77th Annual Meeting

ACCELERATING LOCALLY-SPONSORED TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS IN THE FEDERAL PROGRAM THROUGH LOCAL GRANT ADMINISTRATION

WHEREAS, locally-sponsored transportation projects selected through the metropolitan planning process and financed with federal funding are then implemented by local government transportation agencies; and

WHEREAS, all Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funding must pass through state transportation departments, whether designated for projects in rural villages or the largest cities, regardless of their disparate size and capacity; and

WHEREAS, state transportation departments vary in available resources and capabilities, and administration of applications, negotiations, project certifications, and funding transfers for locally-sponsored projects often create lengthy delays in project implementation, sometimes extending for years; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation has acknowledged the problem of administrative delays in delivery of critical projects and expressed a desire to eliminate bureaucratic impediments at all levels; and

WHEREAS, some larger local government transportation agencies are of comparable size and capacity to state transportation departments, possessing the technical abilities required to certify design and engineering documents, and otherwise manage the direct receipt of federal highway funds; and

WHEREAS, while still preserving existing regional planning and project selection processes, providing local governments - which FHWA determines have sufficient capacity - with the option to directly handle the administration of funds would eliminate extra bureaucratic steps and expedite project implementation; and

WHEREAS, relieving states of the administration burden for these FHWA-approved local government transportation agencies allows a greater focus on assisting other localities and speeds project delivery statewide; and

WHEREAS, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds already are managed directly by many cities and counties without a state administrative passthrough; and

WHEREAS, the City of Washington, D.C. already receives direct funding for FHWA projects, demonstrating the feasibility of the streamlined local-federal relationship for transportation projects,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors call on Congress to incorporate reforms in successor legislation to the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) that would expedite project delivery; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that these reforms should allow local government transportation agencies to "opt-in" to directly administer grants from FHWA for locally-sponsored projects, provided that FHWA determines they have the capacity to carry out necessary regulatory responsibilities and manage such a direct federal grant relationship to the full extent of the law; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that such reforms should only impact the administration of funding for otherwise approved projects, and not alter or circumvent the standard metropolitan transportation planning process to select and prioritize those projects for funding on a regional basis.