Infrastructure in the News: December 20, 2012
BAF IN THE NEWS:
Huffington Post (Associated Press Reprint): Sandy Aid Package Proposed By GOP, Calls For $24 Billion In Emergency Aid
WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans on Wednesday proposed a $24 billion emergency aid package for Superstorm Sandy victims, less than half of what Democrats hope to pass by Christmas.
Wall Street Journal: Sandy Aside, Weather Puts 2012 in Record Books
By ERIC HOLTHAUS
December 19, 2012
New York City is poised to finish its warmest year since modern record-keeping began, with an average temperature projected to top 57.2 degrees.
A Wall Street Journal analysis of federal temperature data from an observation station at Central Park puts 2012 on course to surpass the three-way tie for the city's warmest year, which is currently shared by 1990, 1991 and 1998.
With less than two weeks left in December, it would take an unprecedented cold snap—with a deeper freeze than January 1918, the coldest month in city history—to keep the current year out of the record books. If the remainder of December follows the long-range forecast, the year would end with an average temperature of 57.3 degrees.
"If you were to end the year right now, we would finish a 10th of a degree above 1991, which was the current warmest year on record," said David Stark, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Upton, N.Y. He cautioned that the final result remains uncertain at this point.
Temperature records at Central Park date back to 1869, the longest-running set of government weather data in the five boroughs. Eight of the 10 warmest years in that span have occurred since 1990.
Tree-ring analysis and other proxy data compiled by climate scientists suggest 2012 might be the warmest since the Dutch opened the trading post of New Amsterdam in 1624, said William Solecki, director of the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities at Hunter College.
"I think it is entirely possible that 2012 might be the warmest year for the city since its founding," he said.
November featured the city's earliest snowstorm in more than a century, helping to possibly obscure the broader warming trend over the course of 2012. The current month, for instance, could end as one of the 10 warmest Decembers in Central Park since the Civil War. More than 80% of the daily temperature averages in December so far have been warmer than normal, according to the data.
A temperature milestone might carry extra significance just three months after the devastation of superstorm Sandy, which touched off a discussion about possible links between the region's shifting climate and extreme weather.
In the days after the storm, for instance, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg framed his endorsement in the presidential election as a response to climate politics.
But for scientists, the more urgent discussion isn't the prospect for more big storms—it is the city's vulnerability to increasingly balmy temperatures.
"In what it means for the future, the temperature is as big a story as Sandy," said Adam Sobel, an atmospheric scientist at Columbia University.
"As a symbol, it's significant," he added. "But if next year doesn't break the record again, it won't mean global warming has slowed."
Mr. Solecki, a co-chairman of the New York City Panel on Climate Change established by the mayor, said that a record-warm year could prompt a "discussion of how to make our critical infrastructure more resilient to heat-related stresses." But he also cautioned against investing too much meaning in any numerical milestone.
Not all New Yorkers with a careful eye on the unusually warm year are bothered by the apparent record-breaking temperatures.
After finishing up a morning jog in Brooklyn's Prospect Park earlier this month, Joanna Paterson reflected on the ways the weather has been good for certain segments of the city local economy.
"As a fitness trainer, my business is more successful. People are feeling healthier, recovery times from illness are shorter," said Ms. Paterson, 40 years old. "More people going to the green market. To be able to use this park for more of the year is a huge benefit."
Just down the street, a coffee shop offered a sale: "Global warming got you down? Get a cold brew coffee and enjoy summer forever!"
Inside, Matt Easton, 42, sipped an espresso and mused on the likely temperature record for 2012. He was not as sanguine as the runner.
"It's less dramatic than Sandy," Mr. Easton said of the city's warmest year. "But in some ways it's a more frightening indicator."
