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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

USDOT's Chao creates council to review new transportation technology

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao
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U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao yesterday announced the creation of a new council at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) that would be tasked with identifying and resolving jurisdictional and regulatory issues that may impede the deployment of new and emerging technology.

Chao announced the creation of the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology Council (NETT) during her remarks at the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas.

"New technologies increasingly straddle more than one mode of transportation, so I've signed an order creating a new internal department council to better coordinate the review of innovation that have multimodal applications,” said Chao in a press release.

Technologies to be addressed include tunneling, hyperloop and autonomous vehicles.

USDOT has 11 operating administrations, each with its own traditional jurisdiction over certain environmental and regulatory approvals. New technology may not always fit into the department's existing regulatory structure, which could result in a slower pace of transportation innovation, USDOT officials said in the press release.

As a result, inventors and investors may face uncertainty when they approach the department for necessary authorizations, permits or approvals.

The NETT Council will aim to address such challenges by "ensuring the traditional modal silos at DOT do not impede the deployment of new technology," they said. "Furthermore, it will give project sponsors a single point of access to discuss plans and proposals."