Transportation Thursdays

Transportation Thursdays is the electronic newsletter covering transportation issues for NARC members. If you would like to receive this newsletter by email, please contact

View current issue (pdf file): November 20, 2014




GAO: Federal and State Environmental Review Requirements are Similar, but Not Duplicative: A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) considers the interaction between the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and state environmental regulations. Eighteen states have State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requirements for highway projects, and seventeen allow for the partial or full adoption of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) analyses or documentation to meet state environmental review requirements. The report analyzes different environmental review requirements and the types of projects they apply to. Click HERE to read the report.

GAO: Multiple Factors Influence Extent of Transit-Oriented Development: GAO found a wide range in the extent of new transit-oriented development that has occurred since transit operations began for GAO’s six federally funded case-study transit projects. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) assesses projects for potential New Starts funding by evaluating several factors in addition to local government policies GAO identified as supporting transit-oriented development. FTA factors for economic development and land use decisions include access to jobs, available land, and transit-supportive plans and polices in assessing each project. From 2004 to 2014, the FTA allocated $18.9 billion to build new or expanded transit systems through the Capital Investment Grant Program. For many local governments, one key goal when planning major transit projects is to encourage transit-oriented development as a way to focus future regional population growth along transit corridors. Click HERE for the report.

New Rail Rule: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a final rule that strengthens training requirements for railroad employees and contractors who perform safety-related work. The rule aims to ensure that safety-related employees are trained and qualified to comply with relevant federal railroad safety laws, regulations, and orders. The final rule directs the training for all safety-related railroad employees, regardless of whether the person is employed by a railroad, a contractor, or a subcontractor. Click HERE for more information.

FTA Publishes Final Guidance on Corridor Preservation: FTA has published final guidance on the application on a provision of MAP-21 regarding corridor preservation for future transit projects. Click HERE for the guidance.


Rep. Shuster to Return as T&I Committee Chairman: Yesterday, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) was selected by the U.S. House of Representatives Republican Conference to serve again as Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I). The Democrats selected Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) to serve as the Committee’s Ranking Member, which became necessary when Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) failed to win reelection. The Committee also released a document championing its successes during the 113th Congress, including a complete list of enacted legislation. You can read that document HERE.

Hearing Held on FAA Reauthorization: The House T&I Committee held a hearing this week to discuss the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization. Chairman Bill Shuster highlighted the need for FAA reauthorization and recognized problems with FAA’s management of air traffic control modernization programs. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee, addressed the long-term challenges in our aviation sector. Click HERE for their complete opening statements, and HERE for more about the hearing.

McMillan Takes Step Toward Confirmation: President Obama’s nominee to run FTA, Therese McMillan, had a confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee last week. She did not face any opposition during the hearing. Her confirmation is all but assured, and the only remaining question is whether it will happen during the lame-duck session or after the 114th Congress is seated in January. McMillian, who has served as Acting Administrator since January and has been with the agency since 2009, will play a key role in pressing Administration priorities as Congress undertakes reauthorization of highway and transit programs.

Executive Order on Immigration Could Impact Omnibus: President Obama’s expected executive action on immigration is likely to impact passage of a broad fiscal year 2015 omnibus spending package. Senate Appropriations Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) said Obama’s action “poisons the waters” on the omnibus. Republicans would likely attach an amendment to an omnibus attempting to prevent the President from acting, which would put passage of such a package in serious doubt. This executive action makes it more likely for Congress to pass a shorter-term continuing resolution instead of a full omnibus.


Jacksonville’s First Bus Rapid Transit System Breaks Ground: Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx attended the groundbreaking for a new bus rapid transit (BRT) system that will improve transit options in the greater Jacksonville, Florida area and give move convenient access to downtown. The First Coast Flyer BRT Downtown Project, nearly six miles long with 12 stations, is the initial segment of a five-phased BRT system planned for the Jacksonville region. The BRT project offers riders an alternative to congested roads and a faster commute for downtown employers. JTA is seeking federal funds for the next two planned BRT segments — the 9.4-mile North corridor and the 11.1-mile Southeast corridor. Both projects are advancing through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant Program. JTA estimates that the entire BRT system will cover 55 miles and cost approximately $132.3 million. Read more about the project HERE.

