The ARTI of the Deal: Illustrating Why Local Can Be Better
Nossaman Partner Fred Kessler was featured in the Women's Transportation Seminar (WTS) Los Angeles Chapter Newsletter article "The ARTI of the Deal: Illustrating Why Local Can Be Better." Mr. Kessler is quoted extensively throughout the article as he provides his perspective on the benefits of local funding of major infrastructure projects. In describing LA Metro and the California Department of Transportation's Accelerated Regional Transportation Improvements (ARTI) project, Mr. Kessler said that "it is an excellent example of how transportation is being transformed through innovation measures propelled at the local level." He continued, saying "this project never would happen – never would have been conceived – except at the local level."
Mr. Kessler explained that most of the money for the ARTI project is local. The project is a combination of several smaller projects including the resurfacing of the general-purpose lanes and the addition of two managed lanes for approximately 10 miles of the I-5 north in Los Angeles. However, Mr. Kessler explained that "even if there is a little federal money, as there is in ARTI, that invokes an entire overlay of federal laws and regulations on procurement, contract document elements, and certain approval rights over the whole project."
Mr. Kessler also explained that tolling faces a similar federal issue. "In general, federal law prohibits tolling of interstates or any other highways funded with federal gas taxes. MAP-21 (the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act) introduced a number of significant exceptions to this tolling ban on federally funded projects. And that makes sense. Tolling is a quintessentially state and local decision. Local users pay the bulk of tolls. So political accountability should be at the state and local levels."
He continued, "Many want to see federal law further changed to remove all federal controls over tolling, other than requirements to use the tolls for transportation purposes, and leave this decision to state and local governments. This is where the money is coming from for many projects, particularly here in Los Angeles. So the movement to initiate and fund things locally is having growing national effects."