A Look at SAFETEA-LU's Training And Educational Provisions
National Highway Institute (NHI)
As a growing number of workers approach retirement in the coming years, the need for a skilled, technically competent transportation workforce has never been more critical. To address this problem, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) includes several provisions to enhance workforce development. Signed into law in August 2005, SAFETEA-LU reauthorizes and provides funding for Federal highway, safety, and transit programs for the 5-year period from 2005 to 2009.
SAFETEA-LU supports workforce development as a continuum with the goal of preparing students for transportation careers. The continuum begins with funding programs for students in elementary and secondary schools so they can learn about the transportation system. The process continues by authorizing and providing money for programs that enable undergraduate and graduate students to develop more refined skills. And to nurture the existing workforce, SAFETEA-LU provides funding for transportation professionals to continue to develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities throughout their careers.
Section 5204(e) of SAFETEA-LU allows State departments of transportation (DOTs) to spend core program funds on educational opportunities spanning all grade levels and targeting career transportation workers. A major benefit of using core funds for workforce development is that States are not required to provide matching funds.
In addition to Section 5204(e), several other parts of the new law continue, authorize, or provide funds for workforce development programs:
- National Highway Institute (NHI) — Section 5204(a) continues funding for NHI programs and adds asset management to the covered program areas. SAFETEA-LU funds NHI at $9.6 million per year, an increase of $1.6 million over the final year of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).
- Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) and Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP) — Under Section 5204(b), LTAP will continue to provide surface transportation technology and training to transportation agencies and contractors that perform work primarily for local agencies and State DOTs. Total funding for LTAP and TTAP is $11.1 million per year, an increase of $1.1 million over the final year of TEA-21. When tribal technical assistance centers use the TTAP funds, there is no matching requirement, and the Federal Government provides 100 percent of the funding.
- Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program — Section 5204(i) continues funding for this program, which attracts the Nation's brightest minds to the transportation field and enhances the careers of transportation professionals by encouraging them to seek advanced degrees. Under SAFETEA-LU, funding is increased to $2.2 million per year, $200,000 over TEA-21's level.
- Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Futures Program — Established in 1997, this program reaches out to elementary and secondary school students to promote awareness of transportation careers. It is funded for the first time under Section 5204(d) of SAFETEA-LU at $1.25 million per year beginning in 2006.
- Transportation Education Development Pilot Program — This new program establishes funding for pilot programs to develop training and education curricula for surface transportation workers. The program is funded under Section 5204(f) at $1.875 million per year beginning in 2006.
- Freight Planning Capacity Building Program — Beginning in 2006 and funded at $875,000 per year under Section 5204(h), this new program supports better targeted investments in freight transportation planning. It also seeks to strengthen the decisionmaking capacity of State DOTs and local transportation agencies with regard to freight transportation planning and systems.
- Surface Transportation Congestion Relief Solutions Technical Assistance and Training — This new provision helps disseminate the results of research initiatives aimed at finding solutions to surface transportation congestion. The provision also allocates funding to State DOTs and local agencies to help them improve their approaches to congestion measurement, analysis, and project programming. Section 5502(d) funds the provision at $750,000 per year beginning in 2006.
- Transportation Scholarship Opportunities Program — Under Section 5505 of SAFETEA-LU, this new program authorizes nongovernmental institutions and the operating administrations within the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to create scholarship and mentoring programs. Most USDOT operating administrations did not have statutory authority in this area prior to SAFETEA-LU. Operating administration participation is discretionary, and no funding is provided.
- Core State Program Funds for Workforce Development — Under this new provision, Section 5204(e), funds from the Surface Transportation, National Highway System, Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation, Interstate Maintenance, and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement programs may be used, at the discretion of the States, for workforce development, training, and educational purposes. Funds may be used for training and education for in-service workers and for transportation career activities, including surface transportation career awareness, student internships, and university or community college support.
- University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program — Under Section 5401, the UTC program has been expanded from 33 universities under TEA-21 to 60 universities under SAFETEA-LU. Funding also has increased from $32.5 million for 2003 under TEA-21 to $76.7 million per year. Both the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration provide funding for UTCs.
For more information about developing the transportation workforce, visit www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov/transworkforce. Additional information about the SAFETEA-LU provisions for workforce development is available from Clark Martin at 703-235-0547 or firstname.lastname@example.org.