Thursday, June 9, 2011
News Roundup

Infrastructure in the News: June 9, 2011

According to the Hill Senator Kerry sees progress on the bill for an infrastructure bank and AltTransport reported that ALTe and Inmatech will partner in order to build a better battery for electric and hybrid cars. More in this Infrastructure in the News.


National News

The Hill: Sen. Kerry sees progress on his bill for an infrastructure bank
The bill could be the best shot for those seeking to boost transportation, energy and water infrastructure investment in a Congress focused on “rapacious” spending cuts, Kerry said. 

The Hill: Trumka speaks to Chamber board directors
On Wednesday morning, Trumka told a closed meeting of the Chamber’s board that the country needs to rebuild its crumbling infrastructure. The push for more spending on roads, bridges and highways has become a common cause this year for the labor federation and the business group. Trumka and Tom Donohue, the Chamber’s president and CEO, have made several joint appearances together, including testifying together before Congress. 

CBS Money Watch: Water industry poised for fast growth
Analysts with Citigroup Global Markets see a future in which water is an asset and water-related securities are traded widely on global exchanges. 

Washington Post: Getting past the paralysis on jobs
Most immediately, Washington needs to find ways to employ the millions of workers whose jobs disappeared with the housing bust. The simplest way to help them, and the country, would be to create a national infrastructure bank to repair and rebuild America’s infrastructure — which is in a shambles and ranks 23rd globally, according to the World Economic Forum — down from sixth only a decade ago. 

The Hill: Rahall: Amtrak privatization plan is short-sighted; we should invest in rail
On the heels of a historic vote to end Medicare, Republicans are picking up steam in their rush to dismantle another highly popular and successful program. Next stop on the Elimination Express? Amtrak.

The Hill: Hearings scheduled to look into bin Laden rail threats
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said Wednesday that he would hold a hearing next week on rail safety to examine reports that terrorist Osama bin Laden was planning to target American railways at the time of death.

Infrastructurist: The Case for Congestion Pricing
On Monday we explained why building new roads often does nothing to alleviate highway congestion. The University of Toronto economists who recently studied this phenomenon do offer an alternative solution to improving traffic flow: congestion pricing. In general terms, a congestion pricing system charges drivers for entering an area at a certain time. The result is municipal revenue, a cleaner environment, and clearer roads — in theory.

Transportation Nation: Google Adds Real Time Transit Info to Maps, A Review from AFAR
“There’s no more need to guess when to leave.”  That’s the bold claim from Google today, as it announced the addition of real time transit information in Google Map for four U.S. cities and two in Europe.  Instead of making a mental calculation about which train to take, or wondering whether to wander out in pouring rain, you can check when all the trains or buses near you are actually going to leave, not just when they are scheduled to leave.

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: GM CEO: "We Ought to Just Slap a Dollar Tax on a Gallon of Gas"
Akerson told The Detroit News that, rather than have the government incrementally increase fuel efficiency standards over the next several years, “You know what I’d rather have them do — this will make my Republican friends puke — as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas.” 

AltTransport: ALTe and Inmatech Partner to Build a Better Battery
Electric and hybrid cars drive for miles without the need for gasoline. Their batteries, however, still have a lifespan. At some point a battery will have a shorter runtime before needing its next charge. Ultimately, it simply won’t take a charge toward the end of its lifetime. 

Sustainable Cities Collective: Parking Structures Get Sexy
Modern design is all about “experience” and these car parks pictured acknowledge that one’s experience of a private or public place begins the minute they pull up in their car. Innovative developers and designers are recognising just how crucial this is – it’s almost too late by the time the consumer arrives at the front door. The “experience” of good design starts well before that.


State News (Alphabetically)

FastLane: FHWA releases Emergency Relief Funds for tornado-damaged Alabama roadways
The storms that hit Alabama on April 27 swept across the northern portion of the state in 42 counties, with tornadoes cutting huge paths as much as a mile wide.  

Associated Press: 2 Arizona towns empty as wildfire approaches
Fire crews worked through the night to protect several Arizona mountain communities from a growing forest fire that has forced thousands from their homes and threatens transmission lines that supply electricity as far east as Texas. 

Sacramento Bee: Caltrans sued over road-widening project
An environmental group is suing the California Department of Transportation over the agency's plans to widen a highway through Niles Canyon that connects Fremont to Sunol.

Associated Press: California pipeline that blew had prior leak
A top federal safety official said it was "very troubling" that the California utility operating the pipeline that exploded last year in a deadly fireball has only recently revealed details of a leak in the same line years before.

