ways that a project can get on the TIP, the most typical course is described here:

  • First, a particular transportation need is identified. In many cases, municipal planners and engineers generate lists of potential improvements based on their needs, analyses, and citizen complaints and inquiries. Since only DVRPC member agencies are allowed to formally submit candidate TIP projects, the local proposals are, in turn, reviewed at the county or major city level, often in consultation with locally based state engineers. If the county agrees that a particular idea has merit, it may decide to act as the project sponsor and work toward refining the initial idea and developing clear project specifications. Project proposals are also generated at the county and state levels in much the same way. Increasingly, DOTs and transit operators identify projects utilizing asset management systems that collect detailed data and monitor the various components of the transportation network, such as pavement, bridges, and signs, to determine where maintenance and improvement projects are most needed.
  • Once each county and operating agency has developed its own lists of projects and priorities, they are brought to DVRPC, where the Regional Technical Committee (RTC) reviews them. The RTC seeks to insure that the highest priorities of the region are being addressed within the limits of available resources and to assure consistency among projects and with the region's goals. The RTC is composed of state, county, and city planners; transit operators; citizen representatives from the Public Participation Task Force (PPTF); and transportation-related interest groups. The RTC makes recommendations to the DVRPC Board.
  • Finally, the DVRPC Board provides the forum through which the elected officials of the region's counties and major cities and representatives of the states and operating agencies determine each year's TIP projects. After considering the recommendations of the RTC and the comments received from the public, the Board determines the final list of projects to be included in the TIP and adopts it as its selection of projects to be advanced.
View of Pennsauken Transit Center building and platform, from parking area below
The Pennsauken Transit Center, a new station along New Jersey Transit Corporation's (NJ TRANSIT) River LINE in New Jersey, completed constructed in 2013.


Once a project is on the TIP, a considerable amount of work remains to be done to bring it to completion. The designated lead agency is responsible for ensuring that its project moves forward. The lead agency, in most cases, is the state DOT or transit operator and, in some cases, a city, county, or municipality.

Highway projects typically proceed in phases (preliminary engineering, final design, right-of-way acquisition, construction). Each phase is included in the TIP, showing funding and anticipated schedule. Transit projects are programmed in the TIP according to the annual grant application cycle under which the funds will be sought. Ideally, a project will advance according to its programmed schedule. In reality, however, projects are often delayed due to unforeseen obstacles, such as right-of-way clearance, environmental issues, or community concerns. Tracking each project's progress is important in order to identify and resolve delays as soon as possible and to reallocate resources as necessary.

Project sponsors, including DOTs and transit agencies, engage in extensive stakeholder outreach and coordination during the early stages of project development, in part to identify and avoid potential issues, but also to seek and incorporate input from the local community. In Pennsylvania, the PennDOT Connects policy considers community needs during the planning process to ensure that crucial elements are identified and included at the outset of project scoping. In New Jersey, this early community outreach and coordination is achieved in the Concept Development phase of a project. Transit agencies also have formal project development processes that include outreach and coordination with community stakeholders.

Once federal funds have been made available (termed federally 'authorized') for a project's final construction phase, the project will no longer appear in future TIP documents (even though the project may not yet be constructed or completed).



There are two distinct ongoing processes related to the DVRPC TIP: TIP development and TIP maintenance.

Development of the TIP is often referred to as the 'TIP Update' or 'Program Update' and occurs every other year in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The TIP Update refers to the larger overall effort to align the entire multi-billion-dollar program with regional priorities and available funding.

Developing the TIP for the Update begins with project managers reviewing costs, schedules, and descriptions of each existing TIP project. Agreements are made with stakeholders, including the DOTs, transit operators, and MPOs, on the funding targets or 'financial guidance' that establishes how much funding is expected to be available during the four-year TIP period. TIP subcommittees for each state work diligently over the course of the year to determine when various projects will advance and whether new projects can be added to the program.

The resulting Draft Program is subject to a regional air quality analysis. A minimum 30-day public comment period (which typically occurs in June) provides further opportunity for public comment on projects or the process. The Draft TIP and any recommended changes are then presented to the DVRPC Board for approval. If approval is recommended, the state DOT will 'bundle' TIPs from its various regions into the Statewide TIP (STIP) and submit the entire program to the FHWA and FTA for approval. Approved STIPs and TIPs become effective on October 1, the first day of a given federal fiscal year.

Maintenance of the TIP refers to changes (amendments and modifications) that are made to the program over the course of the two years after a TIP is adopted and becomes effective but before the next TIP Update becomes effective.

Changes may occur on a monthly basis as permitted by the TIP MOU for each state. Certain changes to the adopted TIP require review and processing through DVRPC's monthly actions by the RTC and DVRPC Board. Changes that would typically require committee review include adding or deleting a project from the four-year TIP period, adding a new project phase, significantly changing a project scope, increasing or decreasing a project cost beyond established thresholds, or any change that would require a new regional air quality conformity finding. Minor changes may be processed by DVRPC through administrative procedures documented in the MOUs. The RTC and DVRPC Board are afforded opportunity to review and comment on modifications or amendments to the TIP.

More information about meetings and changes to the TIP that occur as part of monthly maintenance can be found on the DVRPC website at

sample TIP project listing, showing county, project number, project title, description, CMP, municipalities involved, project manager, project sponsor, mileposts, improvement type, and funding by year
Pictured above is a sample TIP project listing.


Various agencies directly participate in DVRPC's TIP development process. They include member governments, operating agencies, and state and federal agencies. Municipalities within the region participate through their respective county governments. Countless other groups, the business community, and the general public become involved through the DVRPC public participation process in addition to involvement at the municipal and county level. The multiplicity of jurisdictions and agencies in the region necessitates a high degree of coordination by DVRPC during the TIP development process.


