The Nation’s Transportation Future Is Increasingly Local

This post originally appeared in Law360. Reprinted with permission.

traffic jams in the city, road, rush hourThere is no debate that the gridlock in Congress has impacted national transportation policy. It was good news in December of 2015 when, after 36 short-term extensions, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” (or, the FAST Act, Public Law 114-94). The law contains some changes in federal law that will drive policy,… More

Value Capture – The Beginning of the State-Local Transportation Match

Next week, Governor Baker’s economic development bill will begin to emerge from the Legislature now that versions of his original bill have  passed both branches of the legislature and are headed for a conference committee.  Those who follow transportation policy trends will be watching for the outcome of the value capture amendment, sponsored by Representative Bill Straus, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation. … More

Big Changes With LIttle Fanfare: The FHWA Proposes to Use GHG Emissions as a Performance Measure

This week, the Federal Highway Administration issued a Noticed of Proposed Rulemaking to promulgate performance measures to be used in evaluating federal funding of transportation projects.  The requirement for performance measures stems from the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, aka MAP-21.  MAP-21 requires the FHWA to establish performance standards in 12 categories, one of which is “on-road mobile source emissions.”  MAP 21

The NPRM addresses this criterion,… More

MassDEP and CZM Propose Changes to Chapter 91 Regulations

DEP-CZMMassDEP and the Commonwealth’s office of Coastal Zone Management recently proposed draft changes to the Designated Port Area and Facility of Public Accommodation regulations under the Chapter 91 program. The draft for public comment, including a summary of the changes and redlines of the regulations, can be found here. Information on submitting public comments can be found here. Comments are due by Monday,… More

Public Transportation Woes Are Not Just In Boston

Since last winter, whenever you say “snow” in Boston, people automatically think: will the MBTA shutdown? The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a particularly interesting forum on how other cities on the east coast are fixing their public transit systems.  Instead of the usual faces, the panel was made up of the top leadership of these  transit systems and, after just a few moments listening to the presentations,… More

The FAST Act Seeks to Streamline the Environmental Review of Infrastructure Projects

On December 4, 2015, President Obamaimage006_web signed into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act—a five-year, $305-billion transportation authorization and spending bill. The FAST Act largely focuses on funding highways and other transit infrastructure, but, interestingly, it also contains provisions overhauling the environmental review of infrastructure projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

For example, the FAST Act requires agencies to coordinate their environmental reviews of transportation projects to avoid duplication and accelerate the review process.… More

Time To Look At A Metropolitan Transportation System

Today is the day we no longer need to imagine the observation made by policymakers in the recent debates on transportation revenue – if you don’t think the MBTA is important to riders and non-riders alike, consider the Boston metropolitan area without it.  Today, despite well plowed roads and reasonable weather, the region is at a standstill because the T has cancelled rail service due to the unprecedented storms.… More

Massachusetts Transportation for 2015

As we turn the corner on 2014 and on eight years of the Patrick administration, transportation stakeholders in Massachusetts wonder what 2015 and beyond will bring five years after the creation of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.  In November, Massachusetts voters chose to repeal the portion of the Commonwealth’s 2013 Transportation Finance Law that indexed the Commonwealth’s motor fuel tax to inflation.  They also elected Charlie Baker our next Governor. … More

America’s Government Is Gridlocked. Its Roads Don’t Have To Be.

This summer, roadway construction season will not be interrupted after all, as Congress passed another “patch” to the Highway Trust Fund to take us up to May of 2015. But how do we expect the U.S. DOT to plan and implement a long-term infrastructure investment program for our nation with nine-month term funding authorizations, after which no funds can be spent without another act of Congress?  How can the states rely on the Federal government as partner and make commitments to address their multi-billion capital maintenance and investment needs with these short-term funding extensions and no long-term resolution or direction in sight?… More

TEMPORARY HELP FOR THE HIGHWAY TRUST FUND – BUT THE FUTURE IS STILL UNCERTAIN

As nearly every media outlet in America has reported, the Congress last night approved a $10.8 billion transportation bill that will pay for highway and transit projects for the next nine months.  It’s good news, sure.  In practical terms, it means that transportation funding will continue to flow past today’s deadline.  That matters to anyone interested in a project that is funded with Federal monies, and in Massachusetts,… More