Infrastructure in the News: November 12, 2012
BAF IN THE NEWS:
New York Times: A New Manhattan Project
When the monster storm struck, my colleagues at The Times’s Room for Debate desk asked an array of experts whether New York should build protective barriers against the next one. The answers covered, pardon the expression, the waterfront: Do something big! (“Worth the Investment”) Do something small! (“Big Projects, Big Problems”) Do nothing much! (“Low on the List of Life-Saving Ideas”) Think about doing, well, something! (“A Wake-Up Call to Consider the Options”)
Scientific American: How to Improve Coastal Cities Climate Resilience: A Q&A with Cynthia Rosenzweig
Climate scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig has been studying the impacts of global warming on New York City since the 1990s, and was part of a group that analyzed the unique risks faced by the Big Apple way back in 2001. The group's report predicted what a once-a-century superstorm like Hurricane Sandy proved: the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel between major boroughs flooded, La Guardia Airport runways were underwater, and so on.
National Journal: Moving the Dial on the Gas Tax
On transportation, President Obama can plan on starting his second term the same way he began his first. Then, as now, the funding crisis for the nation's highways was a few years off but approaching fast. When the highway authority expiration date looms in 2014, no one will be prepared for it.
Financial Times: Obama has four years to fix the economy
The US election was fought on first principles: shouldgovernment be strengthened or dismantled? The answer was resounding. The public wants better government, not less government.
Forbes: Energy, Obama’s Election and a House of Irrelevance
The real fight in President Obama’s second term will be between Economic Recovery and Obstructionism in the House of Representatives. The primary objective of the 112th Congress was to obstruct economic recovery and focus on irrelevant social legislation.
NPR: Weighing The Prospects Of The Keystone XL Pipeline
Among the difficult decisions facing President Obama is whether to give the go ahead for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada down to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.
Washington Post: Nation’s highways remain an issue for an Obama second term
The next U.S. transportation secretary — whether it’s Ray LaHood or someone else — will confront a highway system starved for cash and financed by a gasoline tax almost no one wants to raise.
Washington Post: Getting our leaders on board with a variety of transit options
The early analysis of the presidential election suggests that President Obama can credit much of his victory to a changing American electorate, which is more diverse, better educated and more urban than it was 20 years ago when Bill Clinton became president.
Fast Lane: On Veterans Day and every day, DOT honors America's heroes
This Sunday, November 11, is the day Americans have set aside to honor our Veterans, the heroes whose sacrifices have kept this nation safe and preserved the liberty we hold so dear.
Transportation Nation: Top Transpo Congressman, John Mica, Mulls Next Move
(Orlando, Fla. — WMFE) John Mica, the chair of the U.S. House Transportation Committee, joined with Florida Governor Rick Scott andother business leaders and elected officials near Winter Haven Thursday, for the symbolic groundbreaking of a new intermodal rail terminal.
Politico: 5 fiscal cliff scenarios
President Barack Obama and congressional Republican leaders are finally prepared to open negotiations this week on the fiscal cliff — an all-important legislative riddle with no easy answers.
Politico: Morning Transportation
By Burgess Everett and Adam Snider
Featuring Jessica Meyers
WRD UP Y’ALL: What does a water resources development bill look like without earmarks? The Senate will take a look this Thursday at legislation that establishes a broad set of criteria for determining those projects' worth. Even as water resource advocates applaud the committee’s intentions, some are cautious about the long-term effects. “This is one of the greatest transfers of authority in recent memory,” said Waterways Council President Mike Toohey. “It empowers the administration to now make all the decisions.” Eileen Fretz, the flood policy director of American Rivers, praised a flood assistance funding plan and levee safety measures but acknowledged this might just be a start. “My gut is we’ll probably be dealing with this in the next Congress, and honestly I think we should,” Fretz said. Jessica takes it away for Pros: http://politico.pro/Q6ii0X
THE ONGOING EARMARK DEBATE: While things won’t change much in the House, Senate and White House next year, one thing MT is keeping an eye on is the possible return of limited earmarks — something that might alter WRDA’s path. A number of members have argued that with disclosure requirements, allowing some earmarks is a good thing, and transportation is typically at the top of the list. But T&I member Jeff Landry wants the current ban continued in the 113th Congress, diverging from his opponent ahead of a December runoff against fellow Louisiana Republican Rep. Charles Boustany. “We have a ban on earmarks, and I think we should continue it,” Landry told MT before being sent into the runoff on Election Day. “Look, we have a spending problem inWashington. And until we get control of it, everything that we debate and how we prioritize and spend our money should be based on needs versus wants.”
