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Policy Priorities

Given the dynamic nature of transportation, there are always important policy issues that need our attention.  This section highlights those policy priorities that are currently at the forefront of our work at DOT.  Some are especially important because of timing considerations, others because of current events, and others because the work on them is at a critical stage.  We have identified these as the highest priority issues at this time, but note that this list may need to be amended depending on future developments.

Complete lists of each Operating Administration's (OA) policy papers (including these high priority policy issues) are included in the "How We Operate" section of this SharePoint site, under the appropriate OA's page. This section is organized by the following overarching topics, which may be navigated according to the links in the left hand menu:

SAFETY

INNOVATION

OPPORTUNITY AND CONNECTIVITY

INFRASTRUCTURE

OTHER

SAFETY

Roadway Fatalities

Issue  

In 2015, roadway fatalities increased by 7.2%, ending an overall, long-term trend of declining fatalities.  This trend appeared to be continuing in 2016; in the first half of 2016 there was an estimated 10% increase in roadway fatalities compared to 2015.

Action Needed 

The Department will need to continue to work to understand this increase and step up efforts to reduce the number of deaths and injuries through Department programs and activities at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and the Office of the Secretary (OST). These activities include: data analysis, incorporating new technologies, behavioral campaigns, rulemakings, pedestrian and bicycle initiatives, and roadway infrastructure efforts.

Background  

There were 35,092 motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2015, a 7.2% increase from 2014. This trend appeared to be continuing, with an estimated 10% increase in roadway deaths in the first half of 2016 compared to 2015. Approximately 2.44 million people were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes, an increase of 4.5% from 2014.  After examining the 2014 and 2015 data we found fatalities increasing across most categories, including a:

  • 12.2% increase in bicyclist fatalities, to 818 deaths
  • 9.7% increase in crashes involving teen drivers, and almost 3,000 teen-related fatal crashes
  • 9.5% increase in pedestrian fatalities, to 5,376 deaths
  • 8.8% increase in fatal crashes involving distraction
  • 8.3% increase in motorcycle fatalities, to 4,976 deaths
  • 6.6% increase in passenger vehicle occupant fatalities, to 22,441 deaths
  • 4.9% increase in fatalities involving persons not wearing seat belts
  • 4.9% increase in bus crash-related fatalities, to 295 deaths
  • 4.1% increase in fatal crashes involving large trucks, to 4,067 deaths
  • 3% increase in speeding-related fatal crashes
  • 3.2% increase in fatal crashes involving alcohol-impaired driving

There are a number of causes that may be contributing to an increase in roadway deaths. Historically, improving economic conditions lead to higher Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) levels and traffic fatalities. A 3.5% increase in VMT from 2014 to 2015, which is correlated with roadway fatalities, partially explains the uptick in fatalities. Young people are often the first to drive more miles in a better economy and yet they have the highest driving risk.  Lower gas prices also lead to increased recreational travel.  Mild winter weather also changes the patterns of pedestrians walking, bicycle and motorcycle riding, along with increased exposure risk.

In order to address this increase in fatalities, the Department has a multi-faceted approach that employs multiple programs and safety activities.

Data Analysis

On August 29, 2016, NHTSA released 2015 traffic fatality data in raw format. The DOT and the White House's Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy put out a call to action to solicit help to better understand the data. Safety partners, State and local officials, technologists, data scientists, and policy experts were invited to contribute. Private sector partners using new data collection technologies will be offering access to unprecedented amounts of data and new visualization tools. DOT has already received commitments from several private sector companies. This includes Streetlight Data, CARTO, Mapbox, and Waze. The Department, through an OST effort called the TRIAD initiative, has also been working to better understand pedestrian fatalities by combining DOT and cross-governmental data using innovative methods that identify and illuminate DOT safety risks.

New Technologies

The recently released DOT Federal Automated Vehicles Policy provides a roadmap and platform for the safe testing and deployment of new auto technologies that have enormous potential for improving safety and mobility for Americans on the road.  This policy is an unprecedented step to harness the benefits of transformative technology by providing a framework for how to do it safely.  But there are a number of other types of advanced crash avoidance safety technology that are already available and saving lives today.  For example, electronic stability control saved nearly 4,000 lives from 2008-2012.  Thanks to a groundbreaking agreement between NHTSA and 20 of the leading automakers, another major advanced technology, automatic emergency braking, will become a standard feature on new vehicles by 2022 and on heavier trucks and SUVs by 2025.  Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) technology also holds much promise to reduce crashes and fatalities. 

Behavioral Campaigns

High-visibility enforcement (HVE) campaigns, such as Click It or Ticket, have proven effective at changing driver behaviors.  Behavioral safety campaigns such as "5 to Drive Campaign," focuses on teens and highlights the importance of no cell phone use while driving, no extra passengers, no speeding, no alcohol, and no driving or riding without a seat belt.

Additionally, NHTSA, FHWA, and FMCSA joined forces with the National Safety Council in October 2015 to launch the Road to Zero Coalition with the goal of ending fatalities on the nation's roads within the next 30 years. The Department of Transportation has committed $1 million a year for the next three years to provide grants to organizations working on lifesaving programs.  A growing number of U.S. States and Cities have also adopted "Zero" fatality visions. The Road to Zero Coalition will work to accelerate the achievement of that vision through concurrent efforts that focus on overall system design, addressing infrastructure design, vehicle technology, and enforcement and behavioral safety. An important principle of the effort will be to find ways to ensure that inevitable human mistakes do not result in fatalities. 

Roadway Infrastructure

FHWA provides Federal, State, and local partners the tools, resources and information necessary to make sound safety investment decisions, and coordinates with States to develop Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSPs) and implement and improve the safety of roadway infrastructure on all public roads. One way this is done is through the Every Day Counts (EDC) initiative, which identifies and deploys innovation aimed at reducing the time it takes to deliver highway projects, enhance safety, and protect the environment.  Intersection safety, roadway departure, and pedestrian/bicyclist safety interventions are the focus of improving safety through the initiative. EDC facilitates the use of proven safety countermeasures on our roadway infrastructure to help reduce fatalities and serious injuries on our nation's roadways.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Initiatives

The Safer People, Safer Streets initiative was launched in September 2014 in response to the rising fatalities, and the initiative has three main parts: Safer Communities (focused on the Mayors' Challenge), Safer Streets (focused on the 2015 Road Safety Assessments), and Safer Policies (focused on identifying policy effectiveness and gaps). The formal initiative completed its work in September 2016, but further work continues through the Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinating Committee. The FHWA Strategic Agenda for Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation was released in September 2016, and will inform the FHWA pedestrian and bicycle activities in the next 3 to 5 years.  It sets specific targets for pedestrian and bicycle use and safety and is organized around four goals: (1) Networks, (2) Safety, (3) Equity, and (4) Trips.

Large Truck and Bus Rulemakings

There are a few FMCSA rulemakings that will contribute to reducing roadway fatalities. The Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Final Rule cleared the White House Office of Management and Budget on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. The rulemaking creates a central database for verified positive controlled substances and alcohol test results for CDL holders and refusals by such drivers to submit to testing. The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) the ELD Final Rule, which was published on December 16, 2015, will help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data.  The Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published in March 2016. The proposed rule would establish comprehensive, national training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus drivers seeking to obtain a CDL. FMCSA will also be ensuring that truck and bus drivers meet the physical qualification requirements to operate safely on the Nation's highways and roads through  the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners Final Rule.

SUBMITTED BY:          Office of the Under Secretary: Transportation Policy

LAST UPDATED:          November 3, 2016

Crude Oil By Rail

Issue

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has considered numerous regulatory amendments that would enhance safety, revise, and clarify the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) applicable to the transportation of hazardous materials by rail.  The actions respond to many petitions for rulemaking submitted by the regulated community and multiple National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations that are associated with the petitions.  The actions also respond to congressional mandates under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

Action Needed

Continue to promote the proper classification and the safe transportation of energy products.

Background

HM-251D - Volatility ANPRM

This Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) will assess the merits of a petition for rulemaking (P-1669) submitted by the Attorney General of the State of New York regarding vapor pressure standards on December 1, 2015.  The Attorney General petitioned PHMSA to add a new paragraph (a)(6) to the existing HMR requirements in Title 49 CFR § 174.310 that would "require all crude oil transported by rail to not exceed an established Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of 9.0 psi."  In contrast to the New York State Office of the Attorney General's petition, the North Dakota Industrial Commission implemented a maximum vapor pressure threshold of 13.7 psi, Reid equivalent (described in more detail in the section that follows). 

PHMSA established this ANPRM to ask a series of questions seeking comments as to what a national vapor pressure threshold should be.  Specifically, this rulemaking will assess the merits of a petition for rulemaking submitted by the Attorney General of the State of New York regarding vapor pressure standards for the transportation of crude oil to implement a RVP limit of 9.0 pounds per square inch (psi), for crude oil transported by rail.

HM-251E - Sampling and Testing NPRM

This rulemaking proposes to revise sampling and testing requirements and require particular sampling methods, test methods, and criteria for vapor pressure tests conducted on unrefined petroleum-based products, such as petroleum crude oil.  Specifically, this rulemaking proposes that persons who offer unrefined petroleum-based products for transportation, regardless of mode of transportation, apply particular methods for conducting vapor pressure testing.  The two key drivers of this rulemaking action are described below:

North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) Oil Conditioning Order No. 25417

In December 2014, NDIC issued Oil Conditioning Order No. 25417 (Order), which requires operators of Bakken crude oil produced in the state of North Dakota to separate the gaseous and light hydrocarbons from all Bakken crude oil.  The Order requires the use of a gas-liquid separator and/or an emulsion heater-treater capable of separating the gaseous and liquid hydrocarbons, prohibits blending of Bakken crude oil with specific materials, and requires crude oil produced to have a Reid Equivalent Vapor Pressure of crude oil not greater than 13.7 psi or 1 psi less than the vapor pressure of stabilized crude oil. According to NDIC, the vapor to liquid (V/L) ratio in the Order is implied to be 4, consistent with Reid Equivalent Vapor Pressure and ASTM D6377.  The Order requires the 13.7 psi limit to be measured as pounds per square inch absolute (psia) and not pounds per square inch gauge (psig).  The use of psia is used to make it clear that the pressure is relative to a vacuum rather than the ambient atmospheric pressure. On April 1, 2015, new requirements for conditioning and testing of crude oil issued by NDIC under Order 25417 took effect.  This order attempted to provide consistency in sampling and testing.  In the order, well operators who did not reduce vapor pressure using environmental conditions (heat and pressure limits within the separator units) are required to conduct testing using ASTM D6377 [Standard Test Method for Determination of Vapor Pressure of Crude Oil: VPCRx (Expansion Method)].

Sandia Study - In 2014, DOT and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) commissioned a review of available crude oil chemical and physical property data literature to better understand and mitigate the risks associated with large volume rail transport of conventional and tight crude oil.  This review was conducted by Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) and focused on crude oil potential for ignition, combustion, and explosion. 

A partial list of properties surveyed includes density (expressed as API gravity), vapor pressure, initial boiling point, boiling point distribution, flash point, gas–oil ratio, "light ends" (dissolved gases—including nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, methane, ethane, and propane—and butanes and other volatile liquids) composition, and flash gas composition.  Although the review yielded a large database encompassing a wide variety of crude oils and their properties, it also illustrated the difficulty in utilizing available data as the basis for accurately defining and meaningfully comparing crude oils. 

An important outcome of the review was formal recognition of the wide-ranging variability in crude oil sample type, sampling method, and analytical method, as well as the acknowledgement that this variability limits the adequacy of the available crude oil property data set as the basis for establishing effective and affordable safe transport guidelines.  In recognition of the need for improved understanding of crude oil, and especially tight crude oil properties, the Sandia Study was designed to characterize tight and conventional crudes based on key chemical and physical properties and to identify properties that may contribute to increased likelihood and/or severity of combustion events that could arise during handling and transport. 

The proposed work scope represents a phased approach, in that knowledge gained from completing each task will inform the execution of subsequent tasks to maximize efficiency in achieving overall plan objectives.  Through four tasks, the SAE Plan, will characterize tight and conventional crudes based on identified key chemical and physical qualities and identify properties that may contribute to increased likelihood and/or severity of combustion events that could arise during handling and transport.  This project is currently in Task 2, which is designed to determine what methods of sampling and analysis are suitable for characterizing the physical and chemical properties of crude oils with vastly differing chemical and physical compositions.

SUBMITTED BY:          Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:          November 1, 2016

Safe Transport of Lithium Batteries by Air

Issue

The safe transport of lithium batteries by air is an ongoing concern for PHMSA, the Federal Avaiation Administration (FAA), and OST.  Lithium batteries pose unique challenges because, unlike other hazardous materials, they contain a chemical and an electrical hazard.  Lithium batteries can overheat and ignite under certain conditions and, once ignited, can be especially difficult to extinguish. The presence of lithium batteries can also increase the severity of a fire originating from another source.

Action Needed

Obtain the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval to issue the Interim Final Rule (IFR) and continue to advance the safe transportation of lithium batteries.

Background

Lithium batteries have been suspected as a cause or contributor to several high profile aviation incidents and accidents.  In April 28, 1999, there was a fire at Los Angeles International Airport involving two pallets containing 120,000 lithium metal batteries.  The fire was preceded by mishandling that damaged the batteries. On February 7, 2006, there was an incident at the Philadelphia International Airport in which a fire – suspected to have been caused by lithium batteries – destroyed a cargo aircraft and much of its cargo.  On September 3, 2010, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, a 747-400 cargo aircraft crashed while attempting to land at the Dubai airport after a fire was discovered.  Both pilots were killed, and the aircraft and its cargo, which included lithium batteries, were destroyed.

Air transport of lithium batteries poses a particular risk because fires involving lithium ion batteries can exceed the fire suppression capabilities of the aircraft. A fundamental concern highlighted by the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center's (FAA Tech Center) research is that the cargo compartment fire protection standards were not designed to address the unique hazards associated with the transport of lithium batteries.

Specific safety concerns include: (1) Lithium batteries are considered hazardous materials because they pose both a chemical and electrical hazard – under certain conditions they can overheat and ignite and, once ignited, can be especially difficult to extinguish; (2) the potential for propagation of thermal runaway between cells or batteries in a package and between adjacent packages of batteries; (3) the potential for uncontrolled lithium battery fires to overwhelm the capability of existing aircraft cargo fire protection systems, leading to a catastrophic failure of the airframe; and (4) the potential for venting of combustible gases from lithium ion cells in thermal runaway, which could collect in an enclosed environment and cause an explosion even in the presence of a suppression agent.

In cooperation with FAA and other external stakeholders, PHMSA continues to progress a multifaceted approach to improving the safe transport of lithium batteries by all modes of transportation.  These efforts include:

  • An interim final rule to adopt amendments into the HMR to address immediate safety concerns on the transport of lithium ion batteries by air, including NTSB recommendations, and ensure that the HMR reflect the most recent amendments adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).  The interim final rule is under review at OMB.
  • Work with the UN Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods to assess new battery technologies, improve and modernize battery testing provisions, and strengthen packaging provisions for damaged batteries and recycling and disposal of batteries.
  • Work with ICAO to develop enhanced packaging standards and segregation provisions for air transport.
  • Leading a multi-agency working group on lithium battery compliance and enforcement.
  • Working directly with Transport Canada on shared safety initiatives.
  • Research efforts to better characterize risk.

SUBMITTED BY:          Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:          November 1, 2016

Underground Natural Gas Storage

Issue

Following the Aliso Canyon underground natural gas storage leak, the largest natural gas release in U.S. history, and subsequent Congressional mandates, PHMSA is working to issue an IFR to require operators of underground storage facilities for natural gas to comply with minimum Federal safety standards for the regulation of interstate underground natural gas storage facilities. PHMSA, along with six states, served on a working group that produced the American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 1171, Functional Integrity of Natural Gas Storage in Depleted Hydrocarbon Reservoirs and Aquifer Reservoirs, and API RP 1170, Design and Operation of Solution-mined Salt Caverns Used for Natural Gas Storage.  PHMSA is considering adopting the non-mandatory provisions of the RPs in a manner that would make them mandatory. The interim final rule is currently under review at the OMB.

Action Needed

Obtain OMB approval to issue the IFR and then prepare the final rulemaking based on the recommendations of the Interagency Task Force on Natural Gas Storage Safety and comments received on the IFR.

Background

Beginning in October 23, 2015, a blowout at the Aliso Canyon storage field near Porter Ranch, CA resulted in a 4-month long, uncontrolled release of natural gas, one of the largest in U.S. history. The California Air Resources Board's final estimate determined that SoCalGas released between 90,350 to 109,000 metric tons of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas; according to the EPA, methane has a high global warming potential of 28-36 times that of CO2 over a 100-year period.

Following the Aliso Canyon release Congress passed the PIPES Act of 2016 (Pl 114-183) mandating that PHMSA "issue minimum safety standards for underground natural gas storage facilities." PHMSA has safety authority over the underground storage facilities used in natural gas pipeline transportation but has no safety regulations that apply to down-hole underground storage reservoirs for natural gas.

