Thursday, May 19, 2016

AASHTO Journal: CEE Webinar Eyes Web Tool for Cost-Saving Pacts Between State, Federal Agencies

The Center for Environmental Excellence by AASHTO will hold a May 23 webinar that will explain AASHTO's new web-based tool to help state departments of transportation develop time- and cost-saving programmatic agreements with the Federal Highway Administration or other agencies.
The 90-minute event – from 1:00 to 2:30 eastern time – will include remarks from officials at the FHWA and two state DOTs, plus industry specialists.
dollarpump.jpgThe Center said its new "roadmap" tool tracks both one-time or start-up costs and recurring costs that stem from implementing, maintaining and updating the customized programmatic agreements, or PAs.
It also shows such quantitative benefits as shortened project timelines, reduced mitigation or redirected staff time, and qualitative measures that include an increased level of project predictability and better relationships between the FHWA, DOT and other agencies.
Shannon Eggleston, AASHTO's program coordinator for environment, told the AASHTO Journal: "The roadmap provides step-by step advice on developing programmatic agreements, identifies important issues to consider and provides the tools and resources needed to develop these agreements. We know that programmatic approaches streamline project delivery – this tool will allow us to quantify cost and time savings as well as other benefits."
Those interesting in participating in the webinar can register here.
PAs are not new and can involve various state and federal agencies. But state DOTs and the FHWA have been expanding the use of them to provide states more procedural clarity with less regimented day-to-day oversight by FHWA division offices.
States say this saves them planning and staff time in developing and administering transportation projects, which translates into cost savings they can plow back into projects, effectively stretching tight budgets to allow more construction work on highways, bridges, transit systems or other facilities.
A recent example was an accord last August between the FHWA and Nebraska Department of Roads. Nebraska officials said it allowed them to increase state support to local roads maintained by cities and counties.
An FHWA website on PAs says: "There are new opportunities for FHWA to work with stakeholders to create more applications. Expanding the use of agreements can be invaluable in streamlining reviews, reducing project implementation time and increasing trust" among state DOT and regulatory agencies.
The FHWA-supported Center for Environmental Excellence said its new web-based tool builds on a February report for the FHWA by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.
That case study looked at three types of PAs in seven states, and said its analysis indicated "that programmatic agreements and approaches are advantageous methods for streamlining process and generating time and cost savings for stakeholders."


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