Infrastructure in the News: June 25, 2012
Letter: MAILBAG – Governors
Thirteen governors wrote Boxer and Mica stressing the importance of a bill and staking out several key positions. "States have watched critical programs become hamstrung in partisan arguments that have prevented a meaningful resolution for Highway Trust Fund solvency challenges. The lack of focus on this most significant issue has prevented states from engaging in long-term planning efforts," the governors wrote. They also want to keep the TIFIA boost and the PNRS program, maintain the 80-20 highways-transit split and ensure that yearly appropriations match the authorized level. (Summary via Morning Transportation)
USA Today: Obama to Congress: Pass highway, student loan bill
President Obama warned Saturday that construction jobs will dry up and college students will face higher costs if Congress does not act next week. "There's no excuse for inaction," Obama said in his weekly radio address, calling for Congress to pass extensions of highway and student loan programs; both are due to expire soon. "Right now, we are seven days away from thousands of American workers having to walk off the job because Congress hasn't passed a transportation bill," Obama said.
New York Times: Last Lap for Transportation Bill
Congressional negotiators are racing to agree on a transportation bill before the current law expires on June 30. The choices before them are wildly different: a Senate bill that would invest $109 billion over two years on critical road, bridge and mass transit projects, and an ideologically driven, short-term House bill that is loaded with anti-environmental riders and would extend current financing for only three months, leaving future financing up in the air.
Transportation Nation: US DOT Doles Out $500 Million to Transportation Projects Around U.S.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that 47 transportation projects in 34 states and the District of Columbia will receive a total of almost $500 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) 2012 program.
PORT REPORT - 'Bring the money'
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has sent a report to Congress on port readiness for the Panama Canal. To the delight of Southeastern and Gulf Coast Ports, the report found that they need up to $5 billion to deepen channels before the upcoming Panama Canal expansion. It's not clear what effect the expansion will have, but it's good ammo for ports to highlight infrastructure needs. (Summary via Morning Transportation)
Atlantic Cities: The Grave Health Risks of Unwalkable Communitie
America is facing an alarming epidemic. In 1960, fewer than one in 10 American children were overweight or obese, but today, that number is one in four. Formerly very rare (and very serious) childhood diseases like Type 2 diabetes have become increasingly common. It's not just kids who are being affected: a quarter of adults are now obese, way up from one in 10 in 1990. That's contributing to soaring health costs – over $190 billion a year, or 20 percent of all health care spending, according to a recent Cornell University study.
Bay News 9 (FL): As drivers use less gas, Florida considers gas-tax replacement
As the public buys more fuel-efficient vehicles and markets for electric and hybrid cars continue to grow, a pair of trends seem to bode well for the environment along with drivers' wallets. Despite the growth, the state of Florida is concerned about the impact of these trends on its shrinking Transportation Trust Fund, which gets its money from the tax paid-per-gallon of gas purchased by drivers. The money from that fund is then used to pay for highway infrastructure improvements.
NJ: Chris Christie's transportation bond bill: Read it and wee
Humphris is a conservative activist who likes to keep Christie to his promises. He’d been at all-day session of the state Senate Budget Committee at which senators approved a bill to help Christie break that promise – and another one as well. That was Christie’s campaign promise to let New Jerseyans vote on all future bonding. The bill in question would permit the state to borrow $3.4 billion to refill the Transportation Trust Fund - without a referendum on the November ballot.
New York Post: The Tappan Zee mystery
This summer, Gov. Cuomo is supposed to announce a financial plan for building a new Tappan Zee Bridge. But hot weather won’t cook up a miracle. The numbers don’t add up any more than they did in spring. The risk is that Cuomo will end up doing what past governors have done: Arrange a deal that kicks the problem to the next governor.
Statesman: Want European-style rail? Prepare to pay
People who want Austin to expand its nascent passenger rail system, both those on the inside and just regular folks I talk to, generally say some version of, "Wouldn't it be great if we had all that rail like they do in Europe? Then people would have travel options, and each person on the trains would be one less person on the roads." True enough. But what that vision overlooks is that we don't have European-style taxation — not even close.
“Our roads, our bridges……it’s a core function of government. But it’s also an economic development issue.”