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Transit Mega Projects: Legal Issues
This report was prepared under TCRP Project J-05, “Legal Aspects of Transit and Intermodal Transportation Programs,” for which the Transportation Research Board is the agency coordinating the research. The report was prepared under Topic 20-01 by Suzanne Silverman, Adam Giuliano, Ayelet Hirschkorn, and Emily Eads, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP, New York, NY; Christian Alexander, Emeka Ezekwamba, and Brandon Rattiner, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP, Denver, CO; and Suyash Raiborde, Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A., Greenville, SC. The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this digest are those of the researchers who performed the research and are not necessarily those of the Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; or the program sponsors. The responsible senior program officer is Gwen Chisholm Smith.
The nation’s 6,800 plus public transportation agencies need to have access to a program that can provide authoritatively researched, specific studies of legal issues and problems having national significance and application to the public transportation industry. Some legal issues and problems are unique to transit agencies. For example, compliance with transit-equipment and operations guidelines, FTA financing initiatives, private-sector programs, and labor or environmental standards relating to transit operations. Also, much of the information that is needed by public transit attorneys to address legal concerns is not summarized in a single source. Consequently, it would be helpful to the transit lawyer to have well-resourced and well-documented reports on specific legal topics available to the public transportation legal community.
The Legal Research Digest (LRDs) are developed to assist public transit attorneys in dealing with initiatives and problems associated with transit start-up and operations, as well as with day-to-day legal works. The LRDs address such issues as eminent domain, civil rights, constitutional rights, contracting, environmental concerns, labor, procurement, risk management, security, tort liability, and zoning. The transit legal research, when conducted through the TRB’s legal studies process, either collects primary data that generally are not available elsewhere or performs analysis of existing literature.
Transit mega projects are unique, expensive and often funded by a mix of federal grants and state and local funding. Federal agencies have specific legal requirements, including specific legal provisions to include in contracts and intergovernmental agreements, and provide valuable advice for managing and coordinating such projects.
This digest includes lessons learned (successful and unsuccessful) from transit agencies that have overseen federally funded complex mega projects, such as insights from reviewing third-party contracts and intergovernmental agreements, FTA guidance, pertinent legal decisions, and other valuable references. This digest also covers lessons learned from five case studies and summarizes legal issues these mega transit projects faced, including funding, environmental challenges, contracts, design, insurance, dispute resolution, and intergovernmental coordination.
This digest will be useful to lawyers representing public transportation agencies of all sizes that are planning transit mega projects or are considering applying for federal funding to design and/or construct transit mega projects. This digest also will be helpful to non-attorneys involved in the development, design, construction, funding, or management of transit mega projects, including engineers, insurance providers, state and federal personnel, consultants, contractors, and students.