Seyfarth Shaw LLP announced today that Juan D. Reyes, partner from the firm’s Real Estate department in New York, has been appointed as Chief Counsel of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation responsible for the development of the country’s passenger and freight rail systems. As the principal legal advisor to the FRA, Reyes will manage a legal department of 50 attorneys and provide executive direction to its two other divisions, the general law division and the safety law division.
The FRA is responsible for all safety regulations, legislation, research and development, as well grant and loan programs for both passenger and railroad infrastructure. As Chief Counsel, Reyes will assist the United States in upgrading its passenger and freight rail systems. This includes the $24 billion Northeast corridor improvement project, as well as high speed rail infrastructure projects in California and Texas. In addition, there are currently plans for the FRA to redevelop the railroad stations in six major U.S. markets, including Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore.
Reyes will also play a critical role in reviewing and advising on Elon Musk’s proposed “Hyperloop,” which envisions low-pressure passenger tubes that travel at speeds of up to 700 mph in markets like California and routes like New York to Washington, D.C., which would drastically reduce travel times.
On Capitol Hill, Reyes will assist the Department of Transportation, Congress and the White House with a bipartisan infrastructure bill to modernize the United States and make it competitive with other developed countries. In this role, he will provide critical advice and counseling on public-private partnerships expected to range in the billions of dollars.
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At Seyfarth, Reyes concentrated his practice on land use, development, and permitting, with particular experience in zoning, planning, landmark and building code matters, and governmental approvals. He was also a leader in the firm’s Public-Private Partnerships (P3) practice.
“Juan has been an outstanding partner and colleague, and he brings tremendous skill and experience to his new post in the nation’s capital,” said Paul Mattingly, chair of Seyfarth’s Real Estate department. “He possesses the energy, insight and leadership to carefully guide the FRA legal department in support of its important mission.”
“We are proud that Juan has the opportunity to serve and shape the future of the country’s storied rail system,” said Lorie Almon, co-managing partner of Seyfarth’s New York office. “He’s a dynamic and talented lawyer who will serve the country well.”
“Juan is one of the most accomplished lawyers in the country for managing the complexities of large projects, and he will serve the FRA and USDOT well as chief counsel,” said John Napoli, co-managing partner of Seyfarth’s New York office.
Prior to joining Seyfarth, Reyes held a variety of government roles during his career. He served as general counsel to the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals. He also served as counsel to the New York City Loft Board, Office of the Mayor, and served on the Association of the Bar of the City of New York’s Zoning Committee and Housing and Urban Development Committee.