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. 26 votes
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    • 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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      • 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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        • 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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          • 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 →
            • 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 →
              • 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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                • Rural regions often do not have safe stops for occasional busses. Should Federal rules for installing pull outs be relaxed in rural regions?

                  Rural residents need 1/2 mile safe access to designated bus stops. They should be created as part of any road rehabilitation project but are often skipped. This often results in transit users boarding of alighting in sloping gravel patches and walking to their destinations along the rural road. This does not encourage transit use, particularly by children. All transit stops should be safe and extended at least 1/2 mile.

                  16 votes
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                  • 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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                    • Please make sure that Federal funds are available to private non-profit organizations

                      Please make sure that Federal funds are available to private non-profit organizations without having to be tied to a local municipality of other governmental entity. Thank you!

                      16 votes
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