In recent years, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell has assisted a number of clients with complex undertakings involving the interaction of multiple transportation modes. We are in the forefront of initiatives to secure private investment for multi-modal facilities (known as P3s or public-private partnerships). We have provided advice on negotiations with railroads, public transportation providers, and related entities. Our attorneys have assisted airport clients with related environmental reviews, obtained authorizations and permits from multiple agencies, coordinated the establishment of jurisdictional boundaries between numerous oversight bodies, and obtained financing. Additionally, we have assisted highway proponents in securing public and private investments for multi-modal facilities.
Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell represents some of the largest airports in the country in comprehensive master planning for multi-modal projects. A large portion of our firm’s airports practice concerns the legal requirements for airport development projects and the implementation of master plans. This work has called on our expertise not only in airport planning and in compliance with federal law, but also on our in-depth knowledge of intergovernmental agreements, land use planning, state and local environmental regulations, public finance, and contract negotiation—all of which enables us to help our clients navigate the myriad legal hurdles that face complex public sector projects.
Increasingly, our firm’s airports practice requires our expertise in other transportation modes. Airports are finding that capacity constraints and environmental mitigation often require intermodal connections. New highway interchanges, light rail access, commuter rail lines, freight rail spurs, coordinated planning with Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), and other multi-modal strategies are now a frequent component of master planning. Incorporating these elements into planning and development projects is often critical for airports, not only to address capacity constraints, but also to mitigate air quality and other environmental impacts, as well as to enhance revenue-generating commercial development on airport property. As a result of the increasing awareness of the value of multi-modal connections, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell has assisted clients with innovative projects to optimize intermodal connectivity.
Our experience in rail passenger projects is similarly broad and deep. Our attorneys have counseled a number of public transit agency clients on issues ranging from the initial planning of their systems, through the acquisition of rail corridors and construction of facilities, to the implementation and operation of service. Many of our clients are state or regional commuter rail or transit agencies that must negotiate with railroads to acquire the right to operate passenger service. In these transactions, we negotiate the right of one or more freight or other passenger railroads to conduct operations on the line. We regularly counsel transit agencies in connection with the negotiation of agreements for the shared use of rail corridors and related facilities, including passenger terminals. Such transactions typically involve the negotiation and drafting of agreements and easements with the freight railroads to permit shared freight and passenger use of corridors, agreements with corridor partners regarding allocation of responsibility for maintenance of right-of-way and signals, and agreements with Amtrak for the operation of intercity service over lines owned by the client agency.
State and local governments that own or share rail corridors and operate commuter or transit service occupy a distinct niche within the framework of federal rail regulations. Our attorneys’ detailed knowledge of this focused regulatory regime has been acquired through frequent practice before the relevant federal agencies. Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell’s attorneys are experienced in applying the specialized regulations and policies related to labor and employment, regulatory treatment of rail corridors, the scope of regulatory obligations attendant upon transit agencies, and exemptions from generally applicable regulations that apply to commuter and transit agencies.
Our attorneys frequently represent state and local governments in seeking Federal Highway Administration (FWHA) approvals and related environmental, interstate access, land use, and other permits. We have assisted state departments of transportation (DOTs), airports, local governments, and other municipal organizations on traditional public and public-private partnerships in building, financing, designing, operating, and maintaining highway and multi-modal facilities. Our firm has developed and implemented effective strategies for the finance, delivery, and approval of—or opposition to—highway projects throughout the country and has represented airports as they seek to increase surface transportation access and work through issues with the FAA, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), state DOTs, and MPOs. Our attorneys have also worked with state and local governments on innovative tolled and non-tolled finance projects.
Providing counsel on infrastructure funding mechanisms is a critical aspect of our project development practice. We understand the public funding process of major projects, including airports, highways, transit systems, and similar projects, and are very familiar with the FAA’s specific guidelines for use of airport funds, including Airport Improvement Program funds and Passenger Facility Charge funds, for rail and transit, as well as road access. Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell also has extensive experience in development-related infrastructure financing, such as tax increment financing, special districts, and convention center hotels. Our attorneys typically advise clients on the structure and options for, as well as the negotiation and implementation of, such financing. For example, we have advised clients on the use of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan program administered by the FHWA as it has been used for both rail and transit and highways.