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Infrastructure in the News 7.22.16


The New York Times: Elon Musk’s Tesla Plan: More Models, More Self-Driving

Despite federal safety investigations of Tesla’s self-driving cars, the company’s chief executive, Elon Musk, is hardly backing off on his grand plans for autonomous vehicles.

Scientific American: Republican Delegates Split on Climate Change

A Texas delegate tilted his hat back when asked about climate change and said, “Ew.” A delegate from Florida lamented his party’s inaction on warming. And one from Wyoming claims it’s a conspiracy to hide the government’s involvement in the spread of a damaging beetle.

The Washington Post: This is Obama’s plan to line the country’s roads with electric vehicle chargers

The White House on Thursday announced an array of new initiatives aimed at clinching one key goal in a transition away from burning fossil fuels — switching the nation’s millions of drivers from gas guzzlers to electric vehicles.


The Washington Post (AP): New York lawmakers vow to fight plan for new bus terminal

Battle lines over a proposed new, $10 billion bus terminal in Manhattan were drawn in ink Thursday as city, state and federal lawmakers charged the project has ignored them and the needs of local residents, and called for a halt to an international competition scheduled to produce a winning design in two months.

Slate: Why the RNC Won’t Do a Thing for Cleveland

After Thursday, the Republican National Convention will be over. Cleveland will still be Cleveland.

The Washington Post: Sign-off on grant agreement will assure federal funding for the Purple Line

Officials with the Federal Transit Administration are seeking Congressional sign-off on a funding agreement that will clear the way for major construction on Maryland’s Purple Line light-rail project to begin later this year.

The Washington Post: Transport DC became so popular that the city is now downsizing it

Kathy Gosselin’s travels got a bit easier last year when she was introduced to Transport DC, a program that allowed her to take a cab anywhere in the city for $5. Gosselin, who is blind and often finds herself asking strangers for help when riding the bus or train, used the taxi deal almost weekly to get to her bible study fellowship in Northeast and her volunteer job at the Smithsonian.

Star Tribune: Southwest LRT clears milestone but still faces funding shortage

Backers of the proposed Southwest light-rail line were nearly giddy Thursday after announcing that the federal government had granted the controversial $1.84 billion project a green light that moves it closer to construction.

The Washington Times: Albuquerque wins federal approval for Route 66 transit route

Albuquerque’s plans for building a rapid transit route along a stretch of Historic Route 66 has won federal approval, amid strong opposition from local shop owners who say the project could cost them customers and even their livelihoods.

GovTech: Can Nashville Serve as a Transit Model for Sun Belt Cities?

Nashville officials released their much-anticipated 2020 transportation planWednesday, offering a series of recommendations they believe will create a more efficient system of movement and better use of public space in the rapidly-growing city.

Railway Technology: US FRA allows new rail investments to Northern New England Intercity Rail network

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) of the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has released a finding of no significant impact on the Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative, which allows the states and federal government to invest in future passenger rail services.

Detroit Free Press: Oakland, Macomb concerns delay regional transit vote

Southeast Michigan's Regional Transit Authority on Thursday delayed for a week its decision on asking the region's voters to approve a $4.6-billion tax proposal in November that would greatly expand regional public transportation after leaders in Oakland and Macomb counties raised fresh concerns about the plans.

Chicago Tribune: South Side's transit desert: More trains would be a lifeline

To get to her summer job at an academic testing center in Naperville last year, teacher Antonia Flynn left her house in the Washington Heights neighborhood at 5 a.m., then took two buses and two Metra trains — a 21/2- hour commute that wore her down: "I'd get home at 8 p.m. All I did was travel. The pressure on my body was ... I can't explain it." This year, she decided to not take the Naperville summer job — it wasn't worth the physical and psychological wear and tear.

Politico Morning Transportation

By Brianna Gurciullo | 07/22/2016 05:42 AM EDT

With help from Lauren Gardner, Jennifer Scholtes and Eric Wolff

TRUMP'S QUICK T&I MENTIONS: While Donald Trump's speech to accept the Republican nomination for president largely focused on law enforcement, national security and foreign affairs, transportation and infrastructure got brief mentions as well.

"President Obama has almost doubled our national debt to more than $19 trillion and growing. And yet, what do we have to show for it?" Trump said toward the top of his speech. Then, falling in line with past statements he's made, Trump said: "Our roads and bridges are falling apart. Our airports are Third World condition. And 43 million Americans are on food stamps."

Building the infrastructure 'of tomorrow': Trump later said that with his "new economic policies, trillions and trillions of dollars will start flowing into our country." He added: "This new wealth will improve the quality of life for all Americans. We will build the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports and the railways of tomorrow. This, in turn, will create millions of more jobs."

Airport security also got a quick shoutout: "And we will fix TSA at the airports, which is a total disaster," Trump said.

HAPPY FRIDAY: Good morning and thanks for tuning in to POLITICO's Morning Transportation, your daily tipsheet on all things trains, planes, automobiles and ports.

Reach out: or @Gardner_LM, or @JAScholtes and or @brigurciullo.

"I'm sailing away, set an open course for the virgin sea. I've got to be free, free to face the life that's ahead of me. On board, I'm the captain, so climb aboard. We'll search for tomorrow on every shore. And I'll try, oh Lord, I'll try to carry on."

NO DRONES FOR YOU: With the Republican National Convention over, eyes turn to Philadelphia, where Democrats will hold their convention from Monday to Thursday. Like it did with the RNC, the FAA has declared the Democratic National Convention a "no drone zone." That means drones can't enter a ring of airspace with a 30-nautical-mile radius surrounding the Wells Fargo Center. The FAA will also have a temporary notice to airmen in place with additional restrictions.

SOUTHWEST FIASCO: In a world where computer systems are an airline's lifeline, one glitch can be both costly and painfully reputation-tarring. Southwest Airlines learned that Thursday as it canceled almost 450 flights, mostly because of displaced planes and crews following about 700 cancellations and over 2,000 delayed flights on Wednesday. It's not the first time the airline has had a problem with its tech system. Last year, a glitch caused hundreds of delays.

A LONG-TIME FLIGHT ATTENDANT'S TAKE ON THE FAA EXTENSION: We asked MT readers: Are you hopeful or doubtful about the prospect of enacting an FAA revamp by September 2017? And some readers sent us their hopes for the next round of policy writing.

A 14-year flight attendant and FA rights advocate with a local union represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA had this to say: "This short-term extension has been a big let-down to flight attendants regarding rest. All we want is to have a rest of 10 hours a night, not reducible, and similar rights like the pilots got years ago. ...

