Curtis Joins Congressional Bike Caucus, Tours Bicycling Infrastructure in District

Curtis Joins Congressional Bike Caucus, Tours Bicycling Infrastructure in District

April 6,  2021

Washington, DC—Representative John Curtis (R-UT) released the following statement after joining the Congressional Bike Caucus this month, signaling his commitment to support biking as a bipartisan approach to address car emissions and transportation issues in American cities.

“As Mayor, I was proud to lead by example and biked to work every day to do my part to decrease emissions and support my personal health,” said Curtis. “We should be doing all we can to make it easier for local communities to plan efficiently for non-vehicle transportation. I am proud to join the bipartisan bike caucus to share these benefits with my colleagues in Washington.”

The announcement comes after a recent visit to Provo where Curtis joined BikeWalk Provo on its “World-famous Bike Tour” around central Provo, highlighting many of the great things he himself was a champion of. During the ride, BikeWalk Provo volunteers encouraged Rep. Curtis to join the Congressional Bike Caucus.

 

Statement of Support

Austin Taylor, Executive Director of BikeWalk Provo:

“We thank Rep. Curtis for the contributions he’s made for safe and accessible biking and walking infrastructure in Provo. Provo has benefited from his vision, and we believe Utah and our nation will as well.”

Background

The Congressional Bike Caucus includes more than 100 members. The mission of the Caucus is to be the “voice in our nation’s capital for millions of cyclists actively working for safer streets, pro-bike policies, and livable communities.”

Joining the Bike Caucus continues Rep. Curtis’s long history of bike advocacy. Prior to his election to Congress in 2017, Curtis served as Mayor of Provo from 2010 to 2017 where he championed active transportation solutions including protected bike lanes on Cougar Boulevard, UVX (Utah Valley Express) bus rapid transit, and Provo River Trail improvements. The Congressman views biking as part of a bipartisan solution to address climate change.  

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Curtis, Romney Introduce Bill to Advance the Popular Bonneville Shoreline Trail

Curtis, Romney Introduce Bill to Advance the Popular Bonneville Shoreline Trail

April 5,  2021

Washington, DC—Representative John Curtis (R-UT) and Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) released the following statements about their legislation to enable the construction of high-priority sections of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST) to enhance recreation opportunities near Utah’s most urban areas. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act, also supported by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT), and Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) will adjust management boundaries to allow the advancement of the BST while also designating nearby U.S. Forest Service land for permanent protection. The BST is planned to eventually connect the Idaho border to Nephi, Utah—stretching over 280 miles. The legal map for the legislation can be found here.

“This legislation balances creating new recreational opportunities with protecting the environment,” said Curtis. “With a rapidly increasing population, Salt Lake and Utah Counties are in need of more widely accessible opportunities to hike, bike, and get outdoors. This legislation will do this is a responsible manner and help pave the way for all Utahns to enjoy this world-class trail.”

“The Bonneville Shoreline Trail provides great outdoor recreational opportunities for Utahns, but several wilderness-designated areas along the trail are hampering full use of the trail,” said Romney. “We are reintroducing our legislation to adjust the boundaries of the trail to ensure that construction can be fully completed and Utahns can enjoy its wide range of recreational opportunities for many years to come.”

Statements of Support (All letters of support available here)

Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox:

“I love your effort to complete the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. As you surely know, the trail is a decades-long project with both recreational and historical significance. It has the potential to be both a beautiful recreational asset for Utah residents and a tool for teaching us about ancient Lake Bonneville and Utah’s fascinating geologic history.

For the past 30 years, numerous Utah political jurisdictions, businesses, recreational users, and private landowners have played a role in securing portions of the trial. Much remains to be done, but your bill, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act, is a next step in that process.” 

