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SUMMARY OF THE 2005 ACTS AND RESOLVES

ACT NO. 80

(H.523)

Transportation Program

This act is the Transportation Program for fiscal year 2006. The fiscal year budget expenditures total $341,683,988 (excluding central garage internal service funds).

Of this amount, $164,341,904 are federal funds, $173,818,618 are state transportation funds, and $3,523,466 are local funds.

Program funding highlights are:

Transportation Program

FY 2006

Administration & Finance

10,219,348

Policy & Planning 

7,275,347

Transportation Boards

83,400

Public Assistance FEMA Grant Program

200,001

Department of Motor Vehicles

22,919,752

Public Transit

14,888,893

Maintenance

54,812,086

Aviation

9,272,416

Rest Areas

996,100

AOT Buildings

1,297,548

Program Development

 

 

Aviation projects

0

 

Rail projects

0

 

Paving

40,001,250

 

State Bridges

26,347,832

 

Interstate Bridges

204,500

 

Pedestrian & Bike Facilities

2,630,021

 

Enhancements

2,511,250

 

Park & Ride

1,954,506

 

Roadway

40,286,375

 

Roadway Development and Evaluation

14,009,313

 

Traffic Operations

5,005,580

 

Multi-Modal Facilities

520,878

 

Administration & Tech Services

14,362,293

Sub-total Program Development

147,833,798

Rail Program

 

 

Rail Infrastructure

7,847,202

 

Amtrak

2,700,000

 

Vt Transportation Authority

0

Sub-total Rail Program

10,547,202

Total AOT Programs

280,345,891

Town Programs

 

 

TH Aid

24,982,744

 

TH Bridges

20,555,175

 

TH Class 2

4,748,750

 

TH Structures

3,494,500

 

TH Emergency Fund

57,129

 

TH VT Local Roads

783,700

 

TH Class 1 Supplemental Grants

128,750

Total Town Programs

54,750,748

Bridge Maintenance Program

4,662,281

State Police Vehicle Fleet

100,000

Discretionary Spending

1,825,068

Total All Programs

341,683,988

Funding Differences from Gov's Base

 

Total

341,683,988

The act provides, in part, for the following:

(1) A new project, the rural public transit preventive maintenance project, is added to the public transit program. The project shall be administered by the agency of transportation in accordance with federal transit administration regulations. Federal funds in the amount of $500,000 proposed for use in the new starts program have been reallocated to the rural public transit preventive maintenance project. Project spending authority is allocated to each transit provider in the state, other than the Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA), according to the percentage of operating assistance funds that each provider was reimbursed from the statewide total of operating assistance funds in fiscal year 2005, with certain exclusions. Any funds provided by this section to a transit provider in fiscal year 2006 shall not be used to reduce the amount of locally generated funds committed by the provider for use in fiscal year 2006 as a condition to receiving state assistan ce. A similar preventive maintenance project has been established for the Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA).

(2) The agency's maintenance districts are directed to provide the same level of service or better to the public and district municipalities as in prior fiscal years. By January 15, 2006, the secretary of transportation shall report by letter to the house and senate committees on transportation on the configuration of management and administrative personnel in the agency's nine maintenance districts and on the level of service provided by the maintenance districts to the public and district municipalities.

(3) The sum of $25,000 in transportation funds has been authorized for expenditure by the agency to fund the construction of monuments honoring the builders of Vermont's interstate system to be located at welcome centers and rest areas at entry points to the state.

(4) The department of buildings and general services has been directed to design a basic rest area and basic information center which shall serve as the models for each structure for future construction of these facilities. These designs shall provide the public with necessary facilities and shall minimize the cost of providing these services. The designs and cost information shall be presented to the house and senate committees on transportation by January 15, 2006.

(5) The sum of $100,000 is authorized for use by the agency of transportation for the purpose of implementing the municipal park and ride grant program established in 2004.

(6) For fiscal year 2006, the funds authorized for the Bennington Bypass South project are to be used for design work necessary to identify sites for the cost-effective disposal of earth borrow resulting from the construction of the Bennington Bypass North project north of Vermont Route 9 and for the acquisition of sites for disposing of excavated dirt from the North project. In the event the funds authorized for right-of-way acquisition are insufficient to maintain the approved schedule for advancement of the Bennington Bypass North project, the secretary, after consultation with the joint transportation oversight committee, is authorized to allocate the funds required to maintain the approved schedule.

(7) Spending authority in the amount of $700,000 has been authorized for the Bellows Falls railroad tunnel project for the purpose of enlarging the tunnel for passage of double stack railroad cars.