MICA TO HUDDLE WITH SPEAKER: House T&I Chairman John Mica will meet with Speaker John Boehner this week to discuss a possible term limit waiver, according to a Mica spokesman. Rep. Bill Shuster officially put his hat in the ring this week, but Mica will have to be granted that waiver to spark a legitimate race for chairman between the two lawmakers. Mica’s election opponent Jason Kendall offered his own take via Facebook, writing of the situation and linking to a news report about Shuster’s bid: "If you only knew how many voters told me that they were going to vote for Mica because he was head of the transportation panel.” Caught up: Transportation Nation caught Mica down in Florida, where he got a preview of how much he will be bugged next week by reporters asking about his future. “Oh, we’ll see. … It depends on whether they grant waivers or not, and that’s yet to be decided. … But I’m not moving from transportation, even if I took another slot.” http://wny.cc/TQrx4D
OBAMA BOOSTS TRANSPO: President Barack Obama listed improving the nation’s transportation systems as a key priority during his remarks Friday afternoon, calling “rebuilding our roads, our bridges and other infrastructure” a part of his plans to get people back to work. He said he is not wedded to every detail of his plans laid out in this year’s budget and ahead of the election, which has prominently included a plan that Congress is skeptical of to use expected war savings for a boost in transportation spending.
Fuel to the fire: The question remains on how to finance such an operation. The peace dividend idea has been deemed imaginary by Republicans, since it relies on borrowed spending — which could leave the gas tax. Possible transportation chairman-in-waiting Shuster mentioned it specifically on Thursday when asked about funding, also mentioning the maritime trust funds. “Certainly you have to look at the gas tax,” Shuster said. “All those things have to be looked at.” Speaker Boehner’s flurry of remarks last week centered around holding the line on income tax rates, which could leave wiggle room on the gas tax. "I don't want to box myself in and I don't want to box anyone else in,” he said in a Friday morning press conference. “Everything on the revenue side and spending side has to be looked at.”
Middle class effect: Neither the White House nor the speaker’s office had an immediate comment when asked specifically about the tax, but there’s one problem to all this parsing: “Nobody — not Republicans, not Democrats — want taxes to go up for folks making under $250,000 a year,” as Obama put it. An increase in the gas tax would do just that to everyone whouses a gasoline-powered car. Because the gas tax is flat, it disproportionately affects lower-income Americans for whom transportation soaks up larger proportions of their paycheck each year. And that might keep the gas tax as a third-rail issue during the lame duck and into Obama’s second term, after the White House ruled out such an increase during his first term.
HEADS UP: The House is set to take up a Senate-passed EU ETS bill (S. 1956; text: http://1.usa.gov/RR1Zlo) on Tuesday. That’s under suspension of the rules, but the bill enjoys wide bipartisan support and isexpected to be approved.
A NEW LOOK IN NEW YORK: Some of the devastated beach communities got good news over the weekend. A ferry service (http://bit.ly/Q214lx) will help Rockaways residents get to Manhattan, as the A train appears to be a long way away from full resurrection. And in the meantime, the A train goes all the way to Howard Beach now, which allows connection to JFK’s AirTrain and a new bus service all the way to far Rockaway, which probably will need to wait months for subway restoration. More good news: The Long Island road is operating on a regular schedule today with the exception of the Long Beach Branch, which is still suspended. And the Hugh L. Carey/Brooklyn Battery Tunnel reopens to limited bus service for rush hour this morning.
Across the Hudson: In New Jersey, PATH service from Newark Penn and Harrison stations to Manhattan resumes this morning. Amtrak and New Jersey Transit also announced expanded service between NYC and New Jersey — the total of 24 trains per hour in both directions is 63 percent of regular capacity. NJT commuter trains on the North Jersey, Montclair-Boonton and Morris & Essex remain out of whack. Many normal rail riders have been forced into using buses, which can now use both tunnels into the city from New Jersey. Here’s the recovery map in New Jersey: http://bit.ly/SVgmXj
New York Times: Cuomo to Seek $30 Billion in Aid for Storm Relief
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo plans to ask the federal government for at least $30 billion in disaster aid to help NewYork City and other affected areas of the state recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, according to top administration officials.
New York Times:Remember the M.T.A.
Hurricane Sandy proved once again that when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority stops, New York stalls. This will be worth remembering when, a few months from now, city and state officials are deciding how to help finance the authority in future years.
Bostinno: MBTA Rolls Out Mobile Ticketing App for Commuter Rail
After months of waiting, testing, and getting customer feedback, the T’s mobile-ticketing app has finally hit the tracks.
Washington Post: Montgomery County considers giving more of the road to buses http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/montgomery-county-considers-giving-more-of-the-road-to-buses/2012/11/11/c4a1eeec-2906-11e2-b4e0-346287b7e56c_story.html
Montgomery County planners have proposed converting some lanes on the county’s busiest roads to buses-only. Eager to avoid widening roads, the planners say bus-only lanes would be a faster and more affordable way to improve transit and limit growing traffic congestion.
Washington Post (Associated Press Reprint): New Orleans is building a new streetcar line in time to host the Super Bowl in February
NEW ORLEANS — With the Super Bowl less than three months away, New Orleans is rushing to lay streetcar tracks through one of its busiest corridors to connect by trolley the Louisiana Superdome and the French Quarter.
Gazette-Mail: Infrastructure lacking, study says
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Structural decay plagues many of our nation's roads, highways and bridges today, warns an IBISWorld analysis released late last month.
America must invest $334.8 billion more over the next 20 years to provide enough safe water.