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Vol. 16, No. 5; Sep/Oct 2005

September/October 2005

Rethinking the Future of the Federal Surface Transportation Program

Finally, after almost three years of a contentious debate, adequate multi-year funding is in place, allowing the established highway, safety and transit programs to continue and even a few new ones to be launched. But beyond Fiscal Year 2009, the end of the current authorization, the future of the surface transportation program appears murky. The reauthorization debate has left three major issues unsettled. How these issues are resolved will influence the future directions of the nation's surface transportation program.

 

"New Starts" Projects Facing A More Rigorous Competition For Funds

The House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee has often expressed dissatisfaction with the Federal Transit Administration's rating and evaluation process for New Starts. The process, the committee claimed, was not rigorous enough to weed out marginally cost-effective projects and failed to function as an effective resource allocation mechanism. On several occasions, the subcommittee directed the FTA to adopt a more disciplined approach to managing the program The agency complied with the committee's directives to some extent. According to the General Accountability Office (GAO), "the combined number of "recommended" and "highly recommended" projects declined sharply from 27 in the fiscal year 2003 evaluation cycle to 14 in the fiscal year 2004 evaluation cycle, to 10 in the fiscal year 2005 evaluation cycle, while the combined number of "not recommended" and not rated projects rose from 6 to 18. The agency also issued revised procedures for project evaluation, reflecting the committee' desire for a more rigorous process But it was only in the new authorization bill (TEA-LU), that Congress was finally able to put its own stamp on the New Starts program.

 

The Dulles Rail Imbroglio

The Dulles Corridor in Northern Virginia is one of the most dynamic suburban growth corridors in the Washington metropolitan region if not in the entire nation. Linking the Capital Beltway and the Dulles International Airport, it is home to the iconic suburban megacenter, Tysons Corner, and to some of Virginia's biggest companies. The Corridor has also become the latest battleground between the pro- and anti-rail forces.

 

NEWS FROM ABROAD

Plans to Sell the French Autoroutes Move Forward

France's state-owned toll roads (autoroutes) moved one step closer to being privatized when a deadline for bids from interested private companies closed on August 22nd . After completion of the latest round of privatisation, 8,175 km (5,109 miles) of France's toll roads will be in private hands by the end of the year, according to the French toll road association, AFSA.

China's Infatuation with the Automobile

"With incomes rising, a growing number of China's 1.3 billion people are shedding their bicycles and getting behind the wheel. New-vehicle sales in China grew at double-digit rates for much of the past decade, and topped 2.3 million last year. And the boom is just beginning. Car ownership is moving within the reach of China's growing middle class, and the country is expected to emerge as the world's largest car market in the next two decades." That is how we described China's budding love affair with the automobile three years ago. Since then, China's race to motorize has been nothing short of spectacular. In a well documented special report, The Economist throws new light on China's infatuation with the automobile.

 



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