(8) The sum of $2,700,000 has been authorized for the purchase of interstate passenger rail service (AMTRAK) for one year.

(9) A summer study committee is established, consisting of two members of the house committee on transportation and one member of the house committee on ways and means, designated by the speaker of the house; two members of the senate committee on transportation and one member of the senate committee on finance, designated by the committee on committees; the state treasurer or designee; the secretary of administration or designee; the secretary of transportation; two representatives from a rail organization as designated by the governor; one representative from the regional planning commissions as designated by the Vermont association of planning and development agencies; a representative of the Chittenden County metropolitan planning organization; and a representative of the Vermont rail advisory council designated by the council. The secretary of transportation shall serve as chair of the committee. The committee is directed to make recommendations regarding the advisabili ty of creating a rail authority in the state of Vermont for the primary purpose of developing additional capacity to move freight more effectively for the economic benefit of the state of Vermont. The agency of transportation, with the assistance of the legislative council and the joint fiscal office, shall provide administrative support for the committee. The committee is required to submit a report of recommendations to the house and senate committees on transportation by January 15, 2006.

(10) Within the central garage fund, there is a separate transportation equipment replacement account. In fiscal year 2006, $1,400,000.00 and in fiscal year 2007 and thereafter, an amount equal to two-thirds of one percent of the prior year transportation fund appropriation, but not less than $1,400,000.00, shall be transferred prior to August 1 from the transportation fund to the central garage fund and allocated to the transportation equipment replacement account. All expenditures from this account shall be appropriated by the general assembly and used exclusively for the purchase of replacement equipment.

(11) The maximum amount of transportation funds that may be appropriated for the support of government, other than for the agency of transportation, the transportation board, 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, for fiscal year 2006 shall not exceed 18.0 percent of the total of the prior fiscal year transportation fund appropriations and for fiscal year 2007 shall not exceed $38,221,563.00.

(12) In coordination with the regular meetings of the joint fiscal committee, the joint transportation oversight committee shall meet in mid-July, mid-September, and mid-November. At these meetings, the secretary of transportation is directed to report on the status of the state's transportation finances and transportation programs, including a report on contract bid awards versus project estimates and a detailed report on all known or projected cost overruns, project savings and funding availability from delayed projects; and the agency's actions taken or planned to cover the cost overruns and to reallocate the project savings and delayed project funds with respect to: all paving projects other than statewide maintenance programs; and all projects in the roadway, state bridge, interstate bridge, or town bridge programs with authorized spending in the fiscal year of $500,000.00 or more with a cost overrun equal to 20 percent or more of the authorized spending or gener ating project savings or delayed project available funding equal to 20 percent or more of the authorized spending. In addition, at the July meeting of the joint transportation oversight committee, the secretary shall report to the committee on the agency's plans to adjust spending to any changes in the consensus forecast for transportation fund revenues.

(13) The authority for the Connecticut River bridge advisory commission has been repealed subject to the same or similar provisions being enacted in New Hampshire. The agency of transportation is directed to report annually by January 15 to the house and senate committees on transportation on the status of all Connecticut River bridge projects.

(14) Activities involving emergency repairs to or emergency replacement of an existing bridge or culvert, even though the need for repairs or replacement does not arise from damage caused by a natural disaster or catastrophic failure from an external cause, are exempt from the provisions of Act 250. Any temporary rights in property acquired under this authority shall be limited to 10 years from the date of taking.

(15) In the fiscal year 2007 transportation program, the agency is directed to identify potential candidates on the state, interstate, and town highway bridge systems for development and construction utilizing prefabricated components and construction techniques.

(16) The state treasurer and the state traffic committee, as administrators of the municipal equipment loan fund are directed to examine the possibility of expanding the use of the loan fund to cover the costs of municipal salt and sand sheds. Specifically, they are directed to examine the cost to municipalities of acquiring salt and sand sheds which conform to the specifications already established by them and to determine increases to the loan fund necessary to implement an expansion of fund purposes to include salt and sand sheds. The treasurer and traffic committee shall submit a report to the house and senate committees on transportation by January 15, 2006.

(17) The agency is directed to develop a numerical grading system to assign a priority rating to all program development paving, program development roadway, program development safety and traffic operations, program development state and interstate bridge, town highway bridge, and bridge maintenance projects. The rating system shall consist of two separate, additive components as follows. One component shall be limited to asset management-based factors which are objective and quantifiable and shall consider, without limitation, the following: the existing safety conditions in the project area and the impact of the project on improving safety conditions; the average, seasonal, peak, and nonpeak volume of traffic in the project area, including the proportion of traffic volume relative to total volume in the region, and the impact of the project on congestion and mobility conditions in the region; the availability, accessibility, and usability of alternative routes; the imp act of the project on future maintenance and reconstruction costs; and the relative priority assigned to the project by the relevant regional planning commission or the Chittenden County metropolitan planning organization.