Fresno Bee: Despite critics, rail agency taps state funds for lobbying
Skeptics question whether the California High-Speed Rail Authority can lobby the federal government with public funds. The answer is: yes and no.

Hanford Sentinel: County predicts current route could cost economy $100 million
Speaking to a packed room of sympathizers, Kings County officials predicted Tuesday the county would suffer a $100 million hit to its economy and lose enough property tax revenue to sideline a fifth of the Sheriff's Office if the state's high-speed rail project runs through the county's "main dairy belt."

California High Speed Rail Blog: Kings County Farmers Unhappy About HSR Route
Last year, the City of Hanford, located in Kings County, told the California High Speed Rail Authority they didn’t want tracks going through their city. It interfered with their development plans, they said. OK, said the Authority, they would put the tracks on the edge of town, impacting about 3,000 acres of farmland. That’s a small number, but since tracks have to go somewhere it made sense to cut through a couple farms. After all, the project is crucial to economic development in Kings County, the Central Valley, and even the state of California.

Fresno Bee: Five big-city mayors back high-speed rail
The last time many Californians thought about high-speed rail was in the voting booth. On that day, Nov. 4, 2008, more than six million of us voted to tell the state to get going, to build high-speed rail in California. 

Mobilizing the Region: Route 11 the Wrong Path for Connecticut's Future
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has laid out an expansive vision for a smart growth and transit-oriented future. His recently announced support for extending the Route 11 highway, at a cost of up to $1.4 billion, goes directly against it. 

Delaware Online: Connect city bus hub, other transportation
It is in the state’s best interest to make strategic investments that not only solve short-term issues created by the growth in public transportation use (i.e. the current situation with the use of Rodney Square as a bus hub), but investments that also support long-term strategies while promoting the continued growth in the number of people willing to use public transportation.

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: Look Out Portland, New York, Minneapolis: Here Comes Chicago
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is wasting no time making good on his campaign promise to make Chicago a world-class cycling city. Just 24 days after his swearing-in ceremony, Chicago has its first bike box. 

EarthTechling: High Speed Rail Plans Studied in Illinois
Illinois governor Pat Quinn recently announced a partnership between the University of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of a 220 mile per hour train line that would run from the metropolis of Chicago to Urbana-Champaign, where the university’s main campus is located.

Chicago Tribune: Aldermen like Emanuel's picks for transportation, consumer affairs
A City Council committee cleared the way today for the city’s next transportation commissioner, who hails from Washington and promised to use his connections to help Chicago get more money for infrastructure upgrades. 

Chicago Tribune: ComEdd power grid makes it through General Assembly, but Quinn threatens veto
The legislation passed the Senate, 31-24, with four voting present, despite Quinn's threat and the heavy opposition of Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman Doug Scott. The trio of opponents called for more consumer protections and questioned whether ComEd's deal was too sweet. 

The Indianapolis Star: Are roadwork projects helping your area?
W e've been debating the merits of mass transit for more than a year now, but in and around Indianapolis these days, many of us would settle for any kind of transit. 

New Orleans City Business: Despite Jindal, NOLA stays on track
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined Regional Transit Authority and city officials Tuesday to break ground on the $45 million Loyola Avenue streetcar line. 

Greenfield Reporter: Baltimore board approves $99K for infrastructure improvements related to Grand Prix race
A transportation department spokeswoman says the money, which was primarily drawn from federal funds, will be used for construction management and inspections. The Board of Estimates approved the $98,800 on Wednesday.

Release: Mississippi Department of Transportation Selects Intergraph's MLRS Solution
Like many State DOT's, MDOT faces substantial challenges when managing the multiple linear referencing systems that represent their roadways.  An effective solution must enable them to properly maintain location information for event data as the road network changes, utilize the multiple cartographic representations used to represent their network, support varying location reference methods (LRMs), and temporally analyze network data.  

Kansas City Star: Layne profit nearly doubles
Layne Christensen, the drilling services company based in Mission Woods, earned $13.1 million in its quarter ended April 30, nearly double the $6.6 million earned a year ago. 

Kansas City Star: Severe cuts coming to Missouri highway agency
The commission unanimously approved a restructuring plan that eliminates 1,200 jobs and closes 131 offices so it can spend $100 million more a year to keep its roads and bridges in good repair.

Beaumont Enterprise: Mo. transportation officials OK spending cut plan
Missouri transportation officials approved a plan Wednesday for the state agency to cut jobs, close facilities and sell equipment to boost the money available for road and bridge projects. 

