Thursday, May 26, 2011
News Roundup

Infrastructure in the News: May 26, 2011

According to Political News Senator Mark Begich emphasized the need for infrastructure development and Reuters reported that in the next two weeks, the Senate will begin considering legislation to authorize about $339 billion over six years for transportation. Read more in this Infrastructure in the News.


BAF in the News

Association of Equipment Manufacturers: AEM to Congress: Voters Are Looking For Leadership and Action to Rebuild Our Infrastructure (posted on McClatchy sites)
In a meeting today with Senators at the U.S. Capitol, Dennis Slater, President of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), called on Congress to address the urgent need to rebuild America's infrastructure and to actively pursue innovative funding approaches to finance this critical investment without increasing the deficit. … The following organizations and individuals were also in attendance during the meeting: Building America's Future, Co-Chair, Governor Edward G. Rendell

Political News: New Begich Pushes Infrastructure Development at Steering Committee
Joined by representatives from the nation’s leading construction and transportation industries, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today emphasized the need to rebuild America’s infrastructure by supporting funding for major transportation investments. Chairing the U.S. Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, Begich said the challenge for industry and Congress is to keep the economic recovery moving forward by supporting policies that spur growth.


National News

Reuters: Obama's transportation plan to shrink in the Senate
In the next two weeks, the Senate will begin considering legislation to authorize about $339 billion over six years for transportation, Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer told reporters on Wednesday. 

Associated Press: Senators unveil bipartisan transportation plan
A bipartisan group of senators said Wednesday they have agreed to the outlines of a long-term transportation spending bill, boosting prospects for ending a stalemate that has kept highway and transit construction programs in limbo since 2008. 

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: Senate Transportation Bill, MAP-21, Freezes Spending at Current Levels
The Environment and Public Works Committee just released an outline of some core principles of its transportation reauthorization bill. In a statement, the top Republicans and Democrats of both the full committee and the Transportation Subcommittee – Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), James Inhofe (R-OK), Max Baucus (D-MT) and David Vitter (R-LA) – said ... 

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: Boxer: Transpo Funding Will Rise in Senate Bill, Bike/Ped Will be Preserved
Rather than holding funding at SAFETEA-LU levels, as we previously reported and as the EPW statement indicated, the committee is planning a $339.2 billion bill – current spending plus inflation, plus an expanded TIFIA loan program. That’s $56.5 billion a year. Boxer said the Senate bill would guarantee funding for bicycle and pedestrian programs, which had been in doubt. 

USA Today: Antonio Villaraigosa: America Fast Forward on the Fast Track
Today, thanks to the hard work of Senator Boxer, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and our leading champion of America Fast Forward, along with Senators Inhofe, Baucus and Vitter we got a first look at the draft legislation to reauthorize our federal transportation programs. And it's great news for our transportation infrastructure nationwide. This bipartisan announcement will help cities across the country leverage their limited local funds with federal dollars and create the jobs we need to literally build our way out of the recession. 

The Hill: Road Builders: 80 million jobs at stake in transportation bill
The American Road and Transportation Builders Association is out with a new ad suggesting as many as 80 million jobs could hinge on Congress passing a new transportation bill this year. 

The Hill: Transportation chairman to outline plan to boost private investment in Northeast rail
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) will lay out his plan to fund improvements to rail service in the Northeast using private investments Thursday, his office said Wednesday. 

National Public Radio: As Senior Population Grows, A Push To Make Streets Safer For Pedestrians
America is aging — a fact that advocates are pushing Congress to consider as it takes up a new transportation bill. Their goal is more safety for older Americans, on both roads and sidewalks.

Roll Call: Highway Money Fight Shifts to States
With a highway bill stalled and a ban on earmarks in Congress, some Washington, D.C., lobbyists are telling their clients to staff up for local battles over federal transportation funds. 

AltTransport: Complete Streets Legislation Introduced in the Senate
Complete Streets policies, guidelines that take into account the needs of all roadway users including not just motorists, but also cyclists, pedestrians and transit users, have been mostly implemented under the guise of state and local governments. That may be about to change. 

FastLane: Regulatory review at DOT off to a good start, with more results to come
Earlier this year, President Obama outlined a plan to create a simpler, smarter 21st century-regulatory system that protects the health and safety of the nation while also promoting economic growth, job creation, and innovation.   With an Executive Order, he challenged agencies across the federal government to review rules already on the books and remove those that are out-of-date, unnecessary, excessively burdensome, or in conflict with other rules.  

The Hill: Administration unveils new vehicle fuel economy labels
The Obama administration unveiled new vehicle fuel economy labels Wednesday that allow consumers to compare the costs associated with alternative fuel and traditional, gas-powered vehicles. 

Transportation Nation: New Fuel Economy Stickers Could Change Buying Habits
The new labels reflect federal fuel standards passed last year that require better gas mileage in cars and trucks. Part of what the labels will show is how much money a buyer will save in fuel costs over five years compared to an average car under the old fuel standard–and how much more money they’ll save if the car is electric.

Transportation Nation: As Gas Prices Rise, Americans Drive Less, Carpool More, Take Mass Transit
Others have started carpooling, gone from being a two-car family to a one-car family, changed over from gasoline to waste vegetable oil fuel, or made sure they bundled errands, rather than driving on multiple shopping trips.

Transportation Nation: Fuel Costs Reduce Car Sales
“The economy has caused a significant drop in annual car sales over recent years, and the age of the average car driven by respondents has increased to eight years. This trend was consistent across most demographics, though household income was a key factor. In households earning $50,000 or more a year, the average age of their cars was six years, whereas lower-income households drove 10-year-old vehicles on average.

