Tuesday, February 15, 2011
News Roundup

Infrastructure in the News: February 15, 2011

Esquire Magazine does a profile on Co-Chair Michael Bloomberg, and Reuters reports on Obama's budget allocation of $556 billion for a six-year transportation plan. Read more in this Infrastructure in the News.

BAF in the News

Esquire Magazine: Mike Bloomberg Will Save Us From Ourselves If Only We Let Him
Bloomberg — a man who made his very name a part of the English language — is thinking big again. He's got a coalition with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell on building American infrastructure.

National News

Wall Street Journal: More Transportation Funds Are Sought
The plan, which needs congressional approval, requests boosting the Transportation Department's budget to $122 billion from the $69 billion it got in fiscal 2010. Congress never approved Mr. Obama's fiscal-2011 budget request. 

USA TODAY: Obama budget plan could create millions of jobs
The blueprint is certain to set off political battles. Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, says infrastructure improvements not only create construction jobs but improve transportation systems to increase U.S. economic competitiveness. A study co-authored by Zandi concluded the economic stimulus, which included $135 billion in infrastructure spending, generated 8 million additional jobs in 2009 and 2010.

Reuters: Obama budget has $556 bln, six-year transport plan
President Barack Obama on Monday proposed an ambitious long-term transport spending plan in his 2012 budget as a way to boost U.S. economic competitiveness and spur job growth.

The Hill: Budget provides boost for transportation, offer long-term improvement plan
President Obama's fiscal year 2012 budget includes an aggressive six-year $556 billion plan for the nation's aging infrastructure and will provide the Transportation Department with more money to spend.

National Journal: White House Proposes $556 Billion Highway Bill
The White House is proposing a whopping $556 billion for a new, six-year surface transportation funding bill that is almost three years overdue. It’s entirely possible that Republicans' total for transportation will be half that amount or less.

Washington Post: Budget 2012: Transportation
Proposing to spend $128 billion on transportation in fiscal 2012, the heart of the White House spending plan is a push for a six-year renewal of the nation's transportation blueprint. 

Bloomberg: Transport Outlay to Grow 16% in U.S. Budget with High-Speed Rail Priority
President Barack Obama’s budget calls on Congress to pass a $556 billion, multiyear surface transportation funding plan that would include spending for Amtrak and highway repairs as well as an infrastructure bank, without offering a funding source.

Bloomberg: Amtrak May Lose Money in Obama Transportation Plan
The proposal for funding a new six-year surface transportation law would end direct operating subsidies to Amtrak and for the first time include rail programs in what has been called the “highway bill.” Amtrak received $1.57 billion in capital and debt service grants, and operating subsidies, in fiscal 2010.

Washington Post: Under Obama proposal, $128 billion would fund transportation
The heart of the president's proposal to spend $128 billion on transportation in fiscal 2012 is a push for a six-year renewal of the nation's transportation blueprint.

DOT Blog: Tightening our belts, strengthening our future
President Obama's proposal includes a $50 billion “up front boost” that will jump-start job creation while laying the foundation for future competitiveness and prosperity. It also includes a $30 billion national infrastructure bank that will finance major projects of national or regional significance over the long run. And, where it doesn’t compromise safety or jobs, the proposal recommends tightening our fiscal belt.

Infrastructurist: Obama’s $556 Billion Transportation Budget Plan Emphasizes Rail Spending
On the surface, the plan does much to satisfy supporters of a balanced transportation system. It provides $8 billion in passenger rail funding, a first step toward the administration’s desired $53 billion high-speed rail investment. It calls (yet again) for a National Infrastructure Bank — or I-Bank, in the parlance of the budget — jump-started with $30 billion. It favors fix-it-first highway spending, a wise policy considering new reports that road maintenance gives a better employment bank for your buck than new construction. And it dishes out $4.1 billion in funding for livable communities.

USA Today: High-speed train system has a long way to go
The Obama administration is proceeding at full speed with plans to create a national high-speed rail system, proposing billions in next year's budget to help lay the groundwork. But political opposition and hefty costs could mean the ambitious program goes nowhere fast.

