Infrastructure in the News: December 21, 2011
BAF IN THE NEWS
DC Streetsblog: Who Said It: “Let’s Be Really Bold… in Developing Maglev Trains”
Is it Obama, stumping for reelection? Not this time. What about Mitt Romney, who recently said he’s okay with borrowing money if it’s for infrastructure that provides a revenue stream? Getting closer. No, these words belong to one Newton Leroy Gingrich, and they were delivered at a June 2009 event co-hosted by Building America’s Future and the National Governors Association. That’s right: Mr. Balanced Budget Amendment, the Deficit Hawk’s Deficit Hawk, wants to build maglev trains, per-mile one of the most expensive modes ever devised.
Transportation Nation: Newt Gingrich: Rail Visionary, Lover of Oil
In 2009, Gingrich held forth with his former colleague Dick Gephardt at an event sponsored by Building America’s Future and the National Governors Association (video via Streetsblog). He spoke in favor of user fees over taxes, and privatization over government bureaucracies, but agreed with BAF co-founder (and former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania) Ed Rendell that America needed a capital budget. “No American thinks they buy houses on annual appropriations,” he said.
DC Streetsblog: Senate Fails to Extend Transit Commuter Tax Benefit
The Senate has voted to extend the payroll tax cuts – for two months – but didn’t act on a measure to maintain parity between the commuter parking and transit benefits. This means transit riders will get their pre-tax benefits cut in half come January 1st, while those who drive to work will see a small jump in how much the government subsidizes their parking expenses.
Streetsblog Network: The Amazing Disappearing State Gas Tax
The Missouri Department of Transportation wants to widen I-70 between St. Louis and Kansas City. But as we’ve been reporting, many state DOTs just don’t have the money for major highway expansions anymore — and Missouri is no exception. So to pay for this project, which is projected to cost anywhere from $1.5 billion to $4 billion, MoDOT has been exploring the idea of doubling the state gas tax over ten years. Raising the gas tax is something more states should consider, but for Missouri, it’s not going to make expensive highway boondoggles suddenly become affordable, explains Network blog Gateway Streets.
American Public Transportation Association: Despite Lower Gas Prices Public Transit Riders Still Reap Big Savings
Even with lower gas prices public transportation still offers individuals a way to save hundreds of dollars each month. According to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) December Transit Savings Report, individuals who ride public transportation instead of driving can save, on average, $807 dollars this month, and $9,69 annually. These savings are based on the cost of commuting by public transportation compared to the December 20, 2011 average national gas price ($3.21 per gallon- reported by AAA) and the national unreserved monthly parking rate.
Fast Lane: TIGER III: a big and agile cat, with legs
Communities across America are still celebrating the new jobs and innovative solutions that DOT's third round of TIGER grants will support. Today in Charlotte and New Orleans, DOT leaders will be on hand to help cheer two very different projects that demonstrate just how flexible this TIGER is. Deputy Secretary John Porcari will visit the Port of New Orleans Louisiana Avenue terminal. This specialized complex is strategically located on the Mississippi River near six Class I rail lines and two interstate highways. The port was awarded a $16.7 million grant to help construct a freight rail terminal and other improvements as part of a $500 million expansion.
National Journal: Tolling Woes
Two Northeast lawmakers aren't too pleased with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for raising tolls to cross bridges into New York City. They are angry enough that they want the federal government to step in. The Port Authority announced in August that cash tolls for cars will go from $8.00 to $15.00 by 2015. Five-axle trucks that currently pay $40 dollars will have to pay up to $125.
The Hill: Parks breathe life, and jobs, into cities
Much of this progress would not have been possible, however, without essential funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the nation’s primary tool for protecting open space in urban and rural communities nationwide. Denver, like cities across the country, relies on the fund to match state and local dollars to create and enhance urban parks and restore waterways.
Contra Costa Times: Cyclists want new Bay Bridge bike lane, unsure how to pay for it
It's a dream that refuses to die, even though no one knows where to get $550 million to build a bike and pedestrian lane on the west span of the Bay Bridge. Cycling advocates consider it their top goal to have a biking and walking lane all the way across the bridge from Oakland to San Francisco to rival that of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Washington Post: Maryland Transit Administration tells legislature fare raises needed to meet revenue goals
The Maryland Transit Administration says a fare hike is needed to meet state revenue goals without cutting services. The MTA told state lawmakers it would have to raise fares 65 cents next fiscal year, and another 25 cents two years later. Under state law, transit systems have to cover 35 percent of costs from fares. That would raise the current $1.60 fare to $2.25 next year. The report says fares now cover 29 percent of costs.
Patch: Rep. Gary Peters Works to Keep Rejected Transit Money in Michigan
One day after Troy Mayor Janice Daniels and other City Council members rejected $8.4 million in federal funding for the Troy transit center, Rep. Gary Peters sent letters to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Gov. Rick Snyder urging them to try to keep the federal transportation money in the Greater Detroit area. "For Mayor Daniels and Tea Party leaders in Troy to reject federal funding for a Troy transit center is short sighted and will deny economic development opportunities for small business owners in Troy,” Peters said.
Shareable Cities: How to Boost Biking and Walking Even Further in Your City
After being acclaimed as America’s best city for biking, what can you possibly do for an encore? Well, in the case of Minneapolis, you do even more bicycling—and more walking too. People here biked and walked 16 percent more in 2011 than in 2010, when Minneapolis was crowned “#1 Bike City” by Bicycling magazine. The same is true for St. Paul and some inner ring suburbs.
Americans waste 2.8 billion gallons of fuel each year sitting in traffic.