Transportation is key to our Nation's well-being, whether measured as economic growth, as international competitiveness, or as quality of life. Three decades ago, when I was Mayor of San Jose, California, I learned that the tool that made the most difference in my community was transportation. Nothing else had as great an impact on our economic development, on the pattern of growth, or on the quality of life. What I have found in the years since is that this is true not just locally, but also nationally. A safe and efficient transportation system is essential to keeping people and goods moving and cities and communities prosperous. Congestion and delay not only waste our time as individuals, they also burden our businesses and our entire economy with inefficiency and higher costs. The bottom line is that transportation is pivotal in generating and enabling economic growth, in determining the patterns of that growth, and in determining the competitiveness of our businesses in the world economy. Transportation is vital to the productivity and, therefore, the success of virtually every business in America.
As a whole, the multi-modal transportation system of this Nation works well in maintaining the strong economic performance of the United States and, more broadly, world commerce. This Committee and the rest of Congress deserve a great deal of the credit for this sustained good performance. Congressional enactment of TEA-21 and AIR-21 put in place levels of capital investment that will be important in improving safety and relieving congestion across the board. The Bush Administration is requesting full funding of the guaranteed levels for surface transportation and the authorized capital and operating levels for air transportation, as part of the President's 2002 Budget, and we look forward to working with Congress to enact these levels.
Still, we can, and must, do more. We must strengthen our commitment to keeping safety our paramount concern, particularly at a time when the national focus is on system efficiency, while trying to squeeze additional capacity from the system wherever possible. Safety must always be our highest priority in transportation.
The most fundamental challenge we face--and the most daunting--is not just increasing safety, reducing congestion, or modernizing the aviation system. These are enormous challenges, to be sure, but our biggest challenge is to get everyone working together in a spirit of partnership to solve these problems. We all created these problems, and together we can solve them. So, as Secretary, I intend to devote the bulk of my energies to working across party lines, reaching across divides, and building consensus to achieve solutions. Working together we can ensure the safety of the traveling public and manage the gap between the demand for transportation and the capacity of the transportation infrastructure.
The United States has an enviable transportation safety record. We lead the world in safety in many modes of transportation--but we must constantly search for improvement. Working together we can and will improve this record. Safety is the Administration's highest priority in transportation. Our 2002 budget includes $7.3 billion for transportation safety programs, 7.5 percent above 2001. Continued and increased investments in highway safety, aviation safety, rail safety, motor carrier safety, pipeline safety, and hazardous materials safety are necessary and critical to the future success of our transportation system as a whole.
Despite significant improvements over the past three decades, traffic crashes continue to represent a leading public health problem. Our highways claim more lives than any other mode of transportation. Although the number of highway fatalities in recent years has been held relatively flat, despite significantly rising numbers of vehicles on our roads, preliminary data for 2000 reveals that the number of highway fatalities increased slightly while the number of vehicle-miles traveled remained essentially the same. And this occurred even though seat belt use rose to a record high 71 percent. Over the coming year, the Department will review our motor vehicle safety efforts, with emphasis on identifying the most effective means to provide the public with the greatest possible safety improvement for each dollar spent. Highway safety improvements are critical to reducing these fatalities. Success will depend on a balanced approach that addresses the behavioral, vehicular, and roadway infrastructure and operations safety problems and opportunities.
Within DOT, we are pursuing a multi-faceted agenda to improve transportation safety that encompasses legislation, common-sense regulations, driver behavior programs, enhanced law enforcement, and infrastructure-based solutions. But safe transportation is a shared responsibility. The Federal Government is but one player. To succeed in addressing the safety issue, a combination of improved education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency services is needed. The Federal Government must take an active leadership role; the Department must take an active leadership role. I take this responsibility very seriously. I believe that, working with State and local governments, public interest groups, industry, and private citizens, together we can meet this challenge.
The Administration's FY 2002 budget request provides full funding for highways and highway safety programs at the level guaranteed under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21)--$32 billion. This is an increase of $2 billion above the FY 2001 enacted level. The increased resources will allow us to maintain our high-quality highway network, while achieving our goal of improving safety.
