If you're an infrastructure and right of way junkie like me, you'll be interested in a few of the updates below. If you're not a transportation nut (and understandably so), it still doesn't hurt to get caught up on the happenings in California and at the federal level. So read on.
MAP-21: This Summer, Congress passed the "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act." If you ever hear the acronym MAP-21 thrown around, this Act is what's being referred to. What does it do and why do you care? In its simplest terms, the Act reauthorizes transportation funding through the end of 2014. But it is loaded with a ton of important details for transportation and other infrastructure projects. I'd highly suggest reading Nossaman's four-part E-Alert which breaks down the meaningful reforms. For those of us in the eminent domain and right-of-way industry, here's a few highlights:
- Funding cannot be obligated to a project until it receives environmental clearance, meaning agencies will need to find other funding sources if they move forward with preliminary design and right of way acquisition before obtaining environmental approvals.
- The US Department of Transportation is required to adopt a categorical exclusion from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for projects within the existing "operational rights-of-way." In other words, there is the potential to accelerate a number of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV), High Occupancy Toll (HOT), or other projects that can be built within existing freeways, highways, or railroads.
- Projects receiving less than $5 million in federal funds are also categorically exempt from NEPA. This provision also has the potential to accelerate projects that will not rely on significant federal funding, such as Public-Private Partnership (P3) Projects.
California Infrastructure Updates: Okay, enough with the federal stuff. What's going on in our backyard? Check out yesterday's announcement from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), noting that the California Transportation Commission has allocated another $745 million to 118 transportation projects across California. With this additional release of funds, about $14 billion in Proposition 1B funds have been allocated statewide. If you want to know what projects are receiving these most recent funds, check out the list of projects here.
California Eminent Domain Report is a one-stop resource for everything new and noteworthy in eminent domain in California. We cover all aspects of eminent domain in California, including condemnation, inverse condemnation, and regulatory takings. We also keep track of current cases, project announcements, budget issues, legislative reform efforts, and report on all major California eminent domain conferences and seminars.