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Transportation, Infrastructure & Local Government

Our highly regarded Transportation, Infrastructure & Local Government Practice provides strategic counsel to public and private sector domestic and international clients on a wide range of congressional executive branch policy, and legislative and regulatory matters, as well as on state and local public sector infrastructure investment and opportunities.

Our emphasis is on creative federal funding and financing, infrastructure development and opening markets for clients. Our professionals are pioneers in helping companies invest in and introduce products to the transportation and infrastructure markets. We represent clients on the full spectrum of transportation and infrastructure issues and have established a long and successful track record working on behalf of public and private sector clients, including:

  • State and local governments
  • Airports
  • Port authorities
  • Corporations
  • Universities
  • Transit authorities
  • Water and wastewater utilities
  • Coalitions
  • Public-private partnerships (P3)
  • Non-profits

Widely recognized for innovation, creativity and deep connections, our practitioners offer an exceptional portfolio of success, having secured billions of US dollars in funding for a diverse range of public sector client initiatives and expanded market share for our private sector clients.

Creative Approaches to Federal Funding

Members of the team counsel corporations, trade associations, local governments and other public entities on congressional and executive branch policy, legislative and regulatory matters, with an emphasis on creative federal funding and infrastructure development. We have secured funding for major transportation, water and other local government client projects through authorizing legislation, appropriations, grants and innovative financing. For private sector clients, the team focuses on identifying and expanding market opportunities.

At the core of our approach is the development of substantive, comprehensive and creative strategies to increase federal funding for public agency and local government clients in highways, transit, aviation, water, wastewater, economic development, urban revitalization, housing, law enforcement, health, historic preservation and other areas. To achieve maximum benefit for clients we develop and propose new programs, changes in eligibility requirements and funding formulas and new financing mechanisms, and we advocate to get the proposals and changes enacted into law.

We also assist major domestic and international corporations in removing outmoded and costly legislative, regulatory and policy barriers, expanding market access and increasing competition. Members of our practice have secured legislative and policy incentives promoting innovative project delivery and advanced technologies, saving time and money in transportation projects and creating market opportunities. In particular, we have resolved complex Buy America, hazardous materials, motor carrier, rail, pipeline, maritime and vehicle safety legislative, regulatory and compliance issues in Congress and at the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

Deep Experience with DOT, OMB & Congress

We have been involved in the development of every surface transportation and aviation reauthorization proposal and DOT appropriations act over the last 30 years, and the practice is distinguished by the presence of a former secretary of transportation and a 13-year veteran of the Office of the Secretary of DOT, who brings substantial insights into policy, programs and authorizing and appropriations legislation before the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Congress.

Innovative Water Infrastructure Practice

Over the next 25 years, more than US$2 trillion needs to be invested in US water infrastructure for drinking water and wastewater projects alone. By all accounts, traditional resources and programs are insufficient to meet these needs. New approaches and partnerships are essential. This is our focus. With communities confronting increasing costs and constrained resources, we have been at the forefront of helping utilities and local governments address their water infrastructure challenges through innovative strategies and public-private solutions.

Creating Powerful New Tools for Water Infrastructure Investment

We worked with the nation’s leading water utility associations to develop the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) and led the multi-year advocacy effort to enact it into law in June 2014. This landmark new program will provide federal loans for water infrastructure projects at US Treasury interest rates, providing an unparalleled source of low cost capital for water infrastructure projects, and particularly public-private partnerships (P3). WIFIA is open to all types of drinking water and wastewater projects, as well as projects under the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control, navigation and other purposes.

WIFIA expressly allows private entities to apply for and receive low-cost WIFIA financing as part of P3 projects. The availability and cost of capital is always a critical issue in P3 projects. With WIFIA, private partners and concessionaires will have access to an unprecedented, low-cost financing tool to facilitate P3 deals. We are in an unparalleled position to help companies and communities take advantage of this powerful new financing tool.

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), which included WIFIA, also created a new Water Infrastructure Public Private Partnership program for Army Corps of Engineers projects. This new P3 program can open a new frontier for private investment in major water infrastructure projects ranging from locks and dams to port infrastructure and water supply projects.

Working with Communities to Meet Their Water Infrastructure Needs

We have one of the preeminent municipal government and public agency policy practices in the nation. We have extensive experience in working with local governments and water authorities to meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements, secure federal funding, and navigate the Army Corps of Engineers funding process. We have successfully helped communities address water quality regulatory issues; secure EPA funding; and pursue authorizations and appropriations for major flood control, ecosystem restoration, dredging and other Army Corps of Engineers projects. At the same time, we are consistently working with local governments on innovative ways to address their water infrastructure needs through new financing tools and by making connections between the private and public sectors.