David Wiens, Executive Director, International Mountain Bicycling Association:

“The International Mountain Bicycling Association is excited to support the Bonneville Shore Trail Advancement Act reintroduced by Congressman John Curtis (R-UT) and Senator Mitch Romney (R-UT). The Senator and Congressman and their offices continue to be staunch supporters of public lands protection through outdoor recreation. This legislation will establish better trail connectivity to create more trails close to home, making mountain biking and trail-based recreation more accessible for communities along Utah’s Wasatch Front. We look forward to working with the Congressman and our partners in Utah on this important legislation.”

Louis Geltman, Policy Director, Outdoor Alliance:

“On behalf of the human powered outdoor recreation community, we write to express our support and gratitude for your efforts to introduce the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act (BSTAA). The BSTAA will help facilitate completion of the multiple-use 280-mile Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST). The proposed boundary adjustments will remove 326.27 acres from Wilderness management across 19 carefully drawn areas, and these adjustments will be offset by the addition of an equal area of new Wilderness protection in Mill Creek Canyon. These adjustments will ensure bicycle access on the BST and allow for work on the trail to proceed using tools impermissible under Wilderness management. In addition to the direct benefits of the trail itself, the BST is a central component for trail planning efforts for jurisdictions across the Wasatch Front.” 

Bill Lee, Senior Vice President for Policy, Advocacy, and Government Relations, The Trust for Public Land:

“In 2017, Utah’s outdoor recreation economy generated more than $12.3 billion in consumer spending and directly supported more than 100,000 jobs in Utah. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act will help to complete the vision of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail; giving mountain bikers, runners, hikers, equestrians, cross-country skiers— and families— new opportunities to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. We look forward to working with you to advance the legislation through Congress and to achieve the promise of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.” 

Sarah Bennett, Executive Director, Trails Utah:

“Trails Utah is delighted to join forces with Congressman Curtis, IMBA and local organizations in the effort to secure a shared-use future for Northern Utah’s iconic Bonneville Shoreline Trail. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act is needed to maximize recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts—including mountain bikers—along the populous Wasatch Front. The demand for secure access to trails and open space and the need for careful, consistent management is greatest at the wild/urban interface where the BST resides. We are enormously grateful to Congressman John Curtis for his support for this bill and the active lifestyles that Utahns enjoy. We look forward to being a part of the effort to build a sustainable and enjoyable Bonneville Shoreline Trail in the years to come.”

John Knoblock, Chairperson, Bonneville Shoreline Trail Committee:
“The Bonneville Shoreline Trail Committee was formed thirty years ago to promote development of a 280 mile long shared-use trail along the urban wildland interface of the northern Wasatch Front in Utah. However, there are many obstacles in completing the entire envisioned trail which is still only about halfway complete.  The Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act is important to overcome one of those obstacles by adjusting wilderness boundaries so that mountain bikes can use the entire trail as originally envisioned.  The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is enjoyed by thousands of trail users every year and the mountain bike community is a  large and important user group.”

Dallen Atack, League Director, Utah High School Cycling League:
“The Utah High School Cycling League has nearly 2,000 registered student-athletes and coaches living within ten minutes of the trailheads connecting to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. As a league, our vision is to enable Utah teens to strengthen body, mind, and character through the life-long sport of cycling. We have witnessed firsthand how mountain biking has strengthened families and communities. The culture of our league and mountain biking in general is one of inclusivity and respect. We fully endorse the efforts of IMBA and other local associations striving to implement the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act.”

Kevin Dwyer, Executive Director, Salt Lake Valley Trails Society:
“The Salt Lake Valley Trail Society enthusiastically supports the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act as an opportunity to provide accessible outdoor recreation for a wide variety of trail users. Hikers, cyclists, families, and adaptive athletes will be sure to be recreating in a more sustainable fashion as the sections of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail facilitated by the Act are built out and authorized for local recreation. Please join us in supporting this bill and the recreation and community-building opportunities that local trails create.”

Background

The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is a popular trail in Utah that will ultimately stretch 280 miles. However, small segments of wilderness designations have prohibited biking on parts of the trail, preventing the full vision multi-use trail connecting dozens of Utah’s communities.

The Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act:

  • Releases 326 acres of wilderness, divided over more than 20 small locations, to accommodate the advancement of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail in Salt Lake County and Utah County, two population centers in high demand for additional recreation opportunities.
  • Resolves a wilderness boundary issue in Birch Canyon to ensure the trail that runs parallel to the road can be fully utilized as a multiuse trail.
  • Designates 326 acres of wilderness to preserve land formerly owned by the Boy Scouts of America in Mill Creek Canyon that fully offsets any wilderness release to accommodate the BST.

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Curtis, Peters, Grassley, Feinstein Introduce Bill to Confront Rising Threat of Methamphetamine

Curtis, Peters, Grassley, Feinstein Introduce Bill to Confront Rising Threat of Methamphetamine

March 22,  2021

Washington, DC—Representatives John Curtis (R-UT) and Scott Peters (D-CA) and Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Methamphetamine Response Act, a bipartisan bill declaring methamphetamine an emerging drug threat which would require the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to develop, implement and make public a national plan to prevent methamphetamine addiction and overdoses from becoming a crisis.

“Over the last decade, methamphetamine addiction and fatalities have skyrocketed across the United States – especially in rural areas like the ones I am proud to represent. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the problem by spreading resources thinly and making it more difficult to connect with individuals in need of support. To combat this threat, I am proud to co-lead the bipartisan Methamphetamine Response Act, which channels the necessary resources at the highest levels of government to develop and implement a nationwide plan to prevent this dangerous drug from becoming even more prevalent in our communities,” said Curtis.

“Once known as the meth capital of the United States, San Diego has a long, arduous history in working to combat methamphetamine production and addiction,” said Peters. “Law enforcement officials still refer to our region as ‘ground zero’ for the nation’s meth problem, and a surge in the amount of the drug smuggled across the U.S. Mexico border in recent years has caused overdose cases to skyrocket. Our communities are in crisis and require the support of the government to address this issue head-on. As meth-related deaths continue to rise with each passing year, it is critical we recognize meth as an emerging threat nationwide.”

“For years, meth has taken lives and destroyed families across America, particularly in the Midwest. Though this drug is not new, drug traffickers are finding new and harmful ways to increase meth’s potency and distribution, spiking overdose rates. By declaring meth an emerging drug threat, our bill helps law enforcement better respond to the challenges presented by drug traffickers’ evolving tactics, and urges our federal partners to continue to prioritize a response and strategy to address the meth crisis,” Grassley said.

“In a single year we’ve seen psychostimulant-related overdose deaths, which include meth, spike by 42 percent,” said Feinstein. “The meth available on our streets is pure, potent and cheap and law enforcement is seizing more of the drug than ever. Two of the largest seizures on record occurred in California last year and in just a five month period, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized more than 75,000 pounds of methamphetamine. Clearly we are in the midst of a meth crisis and we must implement a national, comprehensive plan to address this threat before it claims even more American lives.”

 

Background

  • Declares methamphetamine an emerging drug threat, as defined in section 702 of the ONDCP Reauthorization Act of 1998 
  • Requires ONDCP to develop, implement, and make public, within 90 days of enactment, a national emerging threats response plan that is specific to methamphetamine, in accordance with section 709(d) of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998. 
  • The ONDCP plan must be updated annually and include the following: 
    • An assessment of the methamphetamine threat, including the current availability of, and demand for the drug, and evidence-based prevention and treatment programs, as well as law enforcement programs; 
    • Short- and long term goals, including those focused on supply and demand reduction, and on expanding the availability and effectiveness of treatment and prevention programs;
    • Performance measures pertaining to the plan’s goals; 
    • The level of funding needed to implement the plan; and 
    • An implementation strategy, goals, and objectives for a media campaign.

