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FTA calls on states to get rail safety programs certified early

Massachusetts' state safety oversight program was certified last month.
Photo – FTA


By Daniel Niepow, Associate Editor

Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams yesterday called on states to get their transit-rail safety oversight programs ready for certification by Sept. 30 or sooner.

In a call with media representatives, Williams said she's asking states to seek certification ahead of the federal deadline, which is April 15, 2019.

Under federal law, states with transit-rail systems in operation are required to obtain FTA certification of their rail safety oversight programs. States with transit-rail systems in the engineering or construction phase also must get their programs certified by the April deadline.

Thirty states and the District of Columbia must obtain the certification. So far, the FTA has certified safety oversight programs in seven states and the District. Seven more have submitted applications that are under review, Williams said.

"We still have an additional 15 [states] to go, and some of those are quite complex," she said. "We've indicated to all of them that if we don't get [the applications] by the end of September, they could be in jeopardy of not reaching certification by April 15."

Williams emphasized that the FTA is prohibited by law from awarding new transit funds to agencies in states that fail to meet the certification deadline.

"Unless Congress acts to extend that deadline, I have no ability as the acting administrator to change that," she said.

Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Utah, Virginia and the District have achieved certification of their state safety oversight programs. Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have submitted applications that are under review.

Last week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report that said the FTA hasn't provided the necessary guidance to develop effective transit-rail safety inspection programs.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/17/2018