In transportation, success is easy to discuss, difficult to quantify, and, in most cases, impossible to judge without some subjectivity. Frequently, it takes several years after project completion to judge if congestion relief or similar benefits were realized. Other benefits may take even longer to evaluate (e.g., safety). Furthermore, many of the projects funded with NCPD/CBI were planning studies. The FHWA knows of no generally accepted method of deeming a project a success without being able to observe changes in factors like congestion or safety.
In the NCPD/CBI, there are several projects for which there is sufficient observable change to judge success. Although all of these were planned before the NCPD/CBI program made its first allocations, the NCPD/CBI allocations expedited their implementation. These are discussed below and images and additional content concerning these projects is also available.
Mexico-U.S. trade increased in the 1980s and with it the traffic on the downtown Laredo Juarez-Lincoln Bridge. By the end of this decade, the State of Texas , the City of Laredo, Mexico, the City of Nuevo Laredo and others were discussing how to address this situation. In 1991, detailed coordination began for a new bridge outside the central business district that would carry commercial traffic. By 1993, projects were placed on the Texas multi-year transportation improvement program and in 1995 a comprehensive funding agreement had been reached. The total cost of the new bridge and related improvements was about $100 million. The NCPD/CBI contributed about $6 million of this total through one of the FY 1999 awards.
The new bridge was opened April 15, 2000. Downtown back ups disappeared and truck traffic was successfully diverted to the new bridge. Substantial job growth occurred in FY 2001 and seems clearly related to the business opportunities created by the new bridge.
For a number of years, the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority had been seeking to improve the operation of the border crossing at the Peace Bridge. In the late 1990s, a user group consisting of trucking associations, commercial carriers, brokers and the U.S. Customs Service developed ideas to meet this objective. One method that seemed promising was to develop procedures and train personnel to operate a Commercial Vehicle Processing Center (CVPC) on the Canadian side of the border. The CVPC would assist truck drivers with incomplete paperwork prior to the vehicles entering the inspection queue. Fewer vehicles failing the primary inspection would mean less congestion on the bridge. In FY 1999, the FHWA awarded about $1 million in NCPD/CBI funds for developing procedures and training personnel for the CVPC. The Authority immediately began implementing this project and the CVPC opened in late FY 1999. Within the first year, the number of vehicles failing the primary inspection fell from 36% to 15%. Border agencies and the U.S. Customs Service have recognized the CVPC as a success.
Similar to the FAST program, many ACE officials: local, regional, State and private sector have been working together since the late 1990s to improve highway/railroad grade crossings (including many grade separation projects) in an East-West corridor with high railroad traffic serving the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach. The ACE corridor received funds from Section 1602 of TEA-21 and corridor officials credit this with jumpstarting the ACE program. The same officials state that, in the first phase of the program, three dollars have been leveraged for every one federal dollar. The ACE corridor first received a NCPD/CBI award in FY 2000 and subsequently received awards in FY 2001, FY 2002 and FY 2003. These awards totaled $9,019,000. The first complete projects have resulted in decreases in congestion, improvements in safety and reduction in pollutant emissions. This latter result is quite important because of the well-known air quality problems in the Los Angeles region. Without these improvements, increasing rail corridor traffic would worsen the congestion, safety and air quality problems as well as restrict economic development.