OCTA: Federal transportation bill lays tracks for more jobs

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) applauded congressional leaders and U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) July 8, 2011, for taking the necessary steps to invest in America’s transportation future by releasing the federal transportation reauthorization bill.

The six-year bill outlines $35 billion in annual funding for transportation projects along with changes to current programs and processes.

Key provisions in the bill will break down the bureaucratic barriers to project delivery and expedite project implementation, including recommendations that make the environmental review process more efficient, integrate planning and programming approaches and delegate the responsibility for environmental review to states.

“This bill puts America on the right track to making much-needed transportation improvements throughout the country while creating good-paying American jobs,” said OCTA Chair and Orange County Supervisor Patricia Bates. “The faster our federal partners can match local investments, the sooner we can lead our nation down the road to recovery.”

OCTA officials thanked Chairman Mica for including elements in the bill that streamline the project delivery process and encouraged Congress to ensure necessary process changes, such as those identified in the Breaking Down Barriers initiative, are included.

“Infrastructure projects are one of the best ways to create jobs and keep America moving, but there are many barriers that add significant delays,” said Bates. “We can break through those barriers by implementing the recommendation from the Breaking Down Barriers initiative to help move projects forward.”

Breaking Down Barriers is a national initiative led by OCTA to expedite project delivery, without sacrificing the environment, and to accelerate the creation of more than 800,000 jobs in the U.S.

U.S. Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) also has played a key role in advancing legislation aimed at expediting transportation improvements. As a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee representing Orange County, Rep. Miller worked closely with Orange County transportation leaders and leaders in Washington to introduce the Environmental Review Cooperation Act on June 24.

The Miller bill permanently delegates the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) to states such as California, where laws are equal to or greater than the NEPA requirements, eliminating a redundant approval process.