Infrastructure in the News: June 1, 2012
The Hill: State transportation officials press for action in highway bill talks
The lobbying group for state government officials who rely on federal transportation funding is criticizing lawmakers for their inability thus far to reach an agreement on a new highway spending bill. The 47 lawmakers on the committee, who were appointed to conference on the transportation bill, have been negotiating for the better part of a month.
Transportation Nation: Baucus: Full 5-Year Transportation Re-Authorization Unlikely, For Now
A leading member of the Congressional conference committee working on a transportation reauthorization bill doubts the panel will craft a full reauthorization bill by the June 30th deadline. “Not this time,” says Senator Max Baucus (D-MT). “I don’t think there’s enough time in Congress. Believe it or not there’s not that many legislative days before Congress adjourns in October. But we’ve set it up so we have more than enough time next year to do a full reauthorization as a full 5 year bill.”
DC Streetsblog: Clues Hint at Souring Negotiations in Transpo Bill Conference
Politico Pro Transportation put out a news blast today that threw some light into the inky shadows of the conference committee process, and what we saw there doesn’t look too pretty. Apparently Sen. Barbara Boxer has reason to believe negotiations aren’t going so well, “after a House GOP conferee criticized her for ‘stonewalling’ the lower chamber”:
The Hill: Dem senator urges national freight initiative
A Democratic senator is urging Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to establish a "multimodal freight initiative." In a letter to LaHood sent Thursday, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) calls for an initiative meant to streamline "the movement of freight and goods across our country." "Strengthening the federal role in freight mobility can deliver system-wide benefits that will help our recovering economy better accommodate growing imports and exports," Cantwell writes in the letter.
Eno Center for Transportation: The Federal Role in Transportation: Four Ideas for Greater Federal Involvement
In fact, the role of the federal government in transportation is particularly challenging because so much of transportation is inherently local and yet the federal government plays a substantial and varying role, ranging from a primarily safety and regulatory role in freight rail and ports to strong funding role in highways and transit. Americans rarely look to the federal government to solve their transportation problems, and yet without the federal contribution, states and localities would face serious challenges in meeting transportation needs.
Associated Press: IDOT: $1.5B in transit improvements in jeopardy
Illinois' transportation chief says the state would have to cut $1.5 billion in road and transit improvements in the coming year if lawmakers don't approve more borrowing authority. Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider told a Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday that the administration needs power to sell $2.4 billion in bonds or cut $800 million in road projects planned for this construction season.
Journal of Commerce: South Carolina Allocates $180 Million for Charleston Deepening
The South Carolina Senate set aside $180 million in state funding to deepen Charleston’s harbor from 45 feet to 50 feet, the South Carolina State Ports Authority said. The S.C. Senate approved the measure last week as part of the state budget for fiscal year 2013 and sent amendments back to the S.C. House of Representatives for concurrence.
Houston Chronicle: Thoughts on high-speed rail and buses
I’m back from my California trip – beautiful state, beautiful weather, completely dysfunctional government. For example, even with massive fiscal problems it’s still trying to build a vastly expensive high-speed rail line from San Francisco to San Diego. On a related note, a private group is exploring building a Houston-Dallas HSR line with no subsidies of any kind. I’m totally okay with private efforts. I’m probably even okay with a little eminent domain to get the right of way at a fair price. I hope they can make it work.
Vermont Public Radio: Record Transportation Budget Means Plenty Of Road Work
Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law a record state transportation budget on Wednesday. And with that will come a long list of construction work this summer. Carolyn Carlson is in charge of one of the bigger and more complicated of the scores of highway and bridge projects that VTrans is overseeing. "You can see they have this, kind of a system where that will just slide through that rail that they have built right there," Carlson said as she looked out over the Route 2 bridge near Interstate 89 in Richmond.
“Our country has incredible renewable resources, innovative entrepreneurs, a skilled workforce, and manufacturing know-how. It’s time to harness these resources and lead in the global clean energy economy.”