Tuesday, February 2, 2010
News Roundup

Infrastructure in the News: February 2, 2010

According to Bond Buyer a transportation infrastructure bank plan would cost $4 billion, and DC Streetsblog reported that U.S. DOT named the transit projects to receive federal funding. Find out more in this Infrastructure in the News.


National News

Bond Buyer: Transportation Infrastructure Bank Plan Would Cost $4B
...The bank proposed by the president resembles a hybrid of the one-time-only Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant program, and the popular Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program.  The National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund would have to be authorized by Congress and would not be subject to pay-as-you-go rules, according to budget documents.  It would fund or finance ­projects “that provide a significant economic benefit to the nation or a region” and “encourage collaboration among non-federal stakeholders including states, municipalities, and private investors, and also promote coordination with investments in other infrastructure sectors,” the documents said.  Investment categories would include highways, tunnels, bridges, transit, commuter rail, passenger rail, freight rail, airports, aviation, and ports — almost the whole transportation universe.

The New Republic: Budget 2011: Infrastructure
...In the former, there is a proposal to create a $4 billion National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund which appears to be this year’s iteration of the National Infrastructure Bank idea. The fund would support projects of regional or national significance based on merit. While we have written extensively about the need for such a reformed process, the narrow focus on transportation-only projects is somewhat disappointing.

Huffington Post: A crumbling America
...The House's $825 billion current proposal for a new jobs bill fails to comprehend the negative consequences of faltering infrastructure and the positive externalities of improved infrastructure. Less than a third of the bills spending is dedicated to addressing our infrastructure crisis. The actual percentage of investment being allotted to "concrete" infrastructure projects is even less, as much of the money is being directed in peculiar areas such as the development of a health record database. The rest of the bill focuses on tax cuts, state aid, and expanding the already great financial safety net.  However, this approach feels fundamentally flawed as a mechanism for creating jobs and even keeping America safe. The President of ASCE Wayne Klotz notes, "Our leaders are looking for solutions to the nation's current economic crisis. Not only could investment in these critical foundations have a positive impact, but if done responsibly, it would also provide tangible benefits to the American people, such as reduced traffic congestion, improved air quality, clean and abundant water supplies and protection against natural hazards."

Time: Can High-Speed Rail Succeed in America?
...Nevertheless, high-speed rail is an idea whose time has come — at least for environmentalists. According to Environment America, high-speed rail uses a third less energy per mile than auto or air travel, and a nationwide system could reduce oil use by 125 million bbl. a year. In addition, high-speed rail represents the kind of long-term infrastructure investment that will pay back for decades, just as the interstate highway system of the 1950s has. "This is a down payment on a truly national program," said Biden, who has logged more than 7,900 round trips of his own on Amtrak. "It will change the way we travel and change the way we work and live."

State News

DC Streetsblog: U.S. DOT Names the Transit Projects Set for Federal Funding
The Obama administration last night revealed the names of local transit projects getting recommendations for federal aid under the U.S. DOT's New and Small Starts programs, which are set to receive $1.8 billion during fiscal year 2011.

Asbury Park Press: New Jersey Transportation Report Suggests New Toll Roads, Raising Gas Tax
Interstates 78, 80, 195, 287 and 295 are likely targets to become toll roads, transportation experts predict in response to a report submitted to Gov. Chris Christie that suggests that the state explore placing tolls on certain highways.

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