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ACT NO. 64


Transportation Capital Construction Program; Project Development Plan

This act is the Transportation Capital Construction Program for fiscal year 2002 and the Project Development Plan for fiscal years 2003-2006. The fiscal year 2002 budget expenditures total $337,441,891.00.

Of this amount, $173,535,808.00 are federal funds, $161,507,909.00 are state transportation funds and $2,398,174.00 are local funds.

The act provides, in part, for the following:

(1) This act establishes a $19 million program for FY 2002 for the construction of town highway bridges. These are projects that the agency of transportation has identified as able to move forward to construction in FY 2002.

(2) The Burlington Multi-Modal project is authorized for construction in FY 2002 if the project is ready.

(3) Investment in rail with a program in excess of $20 million. Included in this program are: necessary track and bridge upgrades to initiate passenger rail service to Manchester; track improvements between Middlebury and Charlotte; AMTRAK service; rail stations for the commuter rail project; three-way partnership grants with businesses for rail siding projects; and continuation of the Rutland railyard relocation project.

(4) Funding has been provided for five park and ride lots that the agency identified as being ready for construction in FY2002.

(5) Current law stipulates that the Agency of Transportation is “guided by” the capital program that is adopted by the general assembly. This act requires that the agency’s project activities and expenditures adhere to the capital program adopted by the General Assembly with the following exceptions: projects could be advanced in the capital program and project development plan if another project is delayed because of unanticipated problems with permitting, right-of-way acquisition, construction, local concern, the availability of federal or state funds, or emergency or safety issues. The act clarifies the Secretary of Transportation’s responsibility in notifying the appropriate parties when a project is delayed in a region.

(6) The Secretary of Transportation is authorized to request the transportation board to conduct public hearings on matters of public interest. It further provides that the findings and recommendations be sent to the Secretary and the chairs of the senate and house committees on transportation.

(7) The Agency is directed to complete the conceptual design of the Bennington Bypass South but shall not incur expenditures in any fiscal year in excess of $200,000.00. Acquisition of right-of-way is prohibited without approval of the General Assembly. The Agency is further directed to design and construct a partial interchange with Vermont Route 9. All design activities on the Bennington Bypass North project south of Route 9 are postponed until approved by the General Assembly.

(8) The act provides for the town highway emergency fund to reimburse towns for non-Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disasters. Towns eligible for FEMA eligible disasters will be reimbursed from the Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund. Towns with local infrastructure standards will receive, at a minimum, 90% reimbursement for rebuilding to those standards while communities that have not adopted standards will receive reimbursement for the infrastructure that was lost. Approximately 124 towns have adopted local infrastructure standards.

(9) The minimum amount that towns must spend on their highways to receive town highway grants has been increased from $50 per mile to $300 per mile.

(10) The act consolidates four town highway programs into two and modifies the local match requirements for those programs. The Town Highway Class 2 Resurfacing program and the Town Highway Class 2 Rehabilitation program are being combined into one Town Highway Class 2 program whereby the range of activities that was eligible under the old programs is combined under this new program. The Bridge and Culvert program and the Bridge Maintenance program are being combined into the Town Highway Structures program. Restoration of causeways and retaining walls is added to the eligible activities under this new program. The program match requirements were changed and an incentive was established for towns to adopt local infrastructure standards.

(11) The Secretary of Transportation is authorized to negotiate, but not execute, a contract for the acquisition or lease of the New England Central Railroad line between Essex Junction and Burlington, including any remaining interests of CV Properties, Inc. that the Secretary deems necessary for present or future transportation uses. The Secretary is further authorized to negotiate and execute an agreement with New England Central Railroad which results in restoration of AMTRAK’s Vermonter service along that railroad. The agreement shall not include a direct grant to New England Central Railroad but may consist of a short-term loan or other consideration.

(12) The Agency of Transportation is required to update its public transit plan every five years consistent with the long-range planning requirements for the other modes of transportation, including the state long-range transportation plan. The act clarifies that funds for rideshare, capital, contracted and brokered services are not to be included as operating expenses. A new state funding formula is enacted. The old formula was based upon the amount of transit services a district provided, and the statute could be interpreted several ways. The new operating formula is based upon transit need using the following measurements: 50% of the funding is based upon the need for basic mobility; 20% is based upon employment transportation needs; 15% is based upon congestion mitigation and air quality, utilizing population density as a measurement; and 15% is based upon the need for economic development transportation needs. Transit providers will still receive operating funding for the existing services they have operating in FY 2001. Intercity bus carriers will also be eligible for operating assistance for routes which have not demonstrated economic viability.

