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Highlights of Harrisburg TEA-21 National Listening Session
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
September 8. 1998

OVERALL: This session included five panel discussions: finance, state secretary's of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, freight, and environmental interests/contractors/accessibility advocates. In addition, Secretary Slater and Chairman Shuster from Pennsylvania spoke to the group during the end of the morning session.

There was broad support for TEA-21 as good, responsive to recommendations made by States, and agreement that the input of States was incorporated. Speakers indicated that TEA-21 improves equity and distribution of highway apportionments and that 90.5% guarantee moves closer to fair share to States. There was broad support for the fire walls and spending guarantee and that this will help planning for transportation investments.

Finance: Several speakers expressed concern that the SIB program is constrained to only 4 states. It was mentioned that for every $1 SIB investment, an additional $5 in private capital and non-federal sources is created. A coalition of states has formed to expand the program with 32 states signed on to date. These states believe that the SIB benefits are substantial enough to outweigh concerns about SIBs.

High Priority Projects: Speakers indicated that they need the flexibility to put money to whatever high priority projects they need to and that they should receive funds based on total dollars in high priority projects each year and not annual percentage amounts (11%, 20%, etc) on a project-by-project basis. There was widespread concern that this will hold up projects, particularly smaller ones. Speakers urged FHWA not to add mandatory requirements that are not in the legislation.

Opposition to repeat offenders and open container requirements: It was mentioned that redirection of funds pits one arm of government against another and that penalties cannot be justified on policy grounds. One speaker said that few states will be able to satisfy repeat offender requirements and will be hit with penalties.

ITS Architecture and Standards: Conformance on ITS architecture needs to be cautiously implemented. Local jurisdictions will have trouble keeping pace with ITS standards and architecture. States and locals need flexibility and requirements must be reasonable.

Project Delivery Process/Streamlining: AASHTO would like to improve on the efficient delivery of programs and project planning and delivery. AASHTO is defining position papers to inform FHWA and DOT on suggestions for implementation and will encourage an MOU as part of the NEPA process. The focus should be on how to make the project delivery more efficient. Consolidated MIS/NEPA process will be very contentious rule making and very difficult to do. MIS was never written into ISTEA, it came through Rulemaking.

Specific Suggestions:

Funding Distribution Factors: Three main funding factors are taking us wrong way: lane miles, vehicle miles traveled, and fuel tax contribution are counterproductive. Program structure goes one direction while basis for distribution of funds goes another way.

Specific Suggestions:

Local involvement and cooperation is needed and folks need to work together. Allow for differences in urban states and rural states like West Virginia. Public involvement requirements need to be flexible to fit states needs. Encourage performance criteria--not prescriptive rules.

MPOs are Central to Partnerships: Have to integrate all the players in the transportation planning process. MPOs are link to states and feds. Support new requirements to publish list of projects annually obligations however, U.S. DOT must help MPOs get timely information from the implementing agencies (ie. VA, MD DOT, WMATA).

Access to Jobs-- MPO must select recipients of funds and expands MPO role in the region. FTA must support this expanded role and reallocate funds from other activities. Federal agencies should all be participating in transit benefit program. Use the transit check program and allow these checks to be used across state boundaries.

Truck Pilot safety program: FHWA should test new programs that are performance based. Programs must be designed for carrier participation. DOT should initiate section 420, post accident alcohol study.

Light density rail line pilot program: These lines provide safety net for rail service in many communities--rail service providers of last resort. Rail service is a national resource. DOT should increase the funding in future years and make money available for acquisition and preservation.

Truckers hours of service regulations: Perception that regulations are antiquated, revisit the limitations, trucks newer, roads newer, at least look at the regulations and make changes if warranted.

Enhancements: Design guidelines would be helpful to this program ie. reuse of railroad bridges and tunnels and design criteria for would be useful. Staffing for the enhancement program in the District offices is needed.

Accessibility for Disabled: STP funds should be used for streets, sidewalks, crosswalks, signals for pedestrians, etc. improving safety in vehicles is also important. Safety in these areas is lacking. Pedestrian and bicycle trails and walkways, vanpool access, etc. passenger vessels, ferry boats. Any area that the general public would have access to should have accessibility funding.

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