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Plan Requirements

Federal requirements govern and inform the content of the plan.
The two main requirements are that the plan must identify projects, programs and policies and demonstrate value.


Identify all regionally significant projects and programs for which funding is reasonably expected to be available over a 20-year horizon (now and 2050). Regionally significant projects and programs are those that add or remove capacity on the existing transportation system.


Demonstrate that these projects and programs together support regional air quality improvement goals. An official Air Quality Conformity Analysis carried out by the TPB must show that forecast vehicle related emissions under the plan will not exceed approved regional limits.


Like plans that came before, Visualize 2050 must meet an array of federal requirements, including but not limited to compliance with performance-based planning rules, considering the ten federal planning factors, conducting a congestion management process, engaging in public participation, responding to concerns of non-discrimination and equity, and others.

Financial Constraint

Federal regulations require that the TPB develop an element of the long-range transportation plan that is financially constrained. Each project included in this section must be capable of being completed using revenue sources that are already committed, available, or reasonably expected to be available in the future (financial constraint). The forecasted system performance of the financially constrained element illustrates how the projects work together to affect future travel patterns and conditions. In doing so, this element paints a picture of what we can attain with the existing funding level and mix of projects. This information can be used by elected leaders, regional planners, and the public better understand the kinds of decisions we need to make today to realize a more desirable transportation future.

Air Quality Conformity

The federal government requires the TPB to conduct an in-depth analysis to ensure projected emissions generated by users of the region’s future transportation system will not exceed (or “conforms to”) the air quality emissions budgets set forth in the region’s air quality plans. This is known as air quality conformity. Based on the results of the analysis, a determination is made to confirm conformity.

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Performance-Based Planning and Programming (PBPP)

Performance-Based Planning and Programming (PBPP) is a federal requirement that requires states and MPOs to “transition to a performance-driven, outcome-based program that provides for a greater level of transparency and accountability, improved project decision-making, and more efficient investment of Federal transportation funds.” To accomplish this, the PBPP process ties the funding of projects and programs to improving measured performance and achieving targets set for future performance.

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Congestion Management Process (CMP)

The Congestion Management Process (CMP) provides for safe and effective integrated management and operation of the multimodal transportation system. The process is based on a cooperatively developed metropolitan-wide strategy for new and existing transportation facilities. The strategies in the long-range transportation plan comprise the CMP, and many projects in the constrained element of the plan are informed by these strategies.

Congestion is the level at which transportation performance is no longer acceptable due to traffic interference resulting in decreased speeds and increased travel times. As the region continues to experience dynamic population and job growth, congestion remains a primary focus of the TPB.

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Public Participation

The TPB’s Participation Plan communicates the TPB’s commitment to convey transparent information and engage the public and relevant public agencies to support the regional transportation planning process. This includes the process to update the Visualize 2045 Long-Range Transportation Plan and the Transportation Improvement Program. Learn about the Participation Plan: TPB Participation Plan | Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (

The TPB will conduct one three comment periods as part of the plan update. Comment now on proposed transportation projects by using the English or Spanish form.


Transportation for persons with disabilities, low-income individuals, and older adults

As required through Title VI of the Federal Civil Rights Act, and in consideration of best planning practices, the TPB must ensure it enables on-going participation from low-income and minority communities, persons with disabilities and those with limited English skills. It must also develop a Coordinated Human Service Transportation Plan for the National Capital Region.

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Federal Planning Factors

Federal law identifies a list of planning factors meant to guide metropolitan planning. Collectively, the projects, programs, and policies in Visualize 2045 must address these factors.

  1. Support the economic vitality of the metropolitan area, especially by enabling global competitiveness, productivity, and efficiency;
  2. Increase the safety of the transportation system for all motorized and non-motorized users;
  3. Increase the ability of the transportation system to support homeland security and to safeguard the personal security of all motorized and non- motorized users;
  4. Increase accessibility and mobility of people and freight;
  5. Protect and enhance the environment, promote energy conservation, improve the quality of life, and promote consistency between transportation improvements and State and local planned growth and economic development patterns;
  6. Enhance the integration and connectivity of the transportation system, across and between modes, for people and freight;
  7. Promote efficient system management and operation;
  8. Emphasize the preservation of the existing transportation system;
  9. Improve resiliency and reliability of the transportation system and reduce or mitigate stormwater impacts of surface transportation; and
  10. Enhance travel and tourism.

Hero image: Virginia Railway Express Broad Run station (BeyondDC/Flickr)