Monday, January 9, 2012
News Roundup

Infrastructure in the News: January 9, 2012

BAF IN THE NEWS 

Financial News & Daily Record (FL): Forum: ‘Critical’ need for infrastructure investment

http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=535350 

Area business leaders and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell are emphasizing the need to invest in the transportation and public infrastructure of the U.S. and Jacksonville to stay competitive in the global marketplace. “Jacksonville’s Infrastructure: A Local, State and Federal Perspective” was the topic of the forum co-hosted Thursday by the JAX Chamber and Building America’s Future Educational Fund, which Rendell co-chairs.

 

NATIONAL NEWS

 

AFP: US government touts role in competitiveness

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hWsc1REL04F4bPmRpqknspzjas6A?docId=CNG.46d32a0be3310d262433533bcb5c9fcb.481

The Obama administration on Friday said that government investment is crucial to restoring lost US competitiveness, as it battles pressure to shrink the size of government. A broad-ranging Commerce Department study said government spending had been crucial over the past century to making the country the world's most powerful economy, giving birth to many of its most lauded industries and companies. The study appeared to challenge Obama's Republican foes in Congress who have continually pressed him to slash spending, arguing that the government, and its huge deficits, are hurting the private sector's ability to compete.

 

Washington Post: 2012 ABC/Yahoo!/WMUR New Hampshire GOP primary debate

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/post/2012-abcyahoowmur-new-hampshire-gop-primary-debate-transcript/2012/01/07/gIQAk2AAiP_blog.html

...SAWYER: And we welcome you back. We want to tackle more on jobs right now, and specifically the ideas the candidates have, individual unique ideas for creating more American jobs, and specifically, Josh, asking about what we think created the age of American energy, which was infrastructure. MCELVEEN: Infrastructure. And we have an example of that here in New Hampshire. If you traveled up I-93 from Boston, I-93 North, you probably went over what was a widening project that’s going on. We’re about $350 million away from getting this project completed. And a lot of people here think that this is a very important project to get done in terms of our regional economy.

 

Politico: Rick Santorum fought Amtrak cuts as Senator

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/71173.html 

Sitting on the “Meet the Press” set with Tim Russert and Joe Biden in February 2005, then-Sen. Rick Santorum went to bat for Amtrak. Russert asked the two senators what they thought of President George W. Bush’s attempt to cut off Amtrak’s funding. After Biden (then a senator from Delaware) hammered Bush’s plan, Russert turned to Santorum, asking if he agreed with remarks from his colleague at the time, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), that Bush’s maneuver was “unacceptable.”

 

The Hill: Time to reassess our national transportation program

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/202747-time-to-reassess-our-national-transportation-program 

Innovative transport projects have caught on in a big way, especially with America’s towns and cities. But national policies lag far behind. When it comes to transportation policymaking, it’s time for Congress to stroll along Main Street. All over the country, we hear the trumpeting of local policies designed to promote walking and biking, the rising popularity of urban bike share systems, even the raising of local taxes and issuing of bonds to support local public transit service.


Baltimore Sun: Fixing transportation makes too much sense for Congress

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-rodricks-infrastructure-20120107,0,7284948.column 

So that pretty much marks Mr. Lee as a Republican, and probably a mainstream Romney Republican as opposed to the tea party kind of Republican. The tea party kind would never lobby Congress for a $250 billion government investment in transportation infrastructure as a way of giving the U.S. economy a big boost. Sounds like stimulus. Sounds like Keynes. Sounds like socialism to the Republican extremists who believe austerity and tax cuts -- not more spending and debt -- are the way out of tough times.


STATE NEWS

 

WMAZ (GA): Epps Urges Approval of Transportation Tax

http://www.13wmaz.com/news/local/article/160601/153/Epps-Urges-Approval-of-Transportation-Tax 

Georgia voters will get to decide later this year on what's called a T-SPLOST, a regional sales tax that would pay for transportation projects. It would be a one percent sales tax on one cent on most every dollar you spend. It's not a statewide measure; it's determined by region. Each region will decide whether to approve their own. The Central Georgia Region consists of 11 counties including Bibb, Houston, Twiggs, Baldwin, Crawford, Peach, Pulaski, Putnam and Wilkinson. The state estimates that a Central Georgia Region T-SPLOST could bring in $78 million over 10 years.