Politico: Morning Transportation
By Burgess Everett and Adam Snider, Featuring Kathryn A. Wolfe and Jessica Meyers
SPENDING REDUX: The House is expected to consider today the Spending Reduction Act of 2012 plus the income tax hike for millionaires — that “Plan B” you’ve been hearing about. There are no transportation cuts in the package, which is intended to help avert sequestration, and previous cuts to roads and rails have been frowned on by House members. With a White House veto threat hanging over the legislative package, there’s a good chance this isn’t the last word in the fiscal cliff debate, so nothing is yet settled. Here’s the bill text for the cuts: http://1.usa.gov/WqbIAO. And the income tax bill: http://1.usa.gov/WpwEvw
Still confused? Team POLITICO has a great wrap of where negotiations lie among Washington’s leadership: http://politi.co/Zk88On
INOUYE’S OTHER FINAL WISH: By now we all know of late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s final wish — that Rep. Colleen Hanabusa be appointed to his Hawaii Senate seat. So it was fitting that she was present when another of his dreams — a transit system for traffic-choked Honolulu — inched closer to reality. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the state’s entire congressional delegation and local officials held a ceremony to sign a full funding grant agreement that commits the feds to a $1.55 billion contribution toward the 20-mile system that skirts Pearl Harbor. The somber ceremony was held in the same Appropriations room that Inouye worked in for so many years, and to close the ceremony, the officials signed a poster-sized copy of the grant agreement; the blank space above Inouye’s name stood out amid the large signatures.
A man of the people: The participants all spoke highly of Inouye and his decades-long work on the project. “This is what Sen. Inouye’s entire career was about. It wasn’t about him. It was about the people,” LaHood said. “It is certainly the most bittersweet moment of my career,” said FTA head Peter Rogoff, who worked with Inouye when he was an Appropriations staffer. Sen.-elect Mazie Hirono noted how the project was “close to his heart,” and Sen. Daniel Akaka said that “this is all in the name of Sen. Inouye.” Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle called the project “a fitting legacy for a remarkable man.” Adam has much more for Pros, including remembrances from Hanabusa and Inouye’s chief of staff: http://politico.pro/Wps90c
Keeping it rail: It’s not the only transit improvement the secretary is happy about. LaHood is also pumped about the FRA records of decision supporting the Rock Island Corridor between Joliet and Chicago and a route on 10th Street in Springfield along the burgeoning Chicago-St. Louis route. The decisions mean “the Chicago-St. Louis high-speed rail corridor is eligible to compete for future federal funding,” LaHood wrote on his blog. http://1.usa.gov/WsOFcu
THE WAITING GAME: House members from New York and New Jersey are now at the mercy of the U.S. Senate. With the Sandy aid package first going through the upper chamber before the House can decide how to proceed, all eyes are on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his push to move the $60 billion bill filled with repair money for transportation infrastructure, humanitarian aid and … money for Alaskan fisheries. Despite the feeling of powerlessness, there’s also confidence from affected members that in the end, they will get the major things that they asked for.
Confidence exuded: “I expect the supplemental to pass substantially as presented by the president,” Rob Andrews of New Jersey told MT. We asked if important funding provisions will be stripped out by skeptical Republicans and Rep. Jerry Nadler replied: “I don’t think so. I’d be surprised.” Privately, lawmakers of both parties are heartened that the Democrat-controlled Senate is going first, fearing the massive supplemental bill could be picked apart in the Republican-controlled House. And Staten Island’s Michael Grimm and Long Island’s Peter King are lobbying their Republican leadership for an up-or-down vote on what comes out of the Senate — which Reid said should come this week. Burgess and Kathryn have your back: http://politico.pro/URi7UO
The GOP alternative: Dan Coats and Lamar Alexander have offered up their own aid package of about $24 billion. The bill provides FHWA $444 million, Amtrak $32 million and the FTA $3.4 billion, among other things. The Rogers report: http://politi.co/XLiGQ6. Bill text: http://bit.ly/TAXegV
THE CONTAINER CLIFF: Who needs Washington? Those who ship through East Coast ports have their own year-end doomsday: the container cliff. Negotiations between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance broke down once again Tuesday, despite the assistance of a federal mediator, and the union has vowed to strike if the groups don’t complete contract talks by Dec. 29. Few dispute the short-term economic damage that could result from a port strike stretching from Maine to Texas. But the frantic predictions of financial catastrophe have intensified a pitched battle between labor and management that has spanned nine months — even if lawmakers have yet to join the fray. Jessica breaks it all down for Pros: http://politico.pro/REM2mn
BAILING OUT OF THE BAILOUT: The Treasury Department plans to sell its 500 million shares in GM stock over the next 12 to 15 months, with GM buying 200 million at $27.50 per share by the end of the year. The sale will bring in $5.5 billion toward the $27 billion that the company still owes. In an October report, the special inspector general for TARP estimated Treasury would need to sell the remaining 500 million shares at $53.98 per share to break even on its investment. Zachary Warmbrodt and Kate Davidson from POLITICO: http://politi.co/USsSWJ
NEW YORK’S TRANSIT BRAIN DRAIN: New York MTA Chairman Joe Lhota is officially stepping down at the end of the year to explore a potential candidacy for mayor of New York City, the agency says. Lhota is the fourth chairman to leave the leadership of the nation’s busiest transit agency since 2007 and was confirmed less than a year ago by the New York state Legislature. He will be replaced on an acting basis by Vice Chairman Fernando Ferrer while a search for a new chairman begins. The news came the same day subway fares and tolls were approved to go up in a couple months.
