Surface Transportation—Highways and Public Transportation
States, local governments, and private entities across the country and within the transport industry are working today to plan for tomorrow’s reality. The challenges are great—from adding new capacity to our highways and transit systems to meet the challenges of a growing and shifting population, to addressing the needs of an aging infrastructure. Both public and private sectors are coming together to address the shortfalls in funding at all levels of government. While some states and local governments are raising additional revenue, others are taking advantage of private sector solutions. State and local decision makers are evaluating the performance of their transportation systems to make smarter and more strategic investments that will improve mobility of people and goods and possibly reduce long-term costs. For instance, rather than building an expensive commuter rail project, transportation planners and elected officials are looking at bus rapid transit projects to move more people but also make improvements for people who want to continue to drive.
At the Federal level, Congress has struggled to resolve the differences of opinion over how to pay for the federal share of surface transportation. While some in Congress would like to devolve the federal role to the states, others in Congress want to increase the federal investment. The Federal government has long been a partner in funding transportation infrastructure, from first the Post Roads to the development of the Interstate Highway System. Unfortunately, the days of long-term surface transportation bills may be a thing of the past and what is left are short-term – 1 to 3 year – bills that provide less certainty and reduce the ability to plan for the future.
Although the role of the federal government’s investment in transportation infrastructure tends to dominate the discussion in Washington there are other very important transportation policy decisions that are made in Congress and at the USDOT. The outcome of these policy decisions will impact how transportation projects and programs are implemented, and affect the investment decisions of state, local, and private sector partners.
Our team provides clients with a clear and concise plan designed to achieve success, but at the same time set reasonable expectations. Our consultants have worked with both public and private sector transportation clients. We assist metropolitan transportation planners with changes in law that increase their resources and improve their capabilities to plan future systems. We have worked with coalitions of public and private sectors interests to navigate the credit assistance programs at USDOT, as well as making changes to trucking rules that govern the Interstate system.
Like most of America’s infrastructure our water infrastructure suffers from a lack of investment and a regulatory process that can slow project development and construction. Some of our systems are over one hundred years old. Through its Civil Works Program, the Army Corps of Engineers constructs projects for the purposes of navigation, flood control, beach erosion control and shoreline protection, hydroelectric power, recreation, water supply, environmental protection, restoration and enhancement, and fish and wildlife mitigation. Our team helps clients with water-related infrastructure projects involving ports, waterways, flood control structures, water districts, and coastal resources. We assess our clients’ needs and negotiate solutions among entities such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and congressional committees. Our experience extends from local issues to landmark legislation like the Water Resources Development Act.
Navigating the often confusing paths necessary to comply with the demands of Congress and aviation regulators is becoming more difficult as they seek to increase requirements on the industry. Transportation providers are constantly searching for unique solutions to meet the increasing demands of the public for efficient, cost-effective air transportation, whether through new licensing requirements or innovative interpretations of existing licensing requirements, or imaginative use of new technology, such as the use of apps or the Internet in general to facilitate air travel. Whether under the mantle of ensuring the safety and security of the public, balancing a desire for a truly competitive marketplace with protections perceived as necessary for the public, or acting to enforce current rules, Congress and regulatory agencies are constantly taking actions that have material effects on the industry. It is imperative that in addressing any concerns they stay abreast of the dynamic aviation industry, remain open to innovation that is in the public interest, and fully understand the implications of their proposals and actions.
Our team offers clients the ability to deal effectively with a variety of issues related to aviation, from directly engaging Congress and regulatory agencies, such as the Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration, on proposed policy, legislation, and regulations, to compliance with existing regulatory requirements.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
As Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) assume an ever larger commercial and national defense role in this country, Washington policymakers have sought to regulate UAS with the goal of integrating them into the national airspace. Improvements in UAS technology have enabled a multitude of industries to do a wider variety of tasks on a cost effective basis. Lawmakers are rushing to catch up with these rapid changes in technology by directing federal agencies to accelerate the integration of UAS into the national airspace.
The many challenges and opportunities presented by UAS have compelled the federal government to begin laying the groundwork for rules governing their operation. These rules must balance the need for safety, respect for privacy, and the massive potential of UAS to enable their deployment by those industries that stand to gain from their use.
Our team offers clients ways to engage on these issues directly with Congress, the White House, the Department of Transportation (FAA), the Department of Commerce, and the Federal Communications Commission. All are important government touch-points on any policy issue impacting the operation of UAS for commercial and research purposes.