View the complete text of this act
ACT SUMMARY 2007-2008

SUMMARY OF THE 2007 ACTS AND RESOLVES

ACT NO. 75

(H.527)

Transportation; transportation program

The act provides:

(1) For the purpose of redirecting capital assets for use in the acquisition of new buses and equipment for public transportation, the secretary of transportation, as agent for the state of Vermont, is directed to sell, for fair market value, a 2003 motor coach, owned by the state and purchased with Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds, to Greyhound Lines, Inc. Subject to the prior approval of the FTA, the sale proceeds of $215,775.71 shall be applied as soon as practicable to purchase a minimum of three new medium-size rural-service-delivery public transit buses, in accordance with the highest priority needs in the agency's capital program.

(2) A critical care transportation study committee is established, consisting of representatives of the agency of transportation and the agency of human services as designated by the secretaries of the respective agencies; a representative of the Vermont area agencies on aging; a representative of the Vermont center for independent living; a representative of the Vermont association of adult day care services; a representative of the Vermont public transportation association to represent rural public transportation providers; a representative of the Vermont public transportation association to represent urban public transportation providers; a representative of the Vermont kidney foundation; and a representative of the American Cancer Society. For the purposes of this section, critical care transportation is defined as transportation to and from dialysis and cancer treatment medical services for Vermonters not eligible for Medicaid transportation services. The committee shall be co-chaired by a representative of the agency of transportation and a representative of the agency of human services as designated by the secretaries of the respective agencies. The committee is directed to design a program to be administered by the agency of human services that incorporates a cost-sharing mechanism so that program beneficiaries' contributions toward the cost of the transportation service are indexed to household income. In the development of this proposal, the committee shall consider such issues as program coordination among nonprofit agencies, funding sources, sustainability of funding, ease of administration, compatibility with other programs, need for service, and other issues it deems relevant to determine its recommendations. The agency of human services and agency of transportation are providing administrative and staff support for the committee. The committee shall deliver its report, including any recommendations for proposed legislation, to the house and senate committees on appropriations and transportation, to the house committee on human services, and the senate committee on health and welfare by December 1, 2007.

(3) A timeline for improvements along the portion of the Chittenden County Circumferential Highway between the existing VT 2A/VT 289 interchange in the town of Essex and VT 127 (Heineberg Drive) in the town of Colchester is required of the agency of transportation. The timeline shall address the following: major steps, including environmental reviews; the agency’s best current estimate of the time, workforce, and financial resources needed and likely to be available for transportation improvements along the corridor; the CCMPO’s best current estimate of its future year-by-year prioritization of transportation improvements along the corridor within the CCMPO’s transportation improvement plan (TIP); the agency’s best current estimate of its future year-by-year prioritization of transportation improvements along the corridor; and the projected fiscal year for starting and ending each of the project process steps for transportation improvements along the corridor, with appropriate caveats. The agency shall present the projected timeline to the house and senate committees on transportation by January 15, 2008.

(4) Funds received as grants for state aid for town highway structures may be used by a municipality to satisfy a portion of the matching requirements for federal earmarks.

(5) In any case of highway or bridge construction in which a municipality bears a share of the project costs, the fair market value of any land, material, or services donated by the municipality and used in the project shall be credited to the municipality’s share of the project costs subject to the provisions of 23 U.S.C. § 323 with respect to a federal aid project.

(6) The agency is authorized to add to the fleet one pickup truck with a plow and hopper spreader and one loader.

(7) A separate transportation equipment replacement account within the central garage fund has been established. In fiscal year 2008, $1,120,000.00 and thereafter an amount equal to two-thirds of one percent of the prior year transportation fund appropriation but not less than $1,120,000.00, shall be transferred prior to August 1 from the transportation fund to the central garage fund and allocated to the transportation equipment replacement account.

(8) Brown-and-white official business directional signs as requested by the local byways organization may be allowed for the purpose of directing travelers to interpretive information sites along officially designated state and federal byways only. Such an official business directional sign shall be located on the same state-designated byway as the interpretive information site to which the sign directs attention.

