Wednesday, February 23, 2011
News Roundup

Infrastructure in the News: February 23, 2011


The Wall Street Journal distinguishes the federal funding package for rail from the package for high-speed rail, and Infrastructurist highlights a new report that shows that states do not develop efficient transportation programs on their own. Read more in this Infrastructure in the News.

National News

Wall Street Journal: Rail Investment Makes Sense, if Not High-Speed Rail
Imprecision and misunderstanding over the term "high-speed rail" is widespread. In your editorial " Runaway Trains" (Feb. 14) you decry Vice President Joe Biden's proposal for "$53 billion in high-speed rail funding." However, the Feb. 3 White House press release makes it clear that this infrastructure investment would be split among three tiers, with only the Core Express category funding true high-speed rail, i.e., 125 miles per hour or above. 

Infrastructurist: New Report: States Spend Unwisely on Transportation
If recent history has shown us anything, it is that states hold great power over the transportation investments made inside their borders. Otherwise Florida could not so easily refuse billions of dollars in federal rail grants by saying — in the spirit of George Costanza refusing Jerry Seinfeld’s Super Bowl ticket — this isn’t a gift, it’s a bill. Such power wouldn’t be much of a problem if states crafted efficient transportation programs on their own. But a new report by the Brookings Institution (pdf) contends that many of them do not:

Transportation Nation: State Transpo Systems are Broke AND Broken
Shrinking funding sources, agencies working at cross purposes, poor decision-making: this could characterize a number of disciplines. But a new Brookings Institution report says that it’s endemic in many state transportation systems.

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: How Hard Will the Senate Fight Back Against House Spending Cuts?
In the end, the budget bill they passed included 400 amendments and cuts $61 billion out of everything from Planned Parenthood to border security, public radio to foreign aid. And yes – transportation. The House cut funding from Amtrak, TIGER, the DC metro system, high-speed rail, rail safety programs, and the New Starts program for transit expansion.

Infrastructurist: The 2011 Infrastructurist Forum, Part II
The second step is to understand that of the 15 major infrastructure categories, first among equals is transportation. There are state and Federal Departments of Transportation, and not Departments of Sewer, for a reason. This is not to diminish the importance of sewers, but to recognize that transportation drives development. The transportation system we the people build determines where other infrastructure and most private sector development is developed — transportation is the rudder of the ship.

American Trucking Associations Press Release: Ohio Trucking Exec Says Traffic Congestion is Choking Nation's Economy
Keith Tuttle, president of Motor Carrier Services Inc., Northwood, Ohio, told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that congestion is choking the nation's supply chain and economy.

AltTransport: Biking In the U.S. Is Redefining Infrastructure And Our Cities
As cities around the country invest in more biking infrastructure, biking in the U.S. is going up to an all-time high. This new Streetfilms video looks at how cities are changing thanks to the the money put into biking and why bike initiatives have been successful across the board.

The Trucker: Celadon CEO tells Congress to increase road investments
The United States needs to increase its investments in highway infrastructure, funding that can be obtained by raising the fuel tax, Celadon Group Inc. Chairman and CEO Steve Russell told members of Congress during a Feb. 19 listening session.

Southeast Farm Press: International trade demands better transportation system
But the question is: Can our nation’s transportation system move grain from farm to port with the speed and efficiency that today’s international trade demands? The answer is rapidly becoming a glaring “NO.”

State News

California High Speed Rail Blog: House Transportation Committee Comes to California
Today and tomorrow the US House of Representatives Transportation Committee will be holding hearings in California, with an emphasis on high speed rail. Chairman John Mica of Florida has been taking a critical look at the California HSR project lately, and organizers as well as opponents are gathering to try and influence his thinking.

The Business Journal: Local voices passionate on transportation fixes
Hundreds gathered at the UC Merced center in Fresno today, both in favor and against California's proposed high-speed rail.

KFSN-TV: Protesters clash with high speed rail supporters
A Fresno gathering, to discuss a transportation bill included limited talk about high-speed rail in the valley. But the subject drew heated exchanges outside of the event.

Bloomberg: Nelson still hopeful on Fla. high-speed rail issue
Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said he remained optimistic the Tampa-to-Orlando rail plan would move forward once Scott's administration realizes it can be built without financial risk to the state. Scott rejected $2.4 billion in federal money for the project.