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Curtis Leads Legislation to Combat to Surveillance of Uyghurs & Other Oppressed Groups

Curtis Leads Legislation to Combat to Surveillance of Uyghurs & Other Oppressed Groups

March 21,  2021

Washington, DC—Representative John Curtis (R-UT) led a bipartisan coalition to re-introduce the Foreign Advanced Technology Surveillance Accountability Act. This bipartisan legislation would combat foreign adoption of advanced technology surveillance equipment, such as those used by China against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

This bipartisan bill would recognize unreasonable or oppressive government surveillance as a human rights abuse. It would also require a report on whether countries have imported or unlawfully obtained biometric or facial recognition data from other countries. This bill is also cosponsored by Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Young Kim (R-CA), Dean Phillips (D-MN), and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA).

“Modern technology is the direct result of innovation by democratic people and countries. However, in many dictatorships, technology has been misused to lessen the accountability of leaders and increase human rights abuses such as torture or unjust detention,” said Curtis. “My bill, the Foreign Advanced Technology Surveillance Accountability Act, brings the State Department’s Annual Report on Human Rights Practices into the 21st century to counter the growing adoption of advanced technology surveillance equipment by foreign governments.”

“Private companies should not be selling advanced surveillance capabilities to dictatorships that spy on dissidents and journalists. The Saudi government reportedly surveilled Jamal Khashoggi in Washington using spyware marketed commercially around the world,” said Malinowski. “This bill will require the State Department to tell us when that happens so that appropriate restrictions can be put into place.”

“Innovative technologies present tremendous benefits and are a lifeline for many, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we continue to rely on technologies, we must ensure that these tools are developed and used with individuals’ freedoms and privacy in mind, especially as the People’s Republic of China and other governments use technologies to violate the rights of its citizens,” said Kim. “I’m proud to join Rep. Curtis to introduce the Foreign Advanced Technology Surveillance Accountability Act to call out countries for human rights violations caused by mass surveillance systems, social media censors and other intrusive, restrictive tools, and give the State Department resources to counter them. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to support human rights and freedom across the globe.”

“The right to privacy is fundamental, and we must ensure that right is protected in our increasingly interconnected world. New technologies provide a powerful tool for enabling a freer exchange of ideas, but they can also threaten our ability to control our private information,” said Phillips. “We must advocate for human rights, both at home and abroad. The Foreign Advanced Technology Surveillance Accountability Act will allow us to assess how foreign governments are using new technologies to threaten civil liberties, so that we can better address it going forward.” 

“In recent years, we’ve seen authoritarian governments and one-party states use surveillance technology to repress and persecute religious minorities, political opponents, and the free press. In the face of this concerning trend, the United States has a responsibility to fight for universal human rights and privacy protections,” said Spanberger. “This bipartisan legislation would condemn these behaviors and require the State Department to further monitor governments that weaponize surveillance. I’m proud to join my colleagues in standing up against this growing trend of tech-enabled human rights abuses.”

 

Statements of Support

Adrian Shahbaz, Research Director for Technology and Democracy at Freedom House: 

“Driven by technological advancements, lower prices, and lax regulations, advanced surveillance tools are proliferating around the world. Given that these technologies are used to identify and monitor political dissidents, members of certain religious groups, and LGBT+ people, this legislation to document human rights violations related to excessive surveillance is especially important.”

Andrea Prasow, Washington Deputy Director at Human Rights Watch: 

“The State Department’s annual human rights reports should reflect the realities of the world now, which includes new forms of repression online. This bill will help expose to public scrutiny which countries use surveillance technologies to restrict the rights of their people, and what tools they utilize. And US policymakers, who rely on these reports, will now have a fuller picture of rights violations around the world. 

Michael De Dora, Washington Advocacy Manager at the Committee to Protect Journalists:

“The wrongful use of spyware to target the press is a growing global problem that threatens press freedom and the public’s right to information. This bill will shine additional light on the secret surveillance of journalists worldwide and, as transparency is essential for accountability, we urge Congress to quickly give it serious consideration.”