  • PennDOT
  • Pennsylvania Governor's Policy Office
  • Pennsylvania Governor's Appointee
  • New Jersey Department of Community Affairs
  • New Jersey Governor's Appointee
  • Bucks County
  • Chester County
  • Delaware County
  • Montgomery County
  • Burlington County
  • Camden County
  • Gloucester County
  • Mercer County
  • Chester City
  • Philadelphia City
  • Camden City
  • Trenton City


  • USDOT FHWA (Pennsylvania Division)
  • USDOT FHWA (New Jersey Division)
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Region III
  • Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)
  • Delaware River Port Authority/Port Authority Transit Corporation (DRPA/PATCO)
  • FTA, Region III
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region II
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
  • New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
  • New Jersey Office for Planning Advocacy
  • Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development
TIP Development Timeline




DVRPC's TIP Subcommittee reviews/discusses projects, costs, and schedules, including priorities/concerns.




DVRPC, the state DOT, and transit agencies work to constrain the TIP according to expected resources, projected needs, and feedback from member governments.




MPOs and member governments review the constrained draft TIP and work with the state DOT and transit agencies to address issues.




The draft TIP is revised, per MPO and member governments' review and comments. Air Quality Conformity Analysis also occurs.




Public comment period.




The DVRPC Board adopts the Draft TIP with the list of recommended changes. DVRPC then submits the document to the state DOT to be included into the STIP.




STIP approvals by FHWA and FTA; current TIP retires. Approved TIP becomes effective.


DVRPC believes that a collaborative process between all levels of government and the public, including the business community, will ensure that the best transportation program is produced.

Public participation occurs during all stages of a project's development. Letters of concern to municipal and county officials and transit company managers are one of the most effective starting points. As local investigations begin, public input may be provided at formal meetings or informal sessions with local and county planning boards and staff. Citizens are also asked to participate in special task forces to review transportation improvement concepts at the corridor, county, and regional level. Finally, once a project is on the TIP and it enters the preliminary engineering phase, the detailed environmental review process affords yet another opportunity for the public to offer input.

The public and other interest groups also have the opportunity to comment on the TIP before it is officially adopted by the DVRPC Board. DVRPC conducts a 30-day public comment period and holds open-house meetings to give the public an opportunity to pose questions about the process and projects to state, county, transit, and DVRPC staff. DVRPC Capital Programming staff is also available to provide TIP information sessions. Copies of the TIP are available on DVRPC's website ( and in print through the DVRPC Resource Center.

Other methods for ongoing public participation in DVRPC's planning and programming activities include the Public Participation Task Force (PPTF) and the Delaware Valley Goods Movement Task Force (DVGMTF). Both committees review and comment on DVRPC policies and plans. To become a member of the PPTF, please contact DVRPC's Public Participation Planner at 215-238-2817. To become a member of the DVGMTF, please contact DVRPC's Office of Freight and Aviation Planning at 215-238-2844. A complete listing of DVRPC committees is available on the DVRPC website (

renovated SEPTA Wayne Junction Station, from platform
TIP projects often include elements that are not immediately visible. SEPTA's Wayne Junction Station, above, was replaced and upgraded. At the same time, the traction power supply system for SEPTA's regional rail service was upgraded in this location.
Source: DVRPC


on transportation planning issues in your city or county, or on specific projects

County or City Planning Agencies - Pennsylvania

Chester County Planning Commission
Delaware County Planning Department
Montgomery County Planning Commission
Philadelphia City Planning Commission
Philadelphia Managing Director's Office of Transportation & Infrastructure Systems
Philadelphia City Streets Department

County or City Planning Agencies - New Jersey

Mercer County Planning Department

Transit Operators in the DVRPC Region

SEPTA Capital Budget and Grant Development Department
NJ TRANSIT Office of Government and Community Relations
856-968-2221 (DRPA) or 856-772-6900 (PATCO) or

State Departments of Transportation


Main Number: 215-592-1800
Office of Capital Programming: 215-238-2938 or Office of Communications and Engagement: 215-592-1800 or DVRPC Resource Center: 215-592-1800 Website:


Publication Number: 17065

Date Published: July 2017

Geographic Area Covered: The nine-county DVRPC Planning Area, which covers the counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania; and Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Mercer in New Jersey.

Abstract: The Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) Handbook provides an overview of the Pennsylvania TIP and the New Jersey TIP, including how they are developed and maintained, and how citizens can participate in the process. The TIP lists all transportation projects in the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission region that intend to use federal funds, along with non-federally funded projects that are regionally significant. The TIP represents the transportation improvement priorities of the region and is required by federal law, currently the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act. The projects in the TIP are multimodal; in addition to the more traditional highway and public transit projects, bicycle, pedestrian, and freight-related projects are also included.

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) fully complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice, and related nondiscrimination statutes and regulations in all programs and activities. DVRPC's website,, may be translated into multiple languages. Publications and other public documents can be made available in alternative languages and formats, if requested. DVRPC public meetings are always held in ADA-accessible facilities and in transit-accessible locations when possible. Auxiliary services can be provided to individuals who submit a request at least seven days prior to a meeting. Requests made within seven days will be accommodated to the greatest extent possible. Any person who believes they have been aggrieved by an unlawful discriminatory practice by DVRPC under Title VI has a right to file a formal complaint. Any such complaint may be in writing and filed with DVRPC's Title VI Compliance Manager and/or the appropriate state or federal agency within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory occurrence. For more information on DVRPC's Title VI program, or to obtain a Title VI Complaint Form, please call (215) 592-1800 or email