Infrastructure in the News: July 3, 2012
BAF IN THE NEWS
DC Streetsblog: Under New Bill, America’s Transpo Loan Program Ignores National Goals
Under the new bill, creditworthiness now accounts for pretty much the full 100 percent. Projects will still need to be approved by the U.S. DOT credit council. “They’re not rubberstamping things that come through,” said Kerry O’Hare, vice president of Building America’s Future and a former FHWA administrator. “There’s a real financial analysis that’s done. People don’t just willy-nilly say, ‘We’re going to sign off on this.’” But the credit council is looking only at the ability to repay loans. Not sustainability, not significance, not economic competitiveness.
The Hill: Winners and losers in highway battle
The measure, approved Friday in the House and Senate, will spend $105 billion on road and transit projects through 2014, providing a measure of certainty to industry and state and local governments after a long run of temporary funding extensions. The bill also gives Democrats and Republicans a piece of jobs legislation to tout on the campaign trail, and takes the issue out of the mix for the busy lame-duck session after the election. Here are a few winners and losers of the contentious negotiations.
McClatchy News: Congress took $20 billion from Treasury fund to pay for transit bill
Last week, lawmakers in Congress approved a bill that keeps highway and transit spending at current levels for the next two years, but there was a catch: They came up nearly $20 billion short. Rather than cut spending or raise taxes to make up the difference, they tapped the U.S. Treasury, something they had done three times already.
Fast Lane: Transportation bill heading to President Obama's desk
More than 1000 days ago, the law that guided federal investments in transportation expired. Congress extended that law several times while legislators discussed and debated what would replace it. I'm happy to say that last Friday, 373 Members of the House of Representatives and 74 Senators voted in favor of a new law that will fund federal surface transportation policy through September 2014.
Next American City: URBAN NATION: Transpo Bill Compromise Isn’t Progress
But the bill, which is certain to be signed by President Obama, is a step backward for cities. The bill has many disappointing provisions, taken from the radical wish list of House Republican demands that could not even get passed by their House, but nonetheless took to the Conference Committee. The resulting compromise disappoints transportation and smart growth advocates. In a statement, Smart Growth America said that the bill “fails to provide the kind of visionary, game-changing transportation reform America deserves.”
Lexology: Transportation reauthorization bill — implications for transportation P3 projects
On June 28, 2012, the US House of Representatives and Senate reached agreement on the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (S. 1813; MAP-21). This transportation reauthorization legislation will replace the expiring Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) enacted in 2005, and is expected to be passed by Congress shortly and signed into law by President Obama. For the transportation P3 market, among the key provisions in the House-Senate Conference Report are the following.
Atlantic Cities: Why Environmental Reviews Are Slowing Down Big Projects
Building major infrastructure projects takes a long time. Not just because they're big, but also because their potential impact on the environment is big. And according to a new report, the time it takes to get projects like bridges and highways through the environmental review process has grown longer and longer over time.
Transportation Nation: US DOT To Spend $29 Million On Improving Transportation Options For Vets
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced 64 grants to help vets get around once they’re back in the United States. Most of the money will go toward making it easier for veterans and their families to get transportation information by using smartphones and computers. A typical grant was the $50,000 going to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to help vets “connect to transit services through a single call or a single visit to a web page.
Structure: The Road to Preserving Bridges
According to the National Bridge Inventory, more than 30% of the 600,000 highway bridges nationwide have exceeded their 50 year design life and are in need of repairs and or replacement; more than 25% are classified as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. This issue is exacerbated by an increase in travel demands, shortfalls in funding, and increasing costs of labor and materials. As a result, it is more imperative now than ever before that cost effective bridge preservation strategies are adopted by the bridge community.
Journal of Commerce: Container Volumes Grow at West Coast Ports
Container volumes at West Coast ports increased 7 percent in May compared to May 2011, with imports up 8 percent and exports up 5 percent, according to numbers posted on the Pacific Maritime Association Web site. Year-to-date, the total container volume at West Coast ports increased 3 percent compared to the first five months of 2011. Imports were up 3 percent, and exports increased 2 percent.
GOOD: GOOD Ideas for Cities: Making Transit Social
As part of GOOD Ideas for Cities Cincinnati, Mission Possible presents their idea for a new bus rapid transit system, The HUB, that makes transit more social. The team quickly realized that poor user experience was turning potential riders off from using the system. By employing touchscreen kiosks at stations and smartphone apps, The HUB would allow users to create profiles where they could save routes, track buses in real time, mark favorite locations, and "friend" other riders.
Freight tonnage is estimated to increase 88% through 2035.