"Flight attendants are required ... [to have] nine hours of rest that can be reducible to eight hours after working 14- to 16-hour days. ... Most flight attendants are paid only on flight hour and not duty time, and some regional flight attendants are starting at a guaranteed wage of $15,900 a year. ... Passengers shouldn't have to question if the flight attendants have received proper sleep the night before their flight or had enough money to spend on a decent meal when they hear 'Welcome Aboard' or 'Brace for Impact.'"

MT MAILBOX: Rep. Peter DeFazio fired off a letter this week to both Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler asking that they get on the same page before writing a rulebook for using dedicated short-range communications and the 5.9 gigahertz wireless spectrum in connected vehicles. "I urge you to avoid making decisions with a short-term, narrow viewpoint and instead do what is in the greater public interest," DeFazio writes. "While I understand the desire for more unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum, the desire for better Pokémon Go play cannot be compared to the 35,000 motor vehicle deaths every year."

No time to waste: The House Transportation Committee's ranking member points to a recent petition before the FCC to delay those rules until cybersecurity and privacy protections are put in place. "Any delay in the mandate means lives unnecessarily lost," he writes. "It also means that we have time to get the cybersecurity and privacy protections in place before broad DSRC deployment."

YOUR LIFE > PIKACHU: Operation Lifesaver is often battling the latest trends (like all those adorable - err, dangerous - professional photos of folks posing on train tracks). And now that everybody and their mom is walking around like a Poké-zombie, the nonprofit is sending up a warning to stay off the tracks even if there is an Electabuzz lurking around the rail line. The nonprofit's message: Your life is greater than Pikachu, so Pokémon Go ... somewhere else.

On the rise: "With preliminary 2016 FRA statistics through April showing an 18 percent increase in rail trespass deaths compared to the same period last year, Operation Lifesaver, railroads and law enforcement agencies are understandably concerned about the potential for Pokémon Go to further increase these tragic and preventable incidents," Operation Lifesaver writes this week on its blog.

KEEP ON TRUCKING: Chris Spear, the new American Trucking Associations president and CEO, has poached House T&I attorney Jennifer Hall to serve as the group's general counsel and executive vice president of legal affairs. Hall was just promoted last month to co-staff director of the panel with Matt Sturges.

Also lured away from the Hill: Bill Sullivan, Sen. Richard Shelby's legislative director. He'll become ATA's executive vice president of advocacy.

DOE PROMISES $4.5B IN LOANS FOR EV CHARGING STATIONS: The Department of Energy is promising $4.5 billion in loan guarantees to roll out a coast-to-coast network of electric vehicle charging stations, Bloomberg reports . The program will provide support for federal, state and local governments and partner with Ford, GM, Nissan and Tesla. Prospective car owners have expressed concern that they'd run out of charge far from home and have no way to get going again. The network of stations is designed to relieve this "range anxiety."

SLICE OF PI: Uber hired Heather Podesta + Partners Inc. to represent its interests in transportation marketplace innovation, safety and transportation equity, our friends at POLITICO Influence report . Founder Heather Podesta and Patrice Willoughby, Mary Stanton, Jonathan Becker and Robert Hoffman are listed on the registration.

HOW TO CONVERT A MILITARY BASE: POLITICO Magazine's latest story in its "What Works" series centers on the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Colin Woodard writes: "When fully built out over the next decade, backers expect the Yard will become a second Center City - a commercial hub for businesses ill-suited to downtown high-rises and a model for what the 21st century urban campus should be."

A resurgence: "Four hundred acres - the weed-covered remnants of what was once a naval aircraft factory and airfield - are slated for millions of square feet of new commercial buildings, port facilities, plazas, parks and a canal, while a historic marine barracks and other new and repurposed buildings in the base's historic core will contain 1,000 units of apartments, creating the demand for one and possibly two subway stations. If it all comes together, the Yard could end up employing over 40,000, nearly as many as it did at its height in the middle of World War II."


- Elon Musk unveils his 'master plan' for Tesla. Bloomberg.

- Road safety: Confronting sculpture shows human vulnerability to crashes. The Guardian.

- GM says it may recall 4.3 million vehicles over Takata airbags. Reuters.

- Facebook's Aquila drone completes first test flight. USA Today.

- The astounding collapse of American bus ridership. Slate.

- Autopilot technology drives Teslas but comes with warnings. The Associated Press.

- Footage shows Connecticut governor bypass airport security. NBC Connecticut.

THE COUNTDOWN: DOT appropriations run out in 69 days. The FAA reauthorization expires in 434 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 108 days. Highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 1,534 days.


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Donald Trump's policy problems Back

By Darren Samuelsohn and Manuela Tobias | 05/12/2016 05:22 AM EDT

Donald Trump rode a tidal wave of populism to the Republican nomination, but a President Trump would face a different reality: major limits on executive power and a stingy Congress that would block him at most every turn.

POLITICO deployed its policy experts to study a week's worth of Trump commentary and decipher what he's saying, how his ideas would work and how far he could really go with positions that are unorthodox at best, and often heretical to his party's ideology.

Here's what we found: Trump bounces across the political spectrum, sounding like John McCain on defense spending, Ross Perot on trade, Joe Biden on crumbling roads and bridges, and, well, Donald Trump on border security. He even has a little bit of Bernie Sanders in him when it comes to prescription drug prices. On other issues, like Common Core, his ideas are disconnected from reality, since the federal government doesn't have any say over the educational standards.

But there's also a tougher takeaway on Trump's policies: Many of his proposals are either unrealistic in terms of executive power or would run into a brick wall with Congress, making a Trump administration borderline impotent on the very issues that are driving his supporters to the polls.

A little bit about our methodology: We turned loose our team of beat reporters to listen to a week's worth of recent Trump speeches and answer a series of key questions for each proposal, analyzing the policy itself, the cost and the likelihood of success.

With that in mind, here's POLITICO's guide to decoding nine of Trump's most frequently mentioned policy ideas and what would really happen to a Trump administration in a divided Washington:


What did Trump say? "But a lot of the equipment that we get in the military is not the equipment that the generals want. It's forced down their throat by a company that is politically good but doesn't make the equipment that is good. All of that stuff adds. That's why they'd much rather have somebody other than Trump." (May 1, Fort Wayne, Indiana)

What's he really talking about? The pitfalls of the "military industrial complex" that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about more than a half-century ago. Trump first began talking about unnecessary military equipment during the fall of 2015, when he was critical of the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program, the F-35 fighter jet. He was referencing a leaked report to the military website War Is Boring, in which a test pilot said the cutting edge plane was outperformed by the older F-16. In the months since, Trump has broadened his criticism of the F-35 to military programs generally - and he is correct that Congress often adds to weapons programs or refuses to retire them against the Pentagon's wishes.