The FY 2002 Budget also proposes that highway research and technology programs be excluded from the proportionate obligation limitation reduction, so that all contract authority provided by TEA-21 will be available for use. The Department will conduct appropriate research and development programs that underpin behavioral, vehicular, and roadway safety. The increased research and technology resources will be used to carry out a comprehensive program aimed at reducing fatalities and injuries through providing new technologies and tools to highway agencies. Our efforts are focused on the types of crashes considered high-priority, because of number and severity. These include run-off-road, speed-related, intersection-related, and crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists.
The roadway can be designed, built, and operated in such a way as to reduce the number and severity of crashes. The Interstate highway system, one of the safest roadways in the world, is an excellent example of safety by design. We will continue to work with the State and local highway engineers, and with the consulting and construction industries to provide guidance on ways to make the highway system safer. We all have a vested interest in creating a safer, more efficient, transportation system for the American people. As you know, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) offers a unique opportunity for greater public safety and it can enhance the capacity of our emergency response system to save lives. For example, we all know that telecommunications companies are working to improve emergency notification systems specifically wireless E-911 and we are supporting this important work. We need a comprehensive end-to-end system of emergency notification and response. The system should automatically route emergency calls to the closest public safety answering point and inform the dispatcher of the caller's location, provide data about the severity of the crash, and notify the necessary responders, as well as communicate this information to traffic management centers. Such a system will also enable the judicious use of emergency resources by responding with only that equipment necessary for managing a crash. Further, a comprehensive emergency response system will not only help to save lives at the time of a crash, but also help to prevent other crashes in the future by providing data that will allow us to build safer cars and roadways.
Although great progress has been made recently in increasing the safety at highway-rail crossings, the Department is involved in developing technology and procedures to continue that trend. Several Department projects are being conducted that look at ITS as a means to improve safety and mobility at highway-rail grade crossings. For example, ITS technology is being developed to determine when an obstruction is on the crossing and make that information available to the engineer so he can take the proper action. With the recent designation of high-speed rail corridors, more sophisticated warning systems will be required for crossings on those routes. The intelligent vehicle initiative (IVI) is aimed at preventing crashes by fostering the introduction of driver assistance safety products. This program will increase traffic safety by expediting the commercial availability of advanced vehicle control and safety systems that may be augmented by interaction with the infrastructure. In order to achieve this, the Department must ensure that safety is not compromised by the introduction of in-vehicle systems. A particular interest for the IVI is the safety impact of combining multiple systems, such as route guidance and navigation, adaptive cruise control, cellular telephones, and in-vehicle computers. We will investigate the impact that these systems may have on driver behavior by measuring any changes in the level of driver workload and distraction.
The second part of the Federal role in IVI, addresses our responsibility for reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes. This role, which is a cornerstone of the Department's mission, will be carried out by facilitating the development, deployment, and evaluation of driver-assistance safety products and systems aimed at reducing rear end, rollover, and run-off-road crashes.
The President's 2002 budget also includes $400 million, 49 percent above 2001, for motor carrier safety, with a total of $100 million, $88 million above 2001, devoted to enforcement and infrastructure needs on our southern border. This increase is essential to allowing the United States to honor the North American Free Trade Agreement safely and responsibly.
When I took this job, I knew that a central challenge for the Department would be to address the gap between demand for transportation and the capacity of our transportation infrastructure. Even though the physical condition of our infrastructure--the highway and runway pavement conditions and the condition of our bridges--is improving, the demand for the use of that infrastructure is increasing. The gap between capacity and demand generates the traffic we all face on the highways, at our airports, and at our ports. Congestion and inefficiency in transportation are not just inconvenient and aggravating--though they certainly are that--they are also a tax that burdens every business and every individual. Congestion on our highways and delays at our airports are increasing. We have to find ways to lighten that burden.
The Nation's transportation system is complex and intertwined, and congestion in any one mode whether it be aviation, highways, or rail impacts the flow of transportation in every mode. Thus, focusing on highway congestion merely shifts the bottleneck to aviation, rail, or transit, rather than managing or eliminating it. Meeting the congestion challenge will require working together to develop an intermodal solution. We cannot focus our efforts on highway congestion or aviation congestion; we must focus our efforts on transportation congestion.
I want to discuss, in particular, the congestion problems we have in highways. Our latest Conditions and Performance (C&P) report to Congress-- the 1999 Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions and Performance--projects that by 2003 highway capital investment by all levels of government will reach the level of our "Cost to Maintain" scenario ($56.6 billion in constant 1997 dollars). This scenario projects the investment required to maintain the average physical conditions of highways and bridges at current levels, while still allowing for some comparably attractive investments in capacity expansion. The Federal-aid highways funding levels proposed in the President's 2002 Budget, along with the projected investments of our State and local government partners, should put us on track to achieve this goal.
