Wednesday, June 1, 2011
News Roundup

Infrastructure in the News: June 1, 2011

Business Wire reported that ITT Corporation encouraged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass H.R. 1802, the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act of 2011, and according to Information Week the Department of Transportation (DOT) will get $100 million to develop wireless applications. Find out more about those and other stories in this Infrastructure in the News.


BAF in the News 

Washington Examiner: Letter to the Editor: Targeted Infrastructure investment will create jobs
When Diana Furchtgott-Roth refers to the $800 billion for "shovel-ready jobs," she misleadingly implies that all of that funding contained in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act went to infrastructure-related projects. In fact, ARRA contained only about $64.1 billion for infrastructure. Compare that with the $2.2 trillion that the American Society of Civil Engineers says is needed just to bring our infrastructure up to a state of good repair.


National News

National Journal: Good, Clean (American) Jobs
It's a familiar refrain to anyone involved in transportation: Infrastructure investment means jobs. But the transportation sector hasn't cornered the market on the "jobs" talking point. For environmentalists, investment in clean technology means jobs. For unions and manufacturers, products built in the United States mean jobs. 

The Hill: Group wants Congress to use 'life-cycle budgeting' for transportation bill
As Congress pivots from the Federal Aviation Administration to trying to pass a new transportation bill this year, another group is out with an ad trying to influence lawmakers. 

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: Building Roads to Cure Congestion Is an Exercise in Futility
We hear it all the time: The road lobby insists that the only way to reduce mind-numbing traffic congestion on the roads they built is to build new roads. Federal funding gives huge blank checks to state DOTs, which tend to prioritize road building over transit, bridge maintenance or anything else. But mounting evidence suggests that building new roads won’t do anything to alleviate congestion.

Associated Press: 9 days after tornado, rebuilding begins in Joplin
Cleanup from the tornado that carved a 6-mile swath through the city of about 50,000 will be expensive and environmentally delicate. Environmental officials have already warned of potential hazards, including gasoline leaks and asbestos used in the construction of old homes. But with debris removal to begin Wednesday, residents have started looking ahead. 

Grist: Rejecting high-speed rail is not a good political move
Hey, it turns out people don't want to get divorced and die because of long car commutes! Actually, we're just guessing about that (makes sense, though, right?), but what's clear is that constituents won't thank you for nixing rail projects. Gas 2.0 checked out with the biggest rail refusenik governors, and they're all faltering in the polls.

The Infrastructurist: Will the Future of the Northeast Corridor Include Amtrak?
It’s safe to say John Mica does not think highly of Amtrak. In late January the House Transportation Committee chair brought up the idea of private-public rail partnerships in the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak’s most traveled route. In March he seconded this preference in a 2012 budget document, describing Amtrak’s history of failed service and praising instead “the expertise and investment capital of the private sector.”

Miller-McCune: High-Speed Rail Can Cover Its Operating Costs
Just three weeks after Florida Gov. Rick Scott made a point of thumbing his nose at $2.4 billion in Washington subsidies for a short high-speed rail line, saying it would be a money hole, his own state’s Department of Transportation released a study claiming quite the opposite.

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: The Northeast Corridor: To Privatize or Not to Privatize?
Gaps in state and local budgets, new federal investments in rail improvements, and growing expertise in public-private partnerships have all combined to make the present moment an intriguing time for private-sector investment in passenger rail.

AltTransport: Republicans Seek to Privatize Railroads, Because That Worked So Well Last Time
High-speed rail may be coming to the 437-mile Northeast Corridor, but Amtrak won’t have much to do with it if Republican lawmakers get their way. The Hill reports that Congressmen John Mica (R-FL) and Bill Shuster (R-PA) are planning on introducing a bill that would separate the Northeast Corridor from Amtrak, opening up the bidding process to private companies to build high-speed rail. 

The Hill: Senators renew bus safety calls after holiday crashes
Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) said Tuesday that accidents in northern Virginia and Washington state should provide Congress the impetus it needs to pass their "Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act." The bill, first introduced after a 2007 accident involving a college baseball team from Brown's home state of Ohio, would require seatbelts for bus passengers and stronger roofs and windows. 

Transportation Nation: Bus Operator In Fatal Crash Had Poor Safety Record
The federal government has ordered Sky Express–the company involved in Tuesday’s fatal crash of a bus on the Raleigh to New York run–to stop operating. The Charlotte-based operator had a poor safety record even before the accident, which has left legislators wondering why the U.S. Department of Transportation had given the company its highest safety rating. 

Business Wire: ITT Calls on U.S. Congress to Pass the H.R. 1802, the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act of 2011
ITT Corporation, a world leader in the transport and treatment of water and wastewater, today encouraged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass H.R. 1802, the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act of 2011, which aims to create jobs by encouraging private investment in water infrastructure upgrades.  

Information Week: Transportation Dept. Gets $100 Million For Wireless Apps
The White House plans to invest $100 million to help the Department of Transportation (DOT) develop wireless applications to deliver emergency services, Internet access in remote locations, and other innovative services to its employees and users, according to the DOT.