AltTransport: Obama's Transportation Budget
While several other agencies saw deep cuts in Obama’s 2011 budget proposal, the President saved some love for transportation. The budget calls on Congress to spend $556 billion for six years for a surface transportation funding plan that includes spending for Amtrak, high-speed rail, an infrastructure bank, and highway repairs.  

FavStock: Americans want Congress to 'fix it first', invest in and improve our transportation systems
In the midst of the fervor about the House’s budget resolution for 2011 released Friday, and the President’s budget proposal for 2012 dominating the news today, a new bipartisan poll from the Rockefeller Foundation contains compelling arguments from a majority of Americans in favor of increased and accountable investment for infrastructure.

Register-Herald: Beckley hosts U.S. House transportation hearing
The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is conducting hearings across the nation to hear testimony related to federal programs that fall under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). The act was set to expire Sept.. 30, 2009 but was extended through March 4, 2011. Monday’s hearing in Beckley was the first in a series organized at the “urging” of Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., the ranking Democrat on the committee. Rahall has an office in Beckley and represents West Virginia’s third congressional district.

Central Valley Business Times: Feds' transportation dollars will be tight
If states had any doubt about how much transportation money they might be getting from Washington this year, recent events offer a good clue. First came positive news for states that want federal money. On Tuesday (Feb. 8), Vice President Joe Biden announced that the Obama administration would seek another $53 billion over the next six years to build high-speed rail projects.

The Infrastructurist: Obama's $556 Billion Transportation Budget Plan Emphasizes Rail Spending
Yesterday President Obama announced his 2012 budget proposal, and transportation received a major piece of the federal pie. Obama requested $128 billion for 2012 — a big bump from the 2010 figure of $77 billion — and set his sights on a six-year, $556 billion transportation plan

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: Obama Proposes Infra Bank, Livability Grants, Doubling Transit Funds
The budget includes a new FHWA livability grant program totaling $4.1 billion next year and $28 billion over six years. It specifically targets multi-modal transportation hubs and bike/ped/transit access, and formally embraces a “fix-it-first” approach for highways and transit. 

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: 55 FHWA Programs You Won't Have to Kick Around Anymore
Here’s the list, from DOT, of the 55 programs they intend to consolidate. There are a few popular programs among livability advocates in here, like Safe Routes to School, bicycle and pedestrian grants, and the TIFIA loan program. If this consolidation plan is enacted, it will be up to advocates to continue to push for important projects once they no longer have a dedicated funding source.

Transportation Nation: Obama's Budget 2012
President Obama released his proposed budget for 2012 this morning. We are collecting responses and parsing through everything transportation and infrastructure related in the $3.7 trillion dollars of spending.

Transportation Nation: Transportation Budget Responses 6: House Republicans
“The president’s budget will destroy jobs by spending too much, taxing too much, and borrowing too much. By continuing the spending binge and imposing massive tax hikes on families and small businesses, it will fuel more economic uncertainty and make it harder to create new jobs.

Transportation Nation: Transportation Budget Responses 2: US DOT, Sec. Ray LaHood
“President Obama’s budget for the Department of Transportation is a targeted investment in America’s economic success,” said Secretary LaHood.  “If we’re going to win the future, we have to out-compete the rest of the world by moving people, goods, and information more quickly and reliably than ever before.  President Obama’s investments in rebuilding our crumbling roadways and runways, and modernizing our railways and bus systems will help us do just that.”

The Transport Politic: President Obama Proposes Major Funding Increases, Reorganization for Nation's Transport
The President, if his wishes are endorsed by the Congress, would increase federal support for transportation to $128 billion in 2012, compared to $77 billion in 2010. The Administration will begin pushing for a $556 billion six-year transportation bill, almost d0ubling what was approved in SAFETEA-LU, the last — and now expired — piece of transportation legislation. Though the White House has yet to demonstrate where it would find the funding to support these measures, the President has argued that any increased spending be compensated through reduced spending elsewhere or revenue increases. 