While we are pleased with the progress we have made, we are predicting that congestion will continue to increase at current levels of investment. The 1999 C&P report projected that maintaining average travel time costs, or time lost by travelers due to delay, would require an additional investment of $17.l billion annually by all levels of government. Reducing highway congestion will not be easy. Addressing this problem will require a mixture of investments by all levels of government to improve the operations and efficiency of our existing facilities and the selective addition of new capacity. To be effective in dealing with specific bottlenecks in the system we will need to be prepared to use whatever mix of improvements is most cost effective in each individual case.
There isn't a day that goes by without a metropolitan newspaper or TV station reporting on the anger, frustration, and seeming futility of congestion. FHWA's Highway Statistics reports that, from 1980 to 1998, vehicle travel increased 72 percent while miles of public roads increased only 1 percent. A recent Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) study estimates the cost of congestion in just 68 urban areas has grown from $21 billion in 1982 to $78 billion in 1999 (36 hours per driver per year and 6.8 billion gallons of wasted fuel). This means that the average length of the congested period increased from about 2 to 3 hours in 1982, to 5 or 6 hours by 1999. And this is no longer just a phenomenon of the big city. The average length of congested daily travel for small urban areas tripled between 1982 and 1999.
A report released by the Federal Highway Administration in February, Moving Ahead: The American Public Speaks on Roadways and Transportation in Communities, further confirms the highway congestion problem. The report's survey results indicate that although 65 percent (a 15 percentage point increase since the completion of a similar 1995 study by the National Partnership for Highway Quality) of the highway travelers are satisfied with the major highways they travel most often, there are several areas that require attention. For example, the traveling public wants more operational improvements to traffic flow, continued improvement in pavement condition, and more effective ways to deal with or to decrease traffic congestion in work zones.
President Bush's budget request proposes full funding for the transportation capital improvements critically necessary to solving our capacity challenges over the long run. Highway, transit, aviation, and rail infrastructure investments total $42.8 billion, 39 percent above the average annual investment over the prior eight years. This investment is not the sole answer to our capacity constraints, but it will help. It includes:
· A Federal-aid highway obligation limitation of $31.6 billion, almost 7 percent above 2001.
· An airport grant obligation limitation of $3.3 billion, the level contained in AIR-21.
· Total transit investment of $6.7 billion, almost 8 percent above 2001.
Improving Management of Our Resources
While strategic expansion of our transportation system capacity is necessary, it is not the only answer to managing growth and congestion. We need to make more efficient use of our existing infrastructure. The search for new technological and innovative solutions to our mobility challenges is well supported in the 2002 budget, with investment in technology, research, and development proposed at $1.2 billion, 7.5 percent above 2001. The budget includes a total of $504 million for highway-related research, 30 percent above 2001.
Highways are the very backbone of our nation's transportation system, and the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System did an extraordinary job of knitting our country together and making efficient nationwide highway transportation a reality both for people and for goods. The result was a quantum leap in the productivity and the competitiveness of our economy. But we are now losing that productivity to bottlenecks in the system, and gains made nationwide are too often being lost to lack of coordination among the affected parties.
Intelligent Transportation Systems and Operations can make a difference in how we attack the congestion and productivity problems. In the past, we have developed a number of strategies to help solve particular operating problems. These include retiming traffic signals, installing ramp-metering lights, creating high occupancy vehicle (HOV) and high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, and initiating various management activities to deal with single issue problems such as work zones, parking, or access. With the advent of ITS, many of these techniques can be used dynamically, or on the fly, to adjust to changing conditions. These techniques are not new. But, while they have been used, they were not being coordinated to reduce congestion.
We first became aware of this when we had to deal with unique special events such as the Olympic Games in Los Angeles and Atlanta and, of course, in Salt Lake City next year. Unusual demands were placed on the infrastructure and transportation system. In order to cope with these demands, various operational groups came together in a truly coordinated effort to cope with these increased demands by forming a "Task Force."
All the parts of the task force--ranging from transit, to first responders, to tow truck operators, to media--worked together to facilitate the smooth flow of vehicle traffic and pedestrians.
