July Rules: DOT Moves Fast

What a month this has been, and the U.S. Department of Transportation still has about a dozen days to go. DOT's units have been busy with rulemaking in July -– FAA, FRA, and FHWA all have issued significant rules since July 13. Respectively, their rules will speed up re-registration of all U.S. civil aircraft, will ensure railroad operators inspect 100,000 U.S. railroad bridges at least once a year, and instruct state transportation departments to strengthen their regulations for highway noise impacts so noise is reduced by about 7 dBA.

Documentation of about one-third of FAA's 357,000 registered civil aircraft is inaccurate, it said in its rule. This rule sets expiration dates during a three-year period for all civil aircraft registered before Oct. 1, 2010, and requires re-registration every three years thereafter. "These improvements will give us more up-to-date registration data and better information about the state of the aviation industry," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. According to FAA, current regulations require owners to report the sale of an aircraft, the destruction of an aircraft, or a change in mailing address, "but many owners have not complied with those requirements."

For technical questions about the rule, contact John Bent, Civil Aviation Registry, AFS-700, FAA Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, 6500 South MacArthur Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73169, phone 405-954-4331, e-mail john.g.bent@faa.gov. FAA says the current registration program costs aircraft owners $8,361,100 during a 20-year period, but the new rule will raise that to $29,946,000.

The Federal Railroad Administration's rule, required by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, requires railroad track owners to implement bridge management programs and allows FRA to impose fines up to $100,000. It "will help ensure the 100,000 railroad bridges in the United States are maintained and inspected to the standards accepted by sound engineering practices," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "During the past five decades, not one fatality has been caused by the structural failure of a railroad bridge, and there have been just nine injuries since 1982," said FRA Administrator Joe Szabo. "Most of the older bridges in the U.S. were designed to carry loads much heavier than the trains of today, but we believe this final rule will institutionalize best engineering and inspection practices for all railroad bridges and give the FRA greater enforcement power in order to continue this record of excellence."

Published July 13, the Federal Highway Administration's final noise abatement rule requires state DOTs to submit revised noise policies by Jan. 13, 2011. The agency has scheduled two webinars to help agencies and the public understand the change:

Posted by Jerry Laws on Jul 20, 2010


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