Grist: Chris Christie systematically destroys all environmental progress in New Jersey
For a while there, New Jersey was doing pretty well on the environmental front, for a state better known for its landfills and gazillion-lane highways than its farms and increasingly rare open spaces. But Chris Christie is working his butt off to make sure that changes. 

Transportation Nation: More New Yorkers Die in Traffic Than are Killed by Guns - And That's Best in the Country
Domestically, that’s not a bad record. New York has fewer road fatalities per capita than any other large U.S. city, according to the city DOT.  But in European cities, like Paris and London, the fatality rate is one half of New York’s. 

The Queens Courier: 3,600 lane miles resurfaced in NYC
The city poured over $4.3 billion in capital investments into more than 775 projects in the last four years, including $633 million to resurface 3,600 lane miles of streets. In Queens, the city used $30 million to acquire a new asphalt plant in Corona and $43 million to reconstruct the Borden Avenue Bridge in Long Island City. 

NRDC Blog: Celebrities speak out to keep New York's tap water safe from fracking
That’s what a group of New York-based actors are saying in a new video that aims to keep the state’s drinking water safe from the dangers of fracking. NRDC, with a coalition of environmental and health advocacy organizations, today launched the new online video, which is narrated by Ethan Hawke, and also features actors Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Amy Ryan, Josh Charles and Nadia Dajani. 

Transportation Nation: Hilarious Bike Lane Video Includes TN Radio Segment
Then … spoiler alert, stop reading if you want the full effect in the video … to demonstrate why a cyclist in New York City might need to ride outside the bike lane, he proceeds to crash into anything and everything that blocks a bike lane from construction barricades, to trucks to … well, just watch till the end. 

AltTransport: Cyclists, Cars and Pedestrians Collide in Video of Manhattan Intersection
This video is riddled with cringe-inducing moments. Indeed, it’s difficult not to flinch when a pedstrian’s brackets collide with a cyclist’s brackets, or to brace yourself for collisions that, for the most part, never end up happening. In fact one of the most jarring parts of this video is the sheer absence of major injuries in it. 

Gotham Gazette: South Street Seaport Goes Back to the Drawing Board
After 40 years of widely criticized development at the South Street Seaport, yet another company is about to make another try to get the venerable neighborhood right. 

Greenwich Time: Lawsuit challenges transfer of Oklahoma fuel taxes
An attorney who has repeatedly challenged the way the state of Oklahoma raises and spends revenue filed a lawsuit Wednesday to reverse the Legislature's transfer of $101.7 million in state fuel tax revenue to state agencies that are not involved in road and bridge construction and maintenance. 

Portland Tribune: Streetcar isn't the best way to allocate $450 million
The Oregon Department of Transportation (“ODOT”), after studying streetcar and bus alternatives, concluded that either one independently will adequately serve future transportation needs. So, why build a $450 million streetcar, which ultimately may cost a lot more than that? 

Pottstown, PA Patch: PennDOT Commission Talks Focused on 422
PennDOT's Transportation Funding Advisory Commission on Monday met for the third time to discuss how the department should invest up to $2.5 billion more per year into Pennsylvania’s transportation infrastructure. 

PR Newswire: Pennsylvania Transportation Funding Advisory Commission Making Strong Progress
The Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (TFAC) met on June 6 to discuss various modernization strategies for PennDOT to invest an additional $2 billion to $2.5 billion annually into Pennsylvania's transportation infrastructure.  

Transportation Nation: Houston's Transit Agency Saving Cents Where it Can
As we’ve reported just last year Houston’s transit authority, METRO, needed to make some tight cuts to help balance the city budget. With a deficit of $430,000 the agency wanted to come up with ways other than job cuts and fare hikes to meet that deficit. Now it seems they may have found an outlet. 

Corpus Christi Caller: Texas transportation system needs help
You've heard this story before. Investment in Texas' transportation system has fallen behind our state's rapid growth. Deteriorating road and bridge conditions, increasing traffic congestion and less reliable rural roads are the result. Income from traditional funding sources is no longer sufficient to keep pace with current and projected costs for construction and maintenance. Coupled with an increase in the amount of people and freight being moved as the Texas population grows, these trends show that Texans will soon suffer even worse conditions.

Loudoun Times: Next stop for Virginia's high-speed rail: Nowhereville?
Problems include ridiculously long commutes in Northern Virginia; a Metro expansion plan to Tyson’s Corner and Loudoun that seems beset by controversy and funding questions; poor conditions on many of our primary and secondary roads; and, above all else, a terrible lack of reliable and stable long-term funding for any viable transportation solutions.

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