Thomas not Joe: Lhota will no longer testify before a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Hurricane Sandy today. In his place will be MTA President Thomas Prendergast.
ANOTHER DAY: With no votes in the Senate yesterday, the two Amtrak Board of Directors nominees and DOT policy undersecretary nominee Polly Trottenberg continue to be stalled. Members were given notice Wednesday afternoon that a Commerce Committee markup was going down, but they were unable to reach a quorum. The votes probably won’t happen today either because of Sen. Inouye’s memorial service.
MIKULSKI NABS APPROPS GAVEL: Sen. Barbara Mikulski will take over as Appropriations chairwoman after Inouye’s death. Her colleagues Patrick Leahy and Tom Harkin turned down the post, so it fell to the 25-year Senate veteran. Since she’s from Maryland, it raises some interesting questions for D.C.’s Metro system and its yearly $150 million contribution from the feds. Mainly: Will she try to increase it? Keep in mind a funding boost would have to be accompanied by an authorizing provision as well. The perch atop the powerful committee also gives her a chance to advocate for other transportation projects in the region. Senate Democrats should make her ascension official today. Manu Raju has more: http://politi.co/V7zXFe
MT FIRST LOOK — Crash ratings: IIHS is out with a new frontal “overlap” crash test this morning and the Honda Accord 4-door model and the Suzuki Kizashi were the only two models to receive “good” overall ratings. On the other end of the spectrum, Toyota’s Prius and Camry both received “poor” ratings. IIHS also has a new Top Safety Pick + designation, which 13 cars have earned: Dodge Avenger, Chrysler 200 four-door, Ford Fusion, Accord two-door and four-door, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima four-door, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Suzuki Kizashi, Volkswagen Passat, Acura TL and Volvo S60. More from IIHS: http://bit.ly/REAbEO
VOTERS ON INFRASTRUCTURE: AEM has a new survey looking at voters’ opinions on transportation infrastructure. Seventy-seven percent said infrastructure “is in serious need of rebuilding and modernizing,” and 61 percent think improvements should come from “a combination of funding sources such as some additional tax revenues, user fees and private investment.” While 64 percent support private-sector and public-private partnerships when government money is short, that figure drops to 50 percent when tolls and other user fees come into play. And this tidbit is important for those in the transport industry that assume the public knows our woes: 60 percent didn’t know that spending will drop sharply if Congress doesn’t address the Highway Trust Fund shortfalls. The survey of 1,000 voters was conducted Dec. 5-7 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent. Check it out: http://bit.ly/12q0LUi
Dollars: The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board wrote the legislatures/council and governors/mayor of Maryland, Virginia and D.C. to ask for more transportation revenue. http://bit.ly/WpLBtP
REPORT-BAG — Consistently Inconsistent: A GAO report out yesterday hits TSA for inconsistent oversight and enforcement of its rail security incident reporting system. According to GAO, TSA's oversight and guidance mechanisms are limited, and that's caused a lot of inconsistency in how many rail security incidents are reported, as well as what types are reported. For instance, GAO found some local TSA agents report incidents where people are struck by trains, while others don't because they're often suicides, not acts of terrorism. Report: http://1.usa.gov/V74bIm
CABOOSE — Congrats! Pay us $4! Jeff Wright was on his way to Wilmington, Del., over the Delaware Memorial Bridge when he saw a crowd — and the governor. The reason for the rabble? Wright was the bridge’s billionth customer. He got $250 on his EZ-Pass for his troubles. News Journal: http://delonline.us/RERrKc
Politico Pro: Inouye’s other final wish: Honolulu transit
By Adam Snider
The late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s dying wish was that Rep. Colleen Hanabusa be appointed to his Hawaii Senate seat. So it may have been fitting that she was present when one of Inouye’s other final wishes — a transit system for traffic-choked Honolulu — won a formal funding agreement just two days after his death.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, flanked by Inouye’s wife, Irene, the state’s congressional delegation and other Hawaii officials, signed a full funding grant agreement Wednesday morning in the same Senate Appropriations Committee room that Inouye worked in for so many years.