In response to the Aliso Canyon incident and in accordance with the PIPES Act of 2016, PHMSA has co-chaired, along with the Department of Energy, an Interagency Task Force on Natural Gas Storage Safety.  In October, 2016, the Task Force issued their final report, Ensuring Safe and Reliable Underground Natural Gas Storage which includes 44 recommendations that will be considered by PHMSA and other agencies after the IFR is issued.

SUBMITTED BY:          Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:          November 1, 2016

Hours of Service: Suspension of Enforcement of the 34-Hour Restart

Issue

Beginning in FY 2015, Congress prohibited the use of appropriated funds by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to enforce amended restart rules adopted in 2011 pending the results of an FMCSA study comparing that rule with its predecessor, which only required a 34-hour restart period, thus encompassing a single nighttime rest period.  However, under FY 2016 appropriations legislation (Pub. L. 114-113), if the results of that study did not show that the amended restart rule results in statistically significant improvements to safety, fatigue, driver health, longevity and work schedules, the "34-hour restart" privilege wouldbe eliminated in its entirety after the study is transmitted to Congress.  The FMCSA study is complete and the final report was transmitted to the Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for its review on January 5, 2017.

Action Needed

Once the OIG review is complete, FMCSA will need to develop a communications strategy to address the Restart Study findings. 

Background 

Fatigue is a leading factor in large truck crashes. Under the old Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules in place before July 1, 2013, drivers operating large trucks faced demanding driving schedules that may have included workweeks in excess of 80 hours, averaging 13 hours per day. These schedules increased both the risk of fatigue-related crashes and long-term health problems for drivers. 

Prior to 2003, long-distance drivers would drive cross-country in 3 to 4 days and then, upon reaching the 60th or 70th hour on duty, would have to be off duty at the location where they reached that limit for 3-4 days before they were available to drive under the then-effective HOS rules.

Starting in 2003, drivers were allowed to "reset" their weekly 60/70-hour limit to zero by taking 34 consecutive hours off duty. This allowed them to significantly increase the number of hours they could drive in a week.

The 34-hour restart provision was modified significantly in a 2011 HOS final rule that became effective in July 2013. This change required the restart interval to include two periods of 1:00-5:00 a.m. and limited use of the restart to once per week (168 hours).  This change reduced the maximum average potential work hours available to a driver from 82 to 70 hours, a 15% reduction.

In the FY 2015 Appropriations Act, Congress directed FMCSA to conduct a naturalistic study of the operational, safety, health, and fatigue impacts of both the 2003 and 2013 restart provisions. FMCSA was directed to cease enforcement of the 2013 regulation until the study is completed and it could only reinstate enforcement if the study demonstrated statutory outcomes. Pending the release of the study, and satisfaction of certain statutory requirements, the 2003 re-start provision would remain in effect. 

In the FY 2016 Appropriations Act, while the FMCSA study was pending, Congress added additional statutory outcomes that FMCSA must prove before reinstating enforcement of the 2013 restart provision. Also under the FY 2016 language, if the FMCSA study does not satisfy these outcomes, including those that were added after the study was initiated, the restart rule in operation effect on June 30, 2013, remains in place.   

SUBMITTED BY:          Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:         January 5, 2017

Electronic Logging Devices (ELD)

Issue

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) and Hours-of-Service (HOS) Supporting Documents Rulemaking, also known as the ELD rule, fulfills a statutory requirement of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), enacted by Congress in July 2012.  The final rule was published on December 15, 2015, and establishes:  Requirements for the mandatory use of ELDs by drivers currently required to prepare HOS records of duty status (RODS); Minimum technical specifications for ELDs, including a requirement to certify and register ELD systems with FMCSA; Requirements for HOS supporting documents; and Measures to address concerns about harassment resulting from the mandatory use of ELDs.

After FMCSA published the final ELD Rule, the OOIDA and two individual owner-operator truck drivers filed a challenge to the rule in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Oral arguments were held on September 13, 2016 and on October 13, 2016, the court denied the petition for review and held that the ELD rule is not arbitrary or capricious, nor does it violate the Fourth Amendment. 

Action Needed

Continue implementation efforts.

Background 

Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers verify their compliance with federal HOS by preparing RODS, which were traditionally paper logs.

On April 5, 2010, FMCSA issued the Electronic On-Board Recorders for Hours of Service Compliance Final Rule (75 FR 17208).  However, on August 26, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacated the Rule, based on litigation from OOIDA, stating that FMCSA failed to address the issue of driver harassment and ways to ensure that ELDs were not used to harass drivers. 

As a result of the August 2011 court decision, the new ELD final rule includes measures to address concerns about harassment resulting from the mandatory use of ELDs: new procedures for a driver to follow for filing a harassment complaint and technical specifications aimed at protecting the driver.

The ELD final rule was published on December 15, 2015.  The compliance date for the ELD Final Rule is two years after publication, December 18, 2017.  However, automated on-board recorders (AOBRDs) compliant with 49 CFR 395.15 that were installed before the compliance date may be used until December 16, 2019.  Then, motor carriers must upgrade or replace those AOBRDs with ELDs.

The ELD final rule standardizes ELD outputs, introduces tamper-resistance measures, and facilitates consistent enforcement action at the roadside and during investigations via secure electronic data transfer protocols.  ELD system suppliers self-certify that their devices meet the required specifications and register their ELDs with FMCSA.  Motor carriers will be required to use only those ELD systems that are self-certified and registered with FMCSA.  A list of registered ELDs is published on FMCSA's website. 

This rule provides an exception for short haul drivers who infrequently keep RODS.  Short haul drivers will not need to use an ELD, as long as they do not operate outside the "short haul" limits more than 8 days within any 30 day period.  Exceptions are also allowed for "drive away-tow away" operations where the vehicle being driven is part of the shipment being delivered, as well as CMVs manufactured before model year 2000.

FMCSA's Office of Enforcement is leading the ELD final rule implementation effort.  This encompasses: policy planning and delivery; information technology development and implementation; internal training on the Rule; and outreach for external stakeholders.            

After FMCSA published the final ELD final rule, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and two individual owner-operator truck drivers filed a challenge to the rule in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  OOIDA argued that the final rule does not meet the statutory mandate enacted as part of MAP-21, because the final rule does not require that ELDs "automatically" record duty status information other than driving time without driver input.  Thus, OOIDA contended, that the final rule would not improve HOS compliance.  OOIDA also challenged the final rule's cost benefit analysis methodology and argued that the final rule fails to satisfy statutory requirements to ensure against harassment, protect confidentiality, and limit use of ELD data disclosed to law enforcement officers. Finally, OOIDA argued that requiring use of ELDs violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  

The American Trucking Associations, Inc., and, in a joint filing, the Trucking Alliance for Driver Safety and Security and the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety filed amicus briefs in support of the final rule.  

Oral arguments were held in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on September 13, 2016.  On October 31, 2016, the court rejected all of OOIDA's arguments and upheld the rule in its entirety.

SUBMITTED BY:          Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:         December 12, 2016

Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety

Issue

Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities increased in 2015 to a level not seen in 20 years.  Over the past 10 years (2006 to 2015) the proportion of pedestrian, bicyclist and other non-occupant fatalities has increased from 13% to 18%.  NHTSA is expanding coordinated efforts with Federal and State governments and non-governmental organizations to eliminate serious and fatal injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists resulting from crashes with a motor vehicle.

Action Needed

DOT needs to maintain a collaborative effort across modal administrations, with other vested Federal agencies, State and local governments, and non-governmental organizations to promote safe, accessible, comfortable, and connected multimodal networks in communities throughout the U.S.  NHTSA and the other modes within DOT that share a common objective to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety must continue collaborative efforts under the DOT Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinating Committee.

NHTSA-led efforts will focus on supporting States through National Priority Highway Safety Program grant funds.  In addition, NHTSA will continue to provide technical assistance to States for improving data collection and analysis and implementation of evidence-based behavioral safety education and traffic law enforcement for the safety of all road users.

Background

Everyone is a pedestrian and an increasing number of people are choosing walking and bicycling as a healthy, environmentally friendly, and economic means of transportation.  Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities have been gradually increasing since 2009.  The 2015 annual FARS data shows a 9.5% increase over 2014 in pedestrian fatalities, and a 12.2% increase in bicyclist fatalities, exceeding the 7.2% increase seen in total fatalities from motor vehicle crashes.  NHTSA is working with OST-Policy's TRIAD initiative to learn more about why these fatalities are increasing.

DOT has conducted a Safer People, Safer Streets initiative to address non-motorized safety issues and help communities create safer, better connected bicycling and walking networks.  This initiative has fostered much activity at the national level, and stimulated a growing number of cities to adopt Complete Streets policies to improve mobility options for all people and Vision Zero goals to eliminate injuries from motor vehicle crashes.  Lessons from the initiative will help inform identification of priorities of the DOT Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinating Committee.

With FHWA's adoption of the Safety Performance Measures required in MAP-21 that include a measure for decreasing non-motorist fatalities and serious injuries, State DOTs are expected to increase efforts to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety.  Further, the FHWA Strategic Agenda for Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation will assist Federal, State and local governments to make walking and bicycling safe and viable transportation options for people of all ages and abilities in communities throughout the U.S.  In addition, NHTSA's new Non-motorized Safety grant program, authorized in the FAST Act, will provide $13.8 million in Federal funds to 20 States with significant proportions of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities to implement effective education and enforcement programs. FTA is also conducting research to address the dafety of patrons accessing public transportation

SUBMITTED BY:          National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:           October 26, 2016

Proactive Safety Principles 

Issue

On January 15, 2016, DOT, NHTSA, and 18 automobile manufacturers adopted a historic set of Proactive Safety Principles. Broadly, the group committed to improving the safety culture of the automobile industry by exploring a more effective dialog on cross-industry safety issues and trends to foster proactive safety solutions and enhance timely and consistent issue identification. NHTSA's goal is to make safety a collaborative standard instead of a competitive advantage for manufacturers.

Action Needed

NHSTA is maintaining a safety principles progress report to track implementation of the agreement by NHTSA and industry. NHTSA plans to continue to hold periodic meetings with industry to evaluate progress and discuss ideas for implementation.

OST and NHTSA should encourage industry to continue efforts to pursue information sharing mechanisms, including cybersecurity best practices, and participate in industry events pertaining to proactive safety. NHTSA will continue to work with industry on each of the four principles and explore ways to expand them to equipment and other vehicle manufacturers.

Background

The automotive industry experienced several years of unprecedented recall activity, and NHTSA responded with unprecedented enforcement activity to protect public safety. However, real safety is preventing tragedy from happening rather than reacting after tragedy has occurred.

On December 1, 2015, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation convened a historic meeting with the CEOs of the major domestic and foreign automakers in Washington, D.C. They discussed how recent recalls were causing a loss of public confidence in the automakers and the safety of their vehicles. He called on them to make a strong commitment to proactive safety and asked that they work with NHTSA to develop and adopt a set of baseline proactive safety principles. On January 15, 2016, DOT, NHTSA, and 18 manufacturers committed to the following four Proactive Safety Principles:

  1. Enhance and Facilitate Proactive Safety: Continue to emphasize and actively encourage processes that promote steady improvement in vehicle safety and quality within our respective organizations, across the industry, and with other stakeholders.
  2. Enhance Analysis and Examination of Early Warning Reporting Data: To continue to incorporate advanced methods in data analytics into the analyses and examinations of Early Warning Reporting (EWR) data to better identify potential risks earlier.
  3. Maximize Safety Recall Participation Rates: Explore and employ new ways to increase safety recall participation rates by the public by working toward the goal of 100%participation.
  4. Enhance Automotive Cybersecurity: Explore and employ ways to work collaboratively in order to mitigate those cyber threats that could present unreasonable safety risks.

In January 2016, the automotive industry, at NHTSA's recommendation, established an information sharing and analysis center (ISAC) to identify and share vulnerabilities across the industry. The Auto-ISAC released cybersecurity best practices for light duty vehicles in July 2016.

NHTSA co-hosted a Safety Stand-Down Day on April 22, 2016 to familiarize the auto industry with how FAA and the airline industry learned to work together and shared information to dramatically improve aviation safety. The manufacturers, with their trade associations, are exploring how this might work for the auto industry. Updates to the Proactive Safety Principles are available on the NHTSA website.

SUBMITTED BY:          National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:          October 26, 2016

Vehicle Defects and Recalls

Issue

NHTSA is responsible for identifying vehicle defects and enforcing recalls to remedy these defects. Due to a few, recent, high-profile recalls, NHTSA recognized that its processes and procedures needed to be modified to address large-scale recalls such as the recent Takata air bag recall and the GM Ignition Switch recall.

In addition to addressing the recommendations outlined by the U.S. DOT Office of Inspector General (OIG), NHTSA hired outside experts to improve our process of identifying and addressing risks related to vehicle defects. NHTSA is currently addressing and implementing these processes. 

Action Needed

Continued support from OST will be necessary as NHTSA makes ongoing improvements to its defect investigation and recall program.

Background

NHTSA has seen an increase in the number of high profile recalls over the past four years leading up to a record number of enforcement actions in 2015. This resulted in several Congressional hearings and an OIG report outlining a number of policy and procedural issues that NHTSA was asked to address. NHTSA is improving the defects investigation and recall process through the following efforts:

Defects Investigations

Pre-investigation process improvements. NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) has been working on the development of a refined process that can more effectively capture defect information from manufacturers, the public, and others. ODI is also implementing and exploring additional technological solutions designed to make its review of defect reports, investigations, and enforcement activities even more effective and efficient. The Office is also developing standardized protocol to assess the associated public risk that may accompany a potential defect report.

ODI restructuring. ODI is completing an internal restructuring that includes revising standards, office protocols, and hiring additional employees.

Risk matrices. ODI is testing and enhancing their risk matrices to help identify and address recalls based on their level of risk to the public.

Data. ODI is creating a team that will use existing data to support ODI investigators as they review historical crash related data and use data-driven decision making.

Recalls

Takata airbag recalls and the Coordinated Remedy System. Both NHTSA's Office of Chief Counsel and the ODI are heavily involved in these recalls. Both offices conduct regularly scheduled meetings with the involved Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Takata, and the independent monitors appointed under the Coordinated Remedy Program. The program has proven to be an effective means of monitoring progress in these recalls.

OEM consent orders. The consent order process, as administered by NHTSA's Office of Chief Counsel with support from ODI, has proven to be an effective means of getting due diligence and compliance from the OEMs when a defect requiring a recall is detected by the agency.

Higher fines. The FAST Act authorized NHTSA to levy larger fines on manufacturers, increasing the allowed civil penalties from $35 million to $105 million for a related series of violations.

SUBMITTED BY:          National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:         October 26, 2016

NCAP Tomorrow: The New Car Assessment Program

Issue

The New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) allows NHTSA to drive vehicle safety improvements. NCAP was last updated in 2010, and manufacturers responded very quickly to meet the safety challenges set forth by NCAP by designing vehicles that earned 4- and 5-star ratings within a few years. Advancements in technology and safety features created the need to enhance the current NCAP to further promote the development of safer vehicles.

Action Needed

Continued support from OST for innovative tools and techniques that are necessary to (1) quickly address and incorporate emerging available technologies into the program, (2) better evaluate the safety performance of vehicles, (3) identify for consumers vehicles with exceptional safety performance, and (4) stimulate the development of even safer vehicles for consumers.

Background

On December 8, 2015, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and the NHTSA Administrator held a press event at DOT Headquarters announcing the agency's plans to update NCAP with significant changes to the program.  Then, on December 16, 2015, a "Request for Comments" (RFC) notice was published in the Federal Register detailing changes to the program.  These include:

  • A new frontal oblique test to address a crash type that continues to result in deaths and serious injuries despite the use of seat belts, air bags, and the crashworthy structures of late-model vehicles;
  • The addition of two new crash test dummies due to their advanced instrumentation and more-human-like (biofidelic) response to the forces experienced in frontal and side crashes to better predict occupant injuries in these types of crashes;
  • A new pedestrian crashworthiness and crash avoidance testing program to measure the extent to which vehicles are designed to minimize injuries and fatalities to pedestrians struck by vehicles or to avoid hitting pedestrians in the first place;
  • The addition of a crash avoidance rating based on whether a vehicle offers any of the multiple technologies that will be added to NCAP and whether the technologies meet NHTSA performance measures; and
  • A new approach to determining a vehicle's overall 5-star rating that will, for the first time, incorporate advanced crash avoidance technology features, along with ratings for crashworthiness and pedestrian protection.

The agency is developing another RFC notice to include (1) modifications to information or materials that were not included in the December 2015 notice, (2) new information that completes the technical basis for the planned changes to NCAP, and (3) a discussion of the new 5-star safety rating system. 

SUBMITTED BY:            National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:           October 26, 2016

Project Selection for Positive Train Control Grants

Issue

To prevent accidents and save lives, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is urging railroads to implement positive train control (PTC) before the statutory deadline, December 31, 2018.  The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Section 3028 of Public Law 114-94) authorized $199 million for grants to help finance PTC installation by commuter railroads, states, and local governments.