(9) In condemnation cases, the agency shall prepare a notice of the necessity hearing. The notice shall include the names of the municipalities in which the lands to be taken or affected are located; the names of all interested persons; and a brief statement identifying the proposed project and its location, and the date, time, and place of the necessity hearing. The agency shall make service of copies of the petition, the notice of hearing, and the survey as follows: upon interested persons in accordance with the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure for service of process, with respect to interested parties with no known residence or place of business within the state, by certified mail, return receipt requested. The copy of the survey that is served upon interested persons need include only the particular property in which those persons have an interest.

(10) In condemnation cases, if the land proposed to be acquired extends into two or more counties, the transportation board may hold a single hearing in one of the counties to determine compensation. In fixing the place for hearing, the transportation board shall take into consideration the needs of the parties.

(11) No motorist shall turn right when facing a red arrow signal indication unless a regulatory sign is present which permits this movement.

(12) All development review applications before an appropriate municipal panel shall require notice which included the owners of properties which would be contiguous to the property subject to development but for the interposition of a highway or other public right-of-way and, in any situation in which a variance is sought regarding setbacks from a state highway, also including written notification to the secretary of transportation. The notification shall include a description of the proposed project and shall be accompanied by information that clearly informs the recipient where additional information may be obtained, and that participation in the local proceeding is a prerequisite to the right to take any subsequent appeal.

(13) The general assembly is requiring the following duties of regional planning commissions as part of an annual transportation planning initiative (TPI). Regional planning commissions serving areas of the state not qualifying as a Metropolitan Planning Area under federal regulations shall implement the transportation planning initiative program. This program provides the mechanism by which the agency coordinates policy development and planning to ensure the involvement by Vermont citizens and rural local officials. It shall include but not be limited to: ensuring that local officials and citizens are involved in the statewide transportation planning process; providing technical assistance to facilitate local officials and staff in making transportation policy and investment decisions; coordinating town planning and development regulations to meet better state transportation policies and investment priorities; participating in state and national transportation policy and planning development processes to ensure regional and local input; implementing a project evaluation process to prioritize all transportation projects within the regions utilizing state or federal funds to be included in the state transportation program; developing and maintaining a regional, multi-modal transportation plan that clearly details regional and local project, planning, and policy priorities; maintaining a regional transportation advisory committee (TAC) that reviews and provides input on all major state and federal transportation planning and policy decisions. In order to facilitate this input, the regional planning commissions, in collaboration with the agency of transportation, shall provide warning and notice of all public meetings regarding transportation plans, projects, and proposals.

(14) The motor vehicle statutes are amended as follows: “Specialized fuel driven motor vehicle” shall include all motor vehicles, the power for which is generated otherwise than by gasoline or by diesel “fuel” as defined in the motor vehicle statutes, excluding steam road rollers, tractors used entirely for work on the farm and vehicles running only upon rails or tracks. The annual fee for the registration of any specialized fuel driven motor vehicle” as defined in section 4 of title 23 and of motor buses as defined in section 3002 of title 23, shall be one and three-quarters times the amount of the annual fee provided for a motor vehicle of the classification and weight under the terms of this chapter.

(15) The agency of transportation in developing the annual transportation plan is directed to manage available funding to give priority to preserving the functionality of the existing transportation infrastructure and adhere to credible project delivery schedules.

(16) The transportation board is directed to provide appellate review, when requested in writing, of agency of transportation decisions and rulings regarding private and commercial access to state highway rights-of-way pursuant to the permit process established in section 1111 of Title 19.

(17) The agency of transportation is authorized to close the Smugglers Notch segment of Vermont Route 108 during periods of winter weather. To enforce the winter closure, the agency shall erect a lockable gate at both closure points, extending the width of the highway, posted with signs advising that the highway is closed and that traveling on the highway when it is closed is a violation of the motor vehicle laws of the state. If the highway is officially closed but the gates at both closure points are not in a locked position across the highway, no ticket or any other form of summons and notice of a motor vehicle violation shall be issued to motorists driving on the closed portion of the highway.