The agreement seals the deal on the government’s $1.55 billion contribution toward a $5 billion transit rail line connecting Kapolei and Ala Moana Center. The 20-mile system will feature 21 stops, many of them along the edges of Pearl Harbor.
“It’s really timely in the sense that, you know, that was one of the senator’s major projects over the years. He has brought up the possibility of Hawaii having a rail system for as long as I can remember,” Hanabusa told POLITICO the night before the ceremony. “And for myself personally — I am somebody who grew up in the area, the island that that rail system would service — so it is a major accomplishment for the state to move forward and actually construct the rail system.”
As required by law, the Federal Transit Administration notified Congress of the agreement a month ago. Because there were no objections, it was signed and made official on Wednesday, less than 48 hours after Inouye’s death in a Washington hospital.
All speakers at the somber signing ceremony paid tribute to the late senator and talked about how passionate he was about the project.
Everybody who spoke wore a wooden lei in honor of Inouye, who developed a pollen allergy that meant he couldn’t wear flower leis.
To end the ceremony, all the participants signed a poster-sized copy of the grant agreement. The blank spot where Inouye would have signed stood out amidst the large signatures. A vase of white roses and his gavel were on the committee table and a wooden lei was draped over the chairman’s seat.
“This is what Sen. Inouye’s entire career was about. It wasn’t about him. It was about the people,” LaHood said at the ceremony.
Everybody who spoke after LaHood had similarly kind words.
“It is certainly the most bittersweet moment of my career,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff, who worked with Inouye when he was an Appropriations staffer. Sen.-elect Mazie Hirono noted how the project was “close to his heart” and Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), whose seat Hirono will take next month, said that “this is all in the name of Sen. Inouye.” Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle called the project “a fitting legacy for a remarkable man.”
Inouye worked diligently for decades on the project. After the Honolulu City Council voted 5-4 to halt the project in 1993, he redoubled his efforts instead of giving up on the idea.
“When we lost the project because of the lack of support at the Honolulu City Council, it forced him to reassess. If we were going to be successful, we needed to engage at all levels of government,” Jennifer Sabas, Inouye’s chief of staff, told POLITICO after the ceremony. “After that incident 19 years ago, all bets were off. So he worked at every level.”
The most recent City Council vote, in support of the full funding grant agreement, was 8-1.
“I want to recognize his leadership — steadfast,” LaHood said. “Any time you do a big project, there’s controversy. He was never dissuaded by the controversy, never dissuaded by the naysayers, never dissuaded by political campaigns. He always knew this project would go forward.”
Inouye was a man of the people, as LaHood said — and that was no different when it came to transportation. After the project was tanked nearly 20 years ago, he wanted to get out and see the area’s transportation problems firsthand.
“He would drive out there and see what they were doing,” Sabas said. “And then, because the traffic was really bad, he literally did that. He wanted to be able to experience it so he could advocate with a level of passion.”
Honolulu’s traffic problems aren’t just an exaggeration by those wanting a transit system. Traffic-monitoring company INRIX said the city’s streets were the most congested of any U.S. city in 2011, beating Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. It was the fourth most congested city in the world, INRIX found.
Politico Pro: For supporters in House, Sandy bill is a waiting game
By Burgess Everett and Kathryn A. Wolfe
As their home states recover from the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, New York and New Jersey's House delegations have been forced into a “wait-and-see” posture as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid takes the lead in a $60 billion aid bill.
The Senate bill broadly encapsulates the request that came from the White House, put together with input from local lawmakers and congressional delegations from the greater New York area. House members feel some powerlessness at having the bill’s path begin in the arcane upper chamber but also confidence that Reid will be able to shepherd billions of dollars for repairs to subway systems, passenger rails, roads, bridges and humanitarian needs.
