Tuesday, May 1, 2012
News Roundup

Infrastructure in the News: April 30, 2012


New York Times: Cars, Trains and Partisan Posturing
The Senate gets the importance of this legislation — and the danger of playing partisan games with it. The House does not. The bipartisan Senate bill calls for investing $109 billion on critical projects over two years. This would keep spending at present levels by supplementing gas-tax revenues — the main source of financing for transportation programs — with money from other parts of the federal budget. In recent years, gas taxes have dwindled even as construction costs rose.

National Journal: Environmentalists v. Infrastructurists
With conferees scheduled to meet next week to begin hammering out a new transportation reauthorization, all eyes are now turning back to the legislative details: what are key points of contention and where is there room for compromise? We all know there will be a showdown over the Keystone XL pipeline. Let's not worry about that because there are no negotiations. Instead, let's look at another area that can and should be negotiated--the intersection between environmental backstops on transportation and the need to speed up infrastructure projects.

Bloomberg: Buy, Sell or Hold: How Can Governments Decide?
The rush to invest in infrastructure is hardly news. Buoyed by predictions that the world will need tens of billions of private dollars over the next few decades to build and maintain roads, railroads, airports and so on, banks and hedge funds have been rolling out suitable investment products. By some estimates, the amount of private money available for infrastructure investment is in excess of $180 billion. In response, the world is selling, selling, selling. From Great Britain to South Africa, governments have aroused controversy with plans to sell or lease everything from highways to power stations.

PR Newswire: Study Ranks Transit Systems Of Major U.S. Cities
Walk Score®, the only site that makes it easy for apartment renters and home buyers to find neighborhoods where they can drive less and live more, announced today a new ranking of U.S. city transit systems based on residents' access to public transportation. New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington D.C. top the list, while cities such as Houston, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Columbus, Ohio are among the cities in the bottom half of the ranking.


Commercial Appeal: Infrastructure vexing issue amid warnings of 'crisis' in roads, spans
A few tightly focused snapshots reveal the almost-overwhelming complexity of the problem: In places like Michigan, state transportation department officials classify 287 bridges as "structurally deficient," including 69 in Detroit alone. Several cross interstate highways. Cincinnati's I-71 over the Ohio River is considered the No. 15 highway "choke point" according to a recent analysis. Seven spots in Texas are among the worst 25. In Knoxville, a 1,793-foot span over the Tennessee River, built in 1930, is closed until next summer for remedial work that a contract indicates -- on just one bridge -- will cost $24.6 million.

At his State of the City address last week, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made a surprise pledge to extend Measure R, the half-cent sales tax that is funneling an estimated $40 billion into transportation projects over the next 30 years. When the measure passed with a two-thirds majority in 2008, it represented a turning point for the city:  Angelenos not only wanted better transit, they were willing to pay for it.

Leesville Daily Leader: From the Back Porch: We've driven ourselves into a transportation problem
A trip to Manhattan, Kansas (The Little Apple) and back last week pointed out one horrible thing that the children of those being born today are going to have, and I'm not talking about the national debt. If something isn't done about mass transportation in the next two or three decades, the vast portion of the so-called lower 48 is going to be tied up in a gridlock that will make a five-car pileup on U.S. 171 in DeRidder or Leesville look like a minor inconvenience. Gridlock is already here in our metropolitan areas. And it will spread.

New York’s Lower Hudson Valley: Tappan Zee Bridge: State says feds' failure to loan $2 billion won't slow project
The state failed to win backing in the first round of federal financing for a $2 billion loan considered crucial for expediting construction of a new Tappan Zee Bridge. The setback, first reported Thursday on LoHud.com, means New York won’t benefit from the federal transportation loan unless Congress approves more funding for the program. The U.S. Department of Transportation said the $5 billion bridge project would be placed on a list to be considered for future funding, if Congress provides additional money in the federal transportation bill under review in the House.

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