This concept is being further enhanced through our efforts in increasing interoperability among communication systems for public safety and by using ITS data gathering techniques and equipment to provide managers with the most up-to-date information on all aspects of a situation as quickly as possible. The new Traffic Management Centers facilitate integration of the efforts of agencies such as police and other municipal staff to more effectively respond to transportation disruptions and public safety needs.
Effective solutions to transportation bottlenecks must involve a high degree of local, metropolitan, and State involvement to build the broad spectrum of support necessary to overcome resistance and to solve the problem. We recognize that this cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach, and that the combination of solutions needed in one location will not be the same combination of solutions needed in another location.
Every instance requires its own mix of new highway capacity, better management of existing capacity, Intelligent Transportation Systems, transit, pedestrian improvements, and so on. To be effective in dealing with these bottlenecks we have to be prepared to use whatever mix of transportation alternatives will work, and we have to take a balanced approach to all alternatives. We have to constantly be looking for what works and what is the most cost-effective solution to the problem.
Major action is underway at the Department to tackle surface transportation congestion. Technology offers particular promise. Federal research helps build stronger roads and bridges. With new technologies and new, longer lasting materials that are easier to apply, we can "get in, get it done, and get out." The safer and less disruptive that work zones are to the user, the better.
We are working closely with our partners in the urbanized areas to develop regional architectures that will support ITS and operations technologies. These technologies will be key in reducing travel delay and improving mobility for the traveling public and the freight industry. The technologies include: traveler information systems, emergency response systems, electronic toll collection, traffic responsive signal systems, and state-of-the-art transportation management systems. The Bush Administration proposes $253 million in ITS initiatives for 2002, a 32 percent increase over the current year. The challenge now is to deploy the systems so that there is enough information to say something more than: "Congestion ahead." Wouldn't it be great if, instead, that electronic sign told you: "Take exit 34. Left on Main. Go three miles. Re-enter highway." Now, that is an intelligent transportation solution. This information would come from a variety of sensors and input devices, including the Global Positioning System (GPS), coordinated through a Traffic Management Center (TMC) with multi-agency participation. That must be our management goal.
Other ways of using existing transportation facilities and services more effectively can also relieve congestion. High occupancy vehicle lanes, incentives for ridesharing, and other options are available for more livable transportation systems. Telecommuting offers another approach to reduce demand on capacity constrained highways by allowing employees to work at home or at centers close to home.
One long-term strategy we are continuing to explore for highways is value pricing. Several States have implemented value pricing on a pilot basis on highways financed with the proceeds of tolls. The concept of assessing relatively higher prices for travel during peak congestion periods is the same as that used in other sectors of the economy to respond to peak-use demands. For example, hotel rooms cost more during peak tourist seasons. By using fees which vary by time-of-day and location of use to manage demand and reduce congestion, system performance is improved. It provides improved service to transportation users, makes more efficient use of existing transportation capacity, and reduces the need for future capacity expansion.
Nonetheless, in addition to maximizing our system capacity through improved operations, we recognize that we must improve our capacity with new facilities when appropriate. We may also be able to make increased use of private sector roads and private funding of airport capacity to bridge the gap between capacity and supply. We commit ourselves to work with all of our partners and stakeholders in the other modes, the environmental community, and others when instituting new facilities. We are working very closely with the States, MPOs, and local governments to integrate land use policies with the planning process. These issues remain under the purview of State and local officials, but we can serve as a technical resource to encourage positive land use planning. In addition, we are committed to better understanding and responding to the needs of the freight community, in all areas of land use, transportation planning, and system operation. If we are to balance the mutual goals of productivity, safety, environment, and quality of life, we must consider both passenger and freight concerns in the planning and program development processes.
I also must let you know that one of my priorities is to ensure that the Federal Government gets what it pays for and that major transportation projects are managed wisely and appropriately. I have seen too many instances of large cost increases in transportation projects that make the projects appear unconstrained and out of control. We at the Department need to be in front of this, not behind it! The Department has improved the oversight processes used to monitor the progress of major transportation projects and identify problems early, establish core competencies for project managers, and hold project managers accountable for the quality of project oversight and performance. I feel strongly that with the increased Federal investment in transportation infrastructure in the past few years, we also need to be especially aware of the potential for waste, fraud and abuse and develop mechanisms to identify it early and prevent it. If we pay for a 10-sack concrete job, we should get a 10-sack concrete job, not a 7-sack job.