Action Needed

After Congress completes the full year FY 2017 appropriation for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Department of Transportation (DOT) needs to select projects and award funding.

Background 

PTC refers to communication-based or processor-based train control technology that prevents accidents caused by excessive speed; train-on-train collisions; entering established work zones; and trains routed to incorrect tracks.  While the largest freight railroads generally have access to investment capital—a record $30 billion in 2015—most intercity passenger and commuter rail operators depend on public funds to pay for or finance infrastructure and equipment.  FRA provided commuter railroads more than $650 million in grants and $1 billion in loans for PTC implementation.  However, the American Public Transportation Association estimates commuter railroads will need about $3.5 billion more.

FRA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) are working together on these grants, with FRA generally focusing on the PTC technical issues and FTA focusing on grants management.  FRA is reviewing the applications and will recommend projects for funding.  FTA will award the funds and administer the grants after award.  FRA will help FTA monitor the grantees' PTC implementation progress.

Grant recipients must provide a matching amount of at least 20% for project costs such as:

  • Installation of PTC systems, shared infrastructure (e.g., back office systems, computer aided dispatch systems), or technologies that will lower costs, accelerate implementation, and improve reliability; and
  • Spectrum acquisition or installation of technologies that will eliminate PTC system communications interference, resolve configuration management of multi-railroad PTC software and firmware deployments, and provide host-tenant railroad PTC interoperability and system certification.

FRA published the Notice of Funding Opportunity on July 29, 2016, and accepted applications until September 27, 2016. 

SUBMITTED BY:          Federal Railroad Administration

LAST UPDATED:          November 3, 2016

Direct Federal Oversight of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Rail Operations

Issue

In October 2015, the U. S. Secretary of Transportation directed the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to assume temporary and direct safety oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail system.  FTA is performing this safety oversight responsibility in place of the ineffective Tri-State Oversight Committee (TOC).

Action Needed

If FTA finds that action taken by the District of Columbia (D.C.), Maryland, and Virginia is inadequate to address FTA's State Safety Oversight Agency (SSOA) regulatory requirements, the new Administration will need to determine appropriate action to oversee the safety of the Metrorail system.

Background

FTA's direct safety oversight role of WMATA is temporary and will continue until D.C., Maryland, and Virginia replace the TOC with a new State Safety Oversight Agency (SSOA) that complies with Federal law and is capable of performing its WMATA Metrorail safety oversight responsibilities.

The DOT has been clear about the States' statutory responsibility to perform this direct oversight role and has repeatedly highlighted the need for immediate State legislative actions to support the creation of a new SSOA certified by FTA.

Legislative action to create a new SSOA by all three jurisdictions is anticipated during their next legislative sessions; this schedule could require continuing direct WMATA rail safety oversight by FTA until at least the Summer of 2017.

The responsibility for improving the safe operation of the WMATA Metrorail system, including the performance of daily inspections and preventative maintenance, sits squarely on WMATA.  The FTA WMATA Safety Oversight Team's role is to verify WMATA's progress on implementing safety-related Corrective Action Plans and remedial actions, and to ensure that WMATA is effectively carrying out its own critical maintenance, operations, and training programs.

SUBMITTED BY:          Federal Transit Administration

LAST UPDATED:          October 25, 2016

INNOVATION

Highly Automated Vehicles

Issue

The Federal Automated Vehicles (FAV) Policy sets out a proactive safety approach that will safely bring lifesaving technologies to the roads while providing innovators the space they need to develop new solutions. The FAV Policy will continue to be shaped by public comment, industry feedback, real-world experience, and NHTSA research. To ensure that the FAV Policy remains relevant and timely, NHTSA will update the Policy within the next year.

Action Needed

In order to be fully successful, the issue of highly automated vehicles requires the implementation of the next steps contained in the 2016 Federal Automated Vehicles Policy (Pg. 99, Appendix III: Next Steps) and the creation of an enhanced NHTSA AV research program.

Background

Advancements in vehicle technology, in particular autonomed and connected vehicles, have the potential to positively transform our transportation system.  As we look forward, it is important to remain aware that multiple modes and offices have roles to play in the development of sound policy.  Specifically, OST's Office of Transportion Policy, OST's Office of  Research and Technology, NHTSA, FHWA, and FMCSA are all responsible for or impacted by different elements of research, policy development, regulatory development, and regulatory enforcement within the autonomous vehicle ecosystem.  Cooperation between offices is key to ensuring the full potential of the technology is realized.

NHTSA issued its FAV Policy for public comment on September 20, 2016.  A copy of the policy can be found here: https://www.transportation.gov/AV.

The policy includes four parts:

Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles

This section outlines best practices for the safe pre-deployment design, development and testing of HAVs prior to commercial sale or operation on public roads.

Model State Policy

The Model State Policy confirms and outlines how States retain their traditional responsibilities for vehicle licensing and registration, traffic laws and enforcement, and motor vehicle insurance and liability regimes. Our objective is to ensure a consistent national framework of laws rather than a patchwork of incompatible laws.

Current Regulatory Tools

This section covers how NHTSA's current regulatory tools can be applied to AV including: interpretations, exemptions, notice-and-comment rulemaking, and defects and enforcement authority.

Modern Regulatory Tools

This section identifies potential new tools, authorities and regulatory structures that could aid the safe and appropriately expeditious deployment of new technologies by enabling the Agency to be more nimble and flexible.

The FAV Policy is intended to be a living document that will change over time as lessons are learned, research is completed, and new considerations are developed. NHTSA is committed to updating the document within the next year and developing a process to keep the document up-to-date in a transparent way.

Another key clarifying point that the FAV Policy outlines are the five levels of automation. These levels are based on the SAE International (SAE) definitions that divide vehicles into levels based on "who does what, when." Generally:

At SAE Level 0 the human driver does everything;

At SAE Level 1 an automated system on the vehicle can sometimes assist the human driver with some parts of the driving task;

At SAE Level 2 an automated system on the vehicle can actually conduct some parts of the driving task, while the human continues to monitor the driving environment and performs the rest of the driving task;

At SAE Level 3 an automated system can both conduct the driving task and monitor the driving environment in some instances, but the human driver must be ready to take back control when the automated system requests;

At SAE Level 4 an automated system can conduct the driving task and monitor the driving environment, and the human need not take back control, but the automated system can operate only in certain environments and under certain conditions; and

At SAE Level 5 the automated system can perform all driving tasks, under all conditions that a human driver could perform them.

To date, seven States and the District of Columbia have enacted autonomous vehicle legislation, and two States have Executive Orders related to autonomous vehicles. Additional information regarding State legislation can be found here: http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/autonomous-vehicles-legislation.aspx

SUBMITTED BY:          National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:          October 26, 2016

Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V)

Issue

NHTSA received OMB clearance on December 13, 2016 to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to mandate vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communication technology in all new light vehicles. The NPRM was scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on January 12, 2017 which will be the official start of a 90 day comment period to gather input from stakeholders and the public. Prior to this, the agency published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) in August of 2014, accompanied by an extensive "Readiness Report" that was used to inform the agency decision to move forward with proposing a mandate for the technology.

In addition, NHTSA is researching the use of V2V in heavy vehicles.

Action Needed

No current action is needed.

NHTSA will coordinate with OST on decisions related to V2V in Heavy Vehicles.

Background

Advancements in vehicle technology, in particular autonomous and connected vehicles, have the potential to positively transform our transportation system.  As we look forward, it is important to remain aware that multiple modes and offices have roles to play in the development of sound policy.  Specifically, OST Policy, OST Research, NHTSA, FHWA, and FMCSA are all responsible for or impacted by different elements of research, policy development, regulatory development, and regulatory enforcement within the autonomous vehicle ecosystem.  Cooperation between offices is key to ensuring the full potential of the technology is realized.

V2V communication technology allows cars, trucks and other vehicles to exchange information about their speed and position to help drivers avoid crashes. A vehicle could warn the driver of an imminent crash to prevent the crash altogether.

V2V equipped vehicles can use dedicated short-range communication technology to transmit and receive information via radio waves to understand the speed, position, and status of other vehicles. Communication messages have a range of approximately 300 meters, and can detect dangers obscured by traffic, terrain, or weather.

A vehicle fleet equipped with V2V technology enables additional capabilities that could help motorists, pedestrians and municipalities, such as by notifying road crews when and where slippery roadway conditions are present. V2V can also enhance the confidence of decisions made by other onboard safety technologies like automatic emergency braking and automated vehicles. 

A national V2V system is estimated to yield substantial benefits and has been designed from the outset to protect consumer privacy and security. V2V technology does not exchange or record a consumer's personal information or track a vehicle's movements.

NHTSA has worked with the automotive industry and academic institutions for more than a decade to advance V2V due to its lifesaving potential. Research indicates that it can communicate risks and provide warnings to help vehicles avoid common crashes, amounting to at least a 50 percent reduction in crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

SUBMITTED BY:          National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:         October 26, 2016

Cybersecurity

Issue

As cybersecurity has become increasingly important to many aspects of American's lives, NHTSA is working to improve the cybersecurity posture for all vehicles. NHTSA recently released proposed cybersecurity guidance, "Cybersecurity Best Practices for Modern Vehicles" (http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nvs/pdf/812333_CybersecurityForModernVehicles.pdf).

Action Needed

To be fully successful, DOT needs to be vigilant to cybersecurity issues, provide research funding, encourage improved industry actions, and finalize the Cybersecurity Best Practices for Modern Vehicles guidance after public comment.

Background

NHTSA is taking a proactive safety approach to protect vehicles from malicious cyber-attacks and unauthorized access by releasing proposed guidance for improving motor vehicle cybersecurity.

The proposed cybersecurity guidance released on October 25, 2016 is based on public feedback gathered by NHTSA, as well as the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. The proposed cybersecurity guidance follows actions by other entities on motor vehicle cybersecurity, including SAE J3061 Recommended Best Practice: Cybersecurity Guidebook for Cyber-Physical Vehicle Systems and the executive summary to the Automotive Cybersecurity Best Practices issued by the Auto-ISAC in collaboration with the motor vehicle trade associations.

The proposed cybersecurity guidance focuses on layered solutions to ensure vehicle systems are designed to take appropriate and safe actions, even when an attack is successful. The proposed guidance recommends risk-based prioritized identification and protection of critical vehicle controls and consumers' personal data. Further, it recommends that companies should consider the full life-cycle of their vehicles and facilitate rapid response and recovery from cybersecurity incidents.

This proposed guidance also highlights the importance of making cybersecurity a top leadership priority for the automotive industry, and suggests that companies demonstrate it by allocating appropriate and dedicated resources, and enabling seamless and direct communication channels though organizational ranks related to vehicle cybersecurity matters.

After receiving public comments on the proposed guidance, NHTSA is working to finalize the guidance document.

SUBMITTED BY:  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

LAST UPDATED:   October 26, 2016

Delivering NextGen Benefits

Issue

The FAA continually strives to improve operations in the National Airspace System (NAS) and ensure the vitality of the U.S. economy through the transformation of our civil air traffic system with the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). NextGen is no single program, but rather an evolving but integrated collection of programs, systems, and procedures designed to bring about transformative change in how we fly.  This transformation includes a tran­sition from ground-based radar to satellite-enabled technology to track aircraft in flight, modernizing the underlying air traffic control automation systems, new procedures, and vast improvements in the way controllers and pilots share critical safety information.  

Successfully building NextGen requires collaboration and investment among the FAA, other federal government agencies, and a wide range of participants, including airlines, general aviation, airports, labor, researchers, manufacturers, and local communities.  NextGen has already delivered $1.6 billion in benefits to the National Airspace System (NAS) and we expect to deliver a total of $160.6 billion in NextGen benefits through 2030. While some air carriers and airspace users recognize the significant benefits that NextGen has already yielded, other operators say they are not yet realizing the benefits they expected. The concrete data shows that we are delivering benefits to industry and the public on time, on budget, and in quantifiable segments.  NextGen continually strives to make aviation safer and smarter, deliver benefits through technology and infrastructure, and enhance our global leadership. Looking ahead, we have a clear path for adding more and more capabilities that will transform the way air traffic is managed and more rapidly provide NextGen benefits.

Action Needed

The Administration may wish to engage with a broad set of stakeholders to ensure the continued success of NextGen, building on the strong foundation of the FAA's collaboration with industry stakeholders to align investments, collaborate on benefits, and increase confidence in NextGen.  It is important for the Administration and the FAA to be open to industry inputs and priorities as well as for industry to know FAA's commitments to specific dates and locations for corresponding investments.  Planning these long term investments and communicating stable schedules for benefit realization requires stability of funding requiring a long term FAA Reauthorization.

Opportunities for engagement include collaboration through the NextGen Advisory Committee, which has resulted in industry commitments and dedication to working together and holding each other accountable; through the Equip 2020 Working Group to identify and resolve barriers to meet the January 1, 2020 FAA mandate for airlines and general aviation to equip with GPS, otherwise known as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B); and community outreach to make the collaborative process of airspace redesign more transparent to airports, local, state and federal governments, community organizations, and the general public.  Continued collaboration with stakeholders minimizes risk to realizing NextGen benefits.

To unleash the value of spectrum currently assigned to the FAA's aging radar systems, the next several months requires FAA to work with Federal agency partners towards an approved Spectrum Pipeline Plan that would eventually lead to a proposed spectrum auction in 2024.  The Administration may need to facilitate collaboration among the FAA's Federal agency partners to keep plans moving forward to realize its benefits as soon as possible.   

Background

NextGen Stakeholder Engagement and the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC)

NextGen is on track to meet its objectives, but successfully building NextGen requires collaboration and investment among the FAA, other federal government agencies, and a wide range of participants, including airlines, general aviation, airports, labor, researchers, manufacturers, and local communities. In 2010, recognizing that efforts at industry and stakeholder engagement were not broad enough, the FAA formed the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC), whose members include a wide-ranging representation of aviation community stakeholders who facilitate industry participation in NextGen, provide recommendations, and review performance objectives. The NAC has also helped set priorities and develop a common language of metrics and milestones among its participants.  The FAA's collaboration with the aviation industry through the NAC has informed the construction of a flexible, resilient, and sustainable infrastructure that NextGen relies upon today. 

A key success of our engagement with the NAC is a collaborative process to identify investments in the overall NextGen plan that will deliver the most near-term benefits to users. An outcome of that collaboration was the development of the NextGen Priorities Joint Implementation Plan, initiated in October 2014, and updated yearly, which outlines both FAA and aviation industry commitments to enable capabilities in four areas that industry recommended: Multiple Runway Operations, Performance Based Navigation, Surface Operations and Data Sharing, and Data Communications. The NAC's involvement in NextGen planning is intended to ensure a positive business case for all who must invest in NextGen, and to provide a venue for tracking progress and sustaining joint commitments. Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Airlines, chaired the NAC 2014-2016, and the incoming chairman is David Bronczek, President and CEO of FedEx Express. FAA's Deputy Administrator serves as the Designated Federal Official.

NextGen Budget Schedule and Benefits

NextGen, like every other Federal initiative, is highly dependent on its budget.  Congress has enacted a total of $7.0 billion for NextGen for FY 2007-2016. Of this total amount, $6.0 billion has been obligated as of September 30, 2015.  The FY 2017 budget request for NextGen is $809M and includes funding to deploy key NextGen programs like Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), Performance-based Navigation (PBN), Improved Surface Operations and Data Sharing, Data Standards and Information Management, Time Based Flow Management, and Data Communications.  Additionally, funding requested will support the pre-implementation efforts of nearly one dozen NextGen portfolio programs which encompass over 40 NextGen-related projects. This 2017 funding request is roughly equal to our 2016 budget, and includes the cost of approximately 650 FAA staff involved in the effort.    

The overarching objectives for the future remain constant — meet the need for increased capacity and efficiency while maintaining safety and mitigating environmental impacts.  If capacity is to keep pace with forecasted increased demand for services, changes are needed in the way services are provided. At the forefront of the transformation to the future is our commitment to improve operations and ensure the vitality of the U.S. economy through the continued evolution of the NextGen System. The benefits cannot be understated:

  • $39.7 billion in direct operator benefits, including $9.4 billion in fuel savings, $30.2 billion in lower crew and maintenance costs, and $125 million in additional airline flights.
  • $6.5 billion in FAA and other aviation industry benefits, including $1.4 billion in FAA cost savings and $5.1 billion from safety.
  • $114.4 billion in societal benefits: $212 million from reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and $114.2 billion from passenger time savings.

Details on these estimates can be found in the 2016 update to the Business Case for NextGen, which documents the cost-benefit analysis for NextGen as described in TheFuture of the NASreport.  The FAA regularly posts new findings on its NextGen Performance Snapshots (NPS) website: www.faa.gov/nextgen/snapshots.

NextGen Equipage/ADS-B/Space-based ADS-B

As FAA transitions to satellite-enabled technology to track aircraft in flight, airlines and general aviation will need to equip their aircraft with ADS-B equipment.  In May 2010, the FAA issued a regulation that requires aircraft to be equipped with ADS-B by January 1, 2020.   Aircraft are currently tracked by radar technology from the 1950s which refreshes every seven seconds.  ADS-B equipment utilizes GPS to transmit the aircraft's position and other information about the aircraft with a refresh rate of one second.  Eventually, this information can be used by air traffic control to improve the efficiency of the airspace and improve awareness among pilots flying in the system. 