AltTransport: Powering EVs with Solar Energy
One complaint about electric vehicles is that if you plug them in for a charge from the local power grid, you’re still using fossil fuel to power your car. Many owners of EVs are installing solar panels to charge their cars, homes and businesses, and giving surplus back to the grid. General Electric also entered the game with a solar-powered carport. 

New Urban Network: Does smart growth reduce carbon emissions? Bet the house on it.
Attached at top right, the graph shows vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in three types of neighborhoods in Portland. Neighborhoods with good transit and mixed use average 9.8 VMT/household/day. Neighborhoods with good transit but no mix of uses average 13.3 VMT/household/day. The rest of the region, with no mix of uses or good transit — mostly characterized by suburban sprawl — averages 21.8 VMT/household/day. 

Lexology: Outlook for private investment in US infrastructure
The United States has been engaged in steady hand wringing about crumbling infrastructure, but the dire fiscal condition of the federal and state governments is making it difficult to find the money to rebuild. Other countries have made wider use of public-private partnerships. Chadbourne hosted a roundtable discussion in late March at its offices in New York about trends in the use of such arrangements in the United States. 

National Center for Policy Analysis: Is it Time for a Federal Infrastructure Bank?
As Americans take to the roads this summer for vacation, almost all are blissfully ignorant that Congress must pass a highway bill by September 30, when authorization for the Highway Trust Fund expires.  Although the Highway Trust Fund, funded by motor fuel taxes, is likely to be reauthorized, Congress probably will not provide the extra $10 billion to $15 billion annually from general revenues to keep highway spending at prior levels, says Diana Furchtgott-Roth, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

World Resources Institute: From Here to There: A Creative Guide to Making Public Transport the Way to Go
Major automobile companies spend billions of dollars annually to advertise their products to customers. In 2009, General Motors alone spent $3.2 billion on advertising campaigns and overall marketing efforts for their products. Major auto companies collectively spent $21 billion worldwide and it looks like their investments are working. The number of private vehicles in Brazil more than doubled in less than a decade – 1.2 million in 2001 to 2.6 million in 2010. India experienced a 20-fold increase in the number of private motor vehicles in the last decade.

Constructech: Technology for Water Infrastructure
These days, the ability to foresee the probability of failure of particular infrastructure systems can help city departments prioritize projects for the future. For example, technology can help decide which water mains are top priorities, allowing for more cost-effective capital programs. 

Embarq: From Here to There: A Creative Guide to Making Public Transport the Way to Go
Major automobile companies spend billions of dollars annually to advertise their products to customers. In 2009, General Motors alone spent $3.2 billion on advertising campaigns and overall marketing efforts for their products. Major auto companies collectively spent $21 billion worldwide and it looks like their investments are working. The number of private vehicles in Brazil more than doubled in less than a decade -- 1.2 million in 2001 to 2.6 million in 2010. India experienced a 20-fold increase in the number of private motor vehicles in the last decade.


State News

PR Newswire: Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department Selects Intergraph Solution
Intergraph® announces that the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) recently selected I/Incident Analyst to improve the safety of its roadways. Of the 32 billion vehicle miles traveled in Arkansas last year, 78 percent occurred within the state highway system managed by AHTD.

Business Wire: Southern California Leaders Commend Bipartisan Support of America's Transportation Infrastructure
At its strategic planning meeting in Orange County, Calif., members of Mobility 21 – a bipartisan transportation advocacy group of business and government – specifically expressed their thanks to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senator David Vitter (R-La.) of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for taking the necessary steps to improve transportation investment for America’s future. Mobility 21 represents seven counties and 21 million residents of Southern California. Mobility 21 also issued a call to move swiftly to pass MAP-21 incorporating these key provisions: 

San Francisco Examiner: Caltrain upgrades in jeopardy due to lack of funding from transit partners
Caltrain may have to cut back on some of its long-term capital projects, due to lower-than-expected funding contributions from its fellow transit partners.

Open Market: California High-Speed Rail All Strung Out in Stimulus on the Outskirts of Town
Rail officials plan to build the first section of the 500-mile system between Bakersfield and the tiny town of Borden in Madera County. The initial leg, which would pass through Fresno and Corcoran, has been criticized as a “train to nowhere” because high-speed trains would not operate on it until the route could be extended to major population centers.

California High Speed Rail Blog: Cathleen Galgiani Has Some Questions for the LAO
Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani wrote a letter to the Legislative Analyst's Office last week, and in it she has some tough questions and harsh criticisms for the Office. The LAO, which lost a lot of its credibility with its uninformed attack on the project earlier this month, hasn’t responded yet. But they’ll have to, since Galgiani’s questions are in the form of a public records request. 

Sunshine State News: ORSKI: California's Bullet Train: On the Road to Bankruptcy
First came a scathing report by the California Legislature’s fiscal watchdog, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), questioning the rail authority’s unrealistic cost estimates and its decision to build the first $5.5 billion segment in the sparsely populated Central Valley between Borden and Corcoran. 

