Infrastructure in the News: August 17, 2012
Washington Post: White House offering states nearly half-billion dollars for transportation projects
The Obama administration will make nearly half a billion dollars in unspent highway funds available to states that promise to use the money to create jobs and improve transportation. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will announce Friday that more than $470 million will be made immediately available for projects such as repairing crumbling roads and bridges, a White House official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been publicly announced.
DC Streetsblog: Rep. Steve LaTourette Leaving Congress, Cites Disgust Over Transpo Bill
We mentioned last week that transit advocates were losing one supporter in Congress: Russ Carnahan of Missouri. They’ll be suffering another grave loss come January: Ohio Republican Steve LaTourette. It was clear that the romance was over last year when he called his own party’s freshmen members “knuckledraggers.” He announced two weeks ago that he had decided not to seek re-election. LaTourette is one of a disappearing breed of moderate Republicans in Congress — and urban ones, at that.
American City & County: Funding for highways is ready to roll
After nearly three years and nine short-term extensions of the federal highway and public transportation programs, Congress agreed on a two-year surface transportation reauthorization bill in June. On July 6, President Obama signed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) bill into a law, which stabilizes federal surface transportation investment through FY 2014 and makes a number of policy reforms that will affect all parts of the transportation community.
DC Streetsblog: Everything You Wanted to Know About Transit Funds (But Were Afraid to Ask)
Transit agencies can have a hard time finding the money to expand rail lines and busways. While federal grants for road projects require a 20 percent local match, transit projects need to get 50 percent or more from local funding sources. The byzantine federal funding bureaucracy creates high hurdles, especially for smaller agencies without on-staff expertise in applying for and managing these grants. Loans and private sources of funds are also difficult, since they need to be paid back, and transit tends not to make back its capital outlays from the farebox.
Politico Morning Transportation: NAVIGATING PORT REFORM
Twenty-five senators are turning to OMB after Congress couldn't quite get Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund reform into the transportation law. A quarter of the Senate wrote OMB Acting Director Jeffrey Zients asking that revenue from the HMTF get directed entirely to port maintenance in the 2014 budget. The government charges shippers a tax on their cargo for ports' dredging and infrastructure needs. But for years, much of that money has gone elsewhere or sat untouched. "This situation is totally unacceptable," the bipartisan group said.
Summit County Citizens Voice: Colorado: Getting serious about high speed transit
As part of a $1.8 million high-speed transit feasibility study, the Colorado Department of Transportation will take a close look at private-sector information on high-speed transit technologies. The goal is try and determine if there’s a technology to run a high-speed train or some other form of transit from the Front Range to the mountains, and if those technologies can meet specific performance and operational criteria for an I-70 transit system running between C-470 in Jefferson County and the Eagle County Regional Airport.
Transportation Nation: Key Politicians Throw Support Behind Cuomo’s Tappan Zee Bridge Plan
The county executives of Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties are finally giving their official blessing to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $5.2 billion plan for a new Tappan Zee Bridge — now that he’s agreed to form a task force to firm up future transit options. The current bridge plan includes dedicated bus lanes, but no timetable for bus rapid transit on either side of the Hudson River crossing. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino says that discussion is now back on the table. “Unless there was going to be some transit options,” he said, “this bridge would just have the same old congestion and pollution and problems that the current one does. It would just look shinier.”
Las Vegas Review-Journal: $246 million project eases I-15 traffic
It took more than a half million tons of gravel and asphalt, more than two years of work and almost a quarter billion dollars, but six miles of traffic jams on Interstate 15 south have become mostly smooth sailing. Transportation officials gathered Wednesday morning to celebrate the completion of the project, which redesigned and remade the freeway from Tropicana Avenue to Silverado Ranch Boulevard. Sound walls and access roads were added, the freeway was widened, five interchanges were redone, express lanes were lengthened, and 26 new bridge sections were built.
“Federal investment in infrastructure is the necessary catalyst for future economic growth and to enable the private sector to effectively compete in the global economy. This investment is long overdue.”