More than 80 industry personnel representing pilots and operators, airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and equipment suppliers met with senior FAA officials in an October 28, 2014 "Call to Action" meeting to identify and address barriers to equipping their aircraft by the deadline. Some of the key issues identified by industry include: cost and availability of upgrading GPS receivers; streamlined certification procedures; development of more low cost avionics; improving product availability; clarifying requirements;  general aviation operator education; and ensuring repair station resources are available to complete installations. The FAA continues to work with the community to assure equipage through the Equip 2020 Working Group.

To help avoid a last-minute rush and potential bottlenecks in installations, the FAA is offering a monetary incentive to help owners of less expensive general aviation aircraft who, because of equipment cost considerations, might be tempted to wait until the last minute. The FAA has launched an ADS-B incentive program in Fall 2016 to offer rebates of $500 on ADS-B units for up to 20,000 aircraft owners (a $10M investment) who have not yet equipped with ADS-B.

NextGen must be nimble and adapt to changing needs, and one of the emerging topics is space-based ADS-BAircraft transiting the oceans are currently spaced 30 miles apart.  The FAA is investigating the use of Space-Based ADS-B for reducing oceanic separation.  This would enhance aircraft operations in U.S. oceanic airspace. We are also working with the International Civil Aviation Organization to analyze these new separation standards for oceanic airspace. These activities will inform the agency's investment decision for space-based ADS-B and related technologies. At this time, we project an initial operating capability in the 2020 timeframe.

Performance Based Navigation Strategy/Metroplex

Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures save aircraft fuel and time, increase traffic flow, and result in fewer carbon emissions, by enabling more precise and efficient paths for aircraft to follow. As the NAS continues to evolve from conventional procedures to a PBN-centric airspace system, more PBN procedures will be deployed and supported to enhance safety, efficiency, capacity and access. The PBN Strategy, which is the result of collaborative FAA and industry efforts over the past 10+ years, outlines commitments and achievements needed to complete the transition to a PBN-centric NAS. 

A major NextGen initiative is the Metroplex project, an effort to implement PBN procedures and improvements in the airspace around major metropolitan areas. A systematic approach to implementing PBN in metropolitan areas serves to deconflict airspace in congested areas with multiple airports. To date, the FAA has implemented PBN procedures at four of 12 Metroplexes. A continuing challenge for the Metroplex program is working with communities affected by the changes in aircraft noise resulting from new, streamlined, precise paths used by PBN. Community concerns can lead to expanded scope, extended environmental assessments, and increased project time and costs.  Each individual Metroplex site has its own individual challenges as it pertains to scope and environmental requirements, and the Metroplex program will continue to use lessons learned from implemented sites to better engage communities earlier in the design process for current and future implementation sites, and improve how community feedback is utilized.

Remote Towers

In an effort to provide a cost-effective alternative to constructing traditional brick-and-mortar towers at currently non-towered airports, the FAA is exploring the provision of air traffic control services through the use of remote tower systems. Remote tower systems are comprised of cameras and/or other instruments that provide data to an air traffic controller who is not in the same location. Several (mostly European) countries are pursuing the concept of remote tower services, with Sweden the first to become operational. Initial work at two locations, Leesburg, Virginia and Fort Collins, Colorado, is being conducted to identify potential performance standards and levels of service remote towers could offer, based on airport characteristics, operations, and other factors. Leesburg is expected to begin initial operating capabilities during 2017.

Other Major NextGen Capabilities

Data Communications (Data Comm):  Data Comm supplements voice communication 
between the air traffic controllers and the pilots with digital text-based messages.  Reduced communications time results in faster taxi outs and reduced delays. Data Comm also enhances safety by virtually eliminating the chance of the flight crew misunderstanding the message from air traffic control. Tower services are available at 56 airports. The FAA formulated an equipage incentive program to ensure enough aircraft (1,900) are Data Comm capable by 2019 to realize the Data Comm benefits. Expanded Data Comm services at all FAA high-altitude air traffic control centers are planned beginning in 2019. There is no mandate or rule for the Data Comm program, so the program is entirely benefits driven and operator participation in the program is voluntary. However, by 2018, more than 2,500 heavy aircraft will be equipped with Data Comm including the 1,900 this investment helped finance.

System Wide Information Management (SWIM):  This is the data-sharing backbone of our airspace, providing access to relevant and understandable information such as flight data, weather, airport operational status and special use airspace status via publication and subscriptions. Airlines have been getting valuable and essential airport surface data since 2012 with Airport Surface Detection Equipment-Model X (ASDE-X). Airports equipped with ASDE-X fuse multiple data sources to give controllers an accurate picture of runway and taxiway activity. 

Collaborative Air Traffic Management (CATM):  Over the past few years, major improvements in strategic flow and Collaborative Air Traffic Management has been made, improving the way the FAA manages major disruptions caused by weather every day. The FAA's Traffic Flow Management System, the system used to deliver new NextGen CATM capabilities, helps controllers monitor demand and capacity, assess impacts of system constraints and helps determine, with airline dispatch managers, how to make adjustments to avoid delays.

Wake Recategorization: In the past, the degree to which two aircraft were separated for wake turbulence concerns was primarily based on aircraft weight. The FAA has replaced that model at numerous airports in the past few years with newly approved wake turbulence categories that group aircraft more optimally based on their wake turbulence characteristics. Implementation of these standards can uniquely address the needs of a given airport to increase site-specific benefits by developing unique wake categories based on the local fleet mix. This enhancement has demonstrated improvements in both arrivals and departures, reduced taxi times and saved fuel. These changes have also resulted in added capacity without the construction of any new runways or investment in new automation systems. 

NextGen Related Modernization Activities

Radar Modernization / Spectrum:  Spectrum holds tremendous value, both in terms of Federal Agency mission value and monetary value.  FAA has initiated a Spectrum Efficient National Surveillance Radar (SENSR) program with the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Commerce's (DOC) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to determine the feasibility of reallocating Federal-Use Radio Frequency (RF) radar spectrum to either Non-Federal or Shared Federal-Use.  The spectrum would then be auctioned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to industry, where 110% of the costs of the federal entities needed to free up the spectrum for an auction, would be reimbursed by the revenues generated.  Recent auctions for analogous spectrum have generated tens of billions of dollars, and auction proceeds could provide the necessary funding to update aging surveillance systems such as radars, and associated facilities and support infrastructure (e.g. power distribution, telecommunications, etc.).

Our nation's long-range and short-range aircraft surveillance radar systems (approximately 500) have been deployed for decades and have reached or exceeded their predicted service life.  These ground based radar systems are required to ensure the safety, security, and efficiency of the NAS providing a supplemental surveillance capability to accommodate, among other things, GPS outages and non-cooperative targets.  While the long-range radars primarily fulfill defense and homeland security missions, all of these systems are owned, operated, and maintained by the FAA. The frequency allocation for these systems is also assigned to the FAA by the FCC, and independent Federal regulatory body. Over the last seven years, the FAA has conducted research and development support of a more efficient radar replacement system. As part of this effort, the FAA in consultation with its interagency partners have considered the possible replacement of long-range air surveillance systems and the potential for combination with short-range air surveillance and weather radar capabilities. The FAA also worked with the DOD to determine that the best spectrum to make available is estimated to be worth several billions of dollars and could provide access for wireless broadband over a significant portion of the U.S. landmass.

A Spectrum Pipeline Plan, as required by the Spectrum Pipeline Act of 2015, is in the process of being formally submitted to the Technical Panel consisting of representatives from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), FCC and OMB. If approved, it will go to Congress to secure pre-funding to perform concept development, initial investment analysis, and acquisition activities with the FAA as the lead organization working with DOD, DHS and NOAA.  An implementation decision is planned for 2021, with a production decision planned for 2024 in concert with a requirement in the Spectrum Pipeline Act of 2015 to auction 30 MHz of spectrum that same year.  The efforts associated with spectrum in this section are not NextGen activities, but are related to NAS modernization and thus listed here.

En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM):  ERAM is a major nationwide infrastructure upgrade that was not funded by NextGen, but is foundational to the implementation of modernized NextGen capabilities. Instead of 20 separate systems, we now have a single system in 20 enroute centers that can fully support new NextGen capabilities. ERAM will increase air traffic flow, allow air traffic controllers to handle traffic in greater geographic areas, and set the stage for more efficient flights brought about by Data Comm.

Terminal Automation Modernization and Replacement (TAMR):  We are well on our way to completing the nationwide automation upgrade of the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) which is used in the terminal environment.  Just like ERAM, STARS is not a NextGen funded program that is foundational to enabling full usage of NextGen capabilities. STARS has a separation efficiency tool, and an aid that allows controllers to more precisely manage separation between approaching aircraft which includes reduced wake separation.

SUBMITTED BY:       Federal Aviation Administration             

LAST UPDATED:      October 27, 2016

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Issue

The proliferation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System in recent years has been extraordinary and is unprecedented. Congress is focused on UAS matters, has recently legislated on the topic and is expected to again in the near future. The applications of both commercial and "hobbyist" UAS, or "drones", are numerous, as are the concerns and interests of the various stakeholders.

The FAA is managing these new entrants through our activities to further UAS integration into the nation's airspace, which includes developing new regulations, engaging UAS stakeholders through the formation of the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC), and evaluating UAS detection technology in support of UAS mitigation interests within the safety and security purview of the U.S. Government. The Defense Department and other Federal agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission, are also actively engaged in UAS integration and management efforts.

Action Needed

The new Administration will have an opportunity to shape the dialogue with the broad UAS stakeholder community at the second annual UAS symposium, scheduled in late March 2017.  Developing a framework for more advanced UAS operations, such as operations out of line-of-sight in populated environments, will require development of additional concepts and strategies, in addition to coordination with the public and standards and procedures development.

In addition, the new Administration will need to work with Congress and the FAA's stakeholders to develop broadly supported proposals that provide the FAA budget stability, predictability, and flexibility.

Background

UAS Integration

The rapid proliferation of UAS in recent years has exceeded all expectations. While the FAA has been working on integration plans for UAS for several years, initial efforts focused on larger UAS operating at high altitudes. However, small UAS have begun to dominate the technological and consumer markets. The relatively low cost of the technology has allowed for thousands of new operators to enter the aviation community. In 2012, Congress passed an FAA authorization through FY15, P.L. 112-95, which tasked the FAA with integrating UAS into the nation's airspace.  Given the current and anticipated rate of growth in the UAS sector, the FAA will need to ensure that resources are adequate to successfully execute all the activities required to safely and efficiently integrate UAS operations. 

Because they are inherently different from manned aircraft, the integration of UAS into the nation's airspace is challenging for both the FAA and the aviation community. Numerous obstacles exist to the integration process, including: ensuring that new operators, who are often unfamiliar with the aerospace system, are properly vetted and educated about their responsibilities; and developing solutions to the technological hurdles to UAS integration, including detect-and-avoid, command-and-control, and spectrum management.

Section 333 of P.L. 112-95 provides the FAA the authority to authorize commercial UAS operations, including real estate photography, precision agriculture, and infrastructure inspection, among others, without having to comply with all pre-existing rules that were developed principally for manned aviation operations. FAA is applying this authority as flexibly as possible, in regulatory initiatives and otherwise. Over 5,500 operators have received this authorization to date. Additionally, the FAA had also issued over 900 Certificates of Waiver or Authorization, allowing federal, state, and local governments, law enforcement agencies, and public universities to perform numerous tasks with UAS, including search-and-rescue, border patrol, and research.

Much of the Section 333 exemption process was rendered obsolete when the FAA issued the "small UAS rule" (part 107), effective August 29, 2016. The new rule enables the majority of low-risk UAS operations that were previously only permitted on a case-by-case basis (under Section 333 exemptions). Now, many of these operations are considered routine and may be conducted under generally applicable rules, thereby streamlining the public's ability to use small UAS. This is the first significant regulatory step to enable lower risk and less complex UAS operations to take place under clearly defined rules created just for the UAS community. The FAA's next rulemaking initiative, scheduled to occur over FY 17 and into FY 18, will focus on enabling routine "operations over people," beyond the visual line-of-sight of the operator, and nighttime operations.  After that, the Agency will focus on facilitating non-segregated operations and unmanned cargo/passenger operations.

Several aspects of UAS integration require inter-agency coordination and collaboration, and there are a number of key venues at which this coordination occurs regularly. Notably, the UAS Executive Committee is a Federal interagency group that meets quarterly to address policy and procedures relating to access to the nation's airspace for Federal Agencies operating UAS. Additionally, the FAA and NASA Research Transition Team supports NASA's UAS Traffic Management research concept exploring policy and procedures needed for safe and efficient low-altitude UAS operations for UAS that operate outside of the Air Traffic Management System. This team is required to submit a research plan to Congress in January 2017. International coordination of some key standards and procedures may also be necessary for more advanced operations of UAS.

Drone Advisory Committee (DAC)

In May 2016, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced the establishment of a standing UAS advisory committee, referred to as the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC). This Committee's purpose is to provide the UAS stakeholder community with an ongoing opportunity to engage and advise the FAA on UAS integration activities.

The DAC is chaired by Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, and comprised of 35 representatives from the UAS community of interest, including manufacturers, operators, retailers, and innovators, as well as traditional aviation stakeholders such as American Airlines, the Airline Operators and Pilots Association (AOPA), and Helicopter Association International (HAI). The goal of the DAC is to ensure that the FAA has a consistent and regular body of stakeholders providing insight into the rapidly-changing industry, ensuring that the FAA is best able to prioritize its integration efforts.

Counter UAS

In response to increasing reports of UAS sightings by manned aviation pilots in flight, the FAA announced a research agreement with CACI International Inc. to evaluate how the company's technology could help detect UAS in the vicinity of airports. The CACI UAS detection system was installed and tested at Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) in January and February 2016. 

To support this effort, the FAA formed the Interagency UAS Detection at Airports Strategy Working Group. The group's focus is the safety and security needs of airports threatened by errant or hostile UAS. The FAA and DHS co-lead this Working Group, which includes the DOD, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Secret Service, DOE, Department of Interior (DOI), FCC, NASA, and U.S. Capitol Police.

The FAA is currently working on a number of Congressional mandates related to Counter UAS issues. The FY 2016 Appropriations (P.L. 114-113) directs the FAA to:

  • Assess the feasibility of integrating proven UAS mitigation technology with airport operations to detect, identify and track both the UAS and operator.
  • Review techniques to defeat an errant or hostile UAS without causing any collateral damage to essential navigation systems, wireless communications, the general public, or airport operations.

Additionally, Section 2206 of the FAA's recent authorization extension, P.L. 114-190, directs the FAA to establish a pilot program for airspace hazard mitigation at airports and other critical infrastructure using UAS detection systems.

Future Funding Requirements

The Agency has developed an initial UAS Implementation Plan to track UAS integration activities across all FAA organizations and identify gaps and overlaps in those activities. In parallel, FAA executives are developing a budget estimate to support those integration activities.

P.L.114-190 includes 14 mandates related to safe UAS integration; however, neither the FY17 President's budget nor the likely FY17 funding outcome for FAA and other Federal agencies provides additional resources to execute the new requirements.

SUBMITTED BY:   Federal Aviation Administration             

LAST UPDATED:   October 26, 2016

OPPORTUNITY AND CONNECTIVITY

Every Place Counts: Leadership Academy

Issue

DOT established the Every Place Counts: Leadership Academy, as part of the Ladders of Opportunity Initiative, to provide stakeholders who are not subject matter experts with tools and a framework to engage in the transportation decision-making process. The Academy features a plain language Transportation Toolkit geared toward members of the public who wish to learn how to engage in the transportation decision-making process at the local, regional, state and federal levels. The Toolkit demystifies the decision-making process by describing that transportation projects go through a predictable lifecycle (i.e., plan, fund, design, build and maintain). The Toolkit also defines key transportation acronyms and jargon, and explains the engagement opportunities created by civil rights and public involvement laws.

Once finalized, the Toolkit will be available for download on the web and will include a facilitation guide and a video. The Toolkit is designed to be open source and available on DOT's webpage so that individuals, community organizations, public agencies and other stakeholders can use it to offer Leadership Academies in their own communities.

In early October, DOT held the Leadership Academy Kickoff event to refine the draft toolkit to better meet community stakeholder needs, and DOT will spend the fall incorporating must-have feedback from 105 participants and 16 DOT Facilitators and finalizing Version 1.0 of the Toolkit. Future updates and revisions to the Toolkit and Academy materials will include constructive feedback obtained DOT leadership and staff, and from additional stakeholders and Academy participants.

Action Needed

To ensure the success of the Academy, DOT will need to:

  • Continue the development of the Toolkit, by updating of Version 1.0, to include DOT and public feedback as well as additional sections on specific issues.
  • Improve the Academy Online Library to ensure all Toolkit and related resources are available to stakeholders for deeper learning.
  • Continue to engage external stakeholder groups to run additional pilots and beta tests of the updates and improvements on the Toolkit and resource materials.

