TEA-21 - Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century
Moving Americans into the 21st Century
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OVERALL: This session was organized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and focused on safety issues. All speakers specifically addressed the safety provisions of TEA-21 with much emphasis on the Alcohol-related safety programs and the seat belt and occupant protection programs.
Speakers expressed broad, general support for the safety provisions in TEA-21. The western mountain states were well represented and many speakers voiced support for allowing states to have as much flexibility as possible to tailor safety programs to state needs and circumstances. There was opposition to the TEA-21 penalty programs related to open containers and minimum penalties for repeat drunk-driving offenders. Speakers indicated that the Federal government imposing penalties was not the best approach but rather incentive programs were preferred.
The partnership with FRA on grade crossing safety has been a very positive development and ought to be continued. Specific support for the Operation Life Saver program was offered by several speakers, although even with increased funding, there was a concern that the program is still under funded in relationship to need.
The project development process needs to be changed for programs to install bicycle racks, build bicycle lanes, etc. The bicycle coordinator for the City of Denver made several points about the difficulties of getting bicycle projects implemented. The issues were largely related to requirements which he felt were irrelevant and unnecessary for such projects. (e.g. requiring paleontological studies on the placement of bicycle racks on existing sidewalks).
One speaker representing truckers opposed the Section 1216 toll program which allows three pilot projects to fund the rehabilitation and reconstruction of interstates with revenues collected from tolls. He recommended that the costs and benefits of these projects should be assessed prior to approval under this program.
Another speaker requested that freight operators be included in the MPO planning process.