Structuring and Executing Complex and Innovative Transactions

We combine policy expertise and broad connections throughout the water infrastructure sector with leading transactional capabilities. We are home to internationally recognized lawyers in infrastructure project finance and P3 transactions, with expertise on the structuring, financing, acquisition, construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure assets, both domestically and overseas. Our professionals have represented project sponsors, lenders, institutional investors, construction companies and municipalities in a wide range of sectors, including groundbreaking water P3 projects. From creating opportunities to structuring and executing innovative transactions, we have unmatched ability to help clients across the water infrastructure sector achieve their goals.

Local Government

With two decades of experience, we are the leading law firm with a local government practice in Washington DC. Our clients include dozens of cities, counties and local and regional authorities. We represent our clients on a full spectrum of issues affecting local government responsibilities. The breadth of our local government practice affords unique advantages to our clients through coalition-building, information-sharing, and access, as well as broad-based and bipartisan / non-partisan contacts in Congress and the Administration. Our size and scope enables full-service in-house representation without subcontracts.

Established Practice with Breadth of Experience

We recognize that effective federal advocacy for local government requires a specialized focus and substantive expertise.  Acknowledging the importance of the associations representing those interests, we also determined that individual localities must interact directly and regularly with the federal government to resolve specific local concerns and to partner with other localities on positions that the broad-based associations’ constituencies could not address. By focusing on developing subject matter policy and program capabilities in local government issues and tailoring special services to public agency clients, we have established a long record in representing counties and cities, as well as transportation/transit authorities, utilities, special districts, state agencies, public health consortia and hospitals, universities, community development corporations, and similar entities.

Our team focuses on technical expertise coupled with procedural knowledge to proactively advise and position local governments on the merits and in the context of viable federal prospects. We work closely with local officials to plan and pursue a comprehensive and aggressive federal relations strategy that includes a balanced approach to opportunities through all three branches of the federal government.

Full-Service Approach to Advocacy

We have a proven track record of success in positioning our clients for federal grant awards and other resources. In addition, our local government practice is unparalleled with specialized expertise in economic development, transit, highways, aviation, and healthcare funding and policy. There is no limitation or constraint on the scope of services we can provide. 

We understand and respect the unique nature of municipal representation and are ever mindful of our role as an extension of the elected and appointed leadership of the municipality, while being sensitive to the fact that public sector entities operate under close public and media scrutiny. Our clients trust our advice and counsel because they are aware of our integrity and discretion, and know our interactions with federal officials will always reflect positively on their behalf.

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  • I-69 Mid-Continent Highway Coalition – Assisted the organization of cities, counties, states, business, labor and civic groups from a nine-state trade corridor connecting Canada and Mexico, and played a key role in creating a new program to fund corridors and assisted in obtaining over US$1 billion in congressional earmarks and grants for I-69.
  • American Water Works Association (AWWA) – Assisted in creating the Water Infrastructure, Finance and innovation Act (WIFIA) legislative proposal for AWWA and other associations. The proposal, endorsed by the US Conference of Mayors, was signed into law in June 2014.  Modeled on the successful transportation TIFIA program, WIFIA provides long term, low interest loans to accelerate investment in major water infrastructure projects.
  • Major software manufacturer – Worked with to demonstrate the benefits of 3-D modeling in accelerating transportation projects and cutting costs in planning, environmental review, design and construction. Resulted in incentive programs at DOT and in MAP-21 promoting the use of 3-D modeling, including 100% federal funding.
  • City of Portland, Oregon – Successfully helped the city win the first and only variance to the EPA’s Long Term Drinking Water Rule (LT2) under the Safe Drinking Water Act. This allowed the city to continue to monitor and test for cryptosporidium in lieu of building a water treatment plant at the Bull Run Reservoir on Mount Hood.  After several years of negotiations with EPA, and years of testing the untreated water and finding no cryptosporidium, EPA and the State of Oregon granted the first and only variance to the LT2 Rule. This saved the city around US$100 million.
  • Producers of transit equipment and facilities – Assisted in developing manufacturing plans to comply with the Federal Transit Administration’s Buy America requirements. Our client’s plans were approved and withstood protests and litigation.
  • City of Portland, Oregon – Unique experience in the nascent, but burgeoning movement on streetcars. On behalf of the city, we succeeded in securing the first ever federally funded streetcar project under the Small Starts Program for the Portland Streetcar Loop. We also led the effort to secure federal funding for the M-1 RAIL streetcar project in Detroit, an unprecedented project being developed by a consortium of major business and philanthropic leaders to spur development in Detroit’s urban core. 
  • Wayne County, Michigan – Assisted in negotiating a US$185 million increase (from US$115 million to US$300 million) in Detroit Metropolitan Airport’s Letter of Intent with the Federal Aviation Administration to fund airport improvements, and obtained an additional US$86 million for the airport’s South Access Road in appropriations and authorizing legislation.
  • City of Shreveport, Louisiana – Assisted in securing millions of dollars in appropriations earmarks and grants for transportation improvements, downtown and riverfront revitalization, water and air quality projects, museum programs, and restoring historic structures.