Where does his view come from? Railing against defense contractors for adding pork to the military's budget fits neatly into Trump's worldview that lobbyists and special interests are what's wrong with Washington. His stance against the defense industry puts him in the same camp as many liberal Democrats - and some fiscal conservatives - who have targeted programs big and small in the Pentagon's budget. It also aligns with McCain, the Arizona Republican senator who has railed against failing and over-budget weapons programs and has a rocky relationship with the defense industry.

How can he do it? Trump's budget proposal could try to cut all the weapons programs he desires - but ultimately it's Congress' decision. And lawmakers routinely ignore the wishes and desires of whatever administration is in power when it proposes cutting favored DOD weapons programs

How far can he go? Trump could theoretically play hardball and veto any defense spending bill that added weapons his generals did not want. But would he really shut down the Pentagon over an extra dozen F-35 fighters?

Who won't like this? Congressional Republicans - and many Democrats - along with a defense industry that's among the most politically connected in Washington. Indeed, many of the weapons Congress adds to the Pentagon's budget actually come from the military brass themselves: The service chiefs send a "wish list" of unfunded programs that lawmakers often use as a road map when adding money to the military budget.

How would a divided Congress react? Congress typically unites to pass defense spending bills by wide, bipartisan and veto-proof margins. They'd likely unite against Trump if he tried to block their spending bills, too.

How much would it cost? Liberal and conservative watchdog groups proposed $38.6 billion in savings by cutting a host of the weapons programs, including $4.4 billion by canceling the F-35 and buying current fighter aircraft instead. Look to this as a road map in a future Trump administration if he is serious about cutting Pentagon programs.

Jeremy Herb


What did Trump say? "NAFTA has destroyed every place it has touched. We are going to renegotiate our trade deals, folks, so fast. ... People now are working at Carrier and they announce they're leaving. Goodbye, they're going to Mexico. And I stop it. Wanna know how to stop it, real easy?" ( May 1, Terre Haute, Indiana)

What's he really talking about? Trade agreements favor big corporations at the expense of ordinary workers. That view puts Trump on the side of labor unions who have made the same critique for years. He's also railing against the offshoring of American jobs using the example of Carrier Corp., which announced earlier this year it was moving 1,400 jobs to a manufacturing plant in Monterrey, Mexico.

Where does his view come from? His attacks on NAFTA echo arguments made by both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaigns, as well as businessman Perot, who ran as an independent for president in 1992, and Pat Buchanan, the cultural conservative who challenged George H.W. Bush for the 1988 Republican party nomination.

What's his proposal? Using tariffs as a punitive tool to discourage companies from moving production overseas, and to force other countries to open their markets to more U.S. exports. In Carrier's case, Trump wants to discourage it from moving jobs to Mexico by threatening to impose a 35 percent tariff on any products they ship back to the United States. In China's case, he is proposing to declare the Asian nation a currency manipulator and impose high "countervailing [anti-subsidy] duties" on their exports to the United States to force them to open their market to more U.S. goods and services and address other trade irritants.

How far can Trump go? U.S. law allows the president to raise tariffs 15 percent against an individual country for 150 days, but Congress would have to approve any plan to permanently increase import duties. But Congress has control over tax and tariff policy, so Trump would have to get congressional approval to punish companies that move production abroad or to hike duties on Chinese or Mexican goods. Trump could use existing authority to declare China a currency manipulator, as he has vowed to do on his first day in office, but that doesn't trigger any immediate penalty under U.S. law.

Who won't like this? Carrier wouldn't like getting slapped with a 35 percent duty on goods it ships to the United States. Mexico and China would also be upset if they faced similar penalties. The U.S. business community would probably fight any threat to their ability to invest overseas. Consumers could protest too if Trump imposed a high tariff wall that pushes up the price of clothing, food, computers, TVs, smartphones and automobiles. Many U.S. companies would suffer if Trump were to withdraw from current trade pacts and those countries respond by raising tariffs on U.S. goods.

How would a divided Congress react? It's hard to imagine current Republican leadership working with Trump to trigger what could become a trade war with Mexico, China and other trading partners. Democrats are much more skeptical of trade agreements, but it's still a big step from blocking new trade agreements to unraveling the rules-based trading built up over the 70 years since the end of World War II.

How much would it cost? It could cause a trade war and a recession. Trump's trade policy would be "a huge loser for this country" by triggering the sort of trade retaliation and currency devaluation that triggered and deepened the Great Depression, Fred Bergsten, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, wrote in a recent blog post. Another economist, Kathy Bostjancic, head of U.S. macro investor service at Oxford Economics in New York, said Mexico and China would likely respond to U.S. tariffs by slapping their own duties on U.S. goods. The resulting trade war "would lower both the level of real GDP by 1.6 percent and employment by 1.4 million by 2020" below current forecasts and push the inflation rate up to 3.5 percent, Bostjancic wrote in a research brief last month.

Doug Palmer


What did Trump say? "Our educational system is no good. Out of 30 countries we're ranked 30th. ... And yet we spend more per pupil than any other country by so much that there is no second place. It's so far behind us, and yet we're 30. Because we have, this Common Core is a disaster, but it's even beyond that. We're gonna get rid of Common Core and bring it local in all of them." (May 2, Carmel, Indiana)

What's he really talking about? Trump sees a problem with American schools and he thinks he's got a solution, which is to get rid of the Common Core education standards. But this is far from a viable plan because the U.S. president doesn't set education standards and by law isn't even allowed to do so.

Where does his view come from? Opposition to Common Core has been a conservative talking point. Sometimes it's even dubbed "Obama-core."

How far can Trump go? Nowhere. The federal government doesn't set the state standards, so there's really little he can do that would make much of a difference.

Who won't like this? Some teachers and school administrators would challenge Trump by arguing that the U.S. needs to have high quality education standards.

How would a divided Congress react? Congress likely has little appetite to tackle this issue again: It just passed a major education law in 2015 after more than a decade of gridlock on K-12 issues.

Kimberly Hefling


What did Trump say? "Think of how strong Iran has become. We gave them $150 billion, they got tremendous other concessions, they will have nuclear, they can now buy nuclear, they don't have to develop it, with the money they have now, they can buy nuclear." ( May 1, Terre Haute, Indiana)

What's he really talking about here? Trump is poking at the Iran nuclear deal, warning that the agreement could give them nuclear capabilities beyond the limits of the international accord.

Where does his view come from? This is one area where Trump aligns neatly with the Republican Party. Many in the party, as well as Israeli and Arab leaders, fear Iran's ultimate intentions. They also worry the nuclear deal will strengthen Iran economically while paving the way for it to eventually obtain nuclear weapons.

What does he want to do? Trump has said he'd like to "renegotiate" the deal, but has stopped short of saying he'd rip it up.

