[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 55 (Thursday, March 22, 2007)]
[Notices]
[Pages 13552-13556]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-5161]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration


Solicitation of Applications for Certain Federal-Aid Highway 
Funding Available in Fiscal Year 2007 Under Federal Highway 
Discretionary Grant Programs

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of funding availability.

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SUMMARY: The purpose of this notice is to solicit applications for 
Federal grant funding and to issue supplemental notice and information 
to eligible grantees concerning discretionary grant funds available for 
obligation in Fiscal Year 2007 under eight discretionary grant programs 
administered by FHWA. It seeks applications (either new or amended) to 
the programs that both meet the programs' respective statutory criteria 
and emphasize the proposed projects' highway safety and congestion 
reduction benefits. The FHWA will make its funding determinations 
through a merit-based selection process.
    This notice applies to the following programs: the Ferry Boat 
Discretionary Program (23 U.S.C. 147), the Innovative Bridge Research 
and Construction Program (23 U.S.C. 503(b)), the Interstate Maintenance 
Discretionary Program (23 U.S.C. 118(c)), Public Lands Highway 
Discretionary Program (23 U.S.C. 202-204), the Highways for Life Pilot 
(HfL) Program (Sec.  1502 of Pub. L. 109-59), the Transportation 
Community and System Preservation Program (Sec.  1117 of Pub. L. 109-
59), the Truck Parking Facilities Pilot Program (Sec.  1305 of Pub. L. 
109-59), and the Delta Region Transportation Development Program (Sec.  
1308 of Pub. L. 109-59).

DATES: Applications must be submitted by April 30, 2007, unless 
otherwise specified (see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION Section D). Late-
filed applications may be considered to the extent practical. This 
deadline generally represents an extension of approximately 30 days 
from the original deadline for applications.

ADDRESSES: Applications should be submitted electronically in MS Word 
format by eligible applicants, generally State transportation 
departments, by following the instructions provided under the 
Supplemental Action Memoranda issued by FHWA to the State DOTs for the 
above-referenced discretionary programs. The Supplemental Action 
Memoranda for the various discretionary programs are posted on the FHWA 
Web site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/discretionary/currsol.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please address questions concerning this 
notice to Steve Rochlis, Office of Chief Counsel, Federal Highway 
Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, via e-mail at 
Steve.Rochlis@dot.gov or (202) 366-1395, or to Thomas M. McNamara, 
Office of the Secretary, via e-mail at Thomas.McNamara@dot.gov. 
Questions concerning the specific grant program should be directed to 
the point of contact listed on the information memoranda and posted on 
the FHWA Web site.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Electronic Access: An electronic copy of this document may be 
downloaded

[[Page 13553]]

from the Office of the Federal Register's home page at: http://
www.archives.gov and the Government Printing Office's Web page at: 
http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara.

A. Background

    The FHWA Administrator, acting on behalf of the Secretary, is 
authorized to provide Federal grant assistance for the above programs 
on a discretionary basis, and is seeking applications for the Ferry 
Boat Discretionary Program, the Innovative Bridge Research and 
Construction Program, the Interstate Maintenance Discretionary Program, 
the Public Lands Highway Discretionary Program, the Highways for Life 
Pilot Program, the Transportation Community and System Preservation 
Program, the Truck Parking Facilities Pilot Program, and the Delta 
Region Transportation Development Program. This notice supplements 
FHWA's requests for applications to all eight discretionary programs. 
It seeks applications (either new or amended) to the programs that both 
meet the programs' respective statutory criteria and emphasize the 
proposed projects' highway safety and congestion reduction benefits.
    In a 1999 report (GAO/RCED 99-263 ``Transportation Infrastructure--
FHWA Should Assess and Compare the Benefits of Projects When Awarding 
Discretionary Grants''), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) 
found that FHWA's process for considering applications for 
discretionary grants did not sufficiently emphasize a comparative 
analysis of the projects' transportation benefits. In the report, GAO 
urged FHWA to do more such analysis, and to ensure that FHWA funds 
projects that provide the greatest transportation benefits. To address 
the concerns outlined in the GAO report, as well as others raised 
during an internal review, FHWA has decided to be more strategic in its 
FY 2007 discretionary grant awards process by targeting its resources 
toward projects that provide the greatest benefits. FHWA is 
particularly focusing on projects with substantial benefits related to 
either highway safety or congestion relief and invites application of 
large-scale high-cost projects that provide strategic and substantial 
safety or congestion reduction benefits within the particular 
discretionary grant program.

