Archive for September, 2012

Featured Photo: RWA President W. Randy Wright, Arlene Wright & Senator Mark Warner

RWA President W. Randy Wright, Arlene Wright, Sen Mark Warner

Shown are RWA President W. Randy Wright, Arlene Wright and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) at the Almost Annual Pig Roast in Rappahannock, VA hosted by Senator Warner and Lisa Collins.

$52 Million in Federal Funds Coming to Virginia, Reallocated from Other States

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced that Virginia is going to receive an additional $52 million in federal transportation funds. The additional funding was reallocated to Virginia Department of Transportation from the Federal Highway Administration from other states that didn’t use the money.

States that were unable to identify transportation projects for the allocated funding had to return it. The funding is then directed to states that have identified projects for all of their allocated funding and have more projects ready for construction.

According to McDonnell, Virginia DOT wants to use the additional funding for repaving and rehabilitating sections of Interstates 95 and 85 in the Richmond region and Interstate 264 in Hampton Roads. The projects are pending based upon the approval of the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

Randy Wright and Associates offers transportation consulting services throughout Virginia and beyond. Contact us to discuss how we can assist you with launching your next urban transit project.

Roadway Constructionimage credit: VaDOT on Flickr

DOT Announces Creation of Freight Policy Council

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced the creation of  the Freight Policy Council. The Freight Policy Council was developed to streamline freight movement by connecting more trucks, trains and ports across the nation. The creation of the Freight Policy Council was announced by DOT Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. This council is a part of the new highway law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century or MAP-21.

The Freight Policy Council was created to develop a strategic intermodal freight movement plan. According to the DOT a more efficient system will reduce traffic congestion, environment impact and shipping costs.

“Our freight system is the lifeblood of the American economy, moving goods quickly and efficiently to benefit both businesses and consumers across the country,” said Secretary LaHood. “With the launch of the Freight Policy Council, we have an opportunity to make not only our freight system, but all modes of transportation, stronger and better connected”.

Ports and freight movement projects are funded by grant programs such as TIGER and TIFIA. TIGER is the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program while TIFIA is the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.

Money for freight projects is also available through the $35 billion Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program, according to a DOT press release.

As transportation consulting experts, Randy Wright and Associates can assist you with launching your next urban transit project. 

Freight Trainimage credit: Duncan Brown (Cradlehall) on Flickr

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Sends Letter to Governors on New Federal Regulations

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Calls on States to Prepare to Strengthen Transit Safety Oversight in Advance of New Federal Transit Safety Authority

WASHINGTON – In a letter dated August 28, 2012, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called on the governors of 26 states, Puerto Rico, and the mayor of the District of Columbia, all home to significant rail transit systems, to prepare to meet new federal regulations that the Department plans on proposing in the near future. The proposed federal regulations would require them to strengthen and increase their oversight of public transit safety and are part of Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), a new two-year transportation authorization bill signed by President Obama in July, 2012.

“Under MAP-21, we’re ushering in a new era for transit safety, and we are committed to working with our state leaders to strengthen and help fund robust state safety oversight agencies to carry out this vitally important mission,” said Secretary LaHood. “Public transit remains one of the safest ways to travel in the U.S., and we intend to keep it that way.”

MAP-21 grants FTA the authority to establish and enforce a new comprehensive framework to oversee the safety of public transportation throughout the United States as it pertains to heavy rail, light rail, buses, ferries, and streetcars.

“We are closing a loophole in how transit safety oversight is regulated and enforced that is long overdue,” said Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Administrator Peter Rogoff. “For the first time FTA will be able to establish basic safety standards to better ensure the safety of tens of millions of passengers that ride public transportation each day.”

In December 2009, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood transmitted legislation to Congress on behalf of the Obama Administration that would for the first time permit the FTA to implement and enforce basic safety standards for rail transit following the deadly June 2009 Red Line accident in Washington, DC and other accidents throughout the country. This proposed legislation was a key instrument in shaping the federal safety role of public transportation in MAP-21.

