Transportation funds date code repairs for state systems

The department has
created a Web site to help state and local governments prioritize year 2000 repairs.





The Transportation Department will let state and local governments use federal highway
and transit funds for year 2000 repairs in their intelligent transportation systems, a
department spokesman said late last month.


“We’re giving our partners in state and local governments technical guidance
and access to resources they need so their high-technology transportation systems will
work as well on Jan. 1, 2000, as they did on the day before,” said deputy
Transportation secretary Mortimer L. Downey.


Many states use intelligent transportation systems such as those handling traffic light
management, freeway ramp meters, transit management and cargo tracking.


Freeing federal funds for year 2000 repairs in transportation systems is one thrust of
the Transportation Department’s Steps for Action, its plan for managing the year 2000
problem.


The plan was announced at the recent Intelligent Transportation Systems Year 2000
Summit in Arlington, Va.


Another part of the plan is to coordinate date code conversion between data exchange
points among federal, state and local governments.


“The summit is an important step in our efforts to work with partners at the state
and local levels to minimize disruptions to transportation systems as we make the
transition to the year 2000,” said John Koskinen, chairman of the President’s
Council on the Year 2000 Conversion.


As part of Steps for Action, the department created a Web site to help state and local
governments prioritize year 2000 repairs, learn about the technical process and how the
work could affect state and local agency business. The site is at
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/y2k.


The Web site contains an overview of the problem and the Federal Highway
Administration’s plan of attack. The Questions to Ask link offers guidelines to state
and local officials for coordinating year 2000 work with FHWA field office managers.


The site lists state government year 2000 programs and contains the Memorandum of
Agreement Between Federal and State Governments on Year 2000 Issues, which was reached at
the October State-Federal Chief Information Officer Summit in Pittsburgh.


FHWA and Federal Transit Administration field offices are expediting reviews of state
and local requests for year 2000 funding to get the money out quickly, Downey said.


The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, signed by President Clinton in
June, guarantees $198 billion for highway and transit programs.


Money is available under the National Highway System, Surface Transportation Program,
Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program and other transit capital
programs, Downey said.


“We need to make every effort to protect our nation’s transportation systems
from the adverse consequences of the Y2K bug,” said Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio).
“I intend to work with both the private and public sectors to help ensure that these
systems become Y2K-compliant.”


The ITS Summit was one of the first working groups Koskinen and federal agencies held
with state and local officials. Koskinen also met in Washington last month with about 50
state representatives to discuss systems interfaces.  

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