Policies and Investments To Improve Highway Safety

    Highway safety has been an increasing focus and priority for FHWA 
over the recent past. Targeting discretionary funding in a results-
oriented comprehensive approach to safety is a means of directing 
limited discretionary funding to those projects that will yield 
tangible transportation and safety benefits. Improving highway safety 
is achieved most effectively through a comprehensive approach which 
integrates the ``4Es'' of safety: Engineering, Education, Enforcement, 
and Emergency Medical Systems. It allows safety professionals to 
consider the full range of safety tools to address problems, make the 
choice based on the most effective countermeasure, and implement 
strategies that may require not only an engineering fix but also 
targeted enforcement and greater public awareness.
Specific Actions Enhancing the Safety of Highway Users
    Highway fatalities totaled 43,443 on our Nation's highways in 2005, 
up from 42,836 in 2004; according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting 
System (FARS). The rate of highway fatalities, measured in terms of 
deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled has remained relatively 
constant over the past several years at approximately 1.45; failing to 
maintain a steady decline in the 2000's as was seen over the previous 3 
decades or more. If the fatality rate remains at the current level, the 
Nation would experience nearly 50,000 deaths a year by the end of this 
decade. In addition to the tragedy of lives lost and millions of 
serious injuries sustained, the economic impact to the Nation is 
enormous.
    According to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration, it is estimated that current levels of highway 
crashes have an annual economic impact of over $230 billion (in year 
2000 dollars) in the United States,
    Improving highway safety is achieved most effectively through a 
comprehensive approach which integrates the ``4Es'' of safety: 
Engineering, Education, Enforcement, and Emergency Medical Systems. It 
allows safety professionals to consider the full range of safety tools 
to address problems, make a choice based on the most effective 
countermeasure, and implement strategies that may require not only 
engineering solutions, but also targeted enforcement and greater public 
awareness.
    Highway design, the infrastructure side of the engineering ``E'' of 
safety, also plays a significant role. The FHWA is focusing resources 
on three major crash types to improve infrastructure safety: Roadway 
departure, intersection, and pedestrian crashes. In addition, a number 
of cross-cutting programs support infrastructure safety, such as work 
zones, visibility, older and younger road users, and speed management.
    Roadway Departure--Roadway departure crashes, which include 
vehicles leaving the roadway as well as head-on crashes, represent 59 
percent of all fatalities. Two-lane rural roads are a particular 
concern, as vehicles have little opportunity to recover if they leave 
the pavement, and the opportunity for head-on collisions is greater. 
Barrier systems are designed to mitigate the consequences of leaving 
the roadway, if a hazardous roadside object cannot otherwise be 
removed. Barrier systems may also be applied in the median of divided 
roadways to physically separate traffic and prevent head-on collisions 
from occurring. Rumble strips (longitudinal and transverse) have proven 
to be a life-saving countermeasure, on shoulders of divided four-lane 
facilities, as centerlines on two-lane roadways, and at approaches to 
intersections and sharp curves.
    Intersection--Intersection crashes represent 21 percent of all 
fatalities. This includes both signalized as well as unsignalized 
intersections. Intersection-related crashes represent more than 50 
percent of all crashes in urban areas and 30 percent of all crashes in 
rural areas. Safety strategies for intersections range from simple 
adjustments to the signal timing to innovative intersection designs. 
Traditional intersection safety strategies include improving horizontal 
and/or vertical sight distances, adding a protected-only left turn 
phase, improving advance signing, and installing and improving 
lighting. Reducing the occurrence of red light running through camera 
enforcement can be an effective tool from an enforcement perspective. 
In addition, installation of an innovative intersection design, such as 
a roundabout, and the application of Intelligent Transportation System 
(ITS) technologies are promising for safety overall, and particularly 
for intersections.
    Pedestrian--Pedestrian fatalities represent 11 percent of all 
highway fatalities. While the pedestrian safety challenge is 
predominantly urban in nature, some States do have rural pedestrian 
issues. The types of safety strategies effective at reducing pedestrian 
fatalities are similar to those effective for intersection fatalities. 
Adequate lighting can make a significant impact on pedestrian safety. 
Good delineation and advance signing are also important. Channeling 
pedestrian movements can improve safety, as the majority of pedestrian 
fatalities occur at mid-block locations. Traffic calming techniques 
that reduce

