Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21)

On June 9, 1998, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), Public Law 105-178, which reauthorizes Federal surface transportation programs through 2003, was enacted. For new starts, TEA-21 leaves prior Federal law and policy largely intact, including the basic project justification criteria and the multiple-measure method of project evaluation. However, a number of significant changes were introduced to the Federal Transit Administration's New Starts Program.

Among the provisions of TEA-21 affecting FTA’s new starts program was language revising §5309(e) to codify many of the principles of FTA's New Starts Policy, which was published in the Federal Register on December 19, 1996 (61 FR 67093) and amended on November 12, 1997 (62 FR 60756). Aspects of the new starts policy which are now written as law, but which remain the same as past policy and practice, include the following:

  • Projects are to be funded using FFGAs, which specify the project to be constructed and the maximum amount of Federal funds which will be made available for the project.
  • The criteria do not apply to projects which require less than $25.00 million in §5309 funds, or which are completely funded with flexible Title 23 (highway program) funds.
  • FTA's recommendations to Congress regarding projects must be presented in an Annual Report produced in concert with the President's annual budget.
  • In addition to these principles, however, TEA-21 introduced a number of important changes to the way FTA manages and implements the new starts program. Among the most significant changes are the following:

    Other important changes include: