Friday, June 3, 2011
News Roundup

Infrastructure in the News: June 3, 2011

Fleet Owner wrote about a new report showing that states are misusing road funds and according to Fast Company building more roads increases congestion. Read more in this Infrastructure in the News.


National News 

New York Times: The Virtues of Investing in Transportation
Years of underinvesting in the nation’s transportation infrastructure are apparent in congested roads, freight bottlenecks, airport delays and overcrowded or nonexistent public transit operations. Yet the heated debate in Washington about how much and how fast to slash government spending is overlooking how a significant, sustained increase in infrastructure investment would create jobs and strengthen the nation’s competitiveness. 

Fast Company: Building More Roads Only Causes More Traffic
Expanding highways and roads increases congestion by creating more demand--and building more public transportation doesn't help the problem. 

The Atlantic: Light Rail Transit for Dummies
It's a subject that's sparked quite a bit of heated discussion, both in our own offices here at the Watergate and in homes across America. President Obama and his team have promised millions to transform our country's rail system, but several Republican governors have rejected federal funds outright, arguing that we shouldn't be spending more money on a form of transportation that consistently loses money.  

Transportation Nation: Flooding Halts Amtrak's Northwest Service
Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said that, as of Wednesday afternoon, the basement of the Amtrak station was flooded and there was up to two feet of water around the building.

New York Times: Chemicals in Farm Runoff Rattle States on the Mississippi
As the surging waters of the Mississippi pass downstream, they leave behind flooded towns and inundated lives and carry forward a brew of farm chemicals and waste that this year — given record flooding — is expected to result in the largest dead zone ever in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Associated Press: Mass. towns look to rebuild after deadly tornadoes
A number of Massachusetts communities are confronting the long and painful task of rebuilding shattered lives and livelihoods Friday, just days after three deadly tornadoes flattened more than 200 homes, killed at least three people and scattered debris across the state. 

The Hill: GOP Rep. Mica to target TSA again
On Friday, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica will once again take the Transportation Security Administration to task. Mica (R-Fla.) will hold a press conference to discuss a new report he says shows the TSA cost estimates for private airport screeners are off-base, his office said.

Infrastructurist: Long Commutes Are Relationship Killers
If you have a 45-minute work commute, you might want to pick up some flowers on the (long) way home. A social geographer at Umea University, in Sweden, is reporting that people who commute 45-minutes (each way) and upward run a 40 percent higher risk of separating from their better half than do couples with a shorter run to work. 

Washington Post: Suburbs take an urban turn as developers plan more underground parking
Such complaints highlight a cultural shift taking place as planners transform parts of the sprawling suburbs into urban hubs where the car will no longer be king. The vast parking lots born out of the 20th century suburban boom, particularly those near Metrorail stations, are giving way to more clusters of high-rise office buildings, condominiums and stores where people can walk more easily or park once for multiple activities.

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: Trading Parking Spaces for Park Space
What comes to mind when you think of your favorite park? A shady lagoon? A scenic path? Or is it a soccer field perfectly suited for an after-work pick-up game?

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: Lawmakers Introduce Reality-Based Plan to Achieve 'Freedom From Oil"
Members of Congress of all stripes are trying to show that they’re concerned and responsive to the financial strain caused by high gas prices. Some are recommending more oil drilling. Some want to end subsidies to oil companies. Today, members of the Congressional Livable Communities Task Force suggested that providing more diverse transportation options to more people might help. 

NRDC Blog: How smart growth reduces emissions
Rob Steuteville has posted a teriffic analysis on the New Urban Network rebutting the claim by the National Association of Homebuilders that “the existing body of research demonstrates no clear link between residential land use and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: LaHood Answers Questions About Bike Lanes, Fuel Economy, and HSR
It’s no fireside chat, but Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been doing a series of video “dialogues” with people who submit questions online. Today’s installment is all about livability: one person asks what USDOT is doing to improve and expand bicycle infrastructure, another expresses excitement about high-speed rail expansion and asks about LaHood’s personal transportation habits, and another wants to know why all cars aren’t getting 60 miles to the gallon already. 

AltTransport: Are Gas Prices Stabilizing or Fluctuating?
What goes up, must come down, and that seems to include gas prices too. Down from a high of about $4 per gallon only a month ago, June began with a national average of $3.77. This leaves the experts wondering if gas prices will be reasonably predictable for the remainder of the summer driving season, which unofficially began last weekend, or if they’ll continue to fluctuate. 

AltTransport: Miss the Bus? Your Smartphone Knows Where the Next One Is
You already know that there are a plethora of apps out there to help motorists avoid traffic, but what about for bus riders? With all the good they’ re doing to help save the planet, shouldn’ t they get cool apps too? Also, why is my bus five minutes late and when is it really going to get here?

Fleet Owner: States misusing road funds
According to a new report issued by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, most states are spending too much money on new road construction and road expansion and not enough on preserving the condition of the current infrastructure. The report, Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and approve roads, states that the application of funds is leading to greater costs long-term while our roadways continue to deteriorate.  


State News 

Transportation for America: Coastal Alabama advocates make Complete Streets in Mobile a reality
With the echo of the latest pedestrian fatality figures still ringing, a city in the deep South became the latest, albeit unlikely, place to adopt a Complete Streets policy. To paraphrase the song: if it can happen there, it can happen anywhere.

Los Angeles Times: Reading L.A.: David Brodsly's 'L.A. Freeway'
Most of us love to complain about our freeways -- about the bad air and gridlock they produce, mostly, and to a lesser extent about the way they cleave neighborhoods in two. Others -- a smaller group, admittedly -- have praised the freedom they enable and even the beauty of their form as monumental urban objects. 

Transportation Nation: Should BART Run an Hour Later?
This year, the BART board wants to change that – just a little bit. They’re thinking about extending service by one hour on Friday nights, and making up for it by starting trains an hour later on Saturdays. The last train would leave San Francisco just before 1:30am. The first one would start the next morning at 7.

California High Speed Rail Blog: Tom Umberg Elected Chair of California High Speed Rail Authority Board
This will have to be a quick post – at today’s board meeting the California High Speed Rail Authority unanimously chose Orange County Democrat Tom Umberg to serve as their chair. He will serve a 1-year term, and can be re-elected to a second 1-year term but can only serve two consecutive terms. 

Orlando Sentinel: Scott’s inbox still full of loathing for budget, SunRail
ov. Rick Scott’s constituent services office continued to get hammered with public emails, phone calls and letters last week urging his to spare various spending priorities, support or veto bills, and pull the plug on Central Florida’s $1.2 billion SunRail commuter train. 

Chicago Tribune: Illinois to study 220 mph bullet trains
The University of Illinois will lead a study examining the options to build tracks exclusively for 220 mph bullet trains operating initially between Chicago and Urbana-Champaign and eventually carrying passengers the length of the state in about two hours. 

WIBC Indianapolis: INDOT Gathering Input on New Rail Plan
The purpose of the updated plan is to allow Indiana to compete for federal rail funding. INDOT has held two public meetings this week, one in Vincennes and one in Indianapolis to hear from residents on what they see for the future of freight and passenger rail in the state. 

Detroit Free Press: GM exec wants to test personal pod travel in Detroit
First off, the president of General Motors North America chose to paint a "Jetsons"-like vision of the future Thursday in a place where only horses and bicycles are allowed. 

West Central Tribune: MnDOT seeks input on 50-year transportation system vision
Southwestern Minnesotans will help determine the state’s transportation system vision for the next 50 years when the Minnesota Department of Transportation hosts a workshop from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Ridgewater College in Willmar. 

Infrastructurist: Christie's ARC Fight Costs Jersey Half a Million a Month
It has been several months since Governor Chris Christie terminated the country’s largest infrastructure project, the ARC tunnel into Manhattan, but New Jersey residents continue to pay for it,

Transportation Nation: NYC Mayor Bloomberg Touts Bus Rapid Transit, Sort Of
Speaking from the C-40 conference on cities and climate change from Sao Paolo on The Takeaway this morning, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg  seemed to endorse the idea of more Bus Rapid Transit in New York.  It’s the first time I’ve heard him tout BRT on a national media program.

Transportation Nation: NY Thruway Authority Nominee Is Big Cuomo Campaign Donor
Governor Andrew Cuomo is tapping real estate and banking mogul Howard Milstein to be chairman of the New York State Thruway Authority. Milstein has no previous experience in running a transportation agency–but he has been a generous contributor to the governor’s re-election campaign.

The Hill: Former NC govs to state lawmakers: Take the rail money
A bipartisan pair of former North Carolina governors defended plans to build high-speed rail there, saying current Republican state lawmakers should back off plans to force the state to turn down federal money. 

WCSC: Charleston Co. no longer in default on 526 project
Charleston County is no longer in default of its Interstate 526 contract and will not have to pay  back the $11.6 million to the State Infrastructure Bank within its original 60-day deadline. 

Washington Post: Reality check for Dulles rail
It came in a meeting called by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who convened project stakeholders, including members of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is in charge of building the 23-mile extension. In response to suggestions from the airports board that the feds could shore up the Silver Line’s shaky finances with a huge loan, Mr. LaHood delivered an unusually blunt message, according to several people who attended the meeting. The federal government “is not a cash cow,” he said; it’s not going to ride to the project’s rescue. 

Transportation Nation: LaHood Said to Reject Federal Loan To Dulles Metrorail Project
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood met yesterday with the partners behind the faltering Dulles Metrorail project, a nearly $6 billion venture to build a new subway line out to Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia. And according to several sources involved in the meeting, LaHood told them that a federal loan they were hoping for isn’t likely.

The Hill: LaHood meeting a 'reality check' for Dulles Rail
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's meeting with Virginia officials about a proposed expansion of Washington's MetroRail to Dulles International Airport should be a wake-up call for the panel overseeing the project, a newspaper editorial board said Thursday. 

VT Digger: Flood damage estimates for public infrastructure top $15 million
The governor’s bill signing ceremony on Wednesday afternoon was ostensibly about marking the passage of the 2011 Transportation budget, but the $545 million took a back seat to the extensive flood damage to road infrastructure, private residences and businesses in Central Vermont in the wake of last Thursday’s intensive flash flood that dumped about 6 inches of rainfall in less than six hours on Central Vermont.

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