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Curtis and Welch Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Boost Funding for Recreational Trails

Curtis and Welch Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Boost Funding for Recreational Trails

March 14,  2021

Washington, DC—Representative John Curtis (R-UT) and Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced legislation that will more than double funding for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). Since 1991, RTP has provided funding to states to develop and maintain outdoor recreational trails, allowing millions of Americans and their families to enjoy activities such as off-roading, snowmobiling, hiking, bicycling, and cross-country skiing.

“The Recreational Trails Program has created countless opportunities for motorized recreation and human-powered experiences,” said Curtis. “This bill will ensure that future generations get to visit the great outdoors, while supporting local economies and jobs, especially throughout rural areas.”

Our nation has unparalleled natural beauty that provides year-round opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors,” said Welch. “Boosting funding for this important program will ensure that future generations will experience the joy of hiking and exploring our scenic trails for many years to come.”

 

Statements of Support

Bud Bruening, President of UTV Utah: 

“UTV Utah supports the Recreational Trails Program Full Funding Act of 2021. Motorized recreation is one of the largest contributors to the outdoor recreation economy, and we welcome any improvements to programs that are designed to invest in motorized recreation.”

Clif Koontz, Executive Director of Ride with Respect: 

“Trail use is growing, yet the USFS and BLM’s recreation budgets are dwindling, so more funding is desperately needed to protect the trails and their surroundings. If the RTP budget were to become several-times larger, we are confident that all of it would be put to good use. Those funds would boost local economies since trails are a key amenity for tourists and residents alike. For these reasons, Ride with Respect wholeheartedly supports the RTP Full Funding Act of 2021, and we appreciate your initiative on this vital issue.” Full letter [HERE].

Ben Burr, Policy Director of BlueRibbon Coalition/ShareTrails: 

“The RTP framework has resulted in positive investments into recreational access. However, there is room for improvement in how the funding for the program is determined, and there is a need for increased transparency to ensure all members of the outdoor recreation community benefit as intended. The Recreational Trails Full Funding Act of 2021 is a great step towards correcting these deficiencies in the program.” 

Scott Schloegel, Senior Vice President Government Relations for the Motorcycle Industry Council: 

“The RTP is a critical program for ensuring the development and maintenance of trails for motorcycles, ATVs and side-by-sides. We appreciate Congressman Curtis’ leadership on this legislation that will require a fresh study of the amount of gas tax paid by the powersports community, to fight to return more of that money to trails in Utah and states all across the country.  It will also increase transparency by requiring states to detail on the amount of motorized, non-motorized, and mixed use trails they are funding to ensure states are meeting the funding goals of the RTP.”

Marianne Fowler and Derrick Crandall, Co-Chairs of the Coalition for Recreational Trails:

“America’s large recreational trails community is grateful for the national leadership of U.S. Representatives Welch, Curtis and others to continue a great success story over the last 30 years – the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). Every major trail organization supports expansion of RTP using federal fuel taxes generated through nonhighway recreational activities to deliver healthy, safe, diverse, and exciting trail opportunities and to empower a partnership of federal land managers, state and local park and recreation agencies and trail enthusiasts.  The serendipity is that the RTP is also proving to be a potent economic stimulus, supplying a vital base for the nation’s nearly-$800 billion annual outdoor recreation industry.”

 

Background

The bill will more than double RTP funding to at least $250 million. The program is modeled after the Highway Trust Fund and is funded through taxes paid on gasoline used to fuel snowmobiles, ATVs, and other recreational vehicles that do not use highways. The program is currently funded at $84 million annually, which is substantially less than is collected in taxes on fuel used by these vehicles.

The Recreational Trails Full Funding Act of 2021:

  • requires the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to estimate the amount of gas taxes paid by non-highway recreational users. The current estimate is more than a decade old, but suggests that those users pay more than $270 million.
  • increases RTP funding from $84 million to $250 million.
  • increases the transparency of the programs funded.

