LANCASTER – The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) is hoping to be selected for a pilot program that could provide more jobs for local residents.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently announced the program which will explore new ways to make it easier for states and cities to hire local residents for transportation projects. The proposed pilot program will analyze current provisions in federal transportation contracts that allow states some leverage to give preference to local workers.
Current regulations from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) prohibit the practice of giving geographic preference when awarding a contract. This proposed pilot program will allow both agencies to evaluate the merits of current restrictions in comparison to the merits of local preference on the competitive bidding process.
“Local workers often have the greatest stake in local road and transit projects, but federal rules make it hard for communities to ensure that their workers reap some of the benefits and that’s just not right,” stated Secretary Foxx. “We want to create ladders of opportunities for them, as well as for low-income workers and veterans, to help put some of the transportation investments we make in the hands of those who would benefit most.”
The yearlong pilot program is proposed as an experiment to allow agencies leeway in finding new and more effective ways to build, maintain and manage federal transportation projects.
Although federal statutes dictate contract regulations, there are some policies that make it possible for state transportation departments to evaluate promising, non-traditional contracting techniques and practices. This administrative flexibility is paving the way for the pilot program.
For AVTA, the promise of local preference in the procurement process could mean more local jobs and greater economic development for the Antelope Valley.
“Investment in local transportation not only transforms the landscape of our community, but also the lives of the people who live and work here,” stated AVTA Board Chair Marvin Crist. “This measure will go a long way to bridge the gap between our skilled local workforce, and the transportation projects that need them.”
[Information via news release from the Antelope Valley Transit Authority.]