Background

The Academy is part of a comprehensive approach to ensure that transportation investments maximize their positive impact on communities, particularly in providing economic opportunities for residents. The Toolkit is intended to help community members break down old transportation barriers and prevent new barriers to access and opportunity. 
The primary objectives of the Leadership Academy are to:

  • Strengthen the Transportation Toolkit through iterations, for educating and engaging community stakeholders, particularly those who are traditionally underserved or underrepresented;
  • Provide necessary information for these stakeholders to have a meaningful voice in local and regional transportation decisions; and
  • Ensure the voices of subject matter experts, as well as the intended audience of community members, are included in the creation of the Academy Toolkit to bridge the transportation language and process divide.
  • By providing a Toolkit and other informational materials, the Academy supports transportation projects that connect people to economic opportunity and revitalizes communities.

SUBMITTED BY:  Office of the Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy

LAST UPDATED: October 24, 2016

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Issue

DOT's program of enforcement and compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.

Action Needed

The Department's reinvigorated Title VI enforcement and compliance program will require strong and continued support from the Department's leadership to ensure its continued effectiveness. 

Prioritizing civil rights issues in the beginning stages of transportation projects helps to ensure compliance with civil rights laws and prevents costly and time-consuming objections, which can delay successful completion of projects. If recipients fail to provide full and open access to transportation for all members of the public, it will cost the American economy millions of dollars each year.  Such costs include missed opportunities for people to access quality education, good jobs, affordable housing, decent health care, and social well-being. Perhaps less obvious but just as important are costs associated with social and economic exclusion of certain communities, many of whom were disadvantaged by poor transportation decisions in the past.  The Department has made tremendous progress in integrating civil rights principles across our programming areas. DOT officials and Federal financial recipients are encouraged and trained to consider issues of opportunity and equity early in the decision-making process.

DOT will need to continue to:

  • Identify and redress intentional discrimination or discrimination that causes a disparate impact on protected communities;
  • Ensure  education, training, guidance and technical assistance is provided to recipients of Federal financial assistance to improve Title VI compliance; and
  • Promote community engagement practices to ensure that all communities have input in the transportation decision-making process.  Among other things, DOT is training leaders of impacted communities and other civil rights stakeholders to participate meaningfully in the process to ensure the most equitable outcomes.

Background 

Title VI provides: No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.  

At DOT, Title VI ensures that no person shall, on the basis of race, color, and national origin, is subjected to discrimination in programs and activities receiving DOT Federal financial assistance.  This includes protection from intentional discrimination as well as protection from criteria or methods of administrations which have the effect of subjecting persons to discrimination.  DOT's Title VI implementing regulations are located at 49 C.F.R. Part 21.

Recipients of Federal financial assistance from DOT or one of its Operating Administrations are required to ensure that all of their programs and activities comply with Title VI and DOT's implementing regulations.  This includes State Departments of Transportation, transit agencies, airports, transportation planning organizations, and any other entities that receive Federal financial assistance, either directly or as a sub-recipient.

DOT investigates complaints from the public alleging violations of Title VI, and follows the process in the DOT External Civil Rights Complaint Processing Manual, Order 1000.18.  According to the manual, all complaints, unless extenuating circumstances are present, should be resolved within 180 days from an investigating office's receipt of the complaint. Additionally, under DOT's regulation, DOT can exercise its authority to initiate a Title VI investigation upon receipt of credible information received through compliance reviews and media. 

SUBMITTED BY:  Departmental Office of Civil Rights

LAST UPDATED: November 7, 2016

Aviation Noise

Issue

The FAA is experiencing an increasing level of public debate, political interest, and litigation related to aircraft noise.  There are several reasons for this, including changes due to the introduction of Performance Based Navigation (which while improving safety and efficiency, concentrates noise over a smaller geographic area), an increase in flights, an increase in population around airports, and more flights occurring at night.  This has led to a growing amount of opposition to changes in aircraft procedures, which is hindering our ability to implement certain safety and efficiency projects associated with NextGen, the transformation of our air traffic system.

Action Needed

Due to heightened public and Congressional interest, the Administration may wish to become more familiar early in its term, with the latest aviation noise issues and FAA's broad and substantive efforts to address them described below.  One of the most significant efforts that will conclude within the first year of the Administration is a multi-year research project to update the scientific evidence on the relationship between aircraft noise exposure and its effects on communities around airports.  Local and Federal stakeholders have been pressuring for this research, and its results could have implications on longstanding aviation noise policy. 

Background

Although there has been a substantial reduction in the numbers of people exposed to significant levels of aircraft noise (based on the established Federal standard), over the past few years there has been a small, but steady increase in the number of people exposed to significant noise levels as well as a substantial increase in the number of people who are filing complaints about aircraft operations. 

The FAA actively promotes three broad strategies to manage aviation noise:

  • Reduction of noise at its source, through quieter aircraft engines and/or operational modifications.   
  • Noise Compatibility Planning, which is a structured approach to enable airports, airlines and other user groups, the FAA, and neighboring communities to reduce the number of people exposed to significant noise.
  • Federally funded noise mitigation programs, which primarily include property acquisition and sound insulation for eligible homes, schools, and other noise-sensitive facilities such as healthcare facilities and houses of worship.

In addition, there are several associated issues and initiatives to be aware of:

Performance Based Navigation (PBN): The introduction of Performance Based Navigation as part of the FAA's ongoing air traffic system transformation, NextGen, has increased community concerns about aircraft noise. The goal of PBN is to create more efficient flight paths for GPS enabled aircraft.  PBN tends to reduce the geographical area the flight paths cover, thus concentrating noise over a smaller area. This results in a reduction in the overall number of people exposed to aircraft noise, but it may also result in some communities experiencing more frequent noise from concentrated operations.  Second, as FAA implements PBN and redesigns airspace for safety and efficiency it utilizes GPS and does not rely on ground based navigation aids for flight paths.  This can shift flight paths and result in different communities around airports experiencing greater aviation noise, even if it is not considered to be significant by current FAA policy. This has led the public, elected officials, and Congress to express to FAA their concerns with noise and their desire for the FAA to undo or reconsider implemented operational changes.

Community Outreach and Involvement: To address community concerns about noise such as those associated with PBN, FAA has conducted extensive outreach through airport community working groups, symposiums and conferences, meetings with elected officials, community leaders, Congressional briefings, and social media. The FAA is committed to improving outreach to communities on actions that may affect them. FAA published an updated Community Involvement Manual in FY2016, and created community involvement training for FAA employees. FAA will continue to expand this work by creating a tool kit that includes checklists, templates, and examples of best practices, as well as developing organization-specific guidance.  This effort is critical to ensuring the success of NextGen initiatives, such as PBN.

Noise Complaint Initiative: In response to the increase in noise complaints to the agency, FAA has also launched the Noise Complaint Initiative. The goal of this initiative was to identify how the FAA can more efficiently and effectively respond to and address noise complaints in a clear and consistent manner that is responsive to the public and applies the best use of FAA resources. The recommendations are currently being implemented.

Environmental Justice: The FAA has always been committed to ensuring that impacts to environmental justice communities (i.e., low income and minority populations as defined by Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice) are taken into consideration with FAA actions. In an effort to enhance that commitment, we created an analytical capability to help identify where potential low income or minority populations exist, and additional steps that can be taken to ensure appropriate outreach is completed and that the concerns from these populations are better understood in the design of new procedures.

Research on Significant Threshold: This is the multi-year research effort noted above to update the scientific evidence of the relationship between aircraft noise exposure and its effects on communities around airports. The research involves conducting a survey with residents living around 20 selected U.S. airports. This is the most comprehensive study using a single noise survey ever undertaken in the U.S. The survey and the related analysis should be completed in early 2017.  At that time, FAA will determine what additional steps may be appropriate given the outcome of the research, in consultation with other Federal agencies and interested stakeholders that will include a public notice and comment process.

Noise Research Roadmap: The airport noise survey described above is part of FAA's robust noise research roadmap, which also includes research to improve noise modeling and ensure we accurately quantify noise impacts, research on noise mitigation, as well as research on noise of emerging technologies into the national airspace system, such as drones and supersonic aircraft.  The FAA coordinates and collaborates with a number of Federal agencies, especially the DOD and NASA, on some of the noise research.  Additionally, FAA fosters acceleration of low noise technologies into aircraft as a part of its Continuous, Lower Energy, Emissions, and Noise (CLEEN) program.

Helicopter Noise: Helicopter noise is an ongoing concern particularly in the New York City area and the Los Angeles basin. In response to residents' concerns with helicopter noise in New York, FAA implemented a mandatory North Shore Helicopter Route on July 6, 2012. The current rule expires in August 2020 and will provide FAA time to evaluate whether the rule should be permanent. The FAA also has work ongoing in the Los Angeles basin.  The FAA has participated in public meetings since 2013 with numerous stakeholders. As of Summer 2016, the Congressional representatives were satisfied with the current voluntary nature of the initiatives and FAA participation in stakeholder meetings in the Los Angeles basin.

FAA Authority regarding Noise: While the FAA has the authority to alter flight procedures based on noise, the Agency historically has not exercised that authority to prohibit aircraft flights over a particular area unless the operation is unsafe, or the aircraft is operated in a manner inconsistent with FAA regulations. This is because flight procedure changes can result in shifting of aircraft noise from one community to another. Any work regarding the movement of procedures is done for safety and efficiency reasons (including enhancing controller ability to monitor traffic).

Noise Compatibility Planning:  In response to a Congressional mandate, the FAA established noise compatibility regulations (Part 150), which adopted the 65 decibel Day-Night Average Sound Level standard for land use compatibility.   Part 150 also established a voluntary program for airports, which provides a structured approach for airport operators, airlines, pilots, neighboring communities, and the FAA to work together to reduce the number of people who live in significantly noise-impacted areas. Over the years, this program has actively served operators of public use airports, including heliports, all eligible to participate. 

Evaluating Proposed Noise-Based Access Restrictions:  In the early 1990's, U.S. airlines incurred significant costs in order to phase out older, noisier aircraft and replace their fleets with newer, quieter aircraft. In return, Congress agreed to limit the ability of airports to impose further noise-based restrictions, unless all of the airlines agree or the FAA approves the proposed restriction based on specific criteria set forth in law, codified in Part 161. In the 26 years since the statutory provision was established, only three airports have attempted to establish noise-based access restrictions, and the FAA has denied all three based on the criteria in the law. 

In summary, noise remains a predominant aviation environmental concern of the public.  The challenges of aviation noise must be successfully managed and mitigated for NextGen to realize its full potential and for the U.S. to meet the aviation transportation needs of the 21st century.

SUBMITTED BY: Federal Aviation Administration             

LAST UPDATED: October 26, 2016

Opportunity

Issue 

OST and FHWA have embarked on a "Ladders of Opportunity" initiative to identify past, present, and future opportunities for more fully engaging and embracing the needs of transportation project-impacted local communities, to ensure that Federally-funded projects enhance communities' access to goods, jobs, education, and cultural and social opportunity.  Development of a Federally-funded project must consider community impacts.  However, past transportation projects have not always fully succeeded in assessing and mitigating the impact on economically challenged communities.

Action Needed 

Information only. 

Background 

  • Ladders of Opportunity Workgroup – OST established a workgroup that collaborated with the FWHA and FTA to develop a Ladders of Opportunity Action Plan.  The workgroup met bi-weekly to discuss action plan updates and shared information on existing resources, initiatives, and projects linked to Ladders of Opportunity and connectivity.  Actions under the plan highlighted Secretarial Initiatives, research projects, FAST Act implementation, and capacity-building efforts related to planning, performance measures, and health/wellness through access to transportation services and active transportation, such as walking and biking.
  • National Summit on Transportation and Opportunity – As part of the FHWA Policy Symposium Program, on September 29, 2016, FHWA led and implemented the National Summit on Transportation and Opportunity, in partnership with OST.  The Summit brought practitioners and influencers together from across the transportation community to share experience, knowledge and actions in continuing progress in Ladders of Opportunity and connecting communities.  Speakers and attendees from across the country represented thought leaders, mayors, and executive leadership from AASHTO, AMPO, APTA, AGC, and NADO.  The Summit facilitated discussion and information-sharing among transportation leaders from multiple perspectives and experiences in order to build on FHWA activities, share best practices at every level of government, and identify barriers to opportunity for every American.
  • Ladders of Opportunity – FHWA Ladders Implementation Plan – FHWA has developed a Ladders Implementation Plan that identifies agency-wide Ladders-related activities and opportunities to incorporate Ladders concepts elsewhere.  The Implementation Plan includes strategies that will help FHWA work with transportation stakeholders and the public to strengthen communities, create pathways to jobs, and improve quality of life.  Actions under the plan will have both immediate impacts and in the longer term will help to weave the Ladders concept into the fabric of FHWA's programs and policies.
  • Every Place Counts Design Challenge – During the Nation's construction efforts to create a world-class transportation system, residents were often cut off from newly-formed social and economic centers and left with limited mobility and transportation options.  The Ladders of Opportunity-based "Every Place Counts Design Challenge" was announced by DOT on May 4, 2016, to raise awareness about how surface transportation infrastructure projects have sometimes divided neighborhoods, and it sought to identify innovative community design solutions to bridge the infrastructure divide and reconnect people to opportunity.  In particular, the Challenge sought to encourage communities to reimagine existing transportation projects via innovative and restorative infrastructure design that addresses past mistakes, reconnects people and neighborhoods to opportunity, and reinvigorates opportunity within communities.  Community Teams led by local officials competed to receive on-site technical assistance in a 2-day design session with DOT and experts in the field.  In June 2016, DOT selected four cities to host community visioning sessions, held the following month.  The cities were Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, Philadelphia and Spokane, and the projects selected in these cities were primarily highway projects.  FHWA's Headquarters and division offices participated in the July 2016 workshops, and continue to work with local stakeholders. 
  • Community Connections – Every Day Counts (EDC) 4 – EDC is a process designed to identify and deploy innovations aimed at reducing the time it takes to deliver highway projects, enhance safety, and protect the environment.  The FAST Act incorporated this process into law, and FHWA is deploying its fourth round of innovations under EDC.  One of the innovations for EDC 4 will focus on connecting communities. Many cities have highways that have reached or exceeded their useful lives. This innovation increases awareness on the role transportation projects can play in supporting community revitalization.
  • Workforce Development/Local Hires – FHWA is engaging some of its partners (State DOTs, Workforce Investment Boards, universities, colleges, contractors, and associations) to identify and develop education and training opportunities that will address gaps in the transportation workforce pipeline.  To better coordinate this critical effort, FHWA recently created a Center for Transportation Workforce Development as part of the reorganization within its Office of Innovative Program Delivery.  The newly-established Center will provide national leadership, coordination, and direction for workforce development from K-12, post-secondary, and practitioners and professionals by advancing innovative practices in workforce development.  It also will seek to leverage established Department of Labor networks and FHWA's regional workforce centers to develop opportunities for transportation workforce development external to FHWA.

    In support of Ladders of Opportunity and Every Place Counts, FHWA is also using the authority under DOT's 2015 and 2016 Local Labor Hiring Preference Pilot Program to allow Federal-aid recipients and subrecipients to use social and/or economic contracting requirements.  In March 2015, DOT issued a NPRM, "Geographic-Based Hiring Preferences in Administering Federal Awards."  It proposed to amend DOT regulations to permit recipients and subrecipients to authorize geographic-based hiring (local hires) when not prohibited by statute. Competitive bidding is a statutory requirement for the Federal-aid highway program, and FHWA would want to assure that any such contracting requirements do not adversely affect competition.  If DOT issues the proposal as a Final Rule, FHWA will use the results and data from the pilot as a basis for any proposed revisions.
     
  • Title VI – Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides that no one will be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin.  Using a multidisciplinary approach, FHWA ensures compliance with Title VI and related nondiscrimination statutes and regulations, and monitors and evaluates FHWA Federal-aid recipients' and subrecipients' efforts to prevent, resolve, or mitigate issues/situations that could lead to Title VI violations.  In further support of this effort, FHWA provides guidance and technical assistance, including training, handbooks, and best practices, and ensures that FHWA recipients develop, maintain, and carry out an approved Title VI implementation plan. In cooperation with the Departmental Office of Civil Rights, FHWA timely investigates and issues findings, as appropriate, in response to complaints against FHWA recipients submitted under Title VI.

SUBMITTED BY:  Federal Highway Administration

LAST UPDATED: October 26, 2016

INFRASTRUCTURE

FASTLANE Discretionary Grant Program

Issue

The FAST Act established the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (NSFHP) program to provide Federal financial assistance to projects of national or regional significance.  The FAST Act authorized the program at $4.5 billion for FY 2016 through FY 2020, including $800 million for FY 2016 and $50 million funding increases every year.  DOT received 212 applications requesting $9.8 billion in funding for the FY 2016 competition.  Following a statutorily required 60-day Congressional notification period, DOT announced the 18 selected FY 2016 Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) awards on September 7, 2016. 

Action Needed

DOT must oversee implementation of the FY 2016 FASTLANE awards.  The FAST Act directs the National Surface Transportation and Innovative Finance Bureau, now known as the Build America Bureau (Bureau), to administer the application and selection process for the FASTLANE program.  In FY2016, while the Bureau was still being established, the application and selection process was managed by OST-P. DOT must finalize the FASTLANE program's transition and integration into the Bureau, while continuing to move forward with FY 2016 awards.  Implementation includes monitoring the OA's progress signing project agreements and addressing problems with specific projects as they come up.  The FAST Act did not authorize administrative or oversight funding for the FASTLANE program so DOT must work to find resources to support the FASTLANE program. 

In addition to managing the implementation of selected projects, DOT must prepare to carry out competitions for the FY 2017-2020 funding.  DOT released the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for FY 2017 funding on October 28, 2016.  That NOFO set the selection criteria that DOT will use for selecting the FY 2017 projects.

Background

The FAST Act authorized the FASTLANE program at $4.5 billion for FY 2016 through FY 2020.  The program is subject to the obligation limitation-to-contract authority ration, which typically results in a "lop off" of funds authorized for a given FY.

The FAST Act included a number of requirements for the program:

  • Ninety percent of available funding is for projects that meet minimum project size requirements and are defined as Large Projects.  Previously incurred and future eligible costs for Large Projects must equal the lesser of: $100 million; 30% of a State's prior year Federal-aid apportionment if the project is located in one State; or 50% of the larger participating State's prior year apportionment for projects located in more than one State.  The minimum award for a Large Project is $25 million.
  • Ten percent of funding is reserved for small projects that do not meet the Large Project minimum project size requirements.  The minimum award for a Small Project is $5 million.
  • At least 25% of funding is reserved for projects located in rural areas
  • A total of $500 million is available over the life of the program for non-highway projects i.e. (rail, port, and multimodal projects).  Grade crossing and separation projects are exempt from the $500 restriction.  Approximately $326 million of funding under the restriction remains available for future awards.
  • For both Large and Small Projects, FASTLANE grants may be used for up to 60% of project costs and total federal funding cannot exceed 80%.  

There are seven statutory requirements for Large Projects.  The projects must 1) generate national or regional economic, mobility, or safety benefits; 2) be cost-effective; 3) contribute to the accomplishment of one or more of the national goals described in 23 U.S.C 150; 4) be based on the results of preliminary engineering; 5) have one or more stable and dependable funding or financing sources to construct, maintain, and operate and contingency amounts to cover unanticipated cost increases, with respect to related non-federal commitments; 6) cannot be easily and efficiently completed without other Federal funding or financial assistance available to the project; and 7) be reasonably expected to begin construction no later than 18 months after the date of obligation

The seven statutory requirements do not apply to Small Projects.  Instead, DOT must consider the cost effectiveness of a Small Project, as well as the effect of the proposed project on mobility in the State and region in which the project is carried out.  
 
SUBMITTED BY:           Office of the Under Secretary: Build America Bureau 

LAST UPDATED:           January 9, 2017

TIFIA And RRIF Credit Programs

Issue

The FAST Act continues the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Credit Program and enhances the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) Program.  Both programs are administered by the recently established Bureau, and the Bureau is reviewing applications on an ongoing basis:

TIFIA

provides Federal credit assistance in the form of direct loans, loan guarantees, and lines of credit, to finance eligible surface transportation projects, including highway, transit, intercity passenger rail, certain types of freight rail, intermodal freight transfer facilities, and some modifications inside port terminals.  The FAST Act authorizes $1.435 billion in capital over five years for TIFIA: $275 million in FY 2016, $275 million in FY 2017, $285 million in FY 2018, $300 million in FY 2019, and $300 million in FY 2020.  Historically, TIFIA has leveraged each $1 of budget authority to support a TIFIA loan of up to $14, and total infrastructure investment of up to $40, when used in concert with other state, local, and private sector investments.

RRIF

provides Federal credit assistance in the form of direct loans and loan guarantees to finance eligible railroad infrastructure projects, including the acquisition, development, improvement, or rehabilitation of intermodal or rail equipment or facilities.  RRIF is authorized to provide up to $35 billion of credit assistance, though in contrast with TIFIA, RRIF does not receive an appropriation, so the cost to the government of providing financial assistance must be borne by a RRIF applicant, or another non-federal entity on behalf of the applicant, through the payment of a Credit Risk Premium (CRP).

Action Needed

The Bureau will continue to oversee the alignment, coordination, and consolidation of the TIFIA and RRIF Programs, integrating the programs' separate policies and staff, in addition to developing best practices for financing innovative surface transportation projects.  Further, the FAST Act mandated changes to both credit programs, including new project eligibilities such as transit-oriented development (TOD), that is, development to improve or construct public infrastructure that is located in proximity to transit facilities.  This expansion for TOD projects could greatly increase the potential demand for available TIFIA and RRIF funding in the next few years.  The Bureau is also currently in various stages of the review of over 20 potential requests for credit assistance for TIFIA and RRIF projects.

Background

TIFIA – The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 1998 established a Federal credit program for eligible surface transportation projects, today known as TIFIA.  To date, TIFIA has approved 69 loans totaling over $26 billion to stimulate nearly $94 billion of transportation infrastructure investments throughout the U.S.  TIFIA can be structured as senior-lien financing, or as junior-lien financing in order to enhance the creditworthiness of senior-lien capital markets financing.

TIFIA major requirements:

  • Minimum anticipated project costs exceeding $50 million (with lower thresholds for certain project types, such as rural) 
  • Credit assistance is limited to 33% of reasonably anticipated eligible project costs, unless the sponsor provides a compelling justification for up to 49% 
  • Senior debt must receive two investment grade ratings (BBB-/Baa3) from nationally recognized credit rating agencies 
  • The project must be included in the relevant State's transportation planning and programming cycle 
  • The project must have a dedicated revenue source, such as tolls or other user fees, that are pledged to secure debt service payments for both the TIFIA and senior debt financing 
  • Borrower pays costs of the Bureau to hire a financial advisor and legal counsel to evaluate requests for credit assistance.

The FAST Act further modified TIFIA by:

  • Expanding project eligibilities, such as for TOD and lower minimum project costs thresholds for rural, TOD and "local infrastructure projects" for the applicant is a local government, or the project is located on a local government's facilities 
  • Allowed for the creation of a rural projects fund within a state infrastructure bank 
  • Required the development of a streamlined application process for stable, highly-rated credits 
  • Introduced relief from usual and customary TIFIA loan processing fees for small projects (under $75 million) 

RRIF -The RRIF Program was established in 1998 under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, which amended the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976.  Since inception, RRIF has approved 36 loans to fund over $5 billion of infrastructure in 27 states.

RRIF major requirements:

  • Credit assistance available for up to 100% of the eligible project costs 
  • RRIF may be permanently subordinated in limited instances for public entities 
  • A CRP is assessed as a percentage of the total loan amount and varies by the loan terms and overall risk of each unique transaction 
  • Borrower pays costs of Bureau to hire a financial advisor and legal counsel to evaluate requests for credit assistance

The FAST Act:

  • Expanded applicant and project eligibilities, including for TOD projects 
  • Extended maximum loan maturity to 35 years after substantial completion 
  • Mandated a revamped and more transparent application process 
  • Clarified ability for applicants to pledge dedicated revenues as collateral 
  • Allowed for master credit agreements 
  • Removed cohort requirement as well as the requirement of RRIF to repay CRPs

SUBMITTED BY  Office of the Under Secretary: Build America Bureau

LAST UPDATED January 6, 2017

Rail Infrastructure Investment

Issue

The U.S. needs to invest billions of dollars to ensure our rail transportation system is safe, reliable, accessible, and ready to support economic and population growth.  Current funding levels are insufficient to support multi-year investments in rail infrastructure. 

  • Intercity passenger, commuter, and short line railroads lack funding for life-saving and statutorily required positive train control (PTC).
  • Capital improvements, including moving rail lines away from residential areas and vertically separating highways and railways, are among the most effective ways to prevent deaths from rail trespassing and motor vehicle and train collisions.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Amtrak failed to comply with the July 2010 legal deadline to make its more than 375 stations accessible for all riders as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Decades of underinvestment in passenger rail have created a massive maintenance, repair, and replacement backlog.

Action Needed

State and local governments, railroads, and other stakeholders need predictable, dedicated funding to plan and invest more effectively in rail safety, reliability, accessibility, and capacity.

Background

  • Positive Train Control (PTC):  PTC is train control technology that prevents train-to-train collisions, over speed derailments, incursions into work zones, and train movements through main line switches in improper positions.  To prevent accidents and save lives, FRA is urging railroads to implement PTC on certain rail lines before the statutory December 31, 2018, deadline.  Those railroads are all Class I railroad lines that carry poisonous-inhalation-hazardous material and 5 million gross tons or more of annual traffic, and on any railroad's main line tracks with regular intercity passenger or commuter rail service.  A main line is a line over which 5 million or more gross tons are transported annually.  While the largest freight railroads have access to investment capital—a record $30 billion in 2015—most intercity passenger and commuter rail operators depend on public funds for infrastructure and equipment.  Although FRA provided commuter railroads more than $650 million in grants and $1 billion in loans for PTC implementation, the American Public Transportation Association estimates commuter railroads will need about $3.5 billion more.
  • Grade Crossing Safety and Trespass Prevention:  Approximately 92% of fatal train accidents are due to trespassing or motor vehicle collisions with trains where roads intersect railways (highway-rail at grade crossings).  The risk of these collisions grows as highway and train traffic increases and advanced technology leads to quieter, faster trains.  Structural changes, including moving rail lines away from residential areas and vertically separating roadways and railways, are among the most effective ways to prevent these deaths.  Requests for FRA's recent grade crossing safety grants totaled three times the available funds, in addition to the funds available through the Federal Highway Administration's .Railway-Highways Crossing Program (Section 130 of Title 23, United States Code). 
  • Rail Station Accessibility:  Amtrak is responsible for making more than 375 intercity passenger rail stations accessible to all riders, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Other entities (e.g., local governments, transit agencies) are responsible for access at more than 100 other rail stations.  Since FY 2010, Congress has required Amtrak to direct at least $50 million of its annual federal funds to improve station accessibility.  The President's FY 2017 Budget requested $350 million for this purpose.  FRA has been working with Amtrak to use its funds to provide audio and visual public announcement technology, accessible paths between the public right-of-way and boarding platforms, and accessible restrooms. 
  • Passenger Rail Infrastructure Needs:  U.S. investment in intercity passenger rail consists mainly of annual and occasional special purpose (such as natural disaster repair) Federal grants to Amtrak.  Over time, more and more public rail assets have fallen into a state of disrepair.  The maintenance backlog along the Northeast Corridor (NEC)—457 miles between Boston and Washington, D.C.—is about $28 billion, including $17 billion for major bridges and tunnels, which average over 100 years old.  Failure of any of these structures could halt travel on the NEC, which supports 2,200 passenger trains with approximately 720,000 intercity and commuter riders and 70 freight trains every day, on average.  The NEC provides nearly 70% of combined air and rail travel between Washington, D.C., and New York City and more than 50% of combined air and rail travel between New York City and Boston. 
  • Fixing America's Surface Transportation System (FAST Act) Grant Programs:  For the first time, Congress authorized intercity passenger rail funding in multi-modal surface transportation legislation, the FAST Act (enacted in December 2015).  However, these funds are not available without annual Congressional appropriation action.  By contrast, the highway and transit programs have multiyear authority to spend funds.  The FAST Act has three rail programs.
    • Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements ($1.1 billion over 5 years):  For capital projects, regional and corridor planning, environmental analyses, research, workforce development, and training to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of passenger and freight rail systems.
    • Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair ($997 million over 5 years):  For capital projects on publicly- or Amtrak-owned infrastructure, equipment, and facilities to (1) replace existing assets in-kind or with assets that increase capacity or service, (2) maintain service while existing assets are brought into a state of good repair, or (3) bring existing assets into a state of good repair.
    • Restoration and Enhancement Grants ($100 million over 5 years):  For operating assistance for up to 3 years per route to initiate, restore, or enhance intercity passenger rail transportation.

SUBMITTED BY: Federal Railroad Administration

LAST UPDATED: January 9, 2017

High-Speed Rail

Issue 

The U.S. needs high-speed rail transportation to support its mobility needs and global economic competitiveness.  The 2015 U.S. Department of Transportation report, Beyond Traffic 2045: Trends and Choices, concludes that between 2015 and 2045, the United States will add 70 million residents and 45% more freight traffic.

Action Needed

  • Predictable, dedicated funding to support strategic, market-based investments in passenger rail service across the country.  These investments will:
    • Fundamentally improve passenger transportation with new high-speed rail corridors;
    • Improve reliability, speed, and frequency of existing intercity passenger rail service; and
    • Develop plans at the corridor, state, and multistate levels for future high-speed rail. 
  • Proactive project oversight and stakeholder engagement to complete American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) funded projects before the September 30, 2017, spending deadline.
  • Completion of crashworthiness and other minimum safety performance standards for high-speed passenger rail equipment.

Background

FRA has important lines of effort underway to develop high-speed passenger rail in the United States—completion of Recovery Act projects (including the initial segment of the California system and national equipment procurements) and development of crashworthiness and other minimum safety performance regulations.

Rail transportation provides high capacity mobility within a relatively small geographic footprint.  Moreover, rail is among the most energy-efficient modes of travel.  Diverting 5% of freight traffic from truck to rail would save 800 million gallons of fuel each year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 2 million cars for 1 year.  According to the most recent data available, in 2014, highway and aviation congestion cost the U.S. economy about $160 billion in lost time, productivity, and fuel and the transportation sector produced 26% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (second to electricity production).

Federal, State, and private planning, environmental, and engineering work has created an inventory of proposed passenger rail projects across the U.S. that will improve, expand, and introduce new corridor services.  These projects are ready for construction as soon as funds become available.  Without timely funding, project costs rise and transportation challenges grow.

  • Recovery Act Outlays:  Before September 30, 2017, grantees must spend, and FRA must reimburse the grantees for, the $8 billion Congress appropriated in the Recovery Act for FRA's High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program.  FRA awarded this money and $2 billion of subsequent appropriations to about 150 projects for corridor development, planning, environmental analysis, design, engineering, and construction.  After the 2017 date, remaining Recovery Act funds will revert to the U.S. Treasury and will be unavailable for this program.  As of December 2016, FRA had reimbursed grantees about $5.9 billion (over two-thirds) of the Recovery Act $8 billion.
  • Passenger Equipment Safety Standards:  A critical building block for expanding high-speed passenger rail operations in the United States is establishment of federal minimum safety performance standards.  Current regulations for passenger rail equipment depend on the speeds at which it travels and other factors.  Tier I refers to passenger equipment that operates at speeds up to 125 miles-per-hour (mph) and mixes with other passenger and freight operations; tier II refers to equipment that operates at speeds up to 150 mph and mixes with other passenger and freight operations.  FRA is developing a proposal for tier III, which would refer to equipment that operates at speeds above 125 mph on exclusive rights-of-way with no highway-rail at-grade crossings.  FRA expects to issue a proposed rule on this subject before the end of December 2016.  FRA would analyze comments on the proposal and revise it, if necessary, before issuing a final rule establishing minimum requirements.

SUBMITTED BY: Federal Railroad Administration

LAST UPDATED: January 9, 2017

Rail Corridor Planning and Development

Issue 

Since enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has generated a framework and support for rail corridor planning at the multistate, state, and local levels.  Previously, U.S. transportation planning generally did not consider rail services comprehensively.

Action Needed

Continued Federal leadership is necessary to ensure transportation planners consider the benefits of rail development, integrate multiple transportation modes in congested corridors, and develop a pipeline of well-considered rail infrastructure projects for future funding opportunities.

Background

For decades, Federal highway and transit programs have required states and metropolitan planning organizations to develop long-term plans.  Extensive Federal requirements and guidance call for transportation planners to evaluate potential economic, community, and environmental impacts of transportation programs; examine past trends and future projections for travel demand for people, goods, and information; and address societal issues such as community values and goals.  Consequently, recipients of Federal highway and transit grants developed the institutional capacity to manage and execute the planning process.  With limited Federal rail funding available before the Recovery Act, no comparable capacity existed for rail planning.

Over the last several years, FRA has developed a planning framework to guide development of high-performance rail networks and services from concept to project implementation.  Concurrently, FRA and others sources have funded planning studies across the United States.  FRA provides technical assistance during these studies and formally reviews, accepts, or approves planning deliverables that use FRA funds or are prerequisites for FRA financial assistance programs.  The follow paragraphs describe some of these major efforts.

