Peters spells it out

News AASHTO Journal January 31, 2002
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The Federal Highway Administration's top priorities will be safety and security, environmental streamlining and stewardship, an

The Federal Highway Administration's top priorities will be safety and security, environmental streamlining and stewardship, and congestion and bottleneck mitigation, according to Administrator Mary Peters.


Through a series of meetings, FHWA developed the set of core themes and priorities that will guide the primary activities of the organization, Peters said. The following is a brief overview.

*Safety and Security--FHWA will look to improve the analysis of crash data, and there will be increased communications efforts with regard to highway safety counter measures coupled with a specific focus on work-zone safety. Regarding security, Peters said that a new position was created to report to her the agency activities related to improving the security and highway system. FHWA also will work with states and localities on identifying vulnerabilities, preventing future terrorist attacks and developing contingency plans should an attack occur.

*Environmental Streamlining and Stewardship--Peters said FHWA will focus on protecting valuable natural resources while looking for ways to make the environmental approval process less onerous. She said the agency will make improvements through administrative actions, and will work with Congress this year and next on making reforms to Section 4(f) and select portions of NEPA. Peters said, "We have to be realistic on time schedules," and that possibilities to improve the process should be evaluated on a project-by-project basis.

*Congestion and Bottleneck Mitigation--Peters remarked that congestion is a serious problem. She said while adding capacity is an important part of the solution, it is not the only solution, and new technologies and transit play a vital role.

The new FHWA administrator also provided some general thoughts on the reauthorization of TEA-21. Calling TEA-21 and ISTEA a "solid base," Peters said that reauthorization will likely be an "evolution, not revolution."


Among the likely themes to be addressed in reauthorization are continued involvement of cities and state DOTs in the planning process; stable and predictable funding; firewalls; minimum guarantees; and enhanced flexibility for states and localities, thereby allowing "decisions to be made closer to the people."


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