The University of Virginia, Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) has been selected as the Tribal Technical Assistance Program Center under a two-year pilot. Operating under CTS will be five virtual Centers of Excellence for Planning and Programming, Data and Asset Management, Maintenance and Operations, Safety, and Project Delivery and a national Roads Scholars Certification program. To learn more about the award, please review the webinar recording or the transcript below.
In 1982, Congress recognized that providing access to surface transportation technology, technical assistance and training to the local public agencies (LPA) was necessary and created the Rural Technical Assistance Program (RTAP). RTAP began in October 1982 with ten centers as a pilot program. The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) legislation in 1991 renamed this program the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) and created the Tribal Transportation Assistance Program (TTAP). The TTAP was designated to provide technical assistance to tribal governments. This technical assistance was geared toward building capability within the federally recognized tribes (currently 565) to manage their highway assets. ISTEA legislation included the requirement to operate federally funded technical assistance centers. Legislation authorizing the TTAP is found at 23 U.S.C 504(b).
Four TTAP centers were initially established in Colorado, Michigan, Montana, and Washington in 1992. In 1995, three additional centers were added in Oklahoma, California and Alaska. Most of the centers are hosted by academic institutions (5 of 7). The seven TTAP Centers have been represented by the Mountain West TTAP Center in Gilbert, AZ; the Northwest TTAP Center at Eastern Washington University; Eastern TTAP Center at Michigan Tech University in Houghton, MI; the Alaska TTAP Center at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, AK; the Western TTAP Center at the National Indian Justice Center (NIJC) in Santa Rosa, CA; the Northern Plains TTAP at Bismarck, ND; and the Southern Plains TTAP Center at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK.
FHWA is the lead agency for the TTAP. The services of the TTAP centers have been managed by FHWA through five-year cooperative agreements - 2 base years and 3 option years. In FY17, three centers had cooperative agreements that were set to expire and the other four centers had completed their base years and were into their option years. Each Center have been federally funded at $290,000 per year.
In evaluating the path forward, we began evaluating where the program was in its delivery of services to the tribes. We looked through the existing statements of work and, more importantly, looked through the data that the Centers themselves provided to us on the delivery of training and technical assistance to the tribes. Performance data is collected annually from all LTAP and TTAP Centers. FHWA compared the 5-year total training hour average for the TTAP Centers with LTAP Centers of comparable funding. The results were informative. The TTAP centers 5-year training hour average is 233 hours and that average for LTAP Centers, with comparable funding, is over twice that amount - 576 hours. In calendar year 2016 the numbers were equally striking 194 (TTAP) compared to 490 (LTAP).
In addition to the raw numbers, the review indicated that some of the regions served by the TTAP Centers were not receiving training in the focus areas for the program that were established at the strategic level - Infrastructure Management, Safety, and Workforce Development. Comments also expressed by Tribes indicated that some felt underserved by the TTAPs and the training format was not sufficient to build workforce skills.
Our focus through all of our thinking, then and now, is how can the TTAP best meet the needs of the tribes in transportation training and technical assistance. How can we focus more resources on providing the basic mission of this program? Is the current model for delivery of the TTAP the best model? Can we consolidate administrative functions to reduce overhead and shift that time and energy into training and technical assistance? Can we leverage other resources? Can we take advantage of advancements in learning options while maintaining face-to-face interaction to help the tribes solve particular problems?
Based on program analysis, the input gathered from the Tribal Transportation Program Coordinating Committee (TTPCC), and feedback from our engagement with the tribes, FHWA is moving forward with the centralized delivery model. The new model will increase the amount and types of education and technical assistance services available to the tribes and supports consistent and uniform training and training materials across the twelve BIA regions. It will supplement face to face training with e-learning options.
Webinar: Tribal Technical Assistance Pilot
Under the national center will be five Virtual Centers of Excellence (CoE) in: Asset & Data Management, Planning and Program Management, Project Delivery, Safety, Operations & Maintenance (figure 4). The new model will initiate national Tribal Roads Scholars Certification Program to provide comprehensive and up-to-date skill development on heavy equipment operation and construction theory topics. As this model changes what has been in place for over 20 years, FHWA agreed with the TTPCC to deploy this model in a two-year pilot and evaluate its performance in concert with the tribes.
FHWA will also engage with tribal governments as requested at regional and national meetings for the purpose of exchanging information and input on the action. The FHWA will also continue to work with and update the TTPCC throughout the pilot.
Informational webinars were held on the restruc-turing of the Tribal Transportation Assistance Program (TTAP) in June soliciting Tribal input, opinion, and feedback on a proposed two-year pilot. The presentation was repeated over five days.
Transcripts of the first two sessions and webinar links to the remaining sessions are provided. The primary content of each webinar is the same, though each session has a unique Q&A session and chat room.
Tony Furst, FHWA's Chief Innovation Officer, provided remarks on the TTAP restructuring during the plenary session of the National Tribal Transportation Conference on September 25, 2017.
The Tribal Transportation Program Safety Fund - Notice of Funding Opportunity was published on September 21, 2017. Applications will be accepted from federally recognized Indian tribes until December 11, 2017. Eligible projects for the TTP Safety Fund under the FAST Act include: development and revision of transportation safety plans, crash data improvement, road safety audits, and other activities, primarily infrastructure improvements, as listed in 23 U.S.C. 148(a)(4). More information can be found at https://flh.fhwa.dot.gov/programs/ttp/safety/ttpsf.htm
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is now soliciting applications for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 appropriated $500 million, available through September 30, 2020, for National Infrastructure Investments otherwise known as TIGER grants. As with previous rounds of TIGER, funds for the fiscal year (FY) 2017 TIGER grants program are to be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant impact on the Nation, a metropolitan area, or a region. The FY 2017 Appropriations Act specifies that TIGER Discretionary Grants may not be less than $5 million and not greater than $25 million, except that for projects located in rural areas the minimum TIGER Discretionary Grant size is $1 million.
Prospective TIGER applicants are encouraged to look through the full Notice of Funding Opportunity. The deadline to submit an application for the FY 2017 TIGER grant program is Monday, October 16.
To provide technical assistance to a broad array of stakeholders, USDOT will be hosting a series of webinars during the FY 2017 TIGER grant application process:
How to Compete for TIGER Grants - All Applicants
Date and time: Wednesday, September 13th from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM EDT
Preparing a Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA) for a TIGER Application
Date and time: Monday, September 18th from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM EDT
How to Compete for TIGER Grants - All Applicants
Date and time: Tuesday, September 19th from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM EDT
There is no registration fee for these sessions, however advance registration is required and space is limited to the first 500 registrants. Additional webinars may be scheduled in the coming weeks depending on demand.
The National Highway Institute just launched another version of its highly-acclaimed bridge inspection course. This new instructor-led training meets the National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) requirement for comprehensive bridge inspection training and has been streamlined to better suit experienced Professional Engineers, while retaining strong emphasis on bridge inspection, documentation, and coding requirements.
During the course participants complete a virtual bridge inspection in lieu of a traditional field trip, saving time and expenses while providing more flexibility. It also ensures participants gain exposure to more than 30 different bridge conditions and defects that would likely not be present on a single bridge in the field. For more information on this course please visit: https://www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov/course-search?tab=0&key=130056&res=1
The U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Education have developed resources designed to build awareness and interest in future careers in transportation among middle and high school students. Read August Letter to Tribal Leaders
The FHWA is ready to proceed to the next phase of implementing the new delivery model for the TTAP. As we described during the June informational webinars, the new model will be a two-year pilot. FHWA will continue to obtain continual feedback on the performance of the new model. Read July Letter to Tribal Leaders