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Vol. 14, No. 4; July/August 2003

The Administration's Reauthorization Proposal - A Critical Appraisal
The Administrations's reauthorization proposal, The Safe and Flexible Transportation Efficiency Act of 2003 or "SAFETEA," was unveiled on May 14 to mixed reviews. Most of the criticism centered on the proposed funding levels which interest groups and congressional transportation leaders alike found woefully inadequate. On the other hand, the proposal's programmatic initiatives in areas such as safety, transportation system management and operations, variable tolling, project delivery and public transportation, have been favorably received. What follows is a critical look at the Administration's proposal. Because of space constraints, only major new initiatives will be discussed.

The First Five Hundred Days: A Mid-Point Assessment
During the last presidential campaign, the Bush-Cheney campaign organized a number of "Policy Teams" to frame the issues, identify program priorities and develop policy positions to help guide the campaign and subsequently the new Administration. Four members of the transportation policy team - Stephen Lockwood, Kenneth Orski, Alan Pisarski and Robert Poole - have decided to revisit their team's work and assess the extent to which the US Department of Transportation has embraced the team's recommendations. No one anticipated the massive impact of the events of 9/11 on transportation and transportation policy. The necessary preoccupation with the security needs of the nation initially diverted the attention and focus of the DOT senior team to more urgent matters. The release of the Administration's proposal for a reauthorization legislation offers the first opportunity to gain an insight into the thinking of the DOT team on broad policy issues, as the Administration reaches the mid-point in its term of office.

The Intelligent Transportation Systems Program - A Change in Direction?
With Congress preparing to reauthorize the ITS program as part of the surface transportation act, a dispassionate examination of the program and its accomplishments could help the lawmakers to chart the program's future. As Phil Tarnoff, a respected leading member of the ITS community, put it, "an objective evaluation of the ITS program's past successes and failures could be extremely useful for identifying new directions and programmatic modifications." What follows is a brief look at the ITS program today, drawing on Tarnoff's assessment and supplemented by your editor's own observations.

London's Congestion Charging Scheme- Will Other Cities Follow?
Even with five months' worth of experience under the belt, the ultimate verdict on London's congestion charging scheme is still not in. True, traffic levels inside the control zone have decreased and circulation within the zone has improved appreciably. But retail sales in Central London have fallen sharply and the congestion charge is singled out for blame. London's experiment continues to be watched closely by transportation professionals and the media the world over. City officials from many other British cities and from foreign countries have visited London for a first-hand look. It remains to be seen whether they will follow London's example.

Megaprojects
After nearly twenty years of planning and construction, significant segments of Boston's Central Artery project (" The Big Dig") finally opened this year. Coinciding with the opening has been a publication of two groundbreaking new books discussing complex multi-billion dollar transportation projects. They are "Mega-projects: The Changing Politics of Urban Investment by Harvard University's Alan Altshuler and David Luberoff (Brooking Institution Press, 2003) and "Megaprojects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambition" by Bent Flyvbjerg, Professor at Denmark's Aalborg University (Cambridge University Press, 2003). The books provide fresh perspectives and new insights into the forces that are shaping contemporary public works projects.

 



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