Minor tweaks are expected as senators try to hash out a package of amendments to consider, but the big items are expected to emerge unscathed. Asked if important funding provisions will be stripped out by skeptical Republicans, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) replied: “I don’t think so. I’d be surprised.”
Charges from Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) about pork buried in the bill are all part of the expected partisan theatrics of Washington, the longtime New York City representative said.
“Anything you put together on a complex thing like this, they’re going to find something to object to,” Nadler said.
Pivoting to charges that all the money won’t be spent right away, he added: “The fact is, you've got to put in things that are more than a year or two so you can plan and start rebuilding. And it is stupid to rebuild exactly the same things that got flooded in the first place.”
Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) views some of the complaints of conservatives in the upper chamber as legitimate but that it doesn’t mean they will torpedo the entire aid package. Andrews exemplifies the tight-knit coordination taking place within a bipartisan coalition of affected states. He’s as on-message as Nadler even though his own southern New Jersey district was largely unscathed by the storm.
“All of the spending is relating to healing our state and our region,” Andrews said. “I expect the supplemental to pass substantially as presented by the president.”
Privately, lawmakers of both parties are heartened that the Democrat-controlled Senate is going first, fearing the massive supplemental bill could be picked apart in the Republican-controlled House. The hope among the bipartisan House coalition is that the Senate will pass the bill relatively unscathed and that the measure then will be presented for a vote in the House during the frenzied last few days of the lame duck.
But until then, much of what House members can do is rhetorical.
On Wednesday night, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) will lead a round of special order speeches focused on the necessity of Sandy aid and will be joined by New York and New Jersey lawmakers of both parties.
Grimm and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) have been lobbying their Republican leadership for an up-or-down vote on what comes out of the Senate. But first the bill must run the gantlet of conservatives in the Senate who want the bill paid for as well as money for future Amtrak improvements and Pacific fisheries slashed out. House members are confident, but they say it’s tough to watch.
“The ways of the Senate are beyond my understanding,” said Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.)
If he was watching C-SPAN on Wednesday morning, Holt might have been heartened. Reid said he hopes to move the disaster supplemental bill "in the next day or two" and chastised Republicans for dragging out the process.
"We have to make a decision on this very important legislation before we leave here this week — and we're going to do that," Reid said. "I would hope that everyone would cooperate, but we have to do this."
Reid said the delay is "unfair to those people who are suffering" — individuals as well as businesses. "We have to get our priorities right here."
Republicans have been pressing Reid to allow them to offer amendments to the bill, and on Wednesday, Reid appeared ready to allow at least some. He said the GOP is preparing a substitute amendment to the bill. "We look forward to whatever that might be, that we can set up a series of votes, that we can satisfy people who want to change this bill in some manner," Reid said.
House appropriators are waiting to see what the Senate can support before deciding how to proceed.
"It’s all very unclear. At this point, we’re waiting for the Senate to move to get a clearer idea of what their position is, but with the current delays ... not sure what the timing looks like," a House GOP aide said, referring to Sen. Daniel Inouye’s memorial service and an expected Christmas breather.
Like other senators who have ticked off the swift action Congress took to deal with previous disasters, Reid noted that Congress acted quickly on an aid package after Hurricane Katrina and in response to wildfires in the West. He noted the populations in both areas were "very sparse compared to New York and New Jersey."
The comparisons are not lost on New Yorkers.
“New York has been there for every other disaster,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.). “I hope they’ll be there for us.”
“In New Jersey and New York we've spent a lot of money helping other states,” Nadler said. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Politico Pro: Ports edge toward ‘container' cliff
By Jessica Meyers
Who needs Washington? Those who ship through East Coast ports have their own year-end doomsday: the “container” cliff.
Negotiations between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the United States Maritime Alliance broke down once again Tuesday, despite the assistance of a federal mediator. The union has vowed to strike if the groups don’t complete contract talks by the Dec. 29 deadline.
Few dispute the short-term economic damage that could result from a port strike stretching from Maine to Texas. But the frantic predictions of financial catastrophe have intensified a pitched battle between labor and management that has spanned nine months — even if lawmakers have yet to join the fray.