(13) The Agency is required, when developing preliminary plans for a new or replacement maintenance facility or salt shed, to first conduct a review of all previously developed building plans and give priority to utilizing a common, uniform, preexisting design.

(14) Municipalities are authorized to borrow from the municipal loan fund for the purchase of tools, equipment and materials for the repair of highways and bridges. Loans are limited to $90,000.00 and must be repaid in three years. Municipalities may borrow from the municipal loan fund without voter approval.

(15) On or before January 15, 2002, the Agency of Transportation is directed to provide the senate and house committees on transportation with a coordinated plan of action for advancing short and long-term roadway improvements along the US Route 4 corridor from the New Hampshire state line to the junction of VT Route 100A at Bridgewater Corners. The agency shall work closely with the affected regional planning agencies in identifying projects, and review the regional planning commission’s previous planning work as a starting point. The agency's action plan shall develop specific projects, both long and short-term, which shall prioritize the projects on the basis of the greatest degree of safety improvements. The report shall include, but not be limited to:

(A) identification of appropriate truck passing lanes;

(B) identification of areas where shoulder widening will improve safety for motor vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians;

(C) identification of scenic pull-offs;

(D) identification of improvements in villages located along this corridor that enhance pedestrian safety and provide traffic calming;

(E) identification of a truck route around the village of Woodstock; and

(F) the individual project costs identified in the report.

The General Assembly is required to review the plans and proposed projects developed under this section and take the necessary steps to integrate these proposed projects into the agency’s annual capital program in the most expeditious manner possible.

(16) The Agency is directed to develop an asset management plan which is a goal and performance-driven management and decision-making process of operating, maintaining and upgrading transportation assets cost-effectively. At a minimum, the asset management system shall:

(A) list all of the infrastructure assets and their condition, including, but not limited to, pavements, structures, and facilities;

(B) list other assets and their condition, including, but not limited to, construction and maintenance equipment, vehicles, real estate, materials, corporate data and information, and ground and water transportation facilities and equipment;

(C) include deterioration rates for infrastructure assets; and

(D) determine, long-term, the annual funds necessary to fund infrastructure maintenance at the recommended performance level.

(17) The agency is directed to review all transportation infrastructure assets that have been constructed within the last 10 years and develop an asset management plan for those assets. The plan shall include, but not be limited to:

(A) the costs associated with implementing the plan;

(B) the activities to be undertaken under the plan; and

(C) the comparative cost differential between maintaining the infrastructure, utilizing a preventive maintenance program versus deferring those maintenance costs. The asset management plan shall be presented to the house and senate committees on transportation no later than January 15, 2002.

(18) Subject to obtaining the concurrence of the Federal Highway Administration, the Agency of Transportation is directed to develop and implement an experimental program for providing additional signing for level I trauma centers, including those at the Medical Center Campus at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington and at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

(19) In fiscal year 2003, the maximum amount of transportation funds that may be appropriated for the support of government, other than for the Agency of Transportation, transportation pay act funds, the cost of maintaining and staffing rest areas, construction of transportation capital facilities used by the Agency of Transportation, and transportation debt service, shall not exceed 21 percent of the total of the prior fiscal year transportation fund appropriations. This figure is reduced from 23 percent.

(20) For fiscal year 2002, no expenditure of state or federal funds or developmental activity shall occur in the Lamoille Valley railroad corridor except for a portion which may be incorporated into the Three Rivers Transportation Path, St. Johnsbury, STP Bike(10) or to facilitate municipal safety improvement projects involving rail crossings. The joint fiscal office is directed to review the railroad restoration proposal submitted to the Mountain Valley Corridor Consortium and provide the joint fiscal committee and the chairs of the transportation committees with an analysis of the assumptions and findings.

Effective Date: June 16, 2001 except for the section dealing with the Bennington bypass which takes effect July 1, 2001.