  • Multi-State Rail Planning:  Developing rail plans in the context of broad regional frameworks better integrates rail projects with other transportation modes, promotes greater stakeholder involvement, prioritizes limited federal funding, and yields the most cost-effective investments.  FRA is facilitating, and in some cases funding, regional planning projects that invite stakeholder feedback, identify best practices, and develop guidance.
    • In October 2014, FRA published its first multi-state plan for a comprehensive, high performing passenger rail network, the Southwest Multi-State Rail Planning Study.  It supports rail planning and development in six Southwestern states and serves as a model for future regional rail planning.
    • In the Southeast and Midwest regions, FRA is funding efforts to establish regional governance organizations that will sustain current planning work and develop long-term passenger rail visions for their respective regions.  FRA expects to complete the Southeast study by the end of calendar year 2017 and the Midwest study in 2018.
    • FRA has funded a project to enhance FRA's network planning tool, CONNECT, with updated data and new mapping and benefit-cost analysis features.
  • Northeast Corridor (NEC):  This 457-mile rail backbone of the Northeastern United States connects the Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; New York, New York; and Boston, Massachusetts, metropolitan areas.  These areas collectively—
    • Generate about 20% of U.S. economic output (gross domestic product).
    • Have 51 million residents now and will likely have 58 million residents by 2040.
    • Choose rail for nearly 70% of the Washington – New York combined air and rail travel market and more than 50% of the New York – Boston combined air and rail travel market.
    • Every day on average, support 2,200 passenger trains with approximately 720,000 intercity and commuter riders.
    • Average 70 freight trains daily.
    • NEC FUTURE is the FRA-led comprehensive planning effort to define, evaluate, and prioritize future investments for NEC intercity passenger and commuter rail.  This study will produce the environmental and service planning documents that establish the future vision and enable further public investment.  FRA completed the high-level environmental impact statement in December 2016.
  • Gateway Program:  To address the NEC's most critical capacity constraints, Amtrak is developing concept plans for infrastructure improvements, called the Gateway Program, that would preserve the existing system around New York City and expand capacity between Newark and New York, including doubling peak-hour service to and from Manhattan.  The Department of Transportation is facilitating development of a decision-making, funding, and implementation structure between the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Amtrak, and New Jersey Transit.
    Some preservation elements of the Gateway Program are underway.  For example, work has started on the Hudson Tunnel project level environmental analysis and preliminary engineering and the Portal Bridge North is ready for construction.  The Gateway capacity components are part of NEC FUTURE and will proceed after the final record of decision.
  • Texas Central High-Speed Railway (Texas Central) proposes to construct and operate a 90-minute passenger rail service between Dallas and Houston.  The privately owned, for profit project would be 240-miles long with speeds exceeding 200 miles-per-hour.  The train would have to operate on specialized tracks that are not compatible with other U.S. freight or passenger service, such as Amtrak, because Texas Central plans to use Japanese technology.
    To mitigate safety risks, the proposed rail system needs a fully sealed corridor, including grade-separated highway-railway crossings and right of way wide enough to accommodate two tracks and a 100-feet to 125-feet wide access road.  FRA is working with Texas Central on special rules and waivers, because some FRA safety regulations do not address or are not appropriate for such a high‑speed operation with foreign technology.  This Federal regulatory involvement requires FRA to conduct an environment review, which began in 2014.

SUBMITTED BY: Federal Railroad Administration

LAST UPDATED: January 9, 2017

Major Discretionary Programs

I. Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER)

Issue

The TIGER discretionary grant program is a DOT program that invests in innovative surfacetransportation projects, including multimodal and multi-jurisdictional projects, which willhave a significant impact on the Nation, a metropolitan area, or a region:  road, rail, transit,and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives (e.g., safety, state ofgood repair, economic competitiveness, livability, sustainability).

Action Needed

Two TIGER-related programmatic issues for the Operating Administrations (OA) are ensuring resources are available to provide project administration and oversight, and ensuring project funding is obligated and expended by the established deadlines for each program.

DOT must oversee implementation of all TIGER discretionary grant awards.  OST's Office of the Under Secretary (OST-S3) is responsible for administering, reviewing, and awarding grants for the program. Once awards have been made, management and implementation of the grants is transferred to the relevant OAs. OST-S3 continues to monitor the OA's progress in signing project agreements and addressing problems with specific projects as they come up.

In addition to managing the implementation of selected projects, performance measures established for each capital project during the grant agreement process are collected once construction is completed. Working with the OA's, OST-S3 is responsible for the collection, analysis, and presentation of this data. OST-S3 must continue to address the GAO and OIG open audit recommendations by continuing to consistently follow all selection processes, improve decision- making transparency, and documenting key decisions.  DOT must also request funding for the program in its budget submissions as part of the annual appropriations process.

Background

OST administers the TIGER program and relies upon FHWA and other DOT Operating Administrations for project-level oversight, including reporting monthly performance and financial information to OST, and ensuring the close-out of completed projects.  The TIGER grant program supports innovative projects, including multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional projects.  These Federal funds leverage money from private sector partners, State DOTs, local governments, MPOs, ports, and transit agencies.  Within FHWA, the Office of Operations has primary responsibility for TIGER. TIGER funds may or may not be available in 2017, depending on appropriations legislation.

Since 2009, TIGER has provided nearly $5.1 billion to 421 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, including 143 projects to support rural and tribal communities.  Overall, DOT has received over 7,300 applications under TIGER, requesting more than $144 billion for transportation projects.  FHWA is responsible for implementing approximately half of the program by dollar value and number of projects (see table below). 

FHWA is responsible for implementing approximately half of the program by dollar value and number of projects (see table below)
ProgramNo. of ProjectsFHWA-Administered TIGER Projects AwardedObligated Amount%Expended Amount%
TIGER I29$806,155,984$790,534,31298$790,534,31298 (100% of obligated funding expended)
TIGER II Capital19$228,693,314$228,247,145100$216,965,68595
TIGER II Planning19$17,339,047$16,820,62497$16,587,76699
TIGER III26$234,732,863$233,387,43699$213,643,22792
TIGER IV24$232,090,059$231,891,422100$205,128,08893
TIGER V22$183,774,661$183,774,661100$104,836,18767
TIGER VI Capital20$280,870,267$280,870,267100$38,910,36418
TIGER VI Planning18$16,061,694$16,061,694100$2,457,35915
TIGER VII17$202,109,842$9,378,7375$241,0591
TIGER VIII19$239,828,302$6,534,4493$00
Total213$2,441,656,033$1,997,500,74782$1,589,304,04767

II. Section 1105 Grant Program (FASTLANE) 

Issue

Under Section 1105 of the FAST Act, the grant program now referred to as the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-Term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) is a great new opportunity.  However, it is heavily oversubscribed, and that will likely continue despite the fact that there are 4 more years of FAST Act funding.  In addition, Congress did not provide for administrative funding, which could make the program challenging to implement if significant oversight is desired.

Action Needed

A draft solicitation was issued, and closed on December 15, 2016.

Background

 Section 1105 of the FAST Act establishes a nationally significant freight and highway projects discretionary grant program, referred to by DOT as the FASTLANE grant program.  This program, administered by DOT's new Build America Bureau, provides financial assistance – competitive grants or credit assistance – to nationally and regionally significant freight and highway projects that align with the program goals.

The program is authorized at a total of $4.5 billion over 5 years, beginning with $800 million in FY 2016 and increasing by $50 million annually over the life of the bill (to $1 billion in FY 2020).  However, after accounting for the statutorily-imposed annual limitation on obligations, the annual amount that DOT may actually offer in grants is slightly less than the program's total authorization level.

For the most part, projects have a $25 million minimum grant award and $100 million minimum project cost. Additionally, 10% of the total allocation is reserved for "small projects" with a minimum of $5 million per award (the minimum project threshold does not apply), and 25% of the total allocation is reserved for "rural areas" (defined for this purpose as being less than 200,000 in population).

On September 7, 2016, DOT awarded $759 million (after accounting for the obligation limitation) in FY 2016 FASTLANE funding to 18 infrastructure projects, supporting $3.6 billion in infrastructure investments in 15 States and the District of Columbia.  Eleven of the awarded projects each have a total cost over $100 million, and eight of the awarded projects are in rural areas.

Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program (ATCMTD)

Issue

The Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) Program funds eligible entities to develop model deployments of large-scale implementation and operation of a diverse set of advanced transportation technologies in various geographic regions.

Each year, under the FAST Act (FY 2016 – FY 2020) a maximum of $60 million, less up to $2 million for DOT administrative expenses, and after accounting for obligation limitation, will be available to award 5 to 10 ATCMTD grants not exceeding $12 million each.  These grants will make up no more than 50% of total proposed project costs, with the remainder coming from non-Federal sources. 

Eligible grant recipients include State and local governments or other political subdivisions, transit agencies, larger MPOs (representing 200,000 or more population), multijurisdictional groups, or consortia of research or academic institutions.  Successful proposals will contain quantifiable system performance objectives and projected benefits, use innovative technologies and strategies, include a plan to leverage and optimize existing local and regional advanced transportation technology investments, and include a plan for long-term operation and maintenance of the deployed technologies.  Partnering between the private sector, public agencies, research institutions, technology leaders, and other transportation stakeholders is encouraged.

Action Needed

The Secretary's office will be asked to review the solicitation and project selections for the next round of $60 million in grants in 2017.  As in the 2016 solicitation, a list of focus areas will likely be developed to provide proposers with information on DOT interests.

Background

The FHWA Office of Operations is managing the solicitation, evaluation, and management of the ATCMTD grant program. Stewardship and oversight of awarded projects is done in coordination with division office and Headquarters Office staff.  The first solicitation for projects was issued in March 2016, with 81 proposals requesting over $509 million.  The Secretary selected eight ATCMTD grants totaling $56.6 million.

III. Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives Program

Issue

The Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives (STSFA) program's purpose is to provide grants to States to demonstrate user-based alternative revenue mechanisms that utilize a user fee structure to maintain the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. For FY 2016, $14.2 million was awarded for STSFA demonstration projects.  The FAST Act provides up to $20 million annually for the remaining years of the legislation (FY 2017- FY 2020).   

The grants require a State DOT lead, and proposals must address implementation, interoperability, public acceptance and potential hurdles to adoption of the demonstrated user-based alternative revenue mechanism, privacy protection, use of independent and private third party vendors, congestion mitigation impacts, equity concerns, ease of user compliance, and the reliability and security of technology used.  Geographic diversity is a statutory requirement.

Action Needed

Solicitation for at least $20 million in grants (and potentially the remaining $80 million available through the life of the FAST Act) is due in 2017.  The date of the solicitation, and the extent of the funding to make available through it, is still under consideration.

Background

The FHWA Office of Operations is managing the solicitation, evaluation, and management of the STSFA grant program.  Stewardship and oversight management of awarded projects is done in coordination with division office and Headquarters staff.  The FY 2016 solicitation was published in March 2016, with all proposals submitted by May 2016.  The Secretary awarded eight STSFA grants to seven lead States (California, Delaware, Hawaii, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon (2), and Washington) totaling $14.23 million (after accounting for the obligation limitation). These proposals contained both pre-deployment and deployment activities, with two consisting of multi-State partnerships.

SUBMITTED BY:     Federal Highway Administration

LAST UPDATED:     January 9, 2017

Transportation Performance Management (TPM)

Issue 

In 2012, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) established a new performance-based approach, called Transportation Performance Management (TPM), to carry out the Federal-aid highway program.  The FAST Act continued this approach.  In support of TPM, FHWA issued six NPRMs.  Four have now been published as final rules; publication of the remaining two is expected in January 2017.

Action Needed 

FHWA will work with State DOTs and MPOs on implementation, and will develop a transparent reporting system for the performance measures, targets and progress.   

Background

TPM is a strategic approach that uses system information to guide investment and policy decisions to achieve national performance goals.

State DOTs will be required to establish performance targets and assess performance in 12 areas.  Three of the six TPM rules together propose the establishment of performance measures for States DOTs and MPOs to use in assessing performance in each of these 12 areas. The rules also provide the processes to establish and report targets, report on progress toward targets, and articulate how FHWA will assess whether State DOTs have met or made significant progress toward meeting their targets.

For all of the TPM rulemakings, FHWA has worked with FTA and OST since the passage of MAP-21 on an extensive stakeholder outreach effort to identify effective measures and performance requirements that would be meaningful to the user community and add value to the States and MPOs in planning and programming.
For all of the TPM rules, a next step will be developing and deploying of a transparent reporting system to help the public understand the performance measures, the State and MPO-set targets, and progress toward meeting them.

SUBMITTED BY:          Federal Highway Administration

LAST UPDATED:         January 9, 2017

 

Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Effectiveness

Issue

Increasing urbanization and the priority placed on performance-based planning and funding allocation requires that states and MPOs work in partnership as effective stewards of federal resources. In addition to planning changes mandated by MAP-21 and institutionalized through a series of rulemakings, DOT has taken a two-pronged approach to help MPOs become more effective: (1) a final rule for MPO Coordination and Planning Area Reform, 81FR 93448 (December  20, 2016); and (2) the MPOwerment initiative, through which DOT is convening meetings across the country to engage MPOs in conversation about effective regional planning.

Action Needed

DOT will be working on promoting general planning and MPO effectiveness, through overseeing FHWA and FTA implementation of the MPO Coordination Rule, once finalized, and through MPOwerment workshops, and ongoing implementation of the Planning Rule and the other performance-related rules.

Background

MPO Coordination Rule

FHWA and FTA initiated the MPO Coordination Rule with significant leadership direction and support from OST.

The centerpiece of the rule would return to the statutory definition of Metropolitan Planning Area (MPA) so that it would include the existing urbanized area (UZA) and the surrounding area forecast to become urbanized over a 20-year period. States and MPOs would be responsible for determining appropriate MPA boundaries that comply with the minimum requirements.

When the initial public comment period ended on August 26, 2016, more than 500 comments were in the docket, most with significant concerns about the rule. FHWA and FTA reopened the docket for 30 days beginning on September 23 (with the comment period ending on October 24) to seek public comment on certain issues raised in the NPRM, including on the impact of the proposed requirements for unified planning products where multiple MPOs serve the same UZA, potential exceptions that should be included in the final rule, and criteria for applying such exceptions.

DOT finalized the MPO Coordination Rule in December 2016, making changes in response to comments, including delaying implementation until after the 2020 Census.

MPOwerment Initiative

On July 12, 2016, DOT convened a National Summit with Secretary Foxx, key thought leaders and local decision makers to engage in a strategic conversation identify actions on how to best engage local elected officials and MPO Directors from around the country on forging a path towards empowering MPOs to take a larger role in regional transportation decision-making.  Although this initiative is being undertaken in parallel to the DOT MPO Coordination Rule, the intent of this initiative is to spark a broader dialogue on the opportunity for expanding regional planning and investments that will ultimately strengthen the economic growth and vitality for citizens in communities across the country. 

During this conversation DOT agreed to continue to provide leadership in moving this conversation forward and over the past few months OST has organized a series of regional-level conversations on MPOwerment with State and regional leaders.

The plan includes partnering with regional and local leaders to conduct seven workshops this fall and winter in communities across the country culminating in an interim report following the first 4 workshops conducted in 2016, and a final report with recommendations on next steps following completion of all 7 workshops. The first workshops took place in Boston, at the Association of MPO's annual meeting in Ft. Worth, St. Louis, and Atlanta.

SUBMITTED BY:         Office of the Under Secretary: Transportation Policy

LAST UPDATED:         January 9, 2017

Permitting Reform - Permitting Center

Issue

The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act mandated a number of actions aimed at improving the environmental review and permitting process for transportation infrastructure projects to accelerate project delivery and achieve improved community and environmental outcomes.  These actions build upon implementation of requirements of earlier transportation authorizations including the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), as well as administrative approaches through Executive Order (EO) 13604, Presidential Memoranda and Implementation Plan, and DOT initiatives (e.g. Every Day Counts, eNEPA, etc.). 

To effectively implement these permitting reforms, and oversee environmental review/permitting activities of DOT and its OAs, an Infrastructure Permitting Improvement Center (IPIC) was created within OST-S3, as mandated in the Consolidated Appropriation Act of 2016. 

Action Needed

DOT will need to implement all required permitting reforms, assess and report on the effects on project delivery, and develop policy recommendations to further improve the timeliness and outcomes of projects to address specific project delivery provisions of the FAST Act and achieve the goals of IPIC as identified in the Appropriation language.  The Appropriations Act established IPIC to implement reforms to improve interagency coordination and the expediting of permitting and environmental review of major transportation infrastructure projects. The status of the permitting reforms will require careful monitoring by the IPIC over the period of implementation to meet required timeframes and to support development of required reports and inform future policy recommendations.

DOT through the IPIC will continue to:

  • Implement FAST and other permitting reform requirements;
  • Collect and assess data on timeliness of project delivery and project community and environmental outcomes;
  • Work with OAs and the Build America Bureau (The Bureau) to provide environmental and permitting technical assistance on difficult projects; and
  • Develop required reports and proposed policy recommendations. 

Background

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 appropriated $2,500,000 to establish the IPIC to implement reforms to improve interagency coordination and expediting projects related to the permitting and environmental review of major transportation infrastructure projects. 

The IPIC will advance reforms to improve interagency coordination and expedite permitting and environmental review of major infrastructure projects. IPIC's focus includes management of the Federal Permitting Dashboard and other information technology tools to track project schedules and metrics and to improve the transparency and accountability of the permitting process.