How far can Trump go? The notion that other world powers or Iran would be up for a renegotiation of the multilateral deal is specious; it took years to reach the one in place now. But a President Trump could abandon the deal, which is a political arrangement, not a treaty. He could then re-impose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran through executive orders and also re-impose sanctions on other countries that do business with Iran.

Who won't like this? The Iranians. They already think the U.S. has been too slow to allow sanctions relief. He'd also upset the five other world powers that helped negotiate the agreement: Germany, China, Britain, France, Russia. The Europeans in particular would see the move as a blow to international diplomacy, not to mention a downer for their businesses eager to tap into the Iranian market.

How would a divided Congress react? Many Republicans have called for the U.S. to scrap the deal, arguing Iran can't be trusted. But so far, Iran appears to have held up its end, dismantling its nuclear infrastructure. If Iran doesn't commit any violations by the time a President Trump takes office, some Republicans might think twice about quitting or tinkering with the agreement.

How much would it cost? The American economy isn't likely to be hurt much by getting rid of the deal because U.S.-Iran trade is still so highly restricted. But the cost to America's global standing could be significant. European allies may think twice before working with the United States on future multilateral agreements.

Nahal Toosi


What did Trump say? "We have no growth. ... It's so little, it's not even really measurable. I bet you it's wrong. I bet you it's negative growth. So we have to change what's going on folks. We have to bring our jobs back. ... We have $19 trillion in debt, soon going to $21 trillion." (May 1, Terre Haute)

What's he really talking about? Trump is exaggerating how slowly the economy is growing, and suggesting the national debt is to blame. It's true that government red ink can hurt the economy by pushing up interest rates. But Trump appears to be relying on some curious logic. He suggests the debt is currently a drag on the economy, though interest rates right now are extremely low. At the same time, Trump ignores the effect his own $10 trillion tax plan would have on the debt and interest rates. The Tax Policy Center says Trump's plan would require so much borrowing that it could cancel out the benefits of cutting taxes. Also, Trump is using the wrong debt figure. The government's gross debt is $19 trillion, but the economically important measure is publicly held debt, which currently stands at $14 trillion.

Where does his view come from? Political challengers typically bemoan the economy, saying it should be doing a whole lot better, while incumbents emphasize its strengths or highlight how much progress has been made. So Trump is not breaking any new ground, though in perhaps typical hyperbolic fashion he's exaggerating how badly the economy is doing ("I bet you it's negative growth"). The economy grew last year, in inflation-adjusted terms, by 2 percent, and the Congressional Budget Office predicts it will grow by 2.7 percent in 2016.

Does Trump have a plan on paper to tackle this? Not to fix the debt. Actually, Trump's tax plan would make it much worse, cutting revenues by more than 20 percent. And he's promising not to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits, which budget experts call the main drivers of the government's long-term debt.

How far can Trump go? This proposal has a shelf life that typically expires on Election Day.

Who won't like this? Deficit hawks.

How would a divided Congress react? Many Democrats will be happy to see Trump swear off cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits, but congressional Republicans have taken tough votes, at the urging of Paul Ryan, to partially privatize Medicare - which Trump appears to be foreswearing. So that would be awkward.

Brian Faler


What did Trump say? "So when the pharmaceutical companies call me, they say, 'We don't want to go to bidding. We don't want to bid. We want to just sell you whatever it is. We don't want to have bidding.' We're going to start bidding." (May 1, Fort Wayne )

What's he really talking about? Medicare is prohibited from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies over drug prices. Trump has repeatedly endorsed implementing negotiations as a way to slash federal spending.

Where does this view come from? Many Democrats, including Clinton and Sanders, have backed empowering Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. However, the idea has been anathema to most Republicans, who perceive it as an assault on free-market economics.

Does Trump have a plan on paper to tackle this? Nothing of substance, though it's interesting to note that President Obama included a proposal to permit Medicare to negotiate the price of high-cost drugs in his 2017 budget request.

How far can Trump go? Federal law explicitly prohibits Medicare from negotiating with drug companies. So that would need to be changed for Trump's idea to be implemented.

Who won't like this? Big Pharma. Drug manufacturers bankroll one of the most successful influence operations on Capitol Hill, with $63.2 million in lobbying expenditures last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

How would a divided Congress react? Not well. Trump probably wouldn't find much enthusiasm for his plan on Capitol Hill, where the drug companies usually get what they want. A recent example: The Obama administration proposed a pilot program in its latest budget designed to reduce Medicare drug costs and received bipartisan blowback from legislators.

How much would it cost? Trump has claimed nonsensically that his plan would save $300 billion annually - a figure roughly equivalent to what the entire country spends on prescription drugs each year. It's impossible to discern how he came up with this fairy-tale figure. A study released last year predicted the federal government could save at least $15.2 billion each year by bringing costs in line with what Medicaid and the Department of Veterans Affairs pay for drugs.

Paul Demko


What did Trump say? "We're spending probably $4 trillion in the Middle East, and we have to rebuild our infrastructure, our roads, we have to rebuild our bridges, our airports, our hospitals, in this country. We've become close to a third-world country. You look at our airports, and then you go to other countries and you see places like you've never seen." ( May 3, New York City/Indiana victory speech)

What's he really talking about here? More than 45 percent of roads in most states are indeed considered to be in poor or mediocre condition. America's airports are also no match for their foreign rivals, like Singapore's Changi Airport, which has an outdoor swimming pool and butterfly garden. But luxury is far from the only measurement: U.S. airports are expected to need about $76 billion in infrastructure investment over the next three years just to take care of basics like accommodating passenger growth and doing necessary rehab. Besides lacking the glamour of major foreign hubs, U.S. airports have also grown more congested in the past year as the Transportation Security Administration's screening workforce shrinks.

Where does his view come from? Joe Biden has described U.S. infrastructure as "third-world," too. And here's the veep last year in Philly talking about airports: "If I took you and blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you must think: I must be in some third world country. ... I'm not joking."

What does he want to do? Trump hasn't said where he'd get the money yet for infrastructure specifically. But Trump does support one of the bipartisan approaches often mentioned for paying for infrastructure: repatriation of corporate earnings.

How far can he go? Only as far as Congress lets him. Trump could be intricately prescriptive about how much he wants Congress to spend on rebuilding, as well as the source of the funding. But it still falls to lawmakers to actually write the bill.

Who won't like this? It really depends on how he proposes to raise the money. Both sides of the aisle would balk if Trump pursued an increase in the gas tax. If he tries to get higher funding levels than legislators can offset, he would anger many budget hawks, including House Speaker Paul Ryan. Repatriation of corporate earnings is another approach bandied about in Congress, and Trump has mentioned this approach on his website. But he'd face opposition from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican who argues repatriated money shouldn't be used on transportation projects.