“In terms of the economy, I don’t see this being a permanent effect,” said Walter Kemmsies, chief economist at Moffatt & Nichol, an infrastructure consultancy firm.
“If the strike goes through we’ll see a temporary shift of cargo from the East to the West Coast. But I don’t think there will be a permanent shift because the international distribution system importers and exporters have in place is pretty well-established.”
Maritime experts hark back to the famed 10-day strike in 2002 between West Coast dockworkers and employers. The incident resulted in daily financial losses of $1 billion and convinced carriers to vary their routes. The East Coast felt a shift in redirected goods.
“This is not the same situation as the East Coast being jammed with lots of boxes and they’re thinking of opening up the West Coast,” Kemmsies said. “It’s already diversified.”
The odds appear in carriers’ favor. Atlantic ports, which serve 40 percent of all waterborne shipping in the country, have avoided a strike since 1977. And since the talks have dragged on for months, major carriers have long since made contingency plans to reroute through air freight or expedite container shipments.
But the recent eight-day strike on the West Coast has helped foment fears. Industry analysts warn of bottlenecks, halted income and billions of dollars lost in everything from clothing to food products. The estimated value of affected cargo could exceed $437 billion, according to a report by Marsh Risk Consulting.
Smaller carriers struggle to make the same rerouting adjustments as their larger competitors. Even Maersk, one of the world’s leading shipping companies, plans to impose a surcharge if the strike begins.
To top it off, the upcoming Panama Canal expansion has brought more uncertainty into the industry and its structural dynamics.
“I’m very much worried that what happens to the East Coast will be similar to the West Coast where they lost billions of dollars,” Charleston port advocate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told POLITICO.” I hope they sort things out because our economy along the East Coast and South Carolina in particular can’t withstand interruption in our port.”
The National Retail Federation is begging President Barak Obama to get involved by instituting the Taft-Hartley Act, an action usually reserved for economic calamities.
“Anytime you have a shutdown it can cause disruptions that have a pretty significant economic impact,” said Jonathan Gold, the retail group’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy. “It’s broader than retail. It impacts manufacturers, farmers, everyone using the system. Immediate action is needed to prevent this from happening.”
Aside from a presidential mandate to resume talks, there’s little anyone else can do but plead. And wait.
“The problem is [Taft-Hartley] just keeps kicking it down the road to another crisis,” said Jim Kruse, a former port director who leads the Center for Ports & Waterways at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.
Lawmakers aren’t issuing press releases or making floor speeches, a sign they expect the situation to take care of itself.
“It might be a bit premature to ask the president to intervene,” PORTS caucus head Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) said in an interview. "I’m not ready to panic yet.”
Lawmakers have instead joined the chorus urging for resolution. The latest linchpin in the talks involves container royalties. Terminal operators want to impose a cap on these payments, but the union disagrees.
“I’d get them in a room, lock the doors and tell them to knock when they have a verdict,” PORTS caucus co-founder Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), told POLITICO, by way of advice.
Reuters: Cliff-triggered recession could hurt US infrastructure-Moody's
Dec 19 (Reuters) - Airports, toll roads, utilities and other U.S. infrastructure are unlikely to suffer immediately if "fiscal cliff" talks fail, but could face financial stress should the lack of a deal lead to a recession, Moody's Investors Service said on Wednesday.
Washington Post (Associated Press Reprint): Senate Republicans propose smaller, $24 billion recovery package for Superstorm Sandy
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Wednesday proposed a $24 billion emergency aid package for Superstorm Sandy victims, less than half of what Democrats hope to pass by Christmas.
Washington Post: Improving the Department of Transportation: A conversation with Ray LaHood
The idea that you engage employees and not only listen but follow through is central to the idea of building a relationship. I’ve met with all the employees in every department. When I go around the country, I visit our highway offices, transit officials and air traffic control towers. I met 50 employees at a Cincinnati control tower recently. They said, “We’ve never had a secretary visit us before.” When I go to town hall meetings, I don’t talk too long. When I was in Cincinnati, I probably talked no more than five minutes. The rest of the time I spent answering questions. People are not bashful; they don’t need to be lectured to. These meetings are really good opportunities to listen to concerns about things that need to be changed.