(18) The priority rating system for program development roadway projects shall award as bonus points an amount equal to 10 percent of the total base possible rating points to projects within a designated downtown development district established pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 2793.

(19) By January 15, 2008, the agency of transportation shall provide a report to the senate and house committees on transportation summarizing all calendar year 2007 construction season expenditures in support of bicycle and pedestrian facilities and accommodations, including, but not limited to, enhancement projects, the bike/ped program, and features for the accommodation of cyclists and pedestrians that are included as part of paving or other projects.

(20) The agency of transportation is directed to analyze the alternatives for the planning and funding of larger-scale bicycle and pedestrian facilities and report its findings and recommendations to the house and senate committees on transportation by January 15, 2008.

(21) In the case of municipal bonds issued for improvements on public highways that have a useful life of at least 30 years, and that involve bridge construction or roadway reconstruction, including a bridge component, the entire debt shall be paid in not more than 30 years from the date of issue.

(22) A study committee is established to examine allowed usages of farm crossings, and shall consist of: one representative each from the agency of transportation, the agency of agriculture, food and markets, and the agency of natural resources, appointed by the respective secretaries; one member from the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, appointed by the governor; one member from the senate committee on transportation appointed by the committee on committees; one member from the house committee on transportation appointed by the speaker; one public member appointed by the governor; and a member of the transportation board appointed by the chair of the board. The committee is directed to: clarify the definition of “agricultural use,” including a review of potential benefits and adverse impacts that statutory modifications will have in regard to safety, liability, and agricultural land conservation; and solicit testimony from agricultural, environmental, and law enforcement organizations, railroads operating in the state, Vermont Operation Lifesaver, Inc., the Federal Railroad Administration, the emergency management division of the department of public safety, and the Vermont league of cities and towns. The committee is authorized to meet up to four times, and the agency of transportation shall provide administrative and staff support for the committee. The committee shall deliver its report to the senate and house committees on transportation, on agriculture, and on natural resources and energy by December 1, 2007.

(23) The general assembly approves the state of Vermont’s purchase, through the agency of transportation, of five Colorado Rail Car units, consisting of three motorized units and two passenger cars. This approval is subject to the following conditions:

(A) Financing for the demonstration project must be available under the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing loan program administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

(B) The diesel multiple unit (DMU) equipment selected by Amtrak through a competitive procurement process in 2003 must be utilized.

(C) The purchase contract with the DMU vendor shall include an option to purchase future equipment, with pricing protections.

(D) The DMU equipment must meet or exceed current Federal Railroad Administration structural safety requirements.

(E) The DMU equipment must comply with accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

(F) The vendor of the DMU equipment must agree, should the state of Vermont determine that the demonstration project is unsuccessful, to act as the state’s agent to sell the DMU equipment at a minimum of 90 percent of the purchase price and, should the DMU equipment not sell within one year, to purchase the DMU equipment back at 90 percent of the purchase price.

(G) The contract for construction and purchase of the DMU equipment must be approved by the state treasurer and the attorney general as including sufficient guarantees to assure successful manufacture and delivery of the DMU equipment as well as performance of the vendor’s undertakings to sell or buy back the DMU equipment should the state determine that the demonstration project is unsuccessful.

(H) Any agreements between the state of Vermont and Amtrak or the FRA must be flexible enough to permit redeployment of the DMU equipment in the event of the reconfiguration of Amtrak service to Vermont.

(24) The agency of transportation is directed to add staff capacity (either an additional position or a consultant, as determined by the secretary) to develop options for an efficient, well-coordinated public transportation system with emphasis on connectivity adjustments. The agency shall examine the feasibility of making public transportation in Vermont seamless, efficient, and user-friendly, with usable connections among in-state and out-of-state points. In this process, the agency shall develop a single overall method of marketing Amtrak, in coordination with all other public transit services. In conducting research and developing recommendations, the agency shall consult with the University of Vermont, the state’s congressional delegation, the department of tourism and marketing, and a representative of the tourism industry. The agency shall examine the costs and benefits of various elements of the public transportation system, including, but not limited to, the following:

(A) Economic viability of continued Amtrak service.