How would a divided Congress react? Rounding up support for more infrastructure investment is politically feasible no matter the makeup of Congress as long as common ground can be found on how to come up with the cash. The proof: The current Republican-controlled Congress was able to muster the votes to enact a five-year, $305 billion transportation infrastructure bill last year with overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle and the Obama administration's blessing.

Jennifer Scholtes

What did Trump say? "I believe global warming is the single biggest problem in our country, but it's made of the nuclear variety, do you understand that? That's the one we have to be careful of. ... Because we have a president that talks about global warming and he doesn't talk about the other problems that we have." (May 1, Terre Haute, Indiana)

What's he really talking about here? The seemingly far-fetched threat of nuclear-induced climate change has been on Trump's mind since at least June, when he warned of "nuclear warming" during a visit to The Chicago Tribune. His concern: The environmental impact of a potential nuclear blast gets far less attention than the greenhouse gas emissions that are already raising sea levels and temperatures worldwide.

What's his solution? Trump's underlying policy goal here is actually dismissing calls for federal action to cut U.S. emissions by raising the profile at a presidential level of both national security and nuclear containment. It's a counter-argument as well to both Obama and Clinton, who have described climate change as a threat on par with terrorism.

How far can he go? Trump can stop work on any pending Obama administration plans to stem global warming, but how much he'd be able to unravel the marquee greenhouse regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency depends in large part on whether they survive a legal challenge that could go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Who won't like this? Democrats and environmental groups would lash out if Trump tried to unravel Obama's EPA regulations.

Elana Schor

What did Trump say? "Believe me 100 percent, we're building this wall. ... Who is going to pay for the wall? Mexico! Not even close, folks. A trade deficit with Mexico, $58 billion. The wall's gonna cost $10 billion. Are there any bad business people here? ... It's gonna be beautiful 'cause they'll call it Trump someday maybe. Nah, I don't want a wall with my name." (May 1, Terre Haute, Indiana)

What's he really talking about? Building the wall is Trump's bumper sticker slogan. Trump has vowed to deport all 11 million immigrants here illegally, while letting the "good ones" back in. He'd turbocharge border security by erecting a wall along the 1,989-mile U.S.-Mexico boundary.

Where does his view come from? Building a fence along the southern border has long been one plank of overhauling the immigration system. About 670 miles of fencing is already up there (about 350 miles are in pedestrian areas) and a 2013 comprehensive reform plan introduced by a bipartisan group of eight senators called for 350 more miles of similar fencing.

What does he want to do? Trump's six-page immigration platform released last August suggests building a wall, and making Mexico pay for it. He plans to force Mexico's hand by blocking all of the remittances earned by immigrants working here illegally sent from the United States back home until the Mexican government hands over the money. He'd also boost fees for visas for Mexican nationals and may even deny issuing them altogether.

How far can Trump go? Not very far. One thing Trump can do unilaterally is to hike fees for visas, which can be done through agency regulations, as long as proposed rules are publicized. But the wall itself would have to be approved by Congress, just as lawmakers in the past have signed off on smaller-scale fences.

Who won't like this? Mexico, obviously. The current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, has flatly said there is "no scenario" under which his country would cough up the money for Trump's border wall. Advocates and lawmakers who have long pushed immigration reform would decry Trump's security-only approach.

How would a divided Congress react? Democrats would reject it outright since it's a security-only method that doesn't come attached with a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the United States. Among Republicans, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a longtime proponent of immigration reform, has pointed to Trump's ideas including the wall and another proposal to ban Muslim immigrants from the United States as reasons why he can't see himself backing the presumptive GOP nominee. Trump's plan, however, is likely to gain traction with key conservatives including Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

How much would it cost? Trump insists that his wall will cost $10 billion (and nothing for the U.S. taxpayer, since Mexico would surely pay for it). That seems remarkably optimistic on Trump's part. A POLITICO analysis last summer found that finishing the existing U.S.-Mexico fence cost $5.1 billion at a bare minimum, but likely much more. That's because the remaining 1,300 miles that haven't yet been fenced off are in considerably more difficult terrain. The Government Accountability Office estimated in 2009 that it costs an average of $3.9 million to build one mile of fence, although it could go as high as $15.1 million.

Seung Min Kim


ATA poaches Hill staffers to round out new leadership team Back

By Lauren Gardner | 07/21/2016 03:00 PM EDT

The American Trucking Associations' new leader is bringing in a fresh team that includes a prominent House Transportation Committee staffer who was just promoted in June.

Jennifer Hall is leaving the committee to become ATA's general counsel and executive vice president of legal affairs under the group's new president and CEO, Chris Spear. Hall was promoted to staff director of the committee alongside Matt Sturges last month.

Spear is also hiring away from Capitol Hill Bill Sullivan, legislative director for Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), to become executive vice president of advocacy.

The organization is bringing on Sue Hensley from the National Restaurant Association to serve as executive vice president of communications and public affairs and promoting Elisabeth Barna to chief operating officer and executive vice president of industry affairs.


The Coolest Shipyard in America Back

By Colin Woodard | 07/21/2016 07:58 PM EDT

On September 12, 1995, Bob Gorgone stood on a pier with hundreds of fellow shipyard workers and watched his career slip away.

As the John F. Kennedy floated out of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the aircraft carrier's speakers played the theme from "Rocky," but the workers-many of them wearing black t-shirts that read "Doom on the Delaware"-felt anything but triumphant. The $491-million retrofit they had just finished on the Kennedy was the last paying job for the nearly two-century old shipyard. Then the ship fired an 11-gun salute to the yard and its now unemployed workers.

"You could hear a pin drop," recalls Gorgone who was a top manager at the time. "People just looked at one another and hugged one another and said, 'Have a nice life,' and went home."

The Yard was already a ghost town, its workforce having fallen from 12,000 to 2,000 over two years as the curtain slowly came down on a facility the post-Cold War military no longer needed.

Twenty-one years later, the 1,200-acre Navy Yard is booming. At the base of Pier 6, a thousand workers are assembling 50,000-ton tankers at a state-of-the-art $400 million, Norwegian-owned commercial shipyard. Thousands more work in swank new office and laboratory buildings a quarter-mile to the west that house T-cell cancer therapy researchers, investment advisors and a large chunk of drug giant GlaxoSmithKline's North American operations. There's a brand new 4.5-acre park designed by renowned landscape architect James Corner (of New York City High Line fame), with a running track, ping pong tables and hammocks among the benches and Adirondack chairs; a trendy Marc Vetri restaurant in one of the base's former gatehouses; and, across a canal, the teeming 340,000-square foot Tastykake bakery, an iconic Philadelphia institution transplanted to in 2010 from its 88-year old North Philadelphia factory.