MAP-21 requires, among other things, that FTA update the existing State Safety Oversight (SSO) program to ensure that rail transit systems are meeting common-sense safety requirements. The law also requires that FTA adopt important new safety provisions for bus-only operators. FTA will implement the new law in consultation with the transit community and the U.S. Department of Transportation Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety, which has been working since September of 2010 to help guide this effort.

MAP-21 provides grant money that FTA will direct to the states to help them comply with new requirements. Up to 80 percent of the funds are Federal; a 20 percent non-Federal match is also required. The law also adopts measures initially proposed by the Administration to ensure that SSO agencies are truly independent and not funded in ways that present regulators with a conflict of interest, such as being funded by the transit agencies they are charged with overseeing.


Contact: Angela Gates • Tel: 202-366-4043

US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration

Virginia to Receive $10 million in Earmarked Funds from U.S. DOT

Virginia will see $10 million in unspent transportation earmarks from the U.S. Department of Transportation. These funds include $200,000 for transportation projects in Hampton Roads.

In a recent media conference call,  U.S.Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said that unspent earmarks totaling $473.3 million will be returned to 49 states, the state of Wyoming had no unspent funds. The unspent funds were for 671 transportation projects.

“These idle earmarks have sat on the shelf as our infrastructure has aged and construction workers sat unemployed,” LaHood said. “We can’t wait any longer. We’re getting the money to the states to put to work on projects they need most.”

According to LaHood, states will have the option to spend the money on listed projects or they can choose to identify projects that are ready for execution. Transportation projects must be selected by Oct. 1, 2012 and the funds obligated to the projects by Dec. 1, 2012.

Projects have yet to be identified for the state of Virginia. Virginia Department of Transportation Spokesperson Tamara Rollins responded to an inquiry regarding the earmarks with the following statement:

“Obviously, any bit of money is good news,” she said. “It’s good for us to be able to add to projects in the transportation network regardless of the amount. Sometimes small projects can do big things — there is always a call for that. But trying to build a tunnel or express lanes — it’s not going to go too far. There are an awful lot of needs out there, big and small.

Through our various transportation consulting projects and multimodal endeavors Randy Wright and Associates is deeply involved in the economic expansion of Virginia and beyond. Contact us to discuss how we can assist you with launching your next urban transit project.

VA DOT CONSTRUCTIONimage credit: VaDOT on Flickr

Virginia Transit Projects Lead to Economic Growth, Hampton Roads to See an Increase in Jobs

The Midtown Tunnel project in Hampton Roads is just one of several transportation projects that are currently under construction or in the developmental process in the state of Virginia.  According to the Office of Gov. Bob McDonnell, Virginia currently has $14 billion worth of transportation projects underway to include the new Midtown Tunnel in Hampton Roads.

The expected economic impact of these transit projects is extensive. Chmura Economics conducted an independent analysis that projected that once fully completed, Virginia would experience an economic growth of more than $13 billion and an additional 105,000 jobs.

Hampton Roads is expected to bring in more than $1 billion worth of employment opportunities through the Midtown Tunnel project. Those jobs include direct construction work for local businesses, as well as related jobs for local suppliers and vendors. Construction has already begun on the new Midtown Tunnel and will also include restoration of the existing Midtown Tunnel, Downtown Tunnel and an extension of the Martin Luther King Freeway Extension.

According to an article in Virginia Business, other transportation projects throughout the state include:

  • Dulles Metrorail Extension
  • U.S. Route 460 Corridor Improvement Project
  • Route 58 widening, the road is expected to open to traffic by fall 2015

Randy Wright and Associates is deeply invested in the economic growth of the state of Virginia. We are a development, transportation and government relations consulting firm focused on public/private finance and land planning.  Let’s discuss how RWA can assist with achieving your vision and goals.

Traffic In HRBT Tunnel image credit: VaDOT

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