What is a Federal Project? (Forum is now closed)

As part of an effort to expedite investment in transit infrastructure by excluding some projects or project elements from potentially burdensome federal requirements, the Federal Transit Administration is examining how it defines a “federal project” and the effects of that definition on project implementation. FTA intends to review the thresholds for defining whether a project or project element qualifies as federally funded, which determines whether it is subject to various federal requirements, reviews, and oversight. To gather ideas from stakeholders, FTA is conducting an online dialogue to help identify potential opportunities for streamlining.

Through this online dialogue, the FTA will pose a series of questions and invite state departments of transportation, transit agencies, transit operators, and other stakeholders to submit comments and responses on this topic.

Background:

FTA is responsible for carrying out laws and regulations that determine when a transit project, project phase, or project element is subject to federal requirements. Those requirements range from those enacted under the National Environmental Policy Act to regulations for Metropolitan and Statewide Transportation Planning, Procurement, and Buy America. Federal projects generally include multiple locally funded phases or elements. Application of requirements to federal projects is complex due to a diverse array of sub-categories, such as major capital projects, which cost of $100 million or more, and capital assets, which are facilities or equipment with at least one year of use.

FTA is holding this national online dialogue to provide stakeholders with the opportunity to share how the definition of a federal project may impact the timely and effective implementation of transit projects. FTA is seeking input from state departments of transportation, transit agencies, transit operators and other stakeholders on how these definitions affect project delivery as well as opportunities to improve the process of deciding when a project, project phase, or project element is subject to federal requirements.

How can I participate?

Participation is simple. Present your own idea; vote on someone else’s idea; or simply leave a comment. Our categories, in the form of questions listed below, can guide your response, but any feedback is appreciated.

Once you have logged in (you can choose to remain anonymous), please feel free to:

  • Select “Submit New Idea” to share an idea—once you begin typing, you will be prompted to select a “Category” (optional) from a dropdown list;
  • Browse existing ideas;
  • Comment or vote on someone else’s idea; and
  • Encourage other transportation professionals and members of your community to join the dialogue and share suggestions.

Questions to help guide you:

Should FTA require all Federal requirements to apply to the entire project if any portion or phase of a project receives Federal funding?
Considerations:

  • How does the application of federal requirements to non-federally funded portions or phases of a project affect project delivery or cost? If so, how?
  • Would applying Federal requirements and oversight to only federally funded portion or phases of projects expedite project delivery?

If not, how should FTA define the Federal project?
Considerations:

  • Should FTA look at the phases of a project to determine what is federal or non-federal? If so, how? How would this impact project delivery? [As an example, if a rail line is to be built in three phrases, should FTA define the entire rail line as a federal project, or only the phase receiving federal funds]
  • Should FTA define a more limited federal project based on project activities applied for or used as local match in a grant? If so, how? How would this impact project delivery? (Examples could include: funding construction of guideway with federal funds and permitting the purchase of necessary vehicles to use local funds. Another example would be to permit State of Good Repair funds to be used for force account labor expenses while the materials or equipment used in the activity use local funds. In both cases the vehicles or equipment could not be included as match for the grant.

Is the definition of the Federal project a barrier or incentive to private sector participation?
Considerations:

  • How would changing the definition of a Federal project impact private sector participation?
  • Does the applicability of Federal requirements discourage private sector participation? If so, how? If not, what are the advantages of Federal requirements?

Are there implementation impacts or considerations FTA has not addressed in these questions?

This dialog will remain open from July 16, 2018 through August 17, 2018.

What is a Federal Project?

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  1. NO LOOPHOLES

    This entire thread of questions is a recipe for building America's infrastructure with Chinese iron and steel. Frankly, it is shocking that an administration that touts its support for "Buy America" policies would have leadership at the Department of Transportation even entertaining such questions as it relates to procurement. The San Francisco to Oakland Bay Bridge is a textbook example of what goes wrong when state DOT officials are allowed to segment a project into "phases" whereby federal dollars are only applied to those that do not involve substantial amounts of iron and steel. Segmentation permits a state DOT to…

    1,142 votes
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    • A federal project is any transportation project that benefits US residents in utilizing any mode of transportation

      I've written my interpretation above. Federal tax dollars should be available only to PUBLIC projects, not projects designed to benefit corporations only (their profits). Thus, the Gateway project is a much needed FEDERAL project, although it's located in the northeast. Federal assistance to towns of all sizes in becoming more walkable is a valid federal goal, as is requiring federal transportation dollars to be utilized to assist towns in installing pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, providing grants to rural, suburban bus systems (as well as pedestrian & cycling infrastructure) and passenger rail, whether it's above ground or a subway. Or a…

      53 votes
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        1 comment  ·  Admin →
      • Please make sure that disability access is included in all federal projects.

        Without nationally consistent accessibility, disabled people will be limited in work and travel.

        38 votes
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        • Everything is federal

          The best progress this country ever made was under the Works Progress Administration. Eliminate private profit and contractor inefficiency and hire directly under a federal jobs program. Contracting out creates inefficiency in the market by wasting tax dollars by giving profit to lowest but/lowest quality projects. Do it right the first time, hire more federal construction workers. Profit is inefficiency in federal construction. We have the resources in federal lands to build these projects with no private materials or labor. We should do it directly ourselves.