Even the John F. Kennedy is back, decommissioned and tied up in front of a campus of 13 century-old brick industrial buildings repurposed as the ultra-cool headquarters of clothing company Urban Outfitters, whose move here from downtown anchored what has become one of the country's most ambitious and successful military base redevelopments. More people work at the base now-12,000- than did when its closure was announced in 1991. The 150 employers-from Penn State's smart energy education center to the on-site hotel-have invested more than $1 billion in the Yard, which is located less than half a mile from the Wells Fargo Center, where the Democratic National Convention opens next week.

"There's been all this angst and sadness that went on as a result of the base closure process, and it was difficult for people to adjust," says Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, a South Philadelphia native who represented the Navy Yard area on the city council in the 1990s. "But with a lot of work and determination, this has become a jewel of the city."

Base conversion doesn't always turn out so well. Fort Ritchie, a 500-acre Army garrison in Cascade, Maryland, closed in 1998, causing the town's population to fall by half. Fourteen years and several plans later, Sen. Ben Cardin announced the redevelopment of the base as a mixed-use complex by a private developer had failed, forcing the property back into public ownership. In northern Maine, the development director of the former Limestone Air Force Base-once home to atomic-bomb carrying B-52s-estimates the on-site businesses only generate about a third of the economic impact that the base did when it closed two decades ago; many vacant buildings on the property are falling into critical disrepair.

When fully built out over the next decade, backers expect the Yard will become a second Center City-a commercial hub for businesses ill-suited to downtown high-rises and a model for what the 21st century urban campus should be. Four hundred acres - the weed-covered remnants of what was once a naval aircraft factory and airfield - are slated for millions of square feet of new commercial buildings, port facilities, plazas, parks and a canal, while a historic marine barracks and other new and repurposed buildings in the base's historic core will contain 1,000 units of apartments, creating the demand for one and possibly two subway stations. If it all comes together, the Yard could end up employing over 40,000, nearly as many as it did at its height in the middle of World War II.

"The magical thing about the Navy Yard is that it's a really beautiful but dissonant place with all of these wonderful layers," says Prema Gupta, who manages the Yard for the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Corporation, the quasi-public agency that owns and manages the area. "There's industrial and post-industrial, and maritime, amazing new construction by some of the best architects around and these parks and big open sky."

And it all came together around an alliance between the city, a developer and a handful of companies that looked on a forlorn naval base and saw the future.


It was the United States' first federal naval shipyard, founded in 1801 a few miles to the north in Southwark and tasked with the repair and maintenance of the Navy's early frigates and, during the War of 1812, the construction of a 74-gun ship-of-the-line, the Franklin. The shipyard moved to its current location in the 1870s, when the area at the confluence of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers was called League Island, and separated from the mainland by a shallow channel.

The base rapidly expanded during the world wars. In World War I, the shipyard built minesweepers and a hospital ship, and the eastern end of the island became a seaplane manufacturing facility; employment grew six-fold during the war to 12,000. Bigger cranes and additional dry-docks paved the way for the construction of more and larger vessels in the 1930s, including the heavy cruiser Wichita and the 36,000-ton battleship Washington, both of which rushed to reinforce Britain's Home Fleet after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

World War II was the peak of activity at the Yard, when employment hit 47,000 as the United States rapidly expanded its Navy, making it for a time the world's largest naval shipyard. Dozens of ships slid down its ways, from tank landing craft to fleet aircraft carriers, and more than 1,200 underwent overhauls during the conflict. Two of the largest class of U.S. battleships in history-the Wisconsin and New Jersey-were built during the war, and at one point in the summer of 1944 the yard launched the Essex class aircraft carrier Antietam and two heavy cruisers on the same day. Much lower profile was the secret enrichment of uranium for the Manhattan Project in one of the boiler workshops, site of an accident in 1944 where two workers lost their lives.

Ironically, the Philadelphia Yard did not develop an expertise in nuclear propulsion, which placed it at a disadvantage as the Navy added nuclear vessels to its fleet during the Cold War. Only 10 vessels were built here after World War II- the last a command ship completed in 1970-and progressively fewer vessels needed Philadelphia's prime expertise: overhauling conventional boiler systems. Nuclear ships went to naval yards in Virginia, California and Washington, which gave the Navy ample capacity without the expense of retrofitting Philadelphia's dry docks. "Also the fossil fuel Navy was changing," says Gorgone, who was an engineer in the 70s and refit manager in the 80s and 90s. "We were experts in big steam boilers that needed to be rebuilt every three years and have the ship at the yard for 18 to 24 months. The new guided-missile frigates needed an overhaul every two years and it took just two months."

The saving grace, thanks in part to the ample congressional delegation in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, was a multi-billion dollar assignment to comprehensively refit five 61,000-ton aircraft carriers that had been built during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. The program, which lasted from 1980 until the Kennedy pulled away from Pier 6 on that fateful day in 1995, kept up to 12,000 of the Yard's workers employed in mid-1980s. As other military bases began to close at the end of the Cold War, more than 7,000 continued at the Yard, upgrading the Kennedy's 4-acre flight deck to carry F-18 jets.


With the Soviet Union gone and foreign policy experts announcing the "end of history," Philadelphia's day of reckoning could only be forestalled so long. Bill Hankowsky, then the head of Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, was sitting in then Mayor Ed Rendell's office on April 12, 1991, watching Defense Secretary Dick Cheney on C-SPAN as he announced his proposed list of base closures. "We were one of them," he says. "The Navy planned to keep some acreage, but 11,000 jobs were going to be lost and we in the administration would have to face what we would do with the shipyard."

At the shipyard, the mood was somber. Mayor Kenney, then an aide to a state senator, attended a meeting on the base around this time. "There must have been 600 or 700 people in this room, all blue collar, and the [base] commandant was a Vietnam veteran and asked if there were any other Vietnam vets in the room," he recalls. "Two-thirds of them raised their hand. It was a real punch in the stomach."

Philadelphia's political leaders fought tenaciously to convince Congress to reject the proposal, with Representative Curt Weldon promising to wage a "war bigger than the Persian Gulf" and Senator Arlen Specter accusing the Pentagon of "declaring war on Pennsylvania." When the Base Realignment and Closure Committee (BRAC) endorsed the plan anyway, Specter, Weldon and other elected officials sued BRAC and the Pentagon in a case Specter personally argued before the Supreme Court in 1994. They lost.

Meanwhile, Mayor Rendell's administration was preparing to take over the nearly 1,000 acres of the yard the Navy was abandoning. The top priority-one to be tackled long before the years-long process of actual transferring of property was completed-was to find someone who still wanted to build ships in Philadelphia.