(B) Converting Amtrak’s “Vermonter” or “Ethan Allen” service from conventional locomotive-hauled trains to diesel multiple units. Examining the viability of the Vermonter and the Ethan Allen with the view of using state dollars as judiciously as possible.

(C) Coordination of all modes of transportation, including intercity bus and other bus systems, park and rides, Amtrak passenger train services, and air travel.

The agency of transportation is directed to enter into discussions with the other northeastern states, principally Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, regarding cost-sharing for Amtrak service, scheduling, and route selections. The agency shall also study whether service should stop at low volume points in these states. On or before January 15, 2008, the agency shall submit a report on public transportation connectivity, with appropriate recommendations, to the house and senate committees on transportation.

(25) The secretary of transportation is authorized to expend up to $50,000.00 of the fiscal year 2007 funds appropriated to the agency of transportation for options to preserve the railroad line between Lunenburg (Gilman) and St. Johnsbury. The secretary is directed to evaluate alternatives for preservation and reactivation of the railroad line between Lunenburg (Gilman) and St. Johnsbury, including direct purchase of the line’s physical assets by the state of Vermont and state assistance for the purchase of the line’s physical assets by the Washington County railroad company and affiliated companies in the Vermont rail system (VRS). The secretary shall report his or her findings to the joint transportation oversight committee, and the report shall include an assessment of the condition of the line’s physical assets. The secretary of transportation shall also consult with the New Hampshire commissioner of transportation to coordinate Vermont’s efforts to reactivate the Lunenburg (Gilman)–St. Johnsbury segment with New Hampshire’s efforts to reactivate the Whitefield–Lunenburg (Gilman) segment. If the secretary finds that it is appropriate to do so, the secretary, as agent for the state of Vermont, is authorized to negotiate the terms and conditions of agreements with the Washington County railroad company and affiliated companies in the VRS for reactivation of the railroad line between Lunenburg (Gilman) and St. Johnsbury, provided that before entering the agreement, the secretary shall submit the terms of the agreement to the house and senate committees on transportation for review. Any agreement entered under this subsection shall be subject to the following conditions:

(A) VRS will acquire the line, including both the real estate making up the right-of-way and necessary operating rights, from the Maine central railroad company and other interested parties. VRS will be solely responsible for funding the acquisition of necessary operating rights.

(B) VRS will fund the acquisition and expenses necessary to restore the line to operating condition with financing, as approved by the agency of transportation, which will be repaid over a term not to exceed 10 years.

(C) Up to a maximum amount of $300,000.00 in any single state fiscal year, for a maximum of 10 years, VRS may take credits against rents otherwise due the state of Vermont under current railroad leases and operating agreements for amounts paid by VRS for debt service payments for acquisition of the line’s physical assets, as well as up to $500,000.00 for the line’s restoration to operating condition.

(D) During the 10-year period, VRS will be responsible for all maintenance, including bridges and culverts, needed to keep the line in operating condition.

(E) At the end of the 10-year period, VRS will convey the Gilman–St. Johnsbury line to the state of Vermont, free and clear of all encumbrances not approved under subdivision (F) of this subsection, unless the agency of transportation elects in lieu of conveyance to accept cash reimbursement for the rent credits, provided that the agency of transportation shall first seek the approval of the conveyance by the general assembly or the joint fiscal committee if the general assembly is not in session. If the line is conveyed to the state of Vermont, it may be added to the June 4, 2003 operating agreement between the state of Vermont and Washington County railroad company for operation of the state-owned railroad line between Hartford (White River Junction) and Newport, subject to such amendments to the operating agreement as the secretary of transportation deems appropriate; may be subject to a new agreement between the state of Vermont and Washington County railroad company as negotiated by the agency of transportation; or may be offered by the agency of transportation to all parties under a competitive bidding process. To meet the requirements of federal law, VRS may retain a freight railroad operations easement under terms and conditions substantially similar to those applicable to the White River Junction–Newport line. Prior to executing a lease under this subsection, the agency of transportation shall submit the terms of the lease to the house and senate committees on transportation for review.