Forbes: It's Time To Upgrade The Entire World's Infrastructure
The world runs on an invisible highway of connections, from wires and routers to airports and roads, a complex matrix that sustains everything we do. From the room that lights up when a switch is flipped to the bridge that stays up when we drive over it, we expect things to work. A taxi drops you off at an airport in Kansas and within a day you’re getting into another one in Delhi. A banking transaction closes at the speed of light between Seattle and Singapore. Video of a newborn in Brooklyn reaches a relative in Beijing instantly – on a device that fits in the palm of a hand, with musical accompaniment.
Governing: Is 2013 the Year of New Transportation Funding?
The 2013 legislative session hasn't even started, but state lawmakers across the country are already touting the need to find new sources of transportation revenue in the upcoming year. The conversation comes at a time when Congress finds itself entrenched in a culture of austerity and when calls from advocates and stakeholders to increase the federal gas tax -- unchanged for nearly 20 years -- have fallen mostly on deaf ears.
FastLane: Honolulu rail transit a tribute to Senator Inouye and the people of Oahu
On Monday, the people of Hawaii lost a tireless champion, Senator Daniel Inouye. A Medal of Honor awardee for his wartime valor, the first Japanese-American in the U.S. Congress, and a truly bipartisan colleague--Senator Inouye's passing is a loss for all of us.
FastLane: FRA Records of Decision push Midwest high-speed rail closer to reality
It's been quite a year for passenger rail in the Midwest, and it just got even better. Yesterday, the Federal Railroad Administration issued two Records of Decision that open the door further for improved passenger rail service between Chicago and St. Louis.
New York Times: Increase in Base Subway Fare and 30-Day Pass Is Approved
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted unanimously on Wednesday to raise the base fare on subways and buses by a quarter, to $2.50, and to increase the cost of a 30-day MetroCard by $8, to $112.
Transportation Nation: Northern Virginia Planning Big ‘Outer Beltway’ Road Expansion (Part 1)
In a massive undertaking that would transform the face of Northern Virginia, state transportation planners are unveiling plans to create a “north-south corridor of statewide significance.” Some are calling it a potential beginning of an “outer Beltway,” others say it’s essential infrastructure for the region’s economy. Critics call it a big waste of money, unnecessary and poorly planned.
Denver Business Journal: First peek at DIA transit development plan
A Denver City Council subcommittee on Wednesday got the first peek at plans for the new transit-oriented development planned for the “Aviation Community Station,” where East 61st Avenue will intersect with the FasTracks train to Denver International Airport.
Greater Greater Washington: O'Malley must step up on transportation funding
Last year, Governor O'Malley supported several controversial issues, including gay marriage and the Dream Act. Now it's time for him to adopt another courageous stand and support an increase of Maryland's gas tax or some other method of raising transportation revenues.
Bangor Daily News: Is the state giving money to ‘well-off’ suburbs at expense of urban areas?
AUGUSTA, Maine — Nearly all of Maine’s population growth in the last decade, as well as nearly 70 percent of the state’s economic activity, has taken place in metropolitan areas. Yet state policies governing funding for education and transportation, state aid to local communities and economic development programs have not caught up to this new reality, according to economists and planners who have studied Maine’s communities and the state’s economy.
Transportation Nation: Washington Governor Proposes New Fuel Tax For Education
(Derek Wang – Seattle, KUOW) Washington Governor Chris Gregoire is proposing a new wholesale vehicle fuel tax to help cover the costs of getting kids to school.
Star Advertiser: Federal funds for rail plan sealed in signing ceremony
WASHINGTON » Hawaii received a long-awaited $1.55 billion check from the U.S. Department of Transportation Wednesday, a major milestone in paying for a commuter rail line that is the largest public works project in Hawaii history meant to relieve some of the vexing congestion along the H-1 freeway.
Detroit Free Press: Snyder signs transit, lighting, downtown arena bills: 'An exciting day for Detroit'
Calling today “an exciting day for Detroit, “ Gov. Rick Snyder signed a series of bills that will have big impacts on the Motor City and its suburbs.
Tampa Bay Online: Nonprofit group pushes transportation upgrades in Tampa area
Leaders of a new nonprofit group, Connect Tampa Bay, say they want to give average citizens a voice in coming debates over public transportation in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
“Infrastructure is a bipartisan issue because we all deserve safe bridges, uncongested roads, and sustainable transit options.”