"For Philadelphians, the Navy Yard was always the place where a blue-collar guy could make good," the Philadelphia Inquirer reported at the time. "They bought houses. Put their kids through school. Paid alimony. Now they were looking at the end of all that." The city had recently lost several major manufacturing employers- Breyers Ice Cream, Whitman's Chocolate and Scott Paper among them-and didn't want to lose another. "So there was this crash course on what you do with an old shipyard," recalls Hankowsky, who as head of the PIDC, had a front seat in the effort.

The bad news was that most private U.S. shipyards did defense work, because nobody could compete with foreign yards for commercial construction, especially those in Japan and Korea. The good news: the Jones Act of 1920 prohibits foreign-built vessels from domestic shipping, creating a small but protected market for U.S. shipbuilders supplying ships for trade up and down the coasts or between the mainland and Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and other possessions. "So off we went to try to find a shipbuilder who might have an interest to come to Philadelphia and build some ships," Hankowsky recalls.

Miraculously, in February 1995-with seven months to spare before the retrofit on the Kennedy was scheduled to finish-the city signed an agreement with Germany's Meyer Werft to build cruise ships at the Yard. It was a $497-million conversion project that was expected to employ as many as 6,000. In return, the city, state and New Jersey would foot $167 million in costs, a plan that by summer everyone appeared to have signed on to. But just days after the Kennedy cast off from Pier 6, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge torpedoed the deal, calling it "pure fantasy" and holding a press conference at which he mocked the German firm by holding up two pennies meant to symbolize its paltry equity investment. Meyer walked and the shipyard went dead. "We were like, OK, what is the next plan?" recalls Hankowsky.

Two years later, the city landed a new prospect: Europe's biggest shipbuilder, Kvaerner, with 13 shipyards in six nations and headquarters in Norway. Kvaerner was also willing to oversee a half billion-dollar updating of the yard and start building merchant vessels there. The catch was the price tag: $300 million in city, state, and area port authority subsidies, nearly twice what Meyer Werft had required. Governor Ridge endorsed the deal, even though it promised only 1,000 jobs. ("He needed this for reelection," state Representative John Lawless, like Ridge, a Republican, later told a reporter.) The June 1998 ribbon cutting ceremony had ill portents. Poor weather stranded Kvaerner CEO Eric Tonseth at the Pittsburgh airport and the oversized scissors Mayor Rendell wielded couldn't cut the ribbon. "We're better at breaking champagne bottles," the mayor quipped.

Soon even that seemed in doubt. Ten months later, as Kvaerner was in the early phases of transforming the 120 acres of the shipyard they had leased into a replica of their state-of-the-art yard in Rostock, Germany, the company's new CEO announced he would close or sell all of its shipyards and focus on engineering and construction. The company plunged to the brink of bankruptcy, alarming Philadelphia's political class, before being taken over in 2001 by another Norwegian firm, Aker, which called off the shipyard sales. It's now the only shipyard in Aker's portfolio and does business as Philly Shipbuilding.

"It's a fantastic, state of the art facility," says the shipyard's CEO, Steinar Nerbovik, who now has 700 employees at the Yard and has at least eight ships on its order list. "Philadelphia is definitely the place to be building ships in the U.S."


At the time of Aker's 2001 rescue, PIDC was taking ownership of most of the rest of the Yard, including 250 buildings, miles of roads and hundreds of acres of empty lots where buildings, storage yards or airfields had once been. There were clusters of turn of the 20th century buildings, several dry docks and multiple piers that remained outside Aker's parcel, along with 19th century mansions, row houses and barracks that once housed various levels of naval personnel. The property had its own utilities and electrical grid and its roads, sidewalks and sewers now belonged to PIDC, not the city. It fell on the public corporation to figure out what to do with it all.

PIDC had been transforming industrial sites since its founding in the late 1950s, and had in-house expertise in financing, site planning, remediation and property management. But it had never taken on anything of the scale of the Yard, a property as large as Center City itself. "Even though we're a city, 1,000 acres is an enormous area of ground, and they probably hadn't invested in infrastructure since the Vietnam era," says John Grady, who headed up PIDC's Yard project until becoming the organization's president in 2011. "Because it was federal property, there was no land use zoning, no city streets, no information about buildings and permits and certificates of occupancy, all those things we take for granted when we buy a house or take a deed."

Over the nine years it had taken to complete the formal transfer of the property, cities had started to undergo a renaissance. Initial plans drawn up in the early 1990s embraced the Yard's separation from its urban surroundings- a safe, enclosed office park that happened to be located close to downtown. But by the early 2000s, the national mood had changed: Walkable urban centers were hot; isolated, car-centric, single-function suburban pods not so much. "We started to think about the property as not being separated from the city, but connected to it, with amenities and transit and a residential component," Grady recalls. In the new master plan, a suburban-style industrial park became a mixed-use urban campus that would ultimately have a 24/7 vibe. There were plans for single-family homes, a marina, retail and restaurants, all in a district where companies could build new, purpose-built structures that would be impossible to find space for in Philly's built-out suburbs or Center City.

"We didn't want it to be a potpourri of things, and we fought against the early interest in having gaming sites there because that wasn't the vision," says George Burrell, who was then an aide to Mayor John Street. "But the key was getting a leading developer in there with a national footprint and innovative ideas."

That would be Liberty Property Trust, a publicly traded, Philadelphia-based real estate investment group that already had a portfolio of 51 million square feet and a reputation for innovative, green buildings. The firm responded to a 2002 request for proposal for the development of 70 acres at the gates of the Yard with what became the 2004 master plan for the whole complex. The firm had a leg up, having hired Hankowsky when he stepped down as PIDC president in 2000. "We didn't want to put our money into the 70 acres if we didn't know what was going to happen to the land around it," Hankowsky, now Liberty's president and CEO, explains.

Liberty won the right to build and own the 70-acre office complex and has been expanding southward in phases ever since, constructing award-winning office and laboratory buildings on the margins of the old naval airfield. "With a project of this scale it takes a public entity and sponsor that has continuity and doesn't change every time there's an election to be the steward of the vision and a private player who has the endurance and financial wherewithal to stay the course."

Having a vision was one thing. Getting the first big tenants to sign on to populate it was another, especially given the Yard's lack of visibility, amenities and public transportation. As Liberty prepared to build its first building on spec on a small, crescent-shaped park at the Yard's main gates, nobody was sure who would show up, if anyone.


Ironically, the breakthrough came not on Liberty's land at all, but amidst the abandoned and deteriorating brick industrial buildings along the waterfront east of the Aker shipyard fences. The historic core of the shipyard back when William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt sat in the White House, this complex of former propeller, boiler and pipefitting shops had been overwhelmed by rats, immature trees and the elements in the decade since the Navy had packed up Windows were broken or boarded up and some ceilings were falling in.