(F) During the 10-year period, VRS may not convey or encumber any of the real estate along the Gilman–St. Johnsbury line without the prior written approval of the agency of transportation and the approval of the general assembly or the joint fiscal committee if the general assembly is not in session.

(G) To secure the full performance of its obligations under this section, VRS shall enter into a mortgage with the state of Vermont, which shall be recorded in the land records of the municipalities of Lunenburg, Concord, Kirby, and St. Johnsbury. This mortgage may be subordinate only to a first mortgage granted by VRS to secure financing for the purchase and initial restoration of the line.

Effective Date: This section and the Sections authorizing purchase of Amtrak equipment and preservation of the Lunenburg (Gilman)–St. Johnsbury railroad line take effect from passage and the remainder of the act takes effect on July 1, 2007.

Program funding summary:

H. 527 FY08 Transportation Program

(excluding Central Garage internal service funds)

           

Line #

FY08 Transportation Budget - All funding sources

FY 2007

FY 2008

Conference

     

After BAA

Conference

FY08 vs FY07

1

Administration & Finance

10,912,468

11,354,193

441,725

2

Policy & Planning

10,611,823

11,028,962

417,139

3

Transportation Boards

84,600

87,796

3,196

4

Public assistance FEMA program

200,000

200,000

0

5

Department of Motor Vehicles

20,752,678

25,115,713

4,363,035

6

Public Transit

17,621,635

19,551,569

1,929,934

7

Maintenance

59,905,459

63,648,148

3,742,689

8

Aviation

11,143,971

7,217,200

-3,926,771

9

Rest Areas

3,441,146

3,650,000

208,854

10

AOT Buildings

701,000

1,449,000

748,000

11

Program Development

     

12

 

Paving

55,296,079

56,386,470

1,090,391

13

 

State bridges

28,276,727

18,201,388

-10,075,339

14

 

Interstate bridges

1,813,000

5,943,000

4,130,000

15

 

Pedestrian & Bike Facilities

6,544,915

6,003,543

-541,372

16

 

Enhancements

4,252,371

2,853,550

-1,398,821

17

 

Park & Ride

2,195,000

2,097,958

-97,042

18

 

Roadway

57,572,066

53,853,504

-3,718,562

19

 

Roadway D&E

8,230,000

3,980,000

-4,250,000

20

 

Safety & Traffic Operations

11,235,676

10,840,000

-395,676

21

 

Multi-Modal Facilities

312,800

494,000

181,200

22

 

Administration & Tech Services

14,226,498

14,226,865

367

23

Sub-total Program Development

189,955,132

174,880,278

-15,074,854

24

Rail Program

     

25

 

Rail infrastructure

18,418,050

17,665,487

-752,563

26

 

Amtrak

3,300,000

5,000,000

1,700,000

27

Sub-total Rail Program

21,718,050

22,665,487

947,437

28

Total AOT Programs

347,047,962

340,848,346

-6,199,616

29

Town Programs

     

30

 

TH Aid

24,982,744

24,982,744

0

31

 

TH Bridges

27,834,491

23,357,219

-4,477,272

32

 

TH Class 2

5,748,750

6,748,750

1,000,000

33

 

TH Structures

3,494,500

3,494,500

0

34

 

TH Emergency fund

3,488,675

750,000

-2,738,675

35

 

TH VT Local Roads

2,375,700

2,487,998

112,298

36

 

TH Class 1 supplemental grants

128,750

128,750

0

37

Total Town Programs

68,053,610

61,949,961

-6,103,649

38

Bridge Maintenance Program

7,260,679

4,865,945

-2,394,734

39

Total all programs

422,362,251

407,664,252

-14,697,999



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us