OCTA: Let’s speed up transportation fed process
The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is starting a nationwide effort to create jobs and rebuild infrastructure by pushing to expedite the federal environmental process to allow vital transportation improvements to get under way.
The current problem? The lengthy process to make changes to the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), limited bidding options with no pre-award authority and repetitive requirements in the environmental process.
“These barriers can add significant delays to project funding, which in turn delay jobs and the nation’s economic recovery,” said Will Kempton, chief executive officer of OCTA, in a written statement. “Our goal is to speed up the process to generate employment opportunities and make much-needed improvements to our highways, roadways and railways.”
With nearly $50 billion invested each year by the federal government in transportation programs – equaling approximately 868,000 jobs – OCTA is advocating a three-pronged approached called Breaking Down Barriers:
- Delegate the TIP amendment process to state or local agencies to speed up the process
- Allow TIP projects to move forward as design-build when possible and modify design standards to be more flexible so projects can be built more quickly
- Set a defined time period for permit approvals to keep projects moving
“The environmental process is essential to ensure we are making improvements that benefit our communities and are sensitive to the surroundings,” said Kempton. “But unnecessary process delays are preventing critical projects from getting under way.”
OCTA has taken this message around the country through meetings with congressional members, officials at the Federal Highway Administration and officials with various state departments of transportation.
Recently, OCTA lead a discussion regarding the initiative at the American Public Transportation Association’s annual conference in San Antonio, Texas. The State Affairs