The second component of the priority rating system shall consider, without limitation, the following factors: The functional importance of the highway or bridge as a link in the local, regional, or state economy; and the functional importance of the highway or bridge in the social and cultural life of the surrounding communities. Additionally, the annual transportation program shall include the individual priority rating for each highway paving, roadway, safety and traffic operations, and bridge project in the program along with a description of the system and methodology used to assign the ratings.

(18) The fee for each motor vehicle inspection certificate has been raised from $0.50 to $3.00, and inspection stations are authorized to disclose and collect this fee from persons whose vehicles are inspected. Revenue from the certificate fee shall be allocated in fiscal year 2006 to the transportation fund, and thereafter, to the transportation fund with one-half reserved for use in the bridge maintenance program created in this act and described in section (19) below.

(19) The Vermont bridge maintenance program is created and the objective of the program is to maximize the useful life of Vermont's bridges at least cost through a systematic program of asset management which will eliminate avoidable deterioration costs and maximize the availability of resources for all transportation purposes. The following types of projects shall be eligible for funding from the bridge maintenance program: Bridge painting, particularly projects that will remove lead-based paints and improve the protective capacity of the structural steel coatings system; deck membrane replacements of deteriorating membranes with new higher performance membranes and pavement; deck replacements of structurally deficient decks where the remaining structural components of the bridge are in fair to good condition; large culvert rehabilitation, including the insertion of culvert linings to extend the useful life of large culverts; and substructure repairs where deterioration has affected the structural stability of the bridge.

(20) Current law provides that if capital projects in the transportation program are delayed because of unanticipated problems with permitting, right-of-way acquisition, construction, local concern, or availability of federal or state funds, the secretary is authorized to advance projects in the approved transportation program, giving priority to shelf projects. The secretary is further authorized to undertake projects to resolve emergency or safety issues. Should an approved project in the current transportation program require additional funding to maintain the approved schedule, the agency is authorized to allocate the necessary resources. This act further clarifies the above law by providing that the secretary shall not delay or suspend work on approved projects to reallocate funding for other projects except when other funding options are not available. In such case, the secretary is required to notify the members of the joint transportation oversight committee.

(21) To the extent that transportation funds are insufficient to obligate under federal regulations any federal funds that become available in federal fiscal year 2005 or 2006, the secretary of transportation is authorized to withdraw funds from the transportation fund budget stabilization reserve up to a maximum amount which leaves the remaining balance of the stabilization reserve equal to three and one-half percent of the prior year appropriations of transportation funds and use such funds to obligate the federal funds. Additionally, commencing in fiscal year 2007, interest earned in the transportation fund budget stabilization reserve will be credited to the transportation fund.

(22) Spending authority in the amount of $1,258,730 in federal funds is to be allocated in the discretion of the secretary to advance projects in the state's fiscal year 2006 transportation program in the safety and traffic operations, paving, roadway, town bridge, or bridge maintenance programs or which are listed as shelf projects. In making funding allocation decisions, the secretary shall consider the projects identified in this act. If the secretary decides not to allocate funds pursuant to this identification, the secretary shall explain the decision in writing addressing the factors which support the prioritization of other projects receiving funds as compared to the listed project. The secretary shall deliver copies of the written explanation promptly to members of the house and senate committees on transportation and the members of the joint transportation oversight committee after making the funding decision.

(23) To the extent federal funds become available beyond the funds authorized in fiscal year 2006 in the state's transportation program, the secretary is directed to apply the funds, consistent with federal rules, as follows: To cover cash flow shortages on projects due to increased costs or faster than anticipated progress, or to obligate federal fiscal year 2006 funds to state fiscal year 2007 paving projects currently planned for advance construction in federal fiscal year 2006 (summer of calendar year 2006) and conversion in federal fiscal year 2007. To advance projects in the state's fiscal year 2006 transportation program in the safety and traffic operations, paving, roadway, town bridge, or bridge maintenance programs or in projects which are listed as shelf projects. In making funding allocation decisions, the secretary shall consider the projects identified in this act. If the secretary decides not to allocate funds pursuant to this directive, the secretary shall explain the decision in writing addressing the factors which support the prioritization of other projects receiving funds as compared to the listed project. The secretary shall deliver copies of the written explanation to members of the house and senate committees on transportation and the members of the joint transportation oversight committee promptly after making the funding decision.

Effective Date: July 1, 2005



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us