[[Page 13554]]

and control speed are also important to increased pedestrian safety. In 
addition, adequate sidewalks and walkways are critical to safe and 
efficient pedestrian movements.
    Cross-cutting Programs--In addition to the three focus areas noted 
above, safety can be advanced in a number of cross-cutting areas. Work 
zone fatalities represent approximately 1,000 fatalities annually. Work 
zone safety may be increased through proper planning and phasing; use 
of standard signing and markings; use of technologies such as work area 
intrusion alarms, queue detection sensors, and speed feedback signs; 
and strong enforcement. Older and younger road users experience a much 
higher fatality rate than the general population. Improved lighting and 
adequate retroreflective signs and pavement markings allow all users to 
benefit from good roadway delineation and provide all drivers with the 
information needed to make safe decisions. Speed management has great 
potential for significantly advancing safety; this activity includes 
education and training needed to set appropriate speed limits, 
enforcement to ensure compliance with appropriate speeds, and 
engineering roadways to encourage safe speeds. Speed management 
strategies range from the application of automated enforcement to 
traffic calming techniques.
    Behavioral Safety Issues--The safe engineering of roads and 
roadsides is only one part of the safety equation. Without consistent 
improvement in driver behavior, traffic enforcement, and emergency 
medical services, dramatic reductions in highway fatalities will not 
occur, even with engineering improvements. To address these behavioral 
problems, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration works 
closely with State and local governments to increase public education 
and awareness and support targeted enforcement campaigns.

The Challenges of Highway Congestion

    Transportation system congestion is one of the single largest 
threats to U.S. economic prosperity and the American way of life. In 
response to the challenges of congestion, in May 2006 the Department of 
Transportation established the National Strategy to Reduce Congestion 
on America's Transportation Network (the ``Congestion Initiative''). 
FHWA's increased emphasis on congestion reduction in its distribution 
of FY 2007 discretionary funding is directly in support of the 
Congestion Initiative, and FHWA expects that the projects funded 
through the eight discretionary programs described in this notice will 
yield tangible economic and transportation benefits that are likely to 
far exceed the Federal investment in each project.
    Traffic congestion affects people in nearly every aspect of their 
daily lives--where they live, where they work, where they shop, and how 
much they pay for goods and services. According to 2003 figures, in 
certain metropolitan areas the average rush hour driver loses as many 
as 93 hours per year to travel delay--the equivalent of more than two 
weeks of work that amounts annually to a ``congestion tax'' as high as 
$1,598 per traveler in wasted time and fuel.\1\ Nationwide, congestion 
imposes costs on the economy of at least $63 billion per year.\2\ The 
costs of congestion are significantly higher when taking into account 
the cost of unreliability to drivers and businesses, the environmental 
impacts of idle-related auto emissions, increased gasoline prices and 
the immobility of labor markets that result from congestion.
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    \1\ Texas Transportation Institute (``TTI''), 2005 Urban 
Mobility Report, May 2005 (http://tti.tamu.edu/documents/mobility_
report_2005.pdf), Tables 1 and 2.
    \2\ TTI, 2005 Urban Mobility Report, p. 1.
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    Nationally, in a 2005 survey conducted by the National League of 
Cities, 35% of U.S. citizens reported traffic congestion as the most 
deteriorated living condition in their cities over the past five years; 
85% responded that traffic congestion was as bad as, or worse than, it 
was in the previous year.\3\ Similarly, in a 2001 survey conducted by 
the U.S. Conference of Mayors, 79% of Americans from ten metropolitan 
areas reported that congestion had worsened in the prior five years; 
50% believe it has become ``much worse.''\4\
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    \3\ National League of Cities survey of cities (2005).
    \4\ U.S. Conference of Mayors survey on traffic congestion 
(2001).
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Policies and Investments To Reduce Congestion

