Infrastructure in the News: July 26, 2012
Government Accountability Office: Projects Improve Transit Service and Can Contribute to Economic Development
U.S. bus rapid transit (BRT) projects we reviewed include features that distinguished BRT from standard bus service and improved riders’ experience. However, few of the projects (5 of 20) used dedicated or semi-dedicated lanes— a feature commonly associated with BRT and included in international systems to reduce travel time and attract riders. The BRT projects we reviewed generally increased ridership and improved service over the previous transit service.
New York Times: Amtrak Plans for Upgrades in Bid to Push Faster System
Amtrak is promoting a $151 billion expansion plan that includes a major revamping of Union Station in Washington, which was unveiled here Wednesday, as well as the upgrading of its hubs in New York and Boston. The plan represents a bid for federal support to transform the service into a high-speed rail operation. Amtrak released its updated “Next-Generation High-Speed Rail Plan for the Northeast Corridor” report earlier this month, but financing remains a matter of concern.
New York Times: Weather Extremes Leave Parts of U.S. Grid Buckling
From highways in Texas to nuclear power plants in Illinois, the concrete, steel and sophisticated engineering that undergird the nation’s infrastructure are being taxed to worrisome degrees by heat, drought and vicious storms. On a single day this month here, a US Airways regional jet became stuck in asphalt that had softened in 100-degree temperatures, and a subway train derailed after the heat stretched the track so far that it kinked — inserting a sharp angle into a stretch that was supposed to be straight.
The Transport Politic: State Decision Making in the Context of Federal Transportation Funding
Because of the sheer number of states in the U.S., it is often simpler to discuss federal transportation investment policies or state investments in the aggregate than make comparisons between states. Overall, for example, transit accounts for about a quarter of national spending on ground transportation — a bit more than the 20% of funds appropriated directly to public transportation by Congress, showing that many states are moving a small amount of their highway funds into transit programs.
Wall Street Journal: Denver Rethinks the Modern Commuter
As Denver moves forward with a $7.4 billion expansion of its rail system, the city is looking to rectify what some see as a flaw in the original concept. The dilemma is how to encourage the development of dense, walkable villages around stations so people don't have to drive to use the system. After the system opened in 1994, planners built parking lots and garages around many of its stations to cater to commuters. That strategy put parking on land that would have been ideal for stores, apartment buildings and squares catering to riders living adjacent to the stops.
Miami Herald: Miami-Dade gets $10 million from feds to update bus fleet
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on Wednesday visited the futuristic new Metrorail station at Miami International Airport, and then delivered a $10 million check to Miami-Dade Transit to replace aging diesel buses with new hybrid vehicles. This is the first time since Metrorail opened in 1984 that the elevated train system will have a line going to the airport.
Forbes: Mayors Endorse Emanuel's Novel, Still Scant Infrastructure Trust
Asked point blank, last month at the Clinton Global Initiative, if he would open an infrastructure bank in Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter tiptoed around it. Now, as head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, he’s firmed up his response. On Friday, the city coalition announced its support (via Huffington Poster Patrick Svitek) of Rahm Emanuel’s inaugural financing scheme
Boston Globe: Mass. Senate passes transportation bond bill
The Massachusetts Senate has passed a nearly $1.4 billion transportation bond bill to fund infrastructure projects throughout the state. State senators unanimously approved their version of the bond bill Tuesday afternoon. A conference committee must now reconcile the differences between the Senate's bill and the House of Representatives' approved bill before the legislative session ends July 31. The Senate's bill authorizes the state to borrow $683 million and includes federal funding for transportation projects that total $1.39 billion.
New York Times: Rail Yard Reopens as City’s Freight Trains Rumble Into Wider Use
This week, the rail yard finally reopened as part of a long-awaited citywide freight rail expansion that seeks to revive an industry that for many has come to be best known for a symbol of its decline — the High Line, a derelict elevated freight line in Manhattan famously repurposed as a park.
DNA Info: MTA Completes Digging 13 Miles of New Tunnels for Megaprojects
The last of seven huge 200-ton tunnel boring machines completed work this week for 13 miles of new tunnels now under New York City for three MTA megaprojects: East Side Access, Second Avenue Subway and the 7 train extension. The machine, named Molina by students from I.S. 204 in Long Island City, completed digging the last of four East Side Access tunnels in Queens on Monday, MTA officials said.
NPR: A City Faces Its 'Berlin Wall': An Interstate Highway
Interstate 81 runs through the heart of Syracuse, N.Y., where a 1.4-mile-long elevated stretch of the highway is known locally as "the viaduct." Like many road projects built in the middle of the last century, I-81 is bumping up against the end of its life span. While officials say it's still safe to drive on, the highway is crumbling in parts. Now, the region is starting to think about what Syracuse might look like without the viaduct, which both speeds traffic through the city and divides the community along economic and racial lines.
“Technology is driving a transformation in how we control and manage air traffic. This transformation to NextGen will be dominated by interdependence, and it will come about because of collaboration. ….NextGen runs on a philosophy that’s different from the way we have been handling air traffic for the last 50 years.”