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July 27, 2011

OCTA CEO: Federal transportation bill on the right track

by Will Kempton

Recently, congressional leaders and U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) took the necessary steps to invest in America’s transportation future by releasing the federal transportation reauthorization bill.

The proposed six-year bill outlines $35 billion in annual funding for transportation projects along with changes to current programs and processes. While this represents a decrease in financial support for transportation, it does provide a sustainable funding level through revenue paid into the Highway Trust Fund.

This bill puts America on the right track to making much-needed transportation improvements throughout the country while creating good-paying American jobs. And the faster our federal partners can match local investments, the sooner we can turn the economy around.

One area that can be an impediment to this is getting projects to construction. There are many hurdles keeping projects stuck in the development process, and I applaud Chairman Mica for including key provisions in the bill that will break down the bureaucratic barriers to project delivery and expedite project implementation.

Recommendations in the bill include making the environmental review process more efficient, integrating planning and programming approaches, and delegating the responsibility for environmental review to states.

The Senate also released an outline of its version of the transportation reauthorization bill last week, which maintains funding at current levels by utilizing resources outside the Highway Trust Fund. The outline includes elements to accelerate project delivery such as expanding the use of innovative contracting methods and allowing for early right-of-way acquisitions.

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), as chair of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, also needs to be commended for her attention to this important component of the next transportation bill.

While including elements in the bill that speed up the delivery process are a good start to changing the culture of micromanaging and risk aversion, we must continue to encourage Congress to ensure necessary process changes are included in the final bill.

Infrastructure projects are one of the best ways to create jobs and keep America moving, but there are many barriers that add significant delays. We can break through those barriers by implementing the recommendations from the Breaking Down Barriers initiative to help move projects forward.

Breaking Down Barriers is a national initiative led by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) to expedite project delivery, without sacrificing the environment, and accelerate the creation of more than 800,000 jobs in the U.S.

I will talk more in detail about this initiative in the coming months, but for now, we’ll keep a close eye on the progress Congress makes toward passing a transportation bill that will lay the groundwork for funding vital transportation improvements throughout the country.

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "Carmageddon II: Off the rails" here.


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  • Ramona[ July 28th, 2012 @ 5:22am ]

    Hampton Roads is worse than NoVa. they have HOV-2 and even at rush hour, the lanes are little used.most plecas in Va drive solo and have rush hours with solo cars a large part of the rush hour.the question is why should Staunton or Williamburg give up their gas taxes to build more solo car rush hour infrastructure for NoVa or HR/TW?what I'm pointing out is that the claims that the economy of NoVa is choking from a lack of infrastructure is hilarious.have you looked around in NoVa lately ?? the roads are everywhere I don't even know where you'd put more roads without having to tear down existing business and/or residential.what's choking your economy is not not enough roads but the roads you have are basically overrun with solo autos.they have the same problem in Staunton and Williamsburg but not on the same scale.the reason you are building Metro to Dulles is because your roads are so full of solo cars that people can no longer get to Dulles some times of the day so basically you're have to pour billions of dollars in METRO basically to overcome the effect of solo cars and hey don't take my word for it take VDOT and FHWA who decided the only reasonable solution was you guessed it.. HOT Lanes and the folks building Metro to Dulles also don't seem to have a problem taxing the bejesus out of solo cars to fund their rail either.. right?and you blame this on the clown show in Richmond.. well.. did the clown show in Richmond decide to put HOT Lanes in NoVa as a kind of punishment or what? yeah.. I'm rattling Grovetons cage here

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