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Rejecting high-speed rail money was big mistake
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced on May 9 $2 billion in high-speed rail awards to boost train speeds in the Northeast Corridor, expand service in the Midwest, and provide new, state-of-the-art locomotives and railcars. These funds could have gone to Florida. In fact, they did. 

WOKV: Gov. Scott takes $370 million in stimulus cash
Governor Rick Scott campaigned relentlessly against President Obama's stimulus law, his health care plan, and his financial reform effort, but Scott has apparently found value in at least one of those programs.  According to an analysis of the budget appearing in the Miami Herald, Scott failed to veto $370 million in stimulus money that pays mostly for the creation of electronic medical records for state hospitals, doctors and other providers. 

National Resource Defense Council: The Chicago River is Broken
In recent weeks a couple of high profile boat rides have been used to highlight giant problems facing this region. The first, a cruise taken by Illinois senators Durbin and Kirk to see dilapidated water infrastructure that threatens public health throughout Chicagoland. The second, a boat ride for press to roll out new tools in the fight against one of the nation’s most feared invasive species. What do they have in common? They both made their way down the Chicago River. It is time to connect the dots folks. We can fix both issues, but it means fixing the River. 

Massachusetts Live: Development following New England high-speed rail
For more than three years, Windsor Locks' first selectman has been trying to persuade the state Department of Transportation to allow the town to move the historic building closer to downtown Main Street. He wants to rejuvenate the brick building and transform it into a restaurant or other business that could help revitalize the center of Windsor Locks, damaged by urban renewal in the 1970s. 

Las Vegas Sun: McCarran breaks ground on $99 million air traffic tower
The Federal Aviation Administration broke ground Tuesday on the $99 million tower, which will open in 2015 in the area between the under-construction Terminal 3 and the Airport Connector Tunnel. 

Mobilizing the Region: Keep Chris Ward at the Port Authority
Governor Cuomo should keep Chris Ward in his post.  Ward is an innovative leader who has started new green freight programs and projects, implemented a bicycle policy, and spoken in favor of increased infrastructure investment.  Streetsblog has a nice summary of his many accomplishments. Ward has also ably managed the World Trade Center’s rebuilding process and has cut costs at the agency. 

Mobilizing the Region: Dear Governor Cuomo: New York Needs Complete Streets
With less than a month left in Albany’s legislative session, advocates continue to fight for complete streets legislation to ensure that roads throughout the state are designed for everyone who uses them. On TSTC’s website, New Yorkers can now e-mail Governor Cuomo and the members of the state assembly in support of a complete streets bill. 

National Resource Defense Council: NY AG makes good on his threat to sue to protect 15 million people's drinking water from fracking
Today NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued the federal government for its failure to evaluate the environmental and health risks of new fracking in the critical Delaware River Basin.  We applaud the Attorney General’s bold action and urge the Delaware River Basin Commission to comply with federal law by fully assessing the threats of new natural gas development before permitting this risky new activity in the watershed that provides clean drinking water to more than 15 million people in four states. 

New York Times: Riverfront in Toledo, Ohio, Gets Infusion From China
Adjoining the riverfront parcel is the Docks, a 69,550-square-foot formerly city-owned dining and entertainment complex that for years after it was built in 1996 was among Toledo’s most popular destinations. But the recent recession hit Toledo hard, and two of the five restaurants closed this year, leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid rent and lost tax revenue.  

Business Wire: Oregon Department of Transportation Selects AeroVironment to Build First Phase of West Coast "Green Highway" Along Interstate 5
AeroVironment Inc. today announced that it has been selected by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODoT) to install its high-power Level 3 electric vehicle (EV) fast changing systems along the I-5 corridor from the California state line to the Willamette Valley. This is the beginning of the “Green Highway,” a vision for safe and consistent charging infrastructure spanning the West Coast, allowing EV drivers to travel with confidence from San Diego to Vancouver, B.C.  

Associated Press: Levees going up to protect South Dakota cities
Crews raced approaching floodwaters Tuesday to complete emergency levees aimed at protecting South Dakota's capital city and two other towns as the swollen Missouri River rolled downstream from the Northern Plains. Meanwhile, the mayor of Minot, N.D., ordered a quarter of the city's residents to evacuate areas along the flooding Souris River. 

FastLane: Tennessee Volkswagen plant promises reduced demand for imported oil, lower carbon emissions, more jobs
When President Obama said in January that American workers could out-build the competition, he might very well have anticipated the new Volkswagen Passat assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  

Transportation Nation: In Houston, Measure to Avoid Evacuation Logjam
In 2005, millions of  Houstonians evacuated their homes during Rita, and  created a 30-mile traffic jam from downtown Houston along I-45 North. 

The Washington Post: Transportation Secretary LaHood to try to mend rift over Dulles Metro station
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will try to make peace Wednesday between the key players shaping the future of the Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport. Debate between the board overseeing the project and the local and state officials helping to pay for it has centered on the cost and location of the airport station.

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