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Infrastructure in the News 10.11.16



Associated Press: The Latest: Freight trains on hold after Hurricane Matthew

Officials are waiting for all train tracks to be checked before freight trains can resume service from Georgia to North Carolina, following Hurricane Matthew.


WIRED: Forget Hyperloop: This Awful-Looking Thing Can Move Your Stuff

THE THING GLIDED out of the industrial shed. It was awkward. It was bulky. It had the body of a truck and the nose of Adrien Brody, with an ad for Texas produce in the middle.


Florida Times-Union: Coast Guard working to reopen Brunswick, Savannah ports

Coast Guard boats and cutters from Pensacola and Miami are headed to the ports of Brunswick and Savannah to reopen them after Hurricane Matthew moved navigation aids and may have caused shoaling in the shipping channels.


Wall Street Journal: Trucking Company Schneider National Plans IPO (full article follows Morning Transportation)

Schneider National Inc., the largest privately held trucking company in the U.S. by revenue, said it plans to go public next year in a sign that a years-long drought in stock offerings from the freight transportation and logistics industry may be ending.




Associated Press: Governor: Full Service Back After Weekend Train Derailment

Full rush-hour service had been restored for the Monday evening commute on the Long Island Rail Road following a weekend derailment.


North Moody’s: Transportation plan will strain budget more

The $16 billion transportation plan lawmakers passed last week would improve New Jersey’s roads, bridges and railways but reduce revenue for its schools, human services and public-worker pensions, according to Moody’s Investors Service.



Last week’s historic vote on legislation to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund was generally praised by lawmakers and state officials, who saw it as a welcome solution to a months-long impasse and a costly shutdown of road and bridge projects statewide.


Associated Press (Louisiana): Going in circles? Transportation agency backs roundabouts

Louisiana’s transportation department has kicked off an ad campaign touting the safety benefits of the roundabout, those traffic circles that are cropping up more and more in the state.


Boulder News (Colorado): Boulder transportation planners: Stop signs, speed limits won't make streets safer

It's been 13 years since Boulder last budgeted for street engineering — such as speed bumps and roundabouts — to slow traffic in residential neighborhoods and on non-arterial roadways.


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pittsburgh receives $10.9 million to improve traffic flow

Pittsburgh didn’t win the federal Department of Transportation’s $50 million Smart City grant earlier this year, but  it is getting nearly $11 million to help implement some of the traffic proposals in the grant application.


FOX29 (Texas): Airport plans to spend thousands to improve transportation

The San Antonio International Airport plans to spend more than 100,000 dollars for a six month study to see what can be done to make getting in and out of the airport smoother.


WMKY (Kentucky): Transportation Cabinet Issues Emergency Order for Truckers Assisting with Hurricane Relief Efforts

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) Sec. Greg Thomas today issued an emergency order waiving the hours of service requirement for commercial motor vehicle operators delivering relief supplies and emergency services to areas affected by Hurricane Matthew.

Morning Transportation - By Brianna Gurciullo | 10/11/2016 05:49 AM EDT

LIRR BACK IN SERVICE: The Long Island Rail Road returned to full rush-hour service Monday afternoon on three branches after a commuter train derailed near the New Hyde Park station over the weekend, leaving dozens injured. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the commuter train and a work train "side-swiped each other." Crews used a crane to re-rail the commuter train, took it away from the area and fixed the tracks. On Monday, they prioritized fixing a damaged 25-foot piece of track close to a switch. The crews planned after rush hour to do more repair work that will let trains move at the maximum speed again.

HOBOKEN ALSO SERVING PASSENGERS: Eight tracks out of 17 reopened at New Jersey Transit's Hoboken terminal Monday morning. A commuter train slammed into the terminal Sept. 29, killing one woman and injuring over 100 others. The NTSB said the train was traveling at double the 10 mph speed limit when it crashed. Part of the station is still blocked off, reports. Passengers who were on the train during the accident could get any belongings Monday that they hadn't already retrieved.

Those in crash return to commute: Sheilah Tiangco-Hugo, traveling from River Edge to Hoboken on Monday, told The Associated Press that she was in the first car on Sept. 29. She said the train sped up as it got closer to the end of the track, sending her out of her seat. Then a concrete slab slammed down on the spot where she was just sitting. "That slab could have cut me in half," Tiangco-Hugo told the AP. "I started praying and saying, 'Is this really happening?'"

IT'S TUESDAY: Good morning and thanks for tuning in to POLITICO's Morning Transportation, your daily tipsheet on all things trains, planes, automobiles and ports. Please send tips, feedback and, of course, song lyrics to or @brigurciullo.