The legislation is also cosponsored by Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), Michael San Nicolas (D-Guam), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Richard Neal (D-MA), Mike Simpson (R-ID), and Grace Napolitano (D-CA).

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Curtis Leads Bipartisan Transit Bill to Increase FrontRunner Frequency and Reliability

Curtis Leads Bipartisan Transit Bill to Increase FrontRunner Frequency and Reliability

March 11,  2021

Washington, DC—Representative John Curtis (R-UT), introduced the bipartisan Transit Revitalization and Infrastructure Needs (TRAIN) Act to expand the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) FrontRunner service. The TRAIN Act would make a technical fix to the US Department of Transportation’s Core Capacity federal grant program to allow eligibility for the FrontRunner expansion project, which would ultimately increase the frequency and reliability of FrontRunner trains. Additionally, the TRAIN Act would expand grant funding eligibility to include electrifying transit systems. The bipartisan legislation is also cosponsored by Representatives Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Blake Moore (R-UT), and Katie Porter (D-CA).

“Managing Utah’s population growth is a challenge for all levels of government. I am committed to ensuring Utah has the resources to handle growth for decades ahead,” said Curtis. “The TRAIN Act will ensure Utah is able to expand its transportation infrastructure for the efficient moving of Utahns, with the added benefit of cleaner air by making it easier to move by public transportation.”

“The Capital Investment Grant Program is a critical source of funding for transit projects in New Jersey and throughout the country,” said Malinowski. “The TRAIN Act makes important improvements to the program, including by enabling agencies like New Jersey Transit to complete expansion projects — like expanding train platforms — before their systems reach rider capacity. I thank Congressman Curtis for his leadership on this issue.” 

“Utah’s recent growth has bolstered our economy and brought countless opportunities, but our rapid expansion has also brought challenges. As our population continues to grow, we must commit to creative approaches that ensure our infrastructure is ready,” said Moore. “The TRAIN Act is a great example of how resourceful thinking will enable Utahns to travel more safely, quickly, and efficiently.”

“Our outdated transportation system is unsustainable. But with innovative investments, we can fight the climate crisis and strengthen our economy. I’m proud to back the TRAIN Act, which would make our transit systems more reliable and reduce our country’s reliance on dirty diesel-powered engines,” said Porter.

 

Statements of Support

Utah Governor Spencer Cox:

“I appreciate Representative Curtis’s leadership on improving federal transportation policy. The TRAIN Act will make the federal government more responsive to states and forward thinking, helping fast growing states like Utah to develop transportation infrastructure farther in advance. Among other things, the legislation will help us expand the capacity of our FrontRunner trains as we anticipate the needs of Utah’s growing population.”

Carlton Christensen, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Utah Transit Authority:

“For the past few decades, Utah has been, and continues to be, one of the fastest growing states in the country. As a result of this explosive population growth, the Wasatch Front is grappling with traffic congestion and air quality challenges. We believe that federal investment in reliable public transit is an important part of solving some of Utah’s toughest growth challenges. Utah Transit Authority is grateful to Rep. John Curtis for his leadership in introducing the TRAIN Act, which will provide greater flexibility and opportunities for federal investment in our FrontRunner system—the backbone of Utah’s premier public transit system. This important legislation will help UTA secure federal funds to double track and make critical upgrades to the FrontRunner, providing more frequent, reliable service to our riders.”

 

Background

The TRAIN Act allows the Department of Transportation to provide grants to state and local governments to assist in:

  1. expanding transit station platforms,
  2. increasing service frequency,
  3. increasing the capacity of an existing station, and
  4. replacing temporary measures (including the use of rail equipment) which have been used to expand system capacity.

A fixed guideway capital investment grant project may advance to the engineering phase of development if DOT makes certain determinations, including:

  1. that the project will increase capacity of an existing fixed guideway system, corridor, or station at least 10% or replace temporary measures; and
  2. whether existing fixed guideway transit vehicles or stations are at or over capacity or are projected to be at or over capacity within the next 10 years.

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