Infrastructure in the News: May 10, 2012
Washington Post: For public transit, the recession’s still not over
Public transportation in the United States has faced a perverse situation these past few years. Thanks to high gas prices, more and more Americans are riding buses and trains. But thanks to budget crunches, transit agencies are actually cutting services at the exact same moment. Over at Transport Politic, Yonah Freemark has a post highlighting one particularly dramatic example of this in Pittsburgh. Due to a $64 million funding shortfall, the city’s Port Authority is threatening to close roughly 40 percent of its routes in the city this year.
Transportation for America: Five things that the final House/Senate transportation bill should do
The “conference” on the transportation bill between the House and Senate began yesterday, with opening remarks and a long public hearing — though much of the real work will happen behind closed doors. As the conferees finalize this long-deferred transportation reauthorization, they must keep in mind the priorities that millions of Americans of all political and socio-economic stripes have expressed in polls, town hall meetings, and countless events. Many of these can be found in the bipartisan, compromise bill passed by the Senate and should be preserved during negotiations.
US Chamber of Commerce: No Confusion Here…We Need to Re-Authorize Surface Transportation Legislation Today
Yesterday in the House-Senate Conference, it was stated that the U.S. Chamber was not supportive of the House’s approach on re-authorizing surface transportation legislation. Let me take this opportunity to set the record straight. The Chamber has consistently supported the efforts of Speaker Boehner and Chairman Mica to bring House companion legislation to the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Conference. The reforms embedded in both House and Senate proposals capture many of the transformational reforms we have been calling for over the last 7 years.
DC Streetsblog: With or Without Tougher CAFE Rules, Today’s Gas Tax Is Unsustainable
Would stricter fuel economy rules bankrupt transportation funding in America? The Congressional Budget Office seems to think so, but environmentalists are quick to say that the system was hurtling toward bankruptcy anyway. Under a new rule proposed by the NHTSA and the EPA, CAFE standards are expected to raise the average fuel economy of the new-vehicle fleet from 34.1 miles per gallon — the average anticipated for 2016 and beyond under current standards — to 49.6 mpg. That’s fantastic news for the environment, but for those counting on gas consumption to pay for essential infrastructure, a recent CBO study suggests it would be a disaster.
Atlantic Cities: Longer Commute, Bigger Waistline
Add to the lengthy body of research on the connection between bad commutes and bad health yet another confirmation: a new study of automobile commuters found that longer trips to and from work correlated with various indicators of poor health, including decreased cardiorespiratory fitness, increased weight, high cholesterol, and elevated blood pressure. Yes, your long commute is literally making you less healthy.
Kansas City Star: Mayor begins hard sell for taxes to fix KC’s infrastructure
Kansas City Mayor Sly James today will introduce proposals that will try to persuade voters to approve tax increases to fix the city’s crumbling infrastructure. The proposals for the August ballot — which even supporters say could be a tough sell — call for new sales and property taxes to address the huge maintenance backlog affecting the city’s parks, community centers, streets, sidewalks and bridges.
Transportation Nation: For Montanans, Federal Highway Bill Hits Home
For Senator Max Baucus, the transportation bill’s benefits to his home state boil down to this: jobs. The bipartisan conference committee charged with finding a federal transportation bill compromise between the Senate and the House versions held its first official meeting yesterday. “Construction season has started,” Baucus says. “14,000 Montana jobs and 1.6 million jobs across America depend on this highway bill.” He says the Senate reauthorization bill doesn’t add to the federal deficit, keeps the Highway Trust Fund Solvent, and institutes reforms.
Streetsblog Network: Pittsburgh Faces a Transit Doomsday
The last four years have been rough on American transit riders, as fare increases and route reductions became the norm, even as demand for service increased. For many cities there’s still no end in sight, as Pittsburgh can attest. The Steel City is facing across-the-board cuts of 35 percent if the state doesn’t step in — and that comes just a year after the Port Authority slashed transit spending 15 percent.
Salt Lake Tribune: Ceremony marks start of construction for streetcar line in Utah
Under the warm spring sun Wednesday, a crowd gathered at 2235 Main St. in South Salt Lake to celebrate the beginning of the long anticipated return of streetcars to the Salt Lake Valley. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood joined several city officials, transit leaders and members of the community to savor the moment punctuated by the groundbreaking ceremony.
“Public and private investment in the economic foundation of the United States is critical for long-term economic prosperity. The United States’ global competitiveness is dependent upon the construction and maintenance of a world class infrastructure.”