We will not stand behind projects that are not justified. For example, on April 4, 2001, DOT's Inspector General issued an Interim Report on the Seattle Central Link Light Rail Project, recommending that Federal funds and funding decisions for the Project be held in abeyance until FTA and Sound Transit complete a specific set of actions related to cost estimation, project scope, cost control, and until overall financing plans have been addressed. I have accepted the IG's recommendations, and FTA has begun implementing the actions identified in the IG's report.
I know that the cost of the Central Artery Tunnel Project in Boston is of concern to this Committee. I share this concern. While there is no guarantee that the cost will not further increase, Federal funds for this project were capped at $8.549 billion last year. I have asked the Department's Inspector General (IG) to look into the recent Massachusetts Inspector General's report stating that the total cost will exceed $18 billion. Although I have not yet received our IG's report, I do not intend, at this time, to recommend any increase in the Federal funding cap.
Because of concerns over significant cost and schedule overruns in large scale transportation infrastructure projects, my predecessor Secretary Slater created a DOT task force to make recommendations to strengthen DOT's oversight of these large projects. The Department's Inspector General and the General Accounting Office have also reviewed DOT's oversight of large scale projects, and made recommendations to strengthen that oversight. The IG stated that there was a need to identify and apply best practices to oversight of major projects and find systematic solutions to problems. The General Accounting Office recommendations for oversight of large highway and transit projects included recommendations similar to the IG's regarding requiring more refined cost estimates and finance plans. The DOT task force's recommendations are now being implemented, and I will follow up on this implementation.
Ensuring Mobility for All Americans
Despite the capacity challenges we face, many of us take the tremendous mobility options we have for granted. President Bush wants to address the mobility gap for Americans who do not have mobility options. The budget requests funding within the New Freedom Initiative for two new programs relevant to transportation. These programs will help Americans with disabilities by increasing access to assistive technologies, expanding educational opportunities, and promoting increased access into the workforce and daily community life. From the Revenue Aligned Budget Authority (RABA), the Administration requests $145 million for the transportation component of the New Freedom Initiative. The proposal calls for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to administer the program on a reimbursable basis from the FHWA. There is already a strong linkage between the highway and transit programs under current law, as transit is an eligible expense of some of the highway programs. In FY 2000 for example, States flexed $1.6 billion of highway funding for transit programs.
The transportation programs proposed for the New Freedom Initiative are:
(1) $45 million to be used for pilot programs run by State or local governments in regional, urban, and rural areas. These pilot programs will be selected on the basis of the use of innovative approaches to developing transportation plans that serve people with disabilities. The Administration will work with Congress to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs and encourage the expansion of successful initiatives.
(2) $100 million to be used to establish a competitive matching grant program to promote access to alternative methods of transportation. Potential grant recipients include Centers for Independent Living, Assistive Technology Centers, vocational rehabilitation centers, and other community-based organizations that seek to integrate Americans with disabilities into the workforce.
The $145 million provided from RABA is the only component of the New Freedom Initiative funded within the Department of Transportation and is part of a much larger program that includes the Small Business Administration, the Department of Education, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Key proposals receiving funding in the President's budget include $20 million for a new Access to Telework Fund, to provide Federal matching funds to States to guarantee low-interest loans for individuals with disabilities to purchase equipment necessary to telework from home, and a $ 1 billion increase for special education programs, including Part B grants to States both proposals under the Department of Education.
The Administration believes that every American should have the opportunity to participate fully in society and engage in productive work. Unfortunately, millions of Americans with disabilities are locked out of the workplace because they are denied the tools and access necessary for success. Through the "New Freedom initiative," the Administration plans to help integrate Americans with disabilities into the workforce.
Streamlining the Environmental Review Process
The Administration's goal is to lessen the environmental effects of transportation, and the budget includes $6.6 billion dollars, an almost 8 percent funding increase, for these efforts. They include the Federal Highway Administration's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program, Coast Guard's response to oil spills, and our efforts to reduce airplane noise.
The CMAQ Program, in particular, is a highly flexible, innovative, and successful program. This is a program that can make a difference in addressing congestion in urban areas and, in doing so, we will assist areas that do not meet Federal air standards to reaching their air quality goals. CMAQ has funded valuable projects, such as alternative fuels, transit, traffic flow improvements, auto emissions inspections, ridesharing, teleworking, and bicycle and pedestrian projects. It's a good example of a Federal/State/local partnership working together to meet multiple goals and improve the lives of our citizens.