          37 votes
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          • 36 votes
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            • Investment that Makes Available Freedom of Travel and Movement for All Citizens

              Federal investment in public transit should NOT be limited to interstate, inter-regional, rural or urban, capital only, particular modes, or stages of projects. All citizens benefit from the provision of public transportation whether they use it or not. Urban areas are our national economic engines and public transit is essential to managing congestion and providing future capacity for efficiency and growth. Transit is the cornerstone of mobility for persons with disabilities under the ADA and for those with no personal means of transport in both rural and urban areas. Any investment in public transportation is a discernible public good and…

              35 votes
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              • 34 votes
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                  1 comment  ·  Admin →
                • A

                  A federal project is a partnership between the community that is seeking to improve its regional mobility, creation of jobs, housing opportunities, and provides equal access to all citizens that live, work, or visit an area. The federal partnership assures consistency among projects, allows for overmatch to qualify for initial loans and to reduce the federal burden for capital intensive projects and programs. The federal participation for operating assistance has all but disappeared from the landscape but participating in capital projects improves the quality of life of its citizens. Los Angeles taxpayers have voted 4 times to tax themselves to…

                  33 votes
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                  • Project of National Significance

                    A federal project is one which has benefit to the American economy and/or is critical to the security of the national. It should also be one which is cross state lines or is of such an investment that a single state or multiple states can not successfully fund and building the project.

                    31 votes
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                      1 comment  ·  Admin →
                    • All Transit Projects in this country are Federal projects

                      This is for the betterment of mobility of our citizens throughout the country, When I visit another place and use their transit I know that a portion of my tax dollars helped pay for this. Do not restrict federal funds to communities that need these projects, and need the federal match to be able to build them.

                      29 votes
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                      • The definition of the Federal project IS an incentive to private sector participation. 220,000+ jobs in ST3 alone

                        The definition of the Federal project IS an incentive to private sector participation. 220,000+ jobs in ST3 alone

                        According to the Sound Transit 3 campaign, "Sound Transit Proposition 1 will create more than 220,000 jobs during construction, providing an estimated 9% of the region’s jobs by 2029". Supporting Sound Transit with federal grants will create jobs, connect the Puget Sound region, and create light rail to parallel transportation services provided by I-5 & I-90.

                        Almost 50% of commuters to Seattle are using transit, and the current transit net is straining. Please give federal grant applications for Sound Transit 3 projects…

                        28 votes
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                        • Responsiblity

                          Hold Companys to responsible for their projects and their bids. Don't just take the lowest bidder if it's not reasonable that the project can be done for that amount in that time period. Then increase funding and extend timeline when not met. Fine company for not delivering on their bid.

                          27 votes
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                          • 26 votes
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                            • 23 votes
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                              • NO WHOLES BARED

                                Use our own people & our own steel for the jobs. After all we can't make America Strong with out using our own people and our own steel.
                                What's wrong with you guys anyway. Be carefull we can vote you all out next time around!

                                23 votes
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                                • A federal project includes a mass transit project across county lines and intended to supplement interstate highways. E.G. Sound Transit 3

                                  I believe a "federal project" is a mass transit project across county lines and intended to supplement interstate highways. Sound Transit 3 is a great example as the light rail to Everett, East King County and Bellevue will supplement congested Interstates 5 & 90. Frequent buses are already full - and voters approved Sound Transit 3 in 2016.

                                  If you disagree with this approach, then maybe states should fund interstate highways alone. Where's our federal tax CUT?

                                  GO SOUND TRANSIT! IN KITSIS WE TRUST!

                                  22 votes
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                                    1 comment  ·  Admin →
                                  • FTA includes all activities necessary to build a project, even when those activities are not the responsibility of the project sponsor.

                                    An example would be utility relocation. Elements or segments of a project that are completely locally funded should not be considered part of the federal project, and federal requirements should not apply.

                                    21 votes
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                                    • Human and Societal cost for possibly loosing the requirements that are included in federally funded construction contracts

                                      Interesting implications to consider. I would argue there is a human / societal cost that is tied to equity for historically underrepresented groups. Generally, all highway heavy construction projects with any federal funding prohibits employment discrimination per EEO requirements; and requires Disadvantaged Business Enterprise participation. Changing how “federally funded” is defined would likely impact civil rights program requirements..... analysis of administrative costs vs. human cost is needed.

                                      20 votes
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                                        1 comment  ·  Admin →
                                      • Improving Traffic flow on highway to its maximum design capacity through public policy and regulation

                                        When traffic jam occurs on highway, specially not during rush hours, it is often not due to reaching its design but under-usage. It is often related to inefficient use of lane by some drivers, particularly by trucks without regards to the efficient use of highway.

                                        1) Need education and reinforcement – although it seems a common sense, slower vehicle often not move to the right (slow) lane but continue driving on speed sustainably below the prevailing speed or posted speed, leaving long gaps ahead chocking the flow of traffic and preventing other vehicles to move into the lanes when there…

                                        19 votes
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                                        • Federally backed junior drivers license program for low speed vehicles used solely on private and commercial property.

                                          Looking for funding to promote and implement a junior drivers license program to help develop good driving skill using low speed vehicles before kids drive on public roads with high speed vehicles. On private and or commercial property offer a short term permit period with an adult then junior license to young adults 14 and up. This license would only be for use of low speed vehicles such as golf cart with a top speed of no more then 20mph. The benefit would create a better knowledge and control of vehicles for the countries youth before operating vehicles at high…

                                          18 votes
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