It will serve as the central resource for accelerating project delivery for all DOT projects, as well as for removing barriers to efficient and effective project permitting and environmental review. It will help accelerate delivery and environmental solutions for multimodal, complex, or otherwise challenging projects.  It will also provide support to the OAs and The Bureau in navigating permitting and environmental issues, through environmental specialists, data analysts, and conflict-resolution experts.  

The IPIC will oversee implementation of the Project Delivery provisions of transportation authorizations and other laws including the FAST Act and MAP-21, which include aligning environmental reviews and reduced duplication, establishing a program to measure progress toward aligning and reducing delivery time, integrating mapping and other tools with fiscal management systems to provide more data and transparency, and facilitating efforts to align historic preservation regulations.   The IPIC will coordinate with the Federal Permitting Council (established under the FAST Act: Title XLI) to align DOT efforts with government-wide permitting reform.  It will manage the Federal Permitting Dashboard to provide full transparency in both the environmental review process and any delays, and analyze data to develop policy recommendations to accelerate project delivery and achieve improved community and environmental outcomes.

SUBMITTED BY:          Office of the Under Secretary: Transportation Policy

LAST UPDATED:         October 24, 2016

New Jersey-New York Portal North Bridge and Hudson Tunnels Projects
(Part of what is known as the Gateway projects)

Issue

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New Jersey Transit, and Amtrak, along with high-level elected officials in New York and New Jersey, are working to advance the Gateway program of projects to improve commuter and intercity rail access to New York City from New Jersey.  The project partners have submitted information to Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on the Portal North Bridge project so that it might be considered for a FTA Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program funding recommendation in the upcoming FY 2018 President's budget.  As part of this effort they are putting in place a new entity – the Gateway Development Corporation (GDC) – that will oversee the program.  Such a corporation is currently statutorily ineligible as a recipient under the CIG program, as only public bodies are eligible CIG project sponsors.

Action Needed 

The new Administration will need to evaluate the proposed Gateway project and identify any Federal statutory changes required to advance it, and consider the project as a candidate for FTA CIG funding.

Background 

  • Two of the projects in the Gateway Program recently were approved into the first phase of FTA's discretionary CIG program called Project Development. These projects are the Portal North Bridge Core Capacity project and the Hudson Tunnels New Starts Project.
  • Extensive design has been done on the Portal North Bridge project and the project partners believe it will be ready for construction in 2017, if the funding plan is clearly identified.
  • Project Development and Engineering phases for these complex projects can typically take four to six years to complete.
  • The project is also expected to apply for a Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan from the United States Department of Transportation's (DOT) Build America Bureau. 

SUBMITTED BY: Federal Transit Administration

LAST UPDATED:  October 25, 2016

FTA-5 Attachment:  Portal North Bridge Project Map

Map of the Portal North Bridge Project 

OTHER

FAA Reauthorization and Governance

Issue

The FAA needs Congressional authorization to conduct its mission.  The FAA's last long-term authorizing legislation expired on September 30, 2015.  Since then, the FAA has operated under three short-term authorization extensions, with the current extension expiring on September 30, 2017.  Over the past nine years, sequestration, the federal government shutdown in 2013, the FAA's authorization lapse in 2011, 23 short-term FAA authorization extensions from 2007 to 2012, and three authorization extensions from 2015 to 2017, have created an environment of instability and unpredictability that has undermined the FAA's ability to effectively perform its safety and efficiency mission while managing modernization and key initiatives. 

In addition, reauthorization is one of the ways Congress articulates priorities and new policy directions for the FAA.  Recent reauthorization provisions have instructed FAA how to address unmanned aircraft policies, airspace modernization initiatives, and pilot qualifications, among other topics.

Action Needed

The new Administration will need to work with Congress and the FAA's stakeholders to develop broadly supported proposals that provide the FAA budget stability, predictability, and flexibility. This legislation could also be the mechanism to set significant new policy directions for manned and unmanned aviation and commercial space transportation initiatives.  The new Administration may need to be prepared as early as next spring to consider and address proposals that would significantly change the overall governance structure of the FAA.  With the current FAA authorization expiring in a matter of months, working with Congress to integrate new priorities with existing imperatives for safety and efficiency is critical.

Background

  • The FAA regulates, designs, and operates critical components of the civil air transportation system in ways that enable the aerospace sector's continued growth, modernization, and international competitiveness. The FAA is at the center of the U.S. air transportation industry and must maintain its critical role as global leader in safety oversight, the development and deployment of new technologies, and management of air traffic services. Globalization of the aviation sector, continued innovation, and new entrants to the aviation community, including Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and commercial space transportation, are driving dramatic changes to the aviation landscape.  At the same time, the agency must operate in an environment of unstable budgets, competing stakeholder and legislative priorities, and organizational constraints.  FAA reauthorization provides the opportunity to address these challenges and ensure the agency can help foster U.S. global leadership in aviation for the next century.
  • FAA's recent spending has actually declined in critical areas while the agency's responsibilities and NextGen commitments have grown.  While integrating new users of the national airspace system, such as UAS and commercial space transportation, promises to create significant economic opportunities for the United States, it also adds to the agency's resource needs, posing a challenge under constrained Federal budgets. The overall Federal budget is a zero-sum game, and additional requirements divert funds from other planned or ongoing activities.
  • Meeting near- and long-term objectives requires stable, predictable, and flexible budgets for the FAA.  The budget instability over the last several years has undermined the FAA's ability to effectively perform its safety and efficiency mission and manage key initiatives.  This has translated into thousands of delayed flights, put tens of thousands of jobs at risk, held up infrastructure investments worth billions of dollars, shut down critical services, and slowed down the implementation of NextGen, FAA's key airspace modernization initiative.  Long-term funding would enable the FAA to effectively manage and implement its modernization efforts, make aviation safer and smarter, deliver benefits to the traveling public and industry through technology and infrastructure, enhance US aerospace leadership around the globe, and empower and innovate with FAA's people.
  • FAA Reauthorization is an opportunity for the Administration to elevate workable solutions to budget instability, while addressing other key priorities, such as increasing infrastructure investments to modernize critical air traffic control facilities and airports, accelerating environmental efforts to mitigate air pollution and noise impacts to communities, and streamlining aircraft certification processes to enable the adoption of new technologies and support aerospace exports.  Early engagement by the Administration provides an opportunity to shape these key issues as FAA Reauthorization proposals are developed.
  • During this Congress (114th, 2015-2016), Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced a proposal to transfer FAA's ATC functions to a federally chartered, not-for-profit "ATC Corporation," that is outside of the Federal appropriations process, governed by a Board of Directors, and with the authority to collect charges and fees from air traffic users[1] (similar to the Canadian air traffic model). The proposal ultimately failed to gain traction in the House or Senate, but Chairman Shuster and certain stakeholders have maintained interest in continuing to pursue such a "privatization" or "corporatization" proposal in the next Congress.
  • While alternative models for FAA governance may be considered in the reauthorization process, the FAA has consistently stated that any governance changes should work to solve the challenges FAA faces, not just reshuffle the organizational structure. Any movement away from the present model needs to ensure more direct accountability to our users and be mindful of the linkage and integration of safety, NextGen, airport infrastructure, and other functions.
  • In conclusion, FAA Reauthorization provides an opportunity for the new Administration, working with the Congress and FAA stakeholders, to significantly shape the future direction of the FAA.  These changes should provide the agency with budget stability, predictability, and flexibility to conduct its mission, modernize its infrastructure, integrate new users, and maintain its global leadership position in aviation.

SUBMITTED BYFederal Aviation Administration             

LAST UPDATED: October 26, 2016

United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment on Campus and During Sea Year

Issue 

Formal and informal survey data show that U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA or Academy) has an unwanted sexual contact incident rate above those of the other four service academies and that sexual assault and sexual harassment are occurring at significant rates both on campus and during the Sea Year training experience.  In June 2016, the Secretary of Transportation suspended the use of commercial vessels during Sea Year.  Midshipmen are currently only going to sea on Federal vessels to meet their training requirements.

Action Needed

DOT must assess the findings and recommendations of an ongoing "Cultural Audit" of conditions on campus and during Sea Year.  USMMA must then adopt improvements to its training to combat sexual assault, harassment and coercive behavior.  The commercial vessel operators must also meet MARAD training and conduct standards.  This training and the conduct standards will be designed to help Midshipmen feel safe living and working aboard commercial vessels.

Background

  • The Academy is committed to reducing the unwanted sexual contact incident rate for Midshipmen, both on-campus and during sea year, and to fostering an environment where Midshipmen feel comfortable reporting sexual assault, sexual harassment and other instances of improper behavior, such as coercion, bullying and retaliation.
  • The Academy's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program began in 2012.  By comparison, the DOD has been running its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office since 2004.
  • The Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 requires the Academy to prescribe a policy and conduct an assessment during each academic year to determine the effectiveness of its policies, training and procedures with respect to sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention.  For academic years starting with an odd number the Academy conducts a survey.  For academic years starting with an even number, the Academy conducts focus groups.
  • The Academy contracted with the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) in 2012 to administer the Service Academy Gender Relations (SAGR) Survey and conduct focus groups.  The Academy contracted with DMDC because it administers a standardized survey, conducts the SAGR surveys for all of the service academies and it could provide comparison data between USMMA and the other academies.
  • The SAGR Surveys show that the number of sexual assaults being reported via the anonymous survey remained virtually unchanged from 2012 to 2014.  The 2014 SAGR Survey revealed that 17.1% (±0.1 to ±20.70) of women (or between 19 and 28 women) and 2.0% (±0.1 to ±5.8) of men (or between 8 and 24 men) reported that they had been sexually assaulted.  (DMDC called the difference between the 2012 and 2014 results "statistically insignificant.")  Similarly, the SAGR Survey shows that sexual harassment statistics are virtually unchanged from 2012, with 63.0% (±1 to ±21) of women (or between 69 and 90 women) and 11.0% (±3 to ±9) of men (or between 50 and 59 men) reporting that they had been sexually harassed.  (DMDC called the difference between the 2012 and 2014 results "statistically insignificant.")
  • The 2015-2016 Academic Year is a survey year.  DMDC administered the SAGR Survey in the months of April and August 2016, and  returned in November 2016 to survey the final cohort of students.  In order to meet the statutory requirement, an analysis of the "Preliminary" survey results (all of the surveys, except for November) will be submitted to Congress before January 20th. A final report will be submitted later in the year. 
  • The Academy has implemented a number of initiatives in order to prevent and/or respond to sexual assault, sexual behavior and other improper behaviors on campus including:
    • Providing Midshipmen with restricted and unrestricted reporting options.  A restricted report allows a victim to receive medical care and legal counseling without triggering an official investigation.  An unrestricted report allows a victim to receive care services and also initiates an official investigation.
    • Increasing the number of employees who could take restricted reports.  Previously, a restricted report could only be made to the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), the Chaplain, a health care provider or a student victim advocate.  The Academy recruited and trained five faculty and staff members to serve as additional volunteer victim advocates, capable of taking restricted reports.
    • Improving campus physical security with a 24/7 Campus Command and Control Center, an armed guard force, campus emergency call boxes and an electronically-controlled access system for barracks (dormitories).
    • Establishing a 24/7 reporting hotline.
    • Developing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Safe Center of Long Island to perform the following:
      • Provide Midshipmen an additional confidential reporting source for incidents of sexual violence, dating violence and stalking;
      • Establish a working relationship for training Midshipmen and reviewing best practices; and
      • Provide back up for the 24/7 hotline when the SARC is unavailable or unable to respond.
    • Introducing the Green Dot bystander intervention program, which teaches Midshipmen how to identify situations when there is the potential for sexual violence, and how to diffuse those situations using techniques such as distraction or diversion.
    • Establishing Standard Operating Procedures to include:
      • Investigating an Unrestricted Report of Sexual Assault;      
      • Processing a Restricted Report of Sexual Assault; and
      • Maintenance of Restricted and Unrestricted Reports.
    • Updating its sexual assault and sexual harassment policy document to include new Clery Act requirements.
    • Expanding indoctrination training.  Each Plebe Candidate (freshman) receives prevention education training on the topics of dating violence, stalking, sexual harassment, sexual assault and bystander intervention.
    • Training sophomores, juniors and seniors throughout the academic year on definitions, resources for reporting, risk reduction, bystander intervention, situational awareness, and addressing the continuum of sexual violence as a leadership issue.
    • Training Academy faculty and staff in small groups by department on the SAPR program and their responsibility to report.
    • Running three month-long awareness campaigns:
      • Stalking Awareness - January
      • Domestic/Dating Violence Awareness –October or February
      • Sexual Assault Awareness - April
    • Having the SARC work closely with the Academy's Human Relations Committee and the Regiment's Human Relations Officers to provide Midshipmen with information and resources outside of the formal small and large group training sessions, and to provide numerous activities during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April).
  • Sea Year is a core element of the Academy's academic program that enables Midshipmen to obtain the requisite days at sea to sit for their credentialing exam.  Midshipmen engineering majors must accumulate 300 days at sea.  Deck majors must accumulate 330 days at sea.  The Midshipmen typically accumulate these days onboard commercial and Military Sealift Command (MSC) vessels, while state maritime academies use organic training vessels
  • In June 2016, the Secretary of Transportation suspended Sea Year training aboard commercial ships after the DMDC report in January, the Middle States Evaluation Team report in April and the USMMA Advisory Board in June each expressed concerns of ongoing sexual assault, sexual harassment, bullying, coercion and retaliation aboard commercial vessels.
  • MARAD and USMMA hosted more than 90 representatives of the maritime industry at a Call-to-Action meeting on June 24, 2016 to address concerns about the shipboard working and living environment.  The discussion focused on industry culture, sexual assault and sexual harassment awareness and prevention efforts, industry-wide practices, protocols and reporting actions, and how to proactively address these issues.
  • MARAD has formed a Shipboard Climate Compliance Team (SCCT) to review plans submitted by individual commercial ship operators to assess their compliance with the following:
    • Clear and up-to-date policies prohibiting sexual assault and harassment and other unprofessional conduct such as bullying, hazing, coercion, and retaliation;
    • Evidence of training implementing these policies;
    • Communication between the executive leadership of each company to every vessel; and
    • Policies related to fraternization between Midshipmen and crew.
  • As commercial ship operators receive approval from the MARAD SCCT, they will be cleared to once again have Midshipmen aboard their ships.
  • In August 2016, MARAD and USMMA lifted the Sea Year Stand Down on Federal vessels and began placing Midshipmen on assets such as MSC ships, U.S. Navy ships, and Ready Reserve Force vessels.
  • The U.S. Secretary of Transportation directed hiring an outside consultant to conduct a thorough assessment of all aspects of the USMMA culture to better understand the root causes of unacceptable behaviors and provide recommendations for how to address them. The report was completed and released on January 6, 2017, the full report can be found at: U.S. MERCHANT MARINE ACADEMY CULTURE AUDIT.
  • USMMA is executing an implementation plan covering all aspects contained in the report's "KEY FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS."

SUBMITTED BY: United States Merchant Marine Academy

LAST UPDATED: January 9, 2017

USMMA Accreditation

Issue 

The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA or Academy) received its periodic review by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) in April 2016.  In its findings, documented in a June 2016 report, MSCHE issued a warning to the Academy about its accreditation status, citing the institution's failure to meet five of the agency's 14 standards.  USMMA has until June 2018 to bring itself into compliance with all standards. 

Action Needed

The Academy is in the process of developing a Plan of Action and Milestones to address specific recommendations and requirements.  USMMA leadership must submit a monitoring report to MSCHE by March 1, 2017 outlining the actions that the Academy has taken to meet accreditation standards.

Background

  • MSCHE is an independent agency that, through accreditation, mandates that its member institutions meet rigorous and comprehensive standards, which are addressed in the context of the mission of each institution and within the culture of ethical practices and institutional integrity expected of accredited institutions.  It is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education to conduct accreditation and pre-accreditation activities in the Middle States region.
  • The Academy received a decennial comprehensive evaluation, based upon a report that it prepared about itself, called a self-study report.  The evaluation included a visit by a team of MSCHE evaluators who reviewed the self-study report and conducted interviews of Academy faculty, staff and students.  The evaluators then delivered their report and recommendation to the Commissioners, who made the decision to put the Academy on warning.
  • The Academy remains fully accredited while on warning status.  Following submission of a monitoring report on March 1, 2017, the Commission will conduct a small team visit to assess the institution's compliance with the Commission's standards.  Following the on-site visit, a report by the visiting team will be completed.  The monitoring report, the small team report and USMMA's institutional response to the small team report will be considered by the MSCHE Committee on Follow-Up Activities and then by the Commission.
  • If, based on the monitoring report and small team report, the Commission determines that the Academy has made appropriate progress in addressing the cited concerns; the Commission may act to remove the warning and reaffirm accreditation.  If the Commission determines that progress sufficient to demonstrate compliance with its accreditation standards has not been made, the Commission may continue the Academy's warning, issue probation or issue a show cause determination.  
  • Issues of governance, administration, and leadership at the Academy will take the longest time to resolve. 
     

SUBMITTED BY: United States Merchant Marine Academy

LAST UPDATED: October 25, 2016

Updated: Friday, April 28, 2017
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