"This old engine makes it on time. Leaves Central Station about a quarter to nine. Hits River Junction at 17 to. At a quarter to 10, you know it's travelin' again." (h/t Chuck Spitulnik)

Want to keep up with all of MT's song picks? Follow our Spotify playlist.

FAA: ON PLANES, ALL GALAXY NOTE 7 DEVICES SHOULD BE POWERED DOWN: The FAA advised airline passengers Monday night to turn off any Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices when they board a plane. The agency said: "In response to an October 10, 2016 statement from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and following a recent decision by Samsung to suspend global sales of all Galaxy Note 7 devices, the Federal Aviation Administration urges passengers onboard aircraft to power down, and not use, charge, or stow in checked baggage, all Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices, including recalled and replacement devices." The Wall Street Journal reports that some airlines have discussed internally whether they should issue guidelines to supplement FAA's.

DEPARTMENT OF NOT SURPRISING: Within the city limits of Washington, D.C., 57 percent of residents live within 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) of rapid transit stations, a figure that's considered "a very high mark among U.S. cities," according to a new Institute for Transportation and Development Policy study of 26 major cities across the globe. But when looking at the greater D.C. metropolitan area, only 12 percent live within 1 kilometer of a station.

"This high city-metro imbalance, while present in every area surveyed, was particularly strong in North American urban areas," according to the study. And in "the D.C. region, urban development has spread out quite far from the urban core." ITDP CEO Clayton Lane said in a release that D.C. is an example of a city that has "expanded beyond prescribed political boundaries without effective regional transport plans."

SPEAKING OF THE DISTRICT: The D.C. Council is slated to consider legislation today that would toughen penalties for distracted drivers. First-time offenders would face a $100 fine. Right now, they avoid a penalty if they purchase a hands-free device. Those caught a second time in 18 months would face a $150 fine. Anyone caught three times in 18 months would face a $200 fine and have their license suspended for 30 to 90 days. But, as WTOP reports , the D.C. police department "doesn't currently have real-time technology capable of tracking distracted-driving violations - police officers would not know whether a suspected distracted driver is a first-, second- or third-time offender during a traffic stop. So the bill could not go into effect until after such an electronic data system can be implemented."

YOU HAVE A DEBT TO PAY: The 23-cent gas tax hike that the New Jersey Legislature approved Friday will supply the state with over $1.2 billion in annual revenue for transportation projects. But with all the other tax cuts in the infrastructure funding plan, which Gov. Chris Christie has agreed to sign, "it will strain the state's operating budget amid rapidly rising pension contributions and below-average revenue growth," according to Moody's Investors Service. The plan will add to the state's already large amount of debt as the Transportation Trust Fund will keep relying on borrowing, POLITICO New Jersey's Katherine Landergan and Ryan Hutchins report for Pros.


- "Forget Hyperloop: This awful-looking thing can move your stuff." Wired.

- "The jetpack is here - if you've got $250K and 10 minutes to spare." The Washington Post.

- "Portugal cab drivers block Lisbon airport in anti-Uber protest." Reuters.

- "Trucking company Schneider National plans IPO." The Wall Street Journal.

- "Coast Guard working to reopen Brunswick, Savannah ports." The Florida Times-Union.

- "Takata tumbles after report company weighs U.S. bankruptcy filing." Reuters.

THE COUNTDOWN: DOT appropriations run out in 59 days. The FAA reauthorization expires in 353 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 27 days. Highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 1,453 days.


8 a.m. - The Association for Commuter Transportation kicks off its TDM Forum in Boston.

11:45 a.m. - The Competitive Enterprise Institute holds a discussion on DOT's driverless car guidelines. Rayburn House Office Building, B-369.

Did we miss an event? Let MT know at

To view online:

Stories from POLITICO Pro

POLITICO New Jersey: After 23-cent hike approval, Democrats push for gas tax write-offs Back

By Katherine Landergan and Ryan Hutchins | 10/11/2016 05:09 AM EDT

Residents could write off the gas tax under a bill proposed on Friday, the same day that lawmakers passed a controversial 23-cent hike on fuel as part of a broader package to finance the state's infrastructure fund.

The bill (A4247) would allow residents with incomes under $100,000 - including married couples filing jointly - to deduct the taxes paid on motor fuel. The maximum deduction would be $500 for the current year and $1,000 for each following year.

This is not the first time that lawmakers have discussed a possible write-off for residents as part of the compromise to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund. Sen. Steve Oroho, one of the prime sponsors of the TTF legislation, spoke of a similar idea back in June, but the provision was never written into the final legislation.

"It got left on the cutting floor," Assemblyman Troy Singleton, a sponsor of the proposal, said in a phone interview on Monday. "Both Democrats and Republicans feel this is a mistake."