Copenhagen Bicycle “Super Highways” Push Regional Cooperation: 
Route C95, also known as the Farum Route, is one of two cycling “super highways” that have recently been opened in Copenhagen. These “super highways” are part of a fast-growing network of bike infrastructure targeted specifically to suburban commuters. These bike paths consist of smooth pavement, good lighting, separation from traffic, safe road crossings, rain shelters, and air pumps. In 2007, Copenhagen began looking for a way to reduce automobile congestion, and decided to encourage cycling to achieve this. Their plan consists of 28 routes with 290 miles of cycle paths. Eleven of the 28 routes will be ready by the end of 2018. Click HERE to learn more.


Click HERE to view the list of grants and events still open!

Reminder! ONLINE DIALOGUE: FTA Hosts Conversation on Private Sector Participation
October 22- November 26
The private sector participation provisions of MAP-21 require FTA to undertake actions, including a rulemaking, to promote more effective utilization of private sector expertise, financing, and operational capacity to deliver costly and complex new fixed guideway capital projects. FTA is conducting an online dialogue to engage grantees and other stakeholders to inform the rulemaking, as well as obtain feedback on FTA’s proposed guidance on assessments and model contracts. Click HERE to include your remarks by the November 26 deadline.

WEBINAR SERIES- 2014 TranSight Series
See Dates Below
Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) will hold a three-part series on TranSight, a dynamic economic modeling tool designed for analyzing transportation policies. Few aspects of economic development are more important than comprehensive transportation planning. Well-designed policies ensure regions have efficient access to consumers, labor markets, and resources.

  • Session 1: Knowing Your Riders- Evaluating the Demand for Transportation Systems (Monday, 11/21 or Wednesday, 11/26)- Click HERE to register
  • Session 2: Moving the Masses- The Geographic and Economic Connections of the Region (Monday, 12/1 or Wednesday, 12/3)- Click HERE to register
  • Session 3: Paying the Piper- Understanding the Costs and Benefits of Infrastructure Investment (Monday, 12/8 or Wednesday, 12/10)- Click HERE to register

WEBINAR: Technology Scan and Assessment
December 9, 1:00-2:00pm ET
Carnegie Mellon’s Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) Resilience Management Model is an innovative and transformative way to approach the challenge of managing operational resilience in complex, risk-evolving environments. CERT is the result of years of research exploring the ways that organizations manage the security and survivability of people, information, technology, and facilities. This webinar will teach you about the CERT-Resilience Management Model, and will be led by speaker Dr. Nadar Mehravari from Carnegie Mellon University. Click HERE to register.

WEBINAR: Let’s Talk Performance: Theory vs. Practice– Linking Performance Measures to Improved Performance Outcomes
December 9 2:00-3:30 PM ET
FHWA, in cooperation with FTA and several national stakeholder groups, would like you to join their third webinar in a series of six webinars focused on transportation performance management implementation. During this webinar, presenters will showcase examples of how using performance measures/management data impacts and improves transportation performance outcomes. Click HERE to register.

TRAINING: Building Blocks Training Academy
December 8 – 10, Washington D.C. -Travel reimbursement may be available.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Sustainable Communities invites you to a two-day training session on smart growth and sustainability. As part of the EPA’s efforts to assist local, regional, county, and state governments, they have developed the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program, focused on targeted, technical assistance using 17 tools. These tools range from walkability audits, to green street strategies, economic and fiscal health, equitable development, rural planning, parking audit, climate adaptation, and bike sharing, among others. The program’s goal is to train national experts and content experts focused in specific sectors related to smart growth and sustainability. If interested, please contact Kevin Nelson at or 202.566.2835.

CONFERENCE: NARC’s 2015 National Conference of Regions
February 8-10, 2015 – Washington, DC
Registration is open for the National Conference of Regions. This conference is a forum for locally-elected officials and their Regional Councils to explore federal policy issues, and discuss NARC’s legislative priorities for the 114th Congress. Click HERE for the conference webpage.



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