Wednesday, March 21, 2012
News Roundup

Infrastructure in the News: March 21, 2012


Washington Post: Mica: Talks under way on short-term transportation funding
With federal transportation funding set to expire next week, House Transportation Committee Chairman John L. Mica said Tuesday that talks are under way to extend funding at current levels for the ninth time. Mica’s comments signaled that House Republicans are not prepared to take up a bipartisan transportation bill approved by the Senate last week. After meeting with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) Tuesday morning, Mica (R-Fla.) said the length of the proposed extension was still up in the air.

The Hill: Mica: US needs long-term transportation bill to create jobs, stimulate economy
Congress is faced with a choice in adopting a responsible, long-term transportation bill. The Obama administration has proposed $476 billion over six years, or an average of $79 billion annually, and finances new spending with a smoke-and-mirrors drawdown from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Senate’s two-year bill proposes spending $109 billion, or $54.5 billion per year. This option depletes the highway trust fund in a matter of months and leaves major infrastructure improvements and employment opportunities behind.

Transportation Nation: BREAKING: Highway Bill Could Be Headed for a Standoff
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says he’s not interested in putting a temporary extension of the Highway bill on the Senate floor if the House passes one next week, given that the Senate passed a two-year, $109 billion version of its own last week with 74 votes. The current Highway bill extension runs out March 31. That means the Senate can keep the program going by passing the House’s temporary extension, which will likely include a motion to go to conference with the Senate.

The Hill: Transportation supporters 'rally for roads' amid highway bill debate
Construction workers and transportation supporters gathered in Washington on Tuesday to urge Congress to pass a long-term funding bill for transportation projects in the United States. The event, which was led by a coalition of transportation lobbying groups, was dubbed the "Rally for Roads." Lawmakers including House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) and Senate Environment and Public Workers Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) attended.

DC Streetsblog: Infographic: When Reagan, the GOP, and Democrats Doubled the Gas Tax
Something to keep in mind while the House GOP leadership toys with the idea of sending national transportation policy back to the 1950s…

DC Streetsblog: No Data? Big Problem.
In hard economic times, America’s leaders are looking for every opportunity to spend less and get more bang for the taxpayer’s buck. It’s a time for smarter decisions – especially transportation investment and policy choices based on independent and objective information. We must understand where and what the needs are, what works and doesn’t, and where the payoffs are greatest. That takes data – and good data are hard to find. Yet in passing the long-overdue two-year, $109 billion highway finance reauthorization bill, the Senate dropped a modest provision to assure timely travel data needed to make the smart choices that will keep people and freight moving safely and efficiently.


San Francisco Chronicle: S.F. transit agency's plan to speed Muni service
A plan to speed Muni buses will bring all-door boarding this summer, synchronized traffic lights within two years and specially colored bus lanes and relocated stops by 2017. Municipal Transportation Agency planners have been working since 2008 on the Transit Effectiveness Project, a comprehensive study of how to improve transit service, but the progress has been slowed by budget woes and service cuts. Now the agency is moving forward with plans to speed travel times on eight of its busiest lines by as much as 30 percent.

Pensions & Investments: What Chicago's infrastructure trust means to institutional investors
If a new infrastructure trust being set up by the city of Chicago is successful, it could prove to be a new model for melding private money — including institutional dollars — and traditional public financing. That model would open up a whole new set of domestic infrastructure investment opportunities at a time that institutional investors are boosting infrastructure allocations.

Sentinel and Enterprise (MA): Fitchburg Mayor Wong decries cut of funds for road and bridge repair
In a letter sent to the Joint Committee on Transportation last week, the MMA said towns and cities need $300 million to meet their road- and bridge-repair needs. The bill would authorize the state to borrow $885 million through bonds. In addition to the Chapter 90 spending, it includes, when matched with federal funds, $1 billion for state-owned roads and bridges and $311 million in train and transit infrastructure spending. The bill would also establish a state infrastructure bank that would provide additional options to fund transportation projects.


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