Thursday, March 29, 2012
News Roundup

Infrastructure in the News: March 29, 2012


Marketplace: Transportation construction could grind to a halt
More than a million construction jobs could be on the line if Congress can't reach a deal. The Senate has already passed a $109 billion bipartisan bill that would fund transportation projects for two years. The House hasn't been able to agree on its own bill. Now Republican leaders are working on a short-term extension. If they fail, Loren Smith with Capital Alpha Partners says it's not clear exactly how many workers could be laid off.

Forbes: Betraying the Legacy of FDR, Eisenhower, and Other Great Infrastructure Presidents
But this architectural and engineering wonder was built in an era when the government looked favorably on massive infrastructure projects, acknowledging the stimulus they provided to a struggling American economy. Today, Washington’s bureaucratic morass of overly complex and stifling regulations enacted at the behest of special interests would make building something as grand as the Hoover Dam or President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System well, impossible.

The Hill: LaHood: Boehner needs to 'show a little leadership' on highway bill
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Wednesday blasted House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), telling him to "step up and show a little leadership" in the debate over a new federal highway bill. Appearing on liberal commentator Bill Press' radio show Wednesday, LaHood chided Boehner for attempting to pass a short-term extension of the current funding for transportation projects instead of holding a vote on the Senate's two-year version of the highway measure.

Transportation Issues Daily: Why a 60-day Extension of SAFETEA-LU Is Problematic
A sixty-day extension of SAFETEA-LU sounds like enough time for Congress to negotiate and pass a multi-year bill, doesn’t it? Maybe not. Looking at the Congressional calendar, a 60-day extension would provide 18 scheduled legislative days for the House to pass its bill. And we know how THAT process has gone so far. And leadership and members are anxious to move on to other issues, such as the 2013 budget. Once the House passes its bill, the Senate and House must negotiate their differences – which are likely to be significant.


Politico: Road bill gridlock worries states
The doomsday clock is ticking down on a Sunday expiration of surface transportation programs, and there’s nowhere those bells are tolling as loudly as back home in lawmakers’ districts. State transportation departments are already preparing for the worst: North Carolina has tallied up about $1.2 billion worth of infrastructure projects at stake, West Virginia is preparing to idle projects and nationally many paychecks and jobs are on the line.

New York Times: $7 Billion Public-Private Plan in Chicago Aims to Fix Transit, Schools and Parks
Chicago is embarking on a $7 billion plan to transform the city’s infrastructure from the skies above to the pipes underground. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is planning to announce the initiative Thursday. It includes projects to expand the city’s largest airport and improve its streets, water system, schools, community colleges, parks and commuter rail network. The city estimates that these initiatives will create 30,000 jobs over the next three years.

Boston Globe: MBTA plan staves off cuts to service, but fare hikes loom
Municipal leaders Wednesday expressed relief that most MBTA bus lines will survive this year's budget process, in which transportation planners must fill a $160 million budget gap. Although service cuts are off the table for now in most cities and towns, T riders can expect a roughly 23 percent fare hike come July 1, when the cost of a bus ride increases a quarter to $1.50, and for subway riders jumps to $2, up from $1.70.  Still, news of the T management's plan was welcome in Malden, where four key bus lines could have faced elimination.

Detroit Free Press: Detroit Department of Transportation cuts mean longer wait time for most bus lines
The Detroit Department of Transportation plans another round of trims to the city's bus service in April, but this time no routes will be cut outright, and service will be increased on four of the city's busiest routes, the agency's CEO said Wednesday. CEO Ron Freeland said the new cuts will take effect April 28 after the department takes into account public comments at hearings set for next week. Freeland acknowledged that the changes will be difficult for riders, but added that the cuts are necessary to stabilize the bus system.

Concord Monitor: Local officials urge U.S. House to pass transportation bill|CSGroupId%3Aapproved%3ADB639FEEF1CC2F57AC5DA59371246667&CSUserId=94&CSGroupId=1
New Hampshire's Democratic senator and 2nd District Republican congressman are urging the U.S. House to take up a bipartisan Senate transportation bill before the delay threatens jobs and infrastructure projects in New Hampshire and the rest of the country.

Streetsblog Network: Wisconsin Highway Binge Continues Under “$mall Government” Walker
We’ve dedicated a good deal of digital ink to the love affair between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the highway. The way he spares no expense for giant road projects in his “broke” slow-growth state, you’d think he grossly exaggerated the state’s fiscal problems to justify his infamous war on collective bargaining. There was the $25 million “highway to nowhere.” His “no train” fiasco, that ended up costing the state tens of millions. If you were to examine the state’s transportation policies, it would seem that Wisconsin is in fact awash in money.


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