But such a write-off would provide little benefit to most commuters in the Garden State. For example, a single person who paid $500 in taxes on gasoline and earned the maximum $100,000 salary would save about $32 on their income taxes, unless the write-off pushed them into a lower tax bracket. Married couples who file jointly would save even less.

Most New Jersey drivers won't even come close to spending $500 on the gas tax in a single year. A driver with a car that averages 25 miles per gallon would need to drive more than 33,000 miles before paying $500 in gas tax. Drivers in New Jersey drove, on a per capita basis, 8,300 miles in 2011, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration.

But Singleton said he thinks the deduction figures may be too high and that he plans to possibly revise them during the committee process.

"I want a number that makes sense and provides some simple tax relief," he said.

Singleton said he does not yet have a Senate sponsor, although he sent the proposal to Senate President Steve Sweeney for review.

Estimates from the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services also show how small a benefit a write-off like that would offer: With the deduction capped at $500 in the first year, the state would lose between $15 million and $24 million in revenue. Singleton said the revenue loss could increase to $30 to $48 million in the subsequent years.

The 23-cent increase in the gas tax, however, will cost New Jersey drivers a combined $1.1 billion per year - not counting additional tax increases on other fuels.

Assemblyman Jay Webber, a Republican who voted against the hike, said he appreciates the sentiment of the legislation but that it is too little, too late.

"The time to care about motorists and tax payers was on Friday when we voted for a 160 percent increase on the gas tax," Webber said. "It's like talking about how to make the root canal you performed a little bit nicer because you can give us a small shot of Novocain."

This article first appeared on POLITICO New Jersey on Oct. 10, 2016.


Wall Street Journal: Trucking Company Schneider National Plans IPO

Schneider National Inc., the largest privately held trucking company in the U.S. by revenue, said it plans to go public next year in a sign that a years-long drought in stock offerings from the freight transportation and logistics industry may be ending.


Green Bay, Wis.-based Schneider is the seventh-largest trucking company in the U.S. and counted $3.4 billion in trucking revenue in 2015, according to SJ Consulting Group. The company, which operates a fleet of more than 11,000 trucks, has been family owned since it was founded by Al Schneider in 1935, and it has remained in the Schneider family’s hands through decades of growth into a nationwide business.


The company said in a statement that it is undertaking the IPO “to facilitate continuity of controlling ownership of Schneider by the future generations of the Schneider family, while continuing forward with its long-standing, independent, and professional, corporate governance structure.” A spokesman declined to comment beyond the statement.


Logistics and transportation companies have in recent years opted to secure funding from private-equity firms or sell to larger rivals rather than issue shares. But that may be starting to change. Coyote Logistics LLC was working toward a potential IPO in 2015 before United Parcel Service Inc. bought the freight broker for $1.8 billion.  ZTO Express Co., a Chinese logistics provider, filed for a U.S. IPO in July.


Schneider is plotting a stock offering despite weak demand from shippers that has hit trucking-company earnings this year. Shares of many of Schneider’s competitors plunged 50% or more between last summer and early 2016 as the freight market soured, and trucking stocks have only recently begun to rebound.


The company said it hasn’t filed a registration statement for the offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission but expects to do so soon.


Schneider’s reputation for strong management and solid finances has made it the target of rumors of public offerings for several years, and those rumors have picked up steam since the death in 2012 of Don Schneider, the son of founder Al Schneider and its chief executive from 1976 until 2002.


John Anderson of Greenbrier Equity Group LLC, a specialist in the freight transportation market, said Schneider may have trouble commanding a high price because the market for its core trucking business has been soft this year. But he said the company would generate interest because of the “very attractive fundamentals of the company, not the fundamentals of the market.”


Schneider’s IPO announcement comes at a weak period for the trucking industry.


Trucking-company earnings in general have declined this year under soft demand for U.S. domestic shipping. The Cass Freight Index, which measures truck and rail demand in the U.S., has shown shipment counts through much of 2016 at the lowest levels in four years. Analysts say retailers are still trying to pare down high inventories this year and that a shift in consumers toward e-commerce has roiled distribution channels, hurting freight carriers that serve the industrial market.


Still, Mr. Anderson said this could be an attractive time for a new name to draw investment. “This is not a perilous time for trucking at all,” he said. “There is not a stay-alive risk out there for big, good carriers. There is an earnings risk if we continue to have soft demand. But the good companies are managing capacity well and this might be a time when smart, long-term money would want to get into trucking.”


Corrections & Amplifications:

United Parcel Service bought freight broker Coyote Logistics for $1.8 billion. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the price as $2 billion. Oct. 10, 2016