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The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has certified transit-rail state safety oversight (SSO) programs in Illinois and Tennessee, the agency announced yesterday.States with transit-rail systems in operation or under construction must get their SSO programs certified by April 15, 2019. In total, 28 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are required to obtain the certification. So far, 22 states, the District and Puerto Rico have achieved FTA certification.To earn the FTA's approval, an SSO program needs to meet federal statutory requirements, including establishing an SSO agency that's financially and legally independent from the transit agencies it oversees. The Illinois Department of Transportation will provide safety oversight of the Chicago Transit Authority's rail system. The department also will collaborate with the Missouri Department of Transportation to provide safety oversight of the St. Louis-area MetroLink light-rail system, which extends into southern Illinois.Meanwhile, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has been designated the SSO agency for the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority's Lookout Mountain inclined railway and the Memphis Area Transit Authority's trolley system.States that fail to meet the April 2019 deadline risk losing federal transit funding until certification is achieved. The FTA is currently reviewing SSO programs in California, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Oklahoma. Florida has yet to submit an application to certify its SSO program, according to the FTA's Aug. 29 certification status table.In addition, the FTA is waiting for a separate submission from the District, Maryland and Virginia for the Metrorail Safety Commission, which will be charged with providing safety oversight of the tri-state Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.