    A variety of transportation policies and investments serve to 
reduce congestion, including design, engineering, operational and 
technological improvements. The most important--albeit often 
misunderstood--congestion reduction measure is congestion pricing. 
Congestion pricing leverages the principles of supply and demand to 
manage traffic. It does this by charging drivers a user fee that varies 
by traffic volume (or as a proxy for volume--by time of day), thus 
managing highway resources in a manner that promotes free-flow traffic 
conditions on highways virtually twenty-four hours per day. Congestion 
pricing achieves free-flow conditions by shifting rush hour highway 
travel to other transportation modes or routes or to off-peak periods, 
taking particular advantage of the fact that many rush hour drivers on 
typical urban highways are not commuters. By removing a fraction of the 
vehicles from a congested rush hour roadway, pricing enables the system 
to flow much more efficiently, allowing more cars to move through the 
same physical space. Similar variable charges have been successfully 
utilized in other industries (on airline tickets, cell phone rates, and 
electricity, for example), and there is a consensus among economists 
that congestion pricing represents the single most viable approach to 
reducing traffic congestion.
    Congestion pricing is no longer simply a theory; it has 
demonstrated positive results both here in the U.S. and around the 
world. Successful American applications of congestion pricing include 
California's SR-91 between Anaheim and Riverside, portions of I-15 
outside of San Diego, and Express Lanes on I-394 between downtown 
Minneapolis and the western suburbs. The pricing of each of these 
facilities has enabled congestion-free rush hour commuting and proven 
popular with drivers of all income levels. Internationally, congestion 
pricing has yielded dramatic reductions in traffic congestion and 
increases in travel speeds in Singapore, London, and Stockholm. 
Notably, a small reduction in vehicles can yield dramatic improvements 
in traffic, as demonstrated by a British study, which projected that a 
9% drop in traffic could yield a 52% drop in congestion delay.\5\ This 
same dynamic plays out in metropolitan areas every August, as family 
vacations lead to a minor decrease in rush hour drivers, which 
substantially reduces area traffic congestion.
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    \5\ Department of Transport, U.K., Feasibility Study of Road 
Pricing in the U.K.: A Report to the Secretary of State for 
Transport, Road Price Steering Group, Chapter 4, Figure 3.
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    In all its forms, congestion pricing benefits drivers and 
businesses by reducing delays and stress, increasing the predictability 
of trip times, and allowing for more deliveries per hour. It benefits 
public transportation by improving transit speeds and the reliability 
of transit service, increasing transit ridership and lowering costs per 
traveler for transit providers. State and local governments benefit by 
improving the quality of transportation services without tax increases 
or large capital

[[Page 13555]]

expenditures, providing additional revenues for funding transportation, 
retaining businesses and expanding the tax base. It saves lives by 
shortening incident response times for emergency responders. And, it 
benefits society as a whole by reducing fuel consumption and vehicle 
emissions, allowing for more efficient land use decisions, reducing 
housing market distortions, and increasing time available for 
participation in civic life.
    Beyond pricing, technological advancements may be deployed to 
reduce urban congestion by improving system operations and safety. 
Examples of technological innovations that may help reduce congestion 
include:
     Longitudinal control designed to enhance spatial 
efficiency on existing highways, precision docking, and real-time 
travel information;
     Traffic management technology, including adaptive traffic 
signal control systems and the use of cameras to provide real-time 
information to first responders to help them determine what equipment 
they will need before they arrive at the site of an accident or 
incident; and
     Advanced traveler information systems that provide web or 
wireless access to route-specific travel time and toll information; 
route planning assistance using historical records of congestion by 
time of day; parking alerts; vehicle locator systems; or communications 
technologies that gather traffic- and incident-related data from a few 
vehicles traveling on a roadway and then publish that information to 
drivers via mobile phones, in-car units or dynamic message signs.

B. Discretionary Grant Applications Should Specify Safety and 
Congestion Reduction Benefits Associated With the Project Seeking 
Funding

    Discretionary grant applications to any of the programs must be 
responsive to each program's specific statutory criteria. However, in 
addition to those criteria, the applicant should provide further 
description of the highway safety and congestion reduction benefits of 
the project, as follows:
    1. Highway Safety benefits. With respect to safety, the applicant 
should describe the safety benefits associated with the project or 
activity for which funding is sought, including whether the project, 
activity, or improvement:
     Will result in a measurable reduction in the loss of 
property, injury, or life;
     Incorporates innovative safety design or operational 
techniques, including variable pricing for congestion reduction, 
electronic tolling, barrier systems, and intersection-related 
enhancements;
     Incorporates innovative construction work zone strategies 
to improve safety;
     Is located on a rural road that is in need of priority 
attention based on analysis of safety experience; and/or
     Is located in an urban area of high injury or fatality, 
and is an initiative to improve the design, operation or other aspect 
of the existing facility that will result in a measurable safety 
improvement.
    2. Congestion reduction benefits. With respect to congestion, the 
applicant should describe the extent (if any) to which the project, 
activity, or improvement:
     Relieves congestion in an urban area or along a major 
transportation corridor;
     Employs operational and technological improvements that 
promote safety and congestion relief; and/or \6\
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    \6\ Traditional toll plazas may create traffic backups that 
present a safety hazard; the conversion of traditional plazas to 
electronic toll collection systems should greatly reduce such 
hazards and improve safety on toll roads. See Highway Accident 
Report NTSB/HAR-06/03 ``Multivehicle Collision on Interstate 90 
Hampshire-Marengo Toll Plaza Near Hampshire, Illinois'' (October 1, 
2003).
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     Addresses major freight bottlenecks.

