Susan H. Lent leads the firm’s infrastructure and transportation practice. She advises clients on compliance with laws and regulations, representing clients before the Department of Transportation (DOT), other federal agencies and the U.S. Congress. She also provides guidance on the funding, financing and development of transportation and other infrastructure projects. Ms. Lent advises clients on federal, state and local procurement laws and other regulations applicable to developers and operators of infrastructure projects. Additionally, as companies are innovating on a daily basis in the infrastructure and transportation space, Ms. Lent works with clients to navigate the emerging legal and regulatory issues arising out of these innovative technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and “smart cities.”
Practice & Background
Ms. Lent’s clients include public- and private-sector entities in the transportation and broader infrastructure sectors, as well as companies regulated by DOT. She advises clients on compliance with federal laws and regulations, including laws and regulations applicable to entities receiving federal grants and loans and their contractors. She assists clients with identifying opportunities for federal funding and advancing projects through project development. Ms. Lent represents clients before DOT, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Interior and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and advocates for clients’ interests before the U.S. Congress. She advises clients on the impact of laws and regulations and is experienced with drafting proposed legislation and comments on rulemakings.
Before joining Akin Gump, Ms. Lent served as counsel to the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and as counsel for investigations and oversight to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where she was involved in all aspects of the enactment of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. Prior to joining the government, Ms. Lent was an attorney in private practice focused on government contracts law.
Project Development and Compliance
Ms. Lent advises public sector clients on the development of transportation and other infrastructure projects by assisting clients in securing federal funds, obtaining federal and other financing, and complying with the laws and regulations that apply to federally funded projects, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Buy America Act and procurement requirements. She advises companies doing business with the public sector on the federal requirements associated with infrastructure projects and how best to ensure compliance with those requirements.
She has experience with a wide range of infrastructure projects, including toll road, highway, port, freight, airport, intermodal, rail transit, transit joint development, water infrastructure, economic development and social infrastructure projects.
In light of her substantive expertise and experience working as a counsel to the House Transportation Committee, Ms. Lent provides comprehensive representation to her clients assisting them with achieving their objectives before Congress as well as guiding them through the project approval process with the relevant federal departments and agencies. Ms. Lent’s experience with federal state and local procurement laws and regulations also enables her to advise public sector clients on how best to advance projects to achieve their objectives and private sector clients on navigating and minimizing risks associated with projects. Ms. Lent advises private sector companies on compliance with a range of federal requirements associated with federally-funding contracts, including Buy America, Civil Rights, Davis Bacon, False Claims Act, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and others.
Public Private Partnerships
Ms. Lent is experienced in representing both the private and public sector in undertaking a broad range of public private partnerships (P3). Her experience includes:
- drafting Requests for Proposals for governmental entities and advising them regarding regulatory requirements associated with the receipt of federal funding
- advising government entities regarding evaluation of P3 opportunities, including value for money analyses and procurement approaches
- undertaking due diligence for private sector entities evaluating P3 opportunities, including reviewing RFPs, drafting requests for clarification, advising clients regarding legal, regulatory and political risk
- advising private sector entities regarding federal laws and regulations
- representing clients in enforcement actions related to violating federal regulations regarding receipt of federal funding or failure to comply with regulatory requirements
- assisting with evaluating and pursuing low-cost U.S. financing from the Department of Transportation and Department of Energy
- advising on state and local procurement laws
- representing clients in bid protests over procurement procedures and decisions
- developing model state public private partnership enabling legislation
- advising on transit oriented development and joint development agreements
- advising on outsourcing of transit operations, including procurement and labor requirements
- drafting and negotiating agreements for the deployment of emerging technologies and advising regarding risk management and regulatory compliance in connection with such deployment.
Ms. Lent provides comprehensive advice and counsel to public transit agencies and companies doing business with transit agencies. In addition to helping clients navigate the legislative and regulatory landscape, she advocates on behalf of clients before Congress and the FTA. Having served as a counsel to the subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure with jurisdiction over public transportation, Ms. Lent is experienced with public transportation laws and policies and is able to serve as an effective advocate for client interests before the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over public transportation as well as DOT and FTA.