 

Sioux City Journal (IA): Lawmakers say gas tax increase a 50-50 issue

http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/news/state-and-regional/iowa/lawmakers-say-gas-tax-increase-a---issue/article_b9bb0582-0c46-5e46-bf6d-dba2bdf097c6.html

It's a 50-50 proposition whether the Iowa Legislature approves a gas tax increase this year, according to Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs. There are a "substantial" number of members of the Democratic and Republican caucuses who are "supportive" of investing in the state's transportation infrastructure, Gronstal said.

 

Boston Globe: Commuter rail to stay in private control

http://articles.boston.com/2012-01-08/metro/30602204_1_outsourcing-rail-lines-public-option

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials have decided they will not take over direct management of the commuter rail when their contract with Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. expires next year. Since 2003, the MBTA has outsourced management of the commuter rail system to MBCR, a private company. That contract ends in June 2013, and other companies, along with the current operator, will have the chance to put in bids for managing the rail lines.

 

The Transport Politic: Back to Basics for Detroit Light Rail

http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2012/01/08/back-to-basics-for-detroit-light-rail/

Just three weeks after Detroit leaders announced that they had abandoned efforts to build a 9.3-mile light rail line down Woodward Avenue, the city’s central strip, Mayor Dave Bing revealed on Friday that he would allow a shorter link funded by a private group to move forward if it submitted an acceptable business plan within 90 days. The project will have to be built right: Even at just 3.4 miles, the line could serve as a quick, reliable connector between the waterfront and the New Center, via Midtown, but that will only be possible if trains run in their own lanes, if they run frequently, and if they are funded with no negative effect on the city’s already under-financed bus system.

 

The Jersey Journal: Gov. Christie signs bill to help development in urban transit hubs, including Jersey City

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2012/01/gov_christie_signs_bill_to_hel.html

Gov. Chris Christie signed the Grow NJ bill yesterday, allotting $200 million for economic development in transit hub cities that need financial help. The governor announced nine towns who will receive aid, including Jersey City and Newark. The bill is meant to funnel funding into areas to kick start more development and real estate projects that will encourage businesses to create more jobs.

 

Patriot News: Pa. waterways infrastructure must become a priority

http://www.pennlive.com/editorials/index.ssf/2012/01/pa_waterways_infrastructure_mu.html

Pennsylvania’s rivers and its infrastructure serve as an important partner to its industry, as the state’s steel, ore, coal, chemicals and aggregate materials are transported on the rivers to their destination within the state, throughout the United States and abroad for export. Its rivers also provide other benefits such as stable pools of water behind the dams that offer Pennsylvanians drinking water, irrigation and vast recreation opportunities.

 

Associated Press: SC taking over plans to extend Interstate 526 in Charleston County

http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/27ce3c997255437ba526830d68233429/SC--Mark-Clark-Expressway/

A state lawmaker says the state is taking over plans to complete Interstate 526 in Charleston County. Charleston Rep. Chip Limehouse says state officials are upset that county officials have been unable to decide how to complete the highway on James and Johns islands. Limehouse is a member of the State Infrastructure Bank which provides funding for some highway projects.

 

Transportation Nation: Houston Starts Small As It Tries Out First-Ever Bike Share

http://transportationnation.org/2012/01/06/houston-starts-small-as-it-tries-out-first-ever-bike-share/

A city that loves to drive is taking its first step toward setting up a bike share program. Starting this spring, people in downtown Houston will be able to use  solar-powered kiosks to check out bikes for short trips. The city has given a $105,000 contract to B-Cycle to operate the program. The program is starting on a small scale, in what officials term as a “demonstration” of the technology. There will be a total of 18 bikes and three kiosks, located within blocks of each other at three downtown locations.

 

Streetsblog Network: Seattle Bridge Toll Eases Traffic. Will It Boost Transit, Too?

http://streetsblog.net/2012/01/06/seattle-bridge-toll-eases-traffic-will-it-boost-transit-too/

Located on a pair of peninsulas, the city of Seattle isn’t so easy to reach from its eastern suburbs. Only two bridges cross Lake Washington. Newly-installed tolls across one of the two, the SR-520 bridge, have the potential to seriously reshape travel patterns in the region. Already, traffic on the SR-520 bridge appears to have cleared up significantly. Reports Network member Publicola, “Not only is traffic on 520 itself ‘a breeze,’ but traffic seems to have eased on I-5, and perhaps I-405, the two north-south routes that connect 520 to parallel (and untolled) I-90, as well.”

 

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