While ensuring environmental protection and responding to public concerns about noise, air and water quality, other natural resources, and communities, we are also looking at ways to make the process of environmental review more efficient. Options include improving staff resources, fostering interagency cooperation, and more intelligent use of current streamlining tools.
Slow decision-making does not translate into better environmental results. The important thing is to get the appropriate Federal and State environmental safeguards identified early and built in as the project progresses. Local cooperation is a key component of improving the environmental process. Local officials must be our active partners in this effort if we are to make significant progress. That means, for example, that we have to deal with local problems of surface traffic congestion and continue to reduce the problems of aircraft noise and air pollution near airports.
I know how important environmental streamlining is for meeting the transportation demands of the 21st Century, especially for highways and transit under TEA-21. On May 25, 2000, the Department published interrelated notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs) in the Federal Register. The proposed regulatory revisions reflected statutory changes made by TEA-21 in the areas of: (1) metropolitan and statewide planning, (2) consistency with the national ITS architecture and standards, and (3) NEPA implementation for projects funded or approved by FHWA and FTA.
The final rule for the ITS architecture and standards was published on January 8, 2001, and went into effect on April 8, 2001. Regarding the proposed NEPA and Planning rulemakings, I know that your full Committee held a hearing on September 12, 2000, to discuss them and that significant issues were brought out at that hearing. I also received and have responded to the March 20 letter from the leaders of your Committee and I appreciate the grave concerns expressed about the NPRMs. I can assure you that this matter is of the highest priority for the Department of Transportation and that most careful consideration is being given to our options. I will be reviewing the NEPA NPRM, along with the companion NPRM on transportation planning, to decide how best to implement the congressional intent to reduce project development time. I value your comments highly and I will keep this Subcommittee and the leadership of the Committee fully informed.
Guiding projects through the planning and review processes faster, while ensuring environmental protection, is a complex undertaking, with conflicting interests among stakeholders. But it is one we must work on expeditiously, because it is critically important to our transportation system and our economy.
In addition to the proposed rulemakings, the Department is taking, and has taken, other steps to streamline the environmental process for highway and transit projects. FHWA and FTA have enhanced interagency coordination by signing a National Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Environmental Streamlining between the Department and six other Federal agencies. This formalized the agencies' commitments to expedite Federal highway and transit projects while fulfilling their responsibilities to protect the environment. Similarly, three regional MOUs have been signed and some type of streamlining activity has been initiated in about 30 States. A Federal interagency working group was formed and has been meeting regularly to advance streamlining among the affected Federal agencies at the national level and throughout the field offices. The working group engages State transportation and other industry and environmental interests in pursuing streamlining goals. For example, this past November, the Department conducted a national training workshop on streamlining for Federal agencies. Congressional staff also presented their concerns to the group.
An environmental streamlining action plan has been drafted, providing a blueprint for national and State level activities. The action plan promotes the use of existing Federal agency powers for administrative delegation of authorities to States and pilot projects to promote expedited reviews; encourages the use of flexible mitigation approaches, such as wetland banking or compensation strategies that promote investment in environmentally sensitive geographic regions, in lieu of project site-specific mitigation only; establishes performance evaluation measures, including the development of timeframes at the project level; and specifies the development of a dispute resolution system. The action plan is periodically updated and used to track progress.
The Department expects to promote and provide technical support for the expanded use of Federal agencies' existing administrative authorities to achieve process efficiencies and concurrent, rather than consecutive, reviews. This includes delegation of authority from Federal agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, to State agencies to act on their behalf in carrying out Federal regulations, partnership agreements for conducting concurrent reviews, and project agreements for specific time commitments. The Department is also working to address the TEA-21 requirements for elevation to the Secretarial level of interagency disputes that are causing delays.
In conclusion, the United States enjoys the safest and the best transportation system in the world. Nevertheless, we face safety and capacity challenges. The funding requested in President Bush's 2002 budget, as well as the management and accountability improvements we will make over the next year, will help us to meet those challenges.
I look forward to working with this Subcommittee and all members of Congress over the coming year to ensure that a safe transportation system continues to support a strong economy and improve the quality of life for all of our people.