U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood proposed a significant change in the way major transit projects compete for federal funds by streamlining the process and making decisions more responsive to local needs.
“This proposal would move more job-generating bus, rail and ferry projects from the drawing boards into construction sooner and with less red tape along the way,” said Secretary LaHood. “President Obama has asked government agencies to cut red tape, eliminate waste and streamline bureaucracy wherever possible and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
The proposed changes could potentially shave six months or more off the time that is now required to move major projects through the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts pipeline. This new approach may also result in financial savings for the federal government and local taxpayers by allowing approved projects to begin construction sooner, thereby saving on finance charges and other costs.
Other benefits from the changes would include increased transparency and continued rigorous scrutiny of each project proposal. By giving greater emphasis to evaluation criteria concerning environmental benefits and local economic impact, it would be possible for FTA to consider a variety of smaller-scale projects that might better meet a community’s needs, including streetcars and rapid bus services.
The proposed changes are described in FTA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to streamline the evaluation and rating of New Starts and Small Starts projects, published in two separate notices:
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-01-25/pdf/2012-1198.pdf
Notice of Availability, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-01-25/pdf/2012-1195.pdf