Metro Magazine

SEP-OCT 2014

Magazine serving the bus and rail transit & motorcoach operations since 1904

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Page 19 of 143

16 < m ETRO m AGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014 "presents a substantial risk of having pre- cisely the opposite efect" of what it hopes to achieve, meaning the new interpreta- tion could result in fewer jobs. In the past, FHWA and FTA applied Buy America requirements only to the construction contracts to build a trans- portation facility. Buy America require- ments were not applied to utility re- location agreements, because those agreements were treated as the equiva- lent of compensation payments to dis- placed property owners through land takings as necessary to build the proj- ect. Like afected property owners, utili- ties have little to no choice but to comply with relocation or abandonment orders and are typically required by state and local agencies to do so regardless of fed- eral intervention. " In f a c t, u nt i l o n l y t h i s p a s t ye a r, FHWA and FTA never even mentioned utility relocations in Buy America regu- lations and guidance," Boothe adds. FTA, FHWA POLICIES INCONSISTENT F HWA has admitted the new poli- cy is a shift from precedent, but it cites provisions in MAP-21 as the need for the change. FTA, however, does not acknowledge any change in policy, but instead argues that its new stance is simply an expansion of its existing en- processes, but primarily because many materials and components used in util- ity relocation have long lead times, and some are currently not domestically available at all. Te California Depart- ment of Transportation corroborates these challenges in exchanges with the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), and told the federal depart- ment that many large California projects that are likely to be delayed as a result. Should FTA continue to apply Buy America regulations to utility relocation agreements, the industry groups' letter said "a reasonable framework that al- lows utilities to comply without disrupt- ing ongoing projects" will be essential. Such a framework needs to include the following: • Clarifcation of the requirements. • A reasonable transition period. • A timely, streamlined waivers process. • Consistent requirements for utility re- locations across transportation modes. • Industry training and education. The sudden changes ignore another fact about utilities' supply chains. Tese products must not just meet domestic content standards, but must be interop- erable with their existing infrastructure and meet state, local and industry stan- dards for safety, efectiveness and reli- ability. All of this will take time. In their defense, the FTA cites the ex- ample of how FTA and the Department forcement responsibilities. In doing so, it says that its new guidance is effec- tive immediately—nevermind that the agency has not even said how utilities can certify Buy America compliance. Nor does FTA appear to be sympathet- ic to any concerns about project cost in- creases or schedule delays. Te utilities groups and project spon- sors have said that many projects will almost certainly be delayed, not only because of the present uncertainty sur- rounding Buy Amer ica-compliance BUY AMERICA BUY AMERICA National Investment in Rail Infrastucture, Selected Counties, 2008 China Switzerland Austria India United Kingdom Spain Netherlands Sweden Russia France Italy Germany United States Turkey 12.5 6.4 6.0 4.7 4.6 3.5 3.0 2.9 2.8 2.6 2.3 1.5 0.8 0.2 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Dollars per $1,000 of GDP Source: SCI Verkehr In a letter addressed to then-FTA Administrator Peter Rogof (shown left alongside APTA President/CEO Michael Melaniphy), a coalition of 11 industry groups urged the agency to install a transition period for the new implementation of Buy America.

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