Infrastructurist: Does Climate Change Have Anything To Do With All the Recent Tornadoes?
Just a few days after a massive tornado hit Joplin, Missouri, officials report another destructive storms in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. The flurry of devastation has many people asking the obvious question: what role has climate change played? That those on the right deny any connection while those on the left affirm one should come as no surprise. But this is not a political question (or, at least, it should not be). Rather, it is a scientific one, and scientists themselves seem torn.


State News

Los Angeles Times: U.S. rejects proposed changes to bullet-train project
Rejecting the recommendations of a recent state report, federal officials said Wednesday they cannot postpone the deadline to start construction of California's $43-billion bullet train project or allow the state to move the first leg of the proposed system out of the Central Valley.

Sacramento Bee: Feds won't delay Calif. high-speed rail deadline
The federal agency that has approved about $3.5 billion in grants for California's high-speed rail system has no authority to change the September 2012 deadline to start construction and sees no reason to consider moving the first stretch of track out of the Central Valley an official said in a letter Wednesday.

California High Speed Rail Blog: Feds Slap Down LAO, Refuse to Budge on 2012 Deadline
Of course, one core piece of the LAO’s attack on HSR was their suggestion that California follow the lead of Scott Walker and Chris Christie and demand that we be allowed to use federal rail funds for other purposes, including delaying their expenditure. I predicted that the feds would not go along with this, and that the LAO would have known this if anyone on their staff actually had a clue about HSR. 

Los Angeles Times: Bipartisan group of U.S. senators back hefty boost in money to speed rail projects
Los Angeles’ efforts to speed up the expansion of its public transit system received a boost in Washington on Wednesday, as a bipartisan group of senators backed a hefty increase in a federal loan program seen as a potential source of funding for projects.

Beverly Hills Courier: U.S. Senate Committee Supports Villaraigosa Transportation Plan
A U.S. Senate committee expressed its support today for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's accelerated transportation funding plan. 

Hartford Advocate: Gov. Malloy's Attempts to Make Transportation a Priority Face External Challenges
Since he took office five months ago, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has jumped on board the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield high-speed rail project. He's kick-started the plan for a $570 million New Britian-Hartford Busway. And this week Malloy began reviving the nearly moribund dream of completing the Rt. 11 “highway to nowhere,” possibly with the help of highway tolls. 

Mobilizing the Region: Six Months Later, ConnDOT Making Progress on New Bicycle and Pedestrian Policies
Six months ago, ConnDOT announced it would adopt several policies putting walkers and bikers on more equal footing with drivers. What’s happened since then? MTR recently spoke with agency staff to get an update on these policies and the state’s 2009 complete streets law. 

Times Union: Maine rail line gets $3.4 million for upgrades
The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded an additional $3.4 million for improvements and upgrades to railroad tracks that run from Portland to Brunswick. 

The Queens Gazette: Maloney announces $295M Fed Grant Will Create Jobs
A $295 million federal transportation grant to improve a key rail junction in Long Island City will create more than 900 jobs and boost the local economy by almost $600 million, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney announced last week. 

New York Daily News: Federal government funds to help unsnarl MTA's Sunnyside rail hub
Details are emerging about an MTA plan that recently got federal funding to ease congestion at a transit bottleneck in Sunnyside. 

AltTransport: New York Transit Riders Asked to Shoulder More of the System's Operating Costs
This week, New Yorkers received empirical proof for something that’s been intuitively obvious for awhile now—they’re getting a raw deal on public transit fares. For the past few years, the city has had to weather a series of dramatic fare hikes. In 2006, an unlimited monthly Metrocard was $76; today it’s $104. And price increases for New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority have vastly outstripped inflation.  

Transportation Nation: New York MTA's Website Promises More Timetables, Transit Apps
The old site gave riders only real time information about whether their subway, bus or train line was delayed. The new site lets them plug in the time of a future ride to find out if delays are expected because of planned work. And the “service status” function–which gives updates on everything from bridge lane closures to escalator breakdowns–can now be installed as a widget on other homepages. 

Transportation Nation: Unlike Systems in SF, Denver, Bikes (Mostly) Banned from NY Commuter Rails for Friday Before Memorial Day, But OK on Subways
On Memorial Day weekend, bikes are allowed on the subway. In fact, they’re allowed on the subway 24/7, year round, though the MTA doesn’t recommend it during rush hour. But on the Long Island Railroad? Not on the Friday before memorial day weekend, so that would mean, no bikes on the commuter rail to the Hamptons tomorrow. 

News Observer: Triangle is central for Smart Grid
The term describes the digital technology that's increasingly used to monitor and manage the movement of electricity from the power plant to the home and business. 

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: Columbus Sprawls Through Malls
Columbus, Ohio, believe it or not, is a retail Mecca. The town is home to the corporate headquarters of Limited Brands, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret. So it’s no surprise that malls figure prominently in the local economy. For decades they have guided development further and further from the core of the city. 

PubliCola: Good News for Seattle, Washington State Bikers and Walkers? Kinda.
Seattle enviros are celebrating our state and city’s high ranking on two recent livability lists—a bikability list from the League of American Bicyclists, which ranks states based on things like bike-friendly legislation, law enforcement, and infrastructure (we came in first), and a walkability list from Transportation for America, which ranks cities based on things like pedestrian deaths and the percentage of workers who commute on foot (Seattle ranked fifth best.)

Streetsblog Capitol Hill: Questionable Highway Projects Escape Budget Scrutiny in Wisconsin
A new report from Public Research Institute examines $1.2 billion in proposed highway projects green-lighted by the Walker administration while the state rolls back funding for transit, education and local communities.

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