The Transport Politic: Breaking Down the Department of Transportation's Proposed 2012 Budget
Almost a year ago, Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff took a controversial stand when he argued that the public sector was not enough to ensure the good repair of the nation’s oldest inner-city rail systems. He pointed out that cities from New York to Chicago needed to spend tens of millions of dollars to upgrade their transportation networks — rather than spend most of their funds on expansion. 

Transportation For America: Transportation for America applauds the President's six-year investment plan for transportation
President Obama today unveiled a fiscal 2012 budget proposal that calls for investing $128 billion in transportation infrastructure as a first installment on a long-awaited six-year investment plan totaling $556 billion. James Corless, director of Transportation for America, issued this statement in response:

Construction Pros: AGC: President's Transportation Proposal Has Potential to Boost Economic Activity, Help Businesses and Protect Taxpayers
"We are, however, concerned by the Administration's proposal to transform the Highway Trust Fund into a Transportation Trust Fund that would fund high speed rail, Amtrak, "livability" grants and other Administration priorities. The Administration promises to use existing gas tax and other revenue sources only to continue funding highway and transit projects. However, it is hard to take this proposal seriously when the Administration has yet to identify how it will pay for the other programs it wants to add to the Trust Fund. This portion of the proposal appears more like an effort to obscure overall spending levels than to actually create a viable new role for the Trust Fund. 

Trucking Info: Obama Administration Proposed Budget Aims to Streamline Transportation Spending
President Barack Obama's proposed budget calls for a $556 billion, six-year transportation funding plan that would lump the Highway Trust Fund in with other funds into a single Transportation Trust Fund and streamline the number of transportation-related programs -- but it's not clear where the funding will come from.

The New Republic: Budget 2012: Increased Transportation Spending for Increased Reform
The Obama administration’s FY2012 transportation budget request shows their continued strong support for a range of programs designed squarely to change the way Washington does business. Through the budget, they are trying incrementally to move transportation away from a roundly criticized federal block grant program that is as both broke and broken to one that uses competitive grants, rigorous analyses of benefits and costs, and leverages a range of both public and private funding sources.

Environmental Expert: EPA's, congress clean water budget proposals ignore local regulatory/financial realities
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) strongly believes that budget cuts of any kind at this time to the Clean Water Act (CWA) program ignore the very real financial constraints of states and municipalities to implement a growing array of increasingly costly CWA requirements. While NACWA recognizes the austere budgetary times under which the federal government must operate these same circumstances are being experienced in municipalities and rate-paying households across the country.

Fender Bender: House committee to host forums on transportation legislation
The U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is planning to host a series of public meetings on pending major transportation legislation, according to an advisory from the Automotive Service Association (ASA)

Fox and Hounds Daily: 'Patchwork' High Speed Rail System Unraveling?
The widely dispersed opposition to proposals for high speed rail (genuine and faux) led Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to say that the Administration would press forward in a patchwork fashion if necessary.

Commercial Carrier Journal: Obama's budget would provide $129B for DOT
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Monday, Feb. 14, praised President Obama’s $129 billion budget for the U.S. Department of Transportation, saying that it would lay a new foundation for economic growth and competitiveness by rebuilding the nation’s transportation systems, enabling innovative solutions to transportation challenges and ensuring transportation safety for all Americans.

One News Now: Funding high-speed rail projects 'shameful'
The Obama White House recently proposed putting another $53 billion toward high-speed rail projects, a handful of which have received a substantial amount of the $10.5 billion already allotted.

World Magazine: Obama's off the rails proposal
And I think President Obama’s high-speed rail proposal is nuts. Not just because of the money, although that’s a big objection (about five-times-the-proposed-$53-billion big). It’s the proposal of someone who knows nothing of how American railroads are built, are run, or make a profit.

The News Leader: Rail proposal highlights divide between Obama, GOP
House conservatives want to scrap all federal passenger rail subsidies. Mainstream Republicans wouldn't go that far, but are skeptical of the president's proposal.

Constructech Magazine: President Obama Eyes Infrastructure Improvement
It's not exactly a stimulus plan, but a proposed $3.7 trillion budget plan could add some momentum to various capital construction programs in the years ahead. The plan, presented by President Barack Obama this week, aims to trim more than a trillion dollars from the deficit throughout the next 10 years.

