Three years and 10 extensions later, America has a new federal transportation reauthorization bill.
The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), along with transit agencies throughout the nation, applauds congressional leaders and the President for investing in America’s transportation future by passing this much-anticipated piece of legislation.
The bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, was signed by President Obama on July 6 and outlines $120 billion in funding for highway and transit programs over 27 months.
While many would prefer to see a bill spanning longer than two years, MAP-21 gives agencies confidence that there will be a dedicated and reliable stream of federal funding — at least for the next two years.
Having a guarantee from the federal government that they will continue to support transit operations and highway improvements over the long haul is essential to effectively plan for, deliver and maintain critical transportation infrastructure projects.
Perhaps the most important aspects of the bill are the changes to existing law that break down some of the bureaucratic barriers to project delivery allowing for expedited project implementation.
The changes are based in part on OCTA’s "Breaking Down Barriers" initiative, which was launched nearly three years ago, bringing together local and national leaders to identify ways to accelerate project delivery without sacrificing environmental protections.
Some key provisions from the initiative that are outlined in MAP-21 include:
• Allowing states, under certain conditions, to purchase right-of-way before completing the federal environmental review process.
• Allowing states to be reimbursed for pre-construction and design contracts before the federal environmental review process is completed.
• Setting deadlines for decisions by agencies responsible for environmental review, including financial penalties for agencies that do not complete the reviews by set deadlines.
• Allowing states or Metropolitan Planning Organizations to develop plans that address the potential impact of future transportation projects.
• Making permanent a current pilot program that allows the U.S. Department of Transportation to delegate NEPA review authority to states and expanding the program to include rail, public transit and multimodal projects.
These changes have been embraced with bipartisan support and ensure we preserve the environment while moving critical projects to construction earlier.
The result will be completing projects faster, creating jobs quicker and saving taxpayer dollars.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "Public transportation on solid footing, will lawmakers face the music," here.
While PTC may have just recently entered the consciousness of the public at-large, it has been an issue for freight and commuter rail systems since Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) (P.L. 110-432) in 2008 following the collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train in Los Angeles. Since that time, rail organizations have been working toward meeting the federally-mandated PTC implementation deadline of December 31, 2015. With less than six months to go, several commuter rail systems have said that, not only will they not meet the deadline, they will need several more years before having full PTC implementation on their trains.
Disruptive technologies and the new era of information sharing are helping to evolve and advance public transportation in our nation’s greatest cities. Nearly 300 mayors and government officials convened in San Francisco June 19-22 for the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 83rd Annual Meeting, featuring remarks from President Obama and former U.S. Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. I was invited to speak in front of these influential government leaders to discuss “Technology and the Transformation of Urban Transportation.” This article will give readers an inside look at the conversation.
In times of disaster or tragedy, public transit agencies are frequently called upon to assist their communities and other transportation organizations. In case of fire, evacuation or accident, buses may be used to shelter or transport the displaced or injured, or serve as a respite site for first responders.
As a city, Leipzig is an excellent example of the German principals of transport planning and service as well as eastern Germany’s long history. The city has benefitted from large amounts of investment in infrastructure over the years since German reunification and most transport systems seem to be new or rebuilt, expanded and in a very good current state of repair. The most notable element in the transport mix is inevitably the enormous and historic main railway station, which is one of the largest, but certainly not busiest, in Europe.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s Regional (commuter) Rail system was inherited from the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads and the infrastructure in many sections of the system has been serving the Philadelphia area for more than 100 years. Fifteen years ago, overhead catenary system (OCS) failures were a common occurrence on SEPTA Regional Rail, a result of fatigue cracks and wear. The all too common OCS failures were frustrating for SEPTA customers who occasionally found it difficult to depend on train service for their travels and for SEPTA, whose crews were constantly working to repair and maintain the system.