The Gainesville Sun: Economic prosperity and high speed rail
High speed rail connecting Miami, Orlando and Tampa is required in order for Florida to compete in the global economy. Our sunshine and beaches will not be enough to attract and keep the knowledge workers and the creative class, or even the active adults of the future, who are so vital to the innovation economy. So high speed rail is not just a great opportunity, it is an economic imperative.

Orlando Business Journal: Scott may reconsider high-speed rail
Gov. Rick Scott may be willing to consider a plan to resurrect high-speed rail in Central Florida — if the alternate plan would not require funds from the state, news reports said.

The Honolulu Examiner: Rail Transit Project Breaks Ground in Kapolei
Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, together with Mayor Peter Carlilse, former Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Lt. Governor Brian Schatz, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, and a host of State Legislators and City Councilmen stood side by side and poked their o'o into the soil of Kapolei. Oahu's long awaited, and largest transportation project was officially underway.

The Transport Politic: Rapid Transit Closer to Realization as Honolulu's Rail Project Breaks Ground
A week after the Federal Transit Administration recommended it for New Starts funding, Honolulu’s rapid transit project took a step forward today with a ceremonial groundbreaking. The massive scheme, which will extend 20 miles from downtown to East Kapolei once construction is finished in 2019, will radically redefine transport on Oahu, offering residents a true alternative to traffic-plagued surface streets and highways.

Gov Monitor: Maryland Get’s Ready To Open Intercounty Connector
“For Maryland residents, the ICC is more than just a commuting option.  It gives Marylanders the freedom to connect with our communities, our jobs, valuable transit options and safer local roads. But above all, the ICC will give Marylanders back time they can enjoy with their families.”

Washington Post: Debate over the merits of Maryland's new toll road continues as the ICC opens to traffic
When the first segment of a controversial new highway that will connect Montgomery and Prince George's counties opens Wednesday, Maryland will have built what was once considered impossible in Washington's congested suburbs: a six-lane, multibillion-dollar toll road across fragile streams, a stone's throw from hundreds of homes.

The Billings Gazette: Restore Amtrak service on southern Montana rails
Over three decades have elapsed since Amtrak's North Coast Hiawatha last rolled through southern Montana. But following the abandonment of the route in 1979, Montanans' enthusiasm for passenger rail has not waned.

Transportation Nation: NJ Governor Christie’s 2012 Budget: Is That A Transpo Increase We See?
New Jersey Governor Christie released his 2012 budget today.  And while nearly every agency took a hit, transportation spending will see an increase in state funding.

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: Less Is More: Highway Removal Could Make Buffalo a Better City
The city tried a $9 million downtown urban renewal project, a $50 million waterfront redevelopment project and $500 million metro rail project with mixed results, leading Glaeser to argue for a complete reversal of federal policies toward the struggling city.

MFRTech: The EV Project Expands to Memphis
ECOtality, Inc., a leader in clean electric transportation and storage technologies, today announced the addition of Memphis to The EV Project, the largest rollout of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure in the United States. The company also revealed that residents throughout the entire state of Tennessee are now eligible to receive $2,500 in state funded vehicle incentives for participating in The EV Project, making the state the project’s largest geographical region.

Transportation Nation: Controversy on the Texas Prairie: Road to Nowhere or a Must for Houston's Future?
Houston is preparing to complete an 88-mile ring road this weekend — as controversy continues to simmer around another, even larger ring road that critics say will induce sprawl.  That road, called the Grand Parkway, would cut through the environmentally sensitive Katy prairie

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: Mica Presses for Policy Ideas at Vancouver Hearing on Next Transpo Bill
At the outset of the “listening session” on the next long-term transportation bill in Vancouver yesterday, House Transportation and Infrastructure committee chair John Mica tried to make it clear that he wanted to talk about crafting legislation, not specific projects. Unfortunately not everyone got the message.

My Northwest: Seattle Mayor focuses on roadways, cops in city address
It's clear, in listening to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's annual State of the City address, he has a lot on his plate. Cops and an aging infrastructure are top of mind for McGinn.

La Crosse Tribune: Chris Hardie: High-speed upgrade a risk worth taking
Wisconsin’s state letterhead now includes Gov. Scott Walker’s slogan “Wisconsin is Open for Business,” but it should also say “Wisconsin: We’re the Donor State.”

FOX 11: Federal transit funds could be lost in the budget bill
Under U.S. Department of Labor law, if the collective bargaining rights are changed for the transit employees who benefit from federal funding, then the existing federal transit aid will stop.


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