Highlights of Portland TEA-21 National Listening Session
July 29, 1998
OVERALL: There was broad support and enthusiasm for the fact that TEA-21 keeps the basic
ISTEA policy vision and framework. "TEA-21 retains goods features of ISTEA and makes strides
in areas that needed improvement." There was general support for balanced, multi-modal and
intermodal approach of TEA-21. On the other hand, locals were concerned that they will not benefit
proportionately from increases in funding under TEA-21.
Flexibility: many speakers talked about the need to increase flexibility even further:
- With regard to project funding eligibility.
- With regard to compliance with Federal rules and regulations: DOT should focus on
outcomes, not on process.
"We need to invest and manage on a systems basis."
New Rules, Regulations & Guidance:
- There was recognition that DOT needs to promulgate required rules and regulations,
but there was a strong feeling that DOT should limit itself to those actually required
- There was general agreement that new rules, regulations and guidelines should be
promulgated as quickly as possible.
- Any new regulation should make it easier, not harder, to get a project done.
"New programs should be funded as soon as possible without extensive rule-making."
- Going from 16 to 7 planning factors is good, but we can't back away from what's in
the National interest.
- Some expressed concern that integrating environmental considerations into the
planning process will backfire, yielding an even more cumbersome process.
- There was support for planning based on a vision, not just fiscal constraint, but there
was also a caution that "illustrative" lists of projects be clearly separated from
conformity and fiscal constraint requirements.
- Planning horizon should not be stretched to 25 years, although some issues (like
corridor protection) may require a longer time frame.
- Effort to streamline is not equivalent to effort to bypass.
- Doing it right and doing it quickly are not necessarily at odds.
- Streamlining the process should save time and money, but should not compromise
the policy objectives of protecting the environment.
- Speakers felt that each state should be allowed to manage all of its demo projects as
a program with an overall funding cap (equal to the sum of the project
authorizations), and be allowed to cash manage within the overall cap to advance
projects as quickly as possible.
- This applies across the board to borders and corridors, the TCSP pilot program,
environmental streamlining, TIFIA, new starts criteria, etc.
- There was general agreement that the incentives approach is better than one based on
- Partnerships are key: ISTEA works because of its emphasis on collaborative
- With regard to decision-making process and state-local relationships: one size
doesn't fit all, and DOT shouldn't dictate institutional relationships. On the other
- State representatives felt more strongly that they should be left to work out
their partnering arrangements with locals.
- Some locals indicated satisfaction with state-local partnerships, but others
expressed continued concern for balance of decision-making authority.
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