Ms. Lent advises clients undertaking Capital Investment Grant projects, including assisting them with advancing projects through the FTA evaluation and approval process. She also advises clients on joint development projects and transit oriented development, including valuation of property, and on securing TIFIA financing for projects.
Ms. Lent provides advice regarding compliance with Section 13(c) of the Federal Transit Act, Buy America Act, the ADA, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and Charter Bus and Tripper service requirements. She has a strong background in procurement and government contracts and also advises transit agencies and contractors regarding procurement procedures. She drafts procurement documents and contracts and represents clients in bid protests and contract disputes.
Airports and Aviation
Ms. Lent represents airports, airlines, airport developers and concessionaires and fixed-base operators. She assists airports in securing funds under the Airport Improvement Program and implementing projects once funds are secured; advising on distribution of funds under the discretionary and entitlements programs; and advising on passenger facilities charges, grant assurances, Letters of Intent and benefit-cost analyses. She has advised public- and private-sector clients seeking to acquire, develop or operate airports regarding rules on revenue-producing aspects of airports and other federal requirements, including grant assurance requirements. She advises on airport concession contracts and contracts to finance and operate airports. Ms. Lent also represents airlines on a host of policy and regulatory issues, including compliance with federal aviation regulations.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Compliance
Ms. Lent advises motor carriers on matters related to compliance with FMCSA regulations. She represents clients in enforcement matters before the FMCSA. She also drafts requests for advisory opinions and comments on rulemakings. She is experienced with the DOT registration, hours of service and drug and alcohol testing requirements among other issues.
Ms. Lent’s representative matters include:
- advising Keolis, a global provider of transportation services, in connection with its participation in a pilot project sponsored by AAA to operate an autonomous shuttle in the City of Las Vegas. The self-driving shuttle is the largest self-driving pilot project in the United States to operate in live traffic
- representing the City of Houston on federal policy issues, including grant opportunities, economic development, transportation and housing policy
- advising the Houston Airport System on federal programs and policies
- serve as regulatory counsel and government relations advisor to Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation; advised regarding development and financing of Renaissance Square Federal Transit Administration joint development intermodal project, which was planned as a $230 million project that included a transit center collocated with a community college and performing arts center
- assisting Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) with evaluating options for advancing an extension of its light rail system in Buffalo, New York and leasing property around its train stations for transit-oriented-development
- represented New York transit agencies in securing retention of a provision in law that provides funding for transit in high-density states
- assisted Fort Lauderdale stakeholders with advancing streetcar project through Capital Investment Grant evaluation process, including working with congressional delegation to secure funding in President’s Budget
- advising Transportation Corridor Agencies, a public toll road authority in Orange County, California, on efforts to complete the last segment of the authority’s toll road system, including advice and advocacy regarding project permitting and securing of low-cost federal financing; drafted recommendations to streamline the environmental review process, many of which were included in the FAST Act
- advised Port of Long Beach on securing a TIFIA loan and continue to advocate to Congress and DOT regarding Port priorities
- served as legal advisor to Fort Lauderdale stakeholders on feasibility study for advancing a federal courthouse through a public private partnership and continue to advocate to Congress and the Trump Administration to fund the courthouse
- advised Niagara Falls Airport regarding proposed privatization
- assisted CenterPoint Properties in securing authorization from the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue private activity bonds through a conduit, the proceeds to be used to finance intermodal rail facilities in Chicago, Illinois
- perform due diligence for transit operator regarding RFP and contractual requirements and federal compliance obligations
- represent public and private clients in section13(c) negotiations and claims under section13(c)
- advise clients regarding Buy America obligations and represent clients seeking waivers and in enforcement actions
- Served as a member of the transportation advisory committee for a presidential transition
- Counsel to the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
- Counsel, Investigations and Oversight, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.