Wednesday, May 9, 2012
News Roundup

Infrastructure in the News: May 9, 2012


New York Times: Freight Train Late? Blame Chicago
When it comes to rail traffic, Chicago is America’s speed bump. Shippers complain that a load of freight can make its way from Los Angeles to Chicago in 48 hours, then take 30 hours to travel across the city. A recent trainload of sulfur took some 27 hours to pass through Chicago — an average speed of 1.13 miles per hour, or about a quarter the pace of many electric wheelchairs.

Bloomberg: Keystone Pipeline Divide Shows U.S. Highway Deal Elusive
Congressional negotiators are clashing over TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline, underscoring the U.S. political challenge in reaching a multiyear surface transportation plan for the first time since 2005. House Republicans made expedited approval of the pipeline, which would transport Canadian oil through Nebraska to the Gulf Coast, a priority yesterday at a conference committee meeting as they linked energy security to transportation.

The Hill: Highway conference gets off to slow start
The committee of lawmakers appointed to negotiate a new federal highway bill met for the first time Tuesday, with members of the panel pledging bipartisanship but not straying far from their party’s starting lines. After being selected as chairman of the transportation conference because House leaders were at the helm of the last round of bicameral negotiations on road and transit funding, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) pointed to the 74 votes the Senate’s version of the transportation bill received when it came up in March.

DC Streetsblog:  Seven Questions as Transportation Bill Conference Gets Underway
How significant are the “tweaks” the House is trying to make to the Senate bill? The amendments the House has put forward don’t have much to do with transportation but they sure could hold up this bill. Amendments to eviscerate the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and de-regulate coal ash are controversial, but nothing will stir up as much trouble as the provision to force approval of the Keystone pipeline. The president has already vowed to veto any bill with such a provision, so the House knows that its insistence on this is just another way to kill the transportation reauthorization.

Huffington Post: Healthy Roads, Healthy Schools: A Look Into the Effects of Transportation Infrastructure’
This study examines the correlation between development of public transportation, increased access to health care, decreased absenteeism, increased secondary graduation rates, and increased workforce health and productivity. The study explores whether increased investments in public transportation in rural and urban areas will provide greater access to available local health care, hypothesizing that if access to health care is improved, school/workforce attendance and productivity will improve as well.


Valpo Community (IN): Taming the trillion-dollar water infrastructure tiger
The Valparaiso Utilities Board started a program a couple of years ago to set aside $500,000 a year to replace its aging water infrastructure and hopes to do the same for the sewer system this year if the City Council approves a sewer rate increase to fund it. That's less than half the amount needed to replace the lines over a 75- to 100-year schedule. Finding the funds to deal with the problem is a challenge that gets tougher for the smaller communities with the fewest people to share the cost.

Transportation Nation: Tunnel Linking Long Island Railroad to Grand Central Terminal Could Be Delayed (Again) – UPDATED
Long Island Railroad riders might not see service to Grand Central Terminal on the East Side of Manhattan until 2019, a year later than expected. Joe Lhota, chairman of the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority, told business leaders on Long Island that the tunnel project has bogged down beneath a railyard in Jamaica, Queens, where contaminated soil and an unexpected abundance of underground brooks and springs have slowed digging. He said the authority has brought in tunneling experts from Europe to help solve the problems.

Jamestown Sun (ND): Cooperstown, Valley City get $700,000 for flood projects
Cooperstown and Valley City, N.D., will share more than $700,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds for upgrades to infrastructure threatened by the rising Sheyenne River, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Tuesday. The river runs through Valley City, which has suffered record- and near-record floods twice the past five years, and passes just east of Cooperstown.

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