C. Coordination With Other Congestion Initiative Solicitations

    In keeping with the Department's emphasis on congestion reduction, 
the Department has issued a number of other solicitations related to 
the Congestion Initiative. The Department encourages applicants to 
coordinate their responses to this Notice with any applications 
submitted in response to the solicitations listed below. Applicants 
that also apply for funding under the Urban Partnership Agreement 
Program (see (1) below), Intelligent Transportation System Operational 
Testing to Mitigate Congestion Program (see (2) below), Value Pricing 
Pilot Program (see (3) below), and/or Corridors of the Future Program 
(see (4) below) must respond separately to each solicitation from which 
they seek funding. However, the Department will give priority 
consideration in its funding decisions to parties designated as either 
Urban Partners or Corridors of the Future.
    The related solicitations are:
    (1) Solicitation for the Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA), 
published on December 8, 2006, in the Federal Register at 71 FR 71233. 
The purpose of the UPA solicitation is to solicit proposals by 
metropolitan areas to enter into UPAs with the Department in order to 
demonstrate strategies with a combined track record of effectiveness in 
reducing traffic congestion.
    (2) Solicitation for the Value Pricing Pilot (VPP) Program. The VPP 
Program, Sec.  1012(b) of Public Law 102-240, as amended by Sec.  
1216(a) of Public Law 105-178, and Sec.  1604(a) of Public Law 109-59, 
119 Stat. 1249, supports implementation of a variety of pricing-based 
approaches for managing congestion on highways. The solicitation for 
the VPP Program, published December 22, 2006, in the Federal Register 
at 71 FR 777084, aligns the program with the Congestion Initiative to 
support metropolitan areas in implementing broad congestion pricing 
strategies in the near term.
    (3) Solicitation for the Intelligent Transportation System 
Operational Testing to Mitigate Congestion (ITS-OTMC) Program. The ITS 
Research and Development program, as reauthorized in SAFETEA-LU, 
supports the research, development and testing of ITS for a variety of 
purposes. The solicitation for the ITS-OTMC Program, published on 
December 18, 2006, in the Federal Register at 71 FR 75806, supports the 
operational testing and evaluation of advanced technologies to reduce 
metropolitan congestion.
    (4) In addition to these solicitations, the DOT's new ``Corridors 
of the Future Program'' (CFP) is part of the Congestion Initiative, and 
is specifically designed to accelerate the development of multi-State, 
and possibly multi-use, transportation corridors to help reduce 
congestion. The primary goal of the CFP is to encourage States to 
leverage public and private resources to develop innovative national 
and regional approaches to reducing congestion, increase freight system 
reliability and enhance the quality of life for U.S. citizens. The CFP 
contributes to the objectives of the DOT corridor programs by 
specifically working with multi-State coalitions to identify innovative 
funding sources for corridors of national and regional significance in 
need of investment and improved operations for the purpose of reducing 
congestion. Eligible CFP public and private sector entities should work 
with their State DOT to identify and submit appropriate candidate 
applications for discretionary grant fund allocations under the 
discretionary programs discussed herein.
    For more information on the DOT Congestion Initiative, please refer 
to http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/congestion/index.htm and http://
www.fightgridlocknow.gov/.

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D. Solicitation Deadline Extension

    Applications for discretionary projects were generally solicited 
through FHWA Division offices to the State DOTs in early January 2007, 
with a deadline of March 30, 2007. This solicitation extends the 
deadline to April 30, 2007, except for the HfL program, which shall 
close two weeks after the publication of this notice. By this notice, 
and by the dissemination of the Supplemental Action Memoranda for the 
discretionary programs, the FHWA is issuing new notices amending prior 
notices and re-soliciting applications for these programs in accordance 
with their statutory criteria under a merit based selection process. 
This notice also clarifies that project applications should specify 
safety and congestion reduction benefits associated with the project, 
improvement, or activity. The amended grant application procedures are 
posted at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/discretionary/currsol.htm and will be 
distributed electronically to all FHWA Division offices and through the 
Division offices to the State DOTs.
    The Administrator, acting on behalf of the Secretary, may amend, 
revise, waive or modify the terms for funding set forth in this notice 
at any time.

    Authority: 23 U.S.C. 315.

    Issued on: March 16, 2007.
J. Richard Capka,
Federal Highway Administrator.
[FR Doc. E7-5161 Filed 3-21-07; 8:45 am]
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