That's the scene that greeted David Ziel in 2004, as he explored the site with his boss, Dick Hayne, founder of URBN, the apparel group comprising Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People. Hayne had opened his first Urban Outfitters across from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970, but the firm was now awkwardly scattered across 100,000 square feet of Center City high rises. The leases were up for renewal and, at one critical property, the landlords were unwilling to concede to a key URBN demand. "Believe it or not, negotiations fell through because they wouldn't let us have dogs," Ziel, URBN's chief development officer, says.

Hayne and Ziel liked what they saw: a complex that matched Urban Outfitter's urban/industrial ethos, one where the entire company could be together in one location, and with ample room to grow. Building 543, a cavernous, three-story-tall pipefitting hall could make a perfect campus center commons. The overhead cranes could become décor, the edges of Drydock 1, a park-like terrace. "At one point Dick turned to me and said: 'Can you do this project?'" Ziel recalls. "And I said yes."

Repurposing the distressed buildings was going to be considerably more expensive than building from scratch, but the Yard and structures had some incentives. The site was a Keystone Opportunity Zone, a state development incentive that gave a substantial property tax break, and its buildings qualified for federal historic tax credits, which redeem 20 percent of eligible costs. "These helped justify making the enormous investment in restoration," Ziel says, although the process can be frustrating. "You want the historic renovation, but you also have to meet energy and building codes to make them compatible for office use, and it becomes pretty obvious that the different government jurisdictions don't get together to talk about it much."

Shaw Sprague, director of government relations at the National Trust for Historic Preservation says the credits were crucial. "Without them, complicated historic redevelopment projects would be extremely difficult or impossible to complete," he says. "Banks and lenders see historic rehab as riskier and more complicated, so these provide gap financing that is needed for these kinds of projects to pencil out." To date, fifteen Yard buildings have qualified for $35 million in credits, the Trust says, attracting $140 million in private investment, much of it at URBN's complex.


The retailer's November 2004 decision to purchase six of the buildings, take options on others, and relocate its headquarters was a turning point. Mayor Street lauded it: a "validation of the Navy Yard as a great business location." Grady told reporters it allowed PIDC to claim credibility for their ambitious master plan, which envisioned 30,000 people working at the Yard.

As the chic URBN campus opened in stages, it became a shopping display for prospective investors in PIDC's other legacy buildings and Liberty's empty lots alike. One of those whose executives were tempted was GlaxoSmithKline, whose Philadelphia operations were split between Center City high rises. In 2009, company officials visited the site, had lunch at URBN's food court, where industrial cranes hung overhead and a mothballed aircraft carrier loomed outside the windows. "We could feel the vibe there," says Ray Milora, head of design and change management at the drug maker. "But we jumped at the opportunity to work with Liberty to build exactly the building we wanted."

Now 1,200 Glaxo employees work from its 205,000-square-foot, $140-million glass building near the gatehouse, with an atrium and skywalks modeled on the company's London headquarters. The interior is fitted out for "smart working," where nobody has an assigned desk, but move around untethered, plunking laptops down at desks, coffee lounges or other spaces. "We'd been doing this for years in Europe, but this was the first time we could literally develop it from the ground up, rather than a refit," Milora says.

Across the street, Franklin Square Capital Partners was lured to build a four-story headquarters for much the same reason. The financial investment advisors swapped digs in five suites on four floors in Center City for a facility built around their innovative work culture, with a ground floor fitness center staffed by performance professionals, customized snacks delivered to eating areas on each floor, and engaging artwork displayed throughout. "It's a vibrant and inspiring place to be," says Mike Gerber, an Executive Vice President at Franklin Square. "We look out our windows everyday and see creativity, innovation and hard work driving meaningful job creation and the rejuvenation of an important historic asset,"

Gerber's windows now look down on the Central Green, a 4.5-acre park designed by James Corner, the landscape architect behind Manhattan's celebrated High Line. The park, lush and unstructured, is a playground for adults, with a fifth-of-a-mile track lined with lounge chairs and encircling a fitness station, hammock grove, amphitheater, bocce court and tall grass. "The Yard had been developing as a corporate campus, but now it's being conceived as urban fabric with hotels and restaurants and places to live," says Corner. "Instead of being a passive green, we wanted to make it really active, to get people out of the offices and turn it into something social, to communicate the long term associations of the Navy Yard as a real sort of town."

The park is nearly ringed by new buildings, including a Courtyard by Marriott and a mesmerizing building by Danish architectural sensation Bjarke Ingels, whose angled façade creates the optical illusion of a giant wave about to break over the sidewalk. On the north, a DIGSAU-designed building built for Iroko Pharmaceuticals-one of the biomedical research firms that has moved here-has a wall of irregularly spaced and shaped windows. To the south, an abandoned Colonial Revival Marine barracks is slated for conversion to rental apartments.

"What's made this successful is it's not the government saying 'We will make these infrastructure investments by themselves and leave them to be made to work,' and it's not the private sector saying 'This is all the market supports,'" says Grady. "It's an alliance that creates employment and production and fills in a gap for what is going on in the city."

As urban fabric, however, the Navy Yard still has some holes.

For now, Central Green is empty, and most of the neighborhood effectively closes at 8 p.m., when guards appear at the gates to check for after-hours passes. Dining options are few, retail and entertainment non-existent-largely because, for now, nobody actually lives here. Public transit doesn't reach this far, so commuters and visitors rely on a free shuttle to the terminus of the Broad Street subway, half a mile from the gates, or the vast seas of free parking, which remain a part of the revised 2013 master plan, but give the Yard a commuter campus feel, rather than a New Urbanist one.

Density is expected to help, as Liberty pushes eastward into the former airfield, currently an expanse of overgrown lots, some of them occupied by great fleets of brand new Hyundais and KIAs newly arrived at the adjacent port and awaiting transfer to dealers. Proposed residential developments would bring upward of 3,000 full-time residents, creating a market for stores and other amenities, and sufficient traffic to justify the extension of the subway line. But these remain on hold until PIDC negotiates an agreement with the Navy, as the current one prohibits residential development.

The Navy's still a small portion of the campus, home to its propeller shop, an engineering research station and, of course, the Kennedy and dozens of other ships assigned to the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility. A Navy spokesman didn't respond to an interview request, but PIDC and Liberty say the department's primary concern is to avoid incompatible uses close at hand, presumably an issue that site planning can get around. Best guess, Grady says, is that a subway station is still five to 10 years away.

George Burrell, now a government relations advisor at a downtown law firm, isn't worried. "They've created a momentum that's now building on itself," he says. "It's no longer a question of 'Can it succeed?' but rather 'Just how big it will become?'"