State News

Fox News: It's the Bullet Train...to Nowhere
"They don't know where they're going to build it, they don't have a mile of right of way under possession, it is not shovel ready, it is not even engineer ready," said Richard Tolmach, with the California High-Speed Rail Authority. "It is still a work in progress where the line might go. Right now it is not somewhere the feds should be putting their money." 

San Francisco Business Times: High-speed rail alternatives stir debate in East Bay
Some East Bay cities are joining cities on the Peninsula in concerns over what California's planned high-speed rail line could do to their downtown districts.

The Salinas Californian: Central Valley's leg of state's high speed rail
From the moment in 2008 that voters passed Proposition 1A and authorized $9.9 billion in state bonds for a high-speed rail system spanning much of the state, opposition became loud and determined.

San Jose Mercury News: Routes for high-speed rail segment from Stockton to San Jose stirs debate
The debate over routes for high-speed rail is shifting to the East Bay as the California High-Speed Rail Authority on Feb. 3 released a pared-down list of alternative routes for a proposed 87-mile segment from Stockton to San Jose along the Altamont Corridor. 

Xinhaunet: Will first U.S. high-speed rail be built in California?
Californians would most probably be the first in the United States to have the opportunity to ride on high-speed trains as 12 U.S. states are now competing for their own high-speed rails.

Tampa Bay Online: Tom Scott prays for governor to proceed with high-speed rail
Gov. Rick Scott got hit with a pitch for a Tampa-Orlando High-speed rail system from an unexpected direction at the State Fair Governor's Lunch Monday: City Council member Tom Scott, a pastor, included it in his invocation.

The Palm Beach Post: Backtrack on SunRail
It began as the Central Florida Commuter Rail. Last year, the proposed Orlando-area line went to a snappier name: SunRail. Now, it is seeking federal stimulus money under the name Central Florida Rail Passenger Corridor. 

PR Newswire: Battle for Port Infrastructure Funding Intensifies Between Georgia, South Carolina
Competition for federal infrastructure funding is heating up among East Coast ports anxious to attract increased container shipping volumes predicted to enter supply chains in 2014, via an expanded Panama Canal. Resentment over the growth of Georgia's ports is fueling opposition from neighboring South Carolina, which could derail expansion efforts for both states and push funding and traffic to other ports, reports The Journal of Commerce.

Courier-Journal: Officials hope contractors will have money-saving ideas for bridges project
Dozens of firms angling to design, build, operate and finance the Ohio River Bridges Project will be in Louisville for two days this week for a closer look at the still-evolving plan for two new bridges and a redesigned Spaghetti Junction interchange.

Bloomberg: Md. panel: Transportation needs $800M more a year
Maryland should raise $800 million more in annual transportation funding to shore up the state's depleted Transportation Trust Fund, a commission recommended Monday.

WBFO: Obama budget calls for Peace Bridge funding
President Obama's proposed 2012 federal budget contains money that could help fund the $300 million dollar Peace Bridge Inspection Plaza.

Wall Street Journal: Finding a Fix for the Tappan Zee
Today, the state doesn't have anywhere near enough money to replace the antiquated bridge, which carries 140,000 vehicles across the Hudson River every day. That has officials considering striking a deal with the private sector to pay for the construction of a new bridge.

Dayton Daily News: Ohio to see 74% increase in federal transportation spending
Ohio stands to see a one-year 74 percent increase in federal highway planning and construction dollars under President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget.

WSAV: Big Blow to Savannah Port Deepening Plan
President Barack Obama agreed to provide some funding to the deepening project, but not nearly the amount requested. The President's proposal includes $600,000 for preconstruction engineering and design for the project, but includes no funding for construction.

The Salt Lake Tribune: High-speed rail a 'boondoggle,' Hatch says
The executives at the Utah Transit Authority envision a future where high-speed trains zip from Denver to Salt Lake and from Salt Lake to Las Vegas. 

Forbes: House transportation panel tour stops in W. Va.
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., brought a U.S. House transportation hearing to his home turf Monday for the first of several fact-gathering sessions nationwide on crafting a long-term federal strategy for highway, transit and commuter rail programs.

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