The transportation practice of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP represents a broad array of public- and private-sector clients, including airports, public transit agencies, highway and toll road authorities, municipalities and private sector developers. We represent these clients before Congress and the executive branch on a wide range of issues and also advise them on the legal aspects of project development and implementation.
We represent clients before Congress on a wide range of transportation issues. Our political experience, broad bipartisan relationships and knowledge of the laws governing transportation programs and policies makes us well-qualified to advise clients on how to effectively achieve their objectives in Washington. Members of our nationally-recognized public law and policy practice work closely with members of the congressional committees with jurisdiction over transportation programs and help clients understand the implications of potential changes in laws. We help clients identify opportunities to affect the legislative process and work with them to develop legislative proposals. Our team often works in conjunction with coalitions and trade associations, since it is easier to effect change through broader advocacy efforts. Our lawyers and other professionals have significant experience with laws governing rail, highway, transit airport/aviation and port programs, public private partnerships (PPPs) and innovative financing.
U.S. Department of Transportation
Our transportation lawyers advise clients on myriad matters before the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Our team has significant experience with matters before the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). We routinely work with DOT officials in support of our clients’ interests, whether related to project approvals, grant funding and compliance with DOT laws and regulations or enforcement actions. We also frequently comment on rulemakings on behalf of our clients. The advice and assistance we provide is always underpinned by the laws and regulations as well as the political posture of DOT. We have relationships with political appointees and career staff at DOT and recommend the best approach for meetings and strategies depending on the issue. We often engage members of Congress to advocate on behalf of our clients’ interests with political appointees at DOT if we determine that such intervention is likely to achieve the desired outcome.
Federal Highway Administration
Our team advises public sponsors of highway and toll road projects as well as private parties involved in design, construction and financing of projects on the laws and regulations associated with the design, construction, funding and financing of projects. We have significant experience working with Title 23 of the U.S. Code and the implementing regulations. We advise clients on compliance with environmental, procurement, Buy America, labor and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) regulations. We also are experienced with the FHWA’s grant programs and assist clients with developing grant applications and complying with grant requirements.
We also are actively engaged in advising clients on innovative financing and have assisted clients in securing Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans as well as private activity bond (PAB) authorization for projects.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Akin Gump advises a range of clients in the automotive sector regarding compliance with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). We have advised on vehicle certifications, obtaining letters of interpretation, applying for exemptions from safety standards, and addressing safety issues and vehicle recalls.
We counsel clients engaged in vehicle innovation, including autonomous vehicles. We closely monitor developments with federal and state laws and regulations as well as best practices and voluntary standards. Our team has experience with securing NHTSA approval to import and operate autonomous and other vehicles that do not comply with the FMVSSs. We also assist with drafting and negotiating agreements that ensure compliance and manage risk involving the operation of new vehicle technologies.
Federal Aviation Administration
Akin Gump’s aviation practice encompasses virtually every aspect of international, federal and state regulation of the industry. We routinely work with DOT, the FAA, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on a broad range of regulatory matters.
Akin Gump advises airports on matters related to airport development, including funding and regulatory requirements under the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and associated grant assurances. We have advised clients on funding of airport projects through the imposition of passenger facility charges. Our team has been involved in a broad range of issues for airports, including large-scale airfield and land-side development projects, a proposed airport privatization, funding under the Military Airport Program, securing letters of intent from FAA, proposed airport transfers and the conversion of general aviation airports to commercial airports. We also have advised clients on TSA and CBP requirements and have assisted clients in working with those agencies to meet regulatory requirements, including securing expanded Federal Inspection Services facilities.
Our firm has advised clients—including airlines, flight schools and companies that own aircraft—on obtaining certificates of public convenience and necessity or other operating authority from the DOT; obtaining air carrier operating certificates and operating authority from the FAA; registering aircraft in the United States; and complying with regulatory requirements for all aspects of ownership and operation of aircraft and aviation-related businesses; as well as on issues relating to international route transfers, mergers and pilot training and certification. We also negotiate for the appropriate treatment or designation of our clients under FAA regulations. Further, we assist clients in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and associated laws and regulations in connection with implementing projects at airports.
Federal Transit Administration
Our firm has significant experience representing public transit agencies and transit contractors. We advise transit agencies on securing federal funding for capital needs and complying with the requirements under Title 49 of the U.S. Code and the implementing regulations governing the FTA.
Our team has been involved in securing funding and approvals for transit new starts (rail passenger) projects. We are experienced with FTA regulations and policies and work closely with FTA officials in ensuring that our client’s applications meet program requirements. We also are experienced with alternative project delivery approaches, including public private partnerships.
We also are experienced with FTA’s joint development regulations and have assisted clients in leveraging federal funding for joint development associated with transit projects. We assist clients with securing FTA approvals and negotiating and drafting joint development agreements and associated documents with private-sector partners.
In addition to our project-related knowledge and experience, our team advises clients on a host of compliance issues. We advise clients on laws and regulations governing procurements, including the best procurement approach and contract type, and on requirements for full and open competition or sole source awards. We also are experienced with Buy America Act compliance and have assisted public authorities and the private sector on compliance and in securing waivers and defending against a Buy America investigation.
We also are experienced with the labor law requirements associated with federally funded public transportation projects. We have represented the public and private sectors on issues related to compliance with section 13(c) of the Federal Transit Act and have represented clients in outsourcing public transit operations.
Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
We have helped a broad range of clients secure permits and approvals for the transportation of hazardous materials. We have advised clients on regulatory requirements of the PHMSA and assisted clients with compliance. In certain instances, we have drafted comments on regulations governing transportation of hazardous materials and met with agency officials to communicate our client’s position. We also perform due diligence analyses for clients seeking to purchase companies that are subject to PHMSA jurisdiction.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Akin Gump lawyers are experienced with regulations governing commercial motor vehicle operators, including drivers carrying hazardous materials. We have advised trucking companies on compliance with regulations and advised potential buyers of trucking companies of their obligations under the FMCSA and potential compliance issues regarding the companies they are interested in purchasing.
Federal Railroad Administration
Our team monitors developments with the FRA and particularly its safety regulations; represents clients and furthers their regulatory interests before the agency; and provides advice and counsel on a variety of compliance issues. We have also sought FRA approval for rail-grade crossings and for quiet zones.