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Infrastructure in the News 7.25.16


CBS Sunday Morning: ​Philadelphians say: Love it or leave it

Ed Rendell, co-chair of Building America’s Future, explored the city of Philadelphia with Mo Rocca this week. The pair took in the sights of the city, including an expedition to the Rocky statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a discussion of the proper way to prepare and eat a cheesesteak.


The New York Times: Democrats, Looking Past Obama, Are a Party Without a Cause

When President Obama takes the stage here this week to begin his monthslong political farewell, it will mark a bittersweet moment for Democrats.

City Lab: Tim Kaine's Urbanist Bona Fides

Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia will be scrutinized for all sorts of things in the coming days, for his positions on gun control, abortion, and global trade. The chattering class will also consider how he fits into the political calculus of this raucous campaign season, such as his appeal to blue-collar voters in a purplish swing state.

The New York Times: Testing Sites for Self-Driving Cars Become a Priority

Spurred by the fatal crash of a driver operating his Tesla Motors car in Autopilot mode, lawmakers and car executives are urging the Transportation Department to intensify the testing of self-driving vehicles.

The Washington Post: Another Pokémon Go crash suggests that texting and driving has become national pastime

That didn’t take long. A few days after a New York guy crashed his car playing Pokémon Go, a driver collided with an unoccupied Baltimore police car while goofing around with a smartphone.

Wall Street Journal: Car-Sharing Industry Carries Heavy Tax Burden

For the millions of Americans without cars, daily errands often require a quick calculation: Is it cheaper and quicker to hail a ride, via apps such as Uber or Lyft, or to use a car-sharing service, such as Zipcar or Car2Go?


Honolulu Civil Beat: FTA Gives Honolulu More Time For Rail Plan

The Federal Transit Administration has agreed to give city officials more time to come up with a plan to either find the money to finish the Honolulu rail project as originally planned or end it at Middle Street.

Wall Street Journal: New Jersey’s Top Lawmakers Reach New Deal on Transportation Fund

New Jersey’s top lawmakers said Friday they reached an agreement on a new plan to raise the state’s gas tax and replenish its transportation trust fund, but the standoff continued as Gov. Chris Christie said he was awaiting more details on the proposal.

Star Tribune: What happens to suburbs if Southwest light rail isn't built?

Construction has started on a luxury apartment complex in Hopkins. Suburbs have poured millions into development on the proposed Southwest rail line.

CBS Sacramento: Regional Transit Reshaping Operations, Image For Golden 1 Center Opening

The countdown is on to October 4, the first major event at the Golden 1 Center in Downtown Sacramento. Regional Transit is working to reshape their image and prepare for the more than 200 events that’ll be taking place at the arena in the next year.

Montana Standard: Getting there: More Montanans depending on rural public transit

Golden morning light soaked hay fields and bounced off the blacktop of Highway 2 as a short, white bus carried passengers in one of the most rural regions of America.

Boston Globe: How should the MBTA characterize its progress?

Does the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority have a data problem?

The New York Times: Gov. Cuomo’s U-Turn on Mass Transit

Five and a half years into his tenure as governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo has finally said that he will make mass transit “a personal priority.”

The Washington Post: CLEAR launches expedited ID screening at Dulles and National

Fliers traveling through Reagan National and Dulles International airports have a new option for avoiding long security lines.

Politico Morning Transportation

By Lauren Gardner and Jennifer Scholtes | 07/25/2016 05:42 AM EDT

With help from Brianna Gurciullo

KAINE'S INFRASTRUCTURE LEGACY: Hillary Clinton's selection of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate over the weekend may not outwardly scream "infrastructure revolution" to anyone. Both talk up the need for greater investment in a range of transportation needs, and the Democratic Party writ large is homing in on infrastructure as an issue where a Clinton administration could make a big splash by bringing together members of both parties, as The New York Times reported Saturday.

But Kaine does have a locally rich history on transportation policy issues that transcend nationally - namely on how to pay for roads and bridges, as we reported for Pros. He flip-flopped around supporting a gas tax hike to cover those needs while serving as his state's governor from 2006 to 2010. His main beef with a gas tax increase was that the legislature could siphon it off to cover other expenses, and he wanted to be sure that wouldn't happen under his watch.

Is past prologue?: Regardless, Kaine was never able to extract a legislative victory on a sustainable funding resource (similar to Congress' failure to act on a long-term solution to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent). Should he be sworn in as vice president come January, it'll be worth watching to see how he uses that experience in Richmond to broach the issue on the federal level after years of punting by policymakers.

DEM PLATFORM LIGHT ON TRANSPO IDEAS: Democrats released their 2016 policy platform Friday with plenty of infrastructure mentions but - unsurprisingly - little substance as to how those ideas would be realized. One firm proposal among them is a national infrastructure bank that would "provide loans and other financial assistance for investments in energy, water, broadband, transportation, and multi-modal infrastructure projects" - an idea President Barack Obama has proposed in many of his budget blueprints and that Congress has repeatedly refused to create. The party also touts making Build America Bonds permanent for state and local governments to utilize.

"The climate emergency and the need to expand the middle class demand that we make the most ambitious investment in American infrastructure since President Eisenhower created the interstate highway system," Dems say in the document. "We will put Americans to work updating and expanding our roads, bridges, public transit, airports, and passenger and freight rail lines."

Money, money, money, mon-ey: Dems vow to make it rain for urban and suburban infrastructure ("roads and bridges, public transit, drinking and wastewater systems," plus bike lanes and pedestrian walkways). But as MT readers know, the Highway Trust Fund will only be in the black for a little while longer - so how to pay for everything? Where the GOP platform was short on policy proposals that have a feasible future, the Democratic plank is thin on how to make its big ideas reality.

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

The OG of MT, AAAE's Adam Snider, may have caused a little confusion Friday evening at DCA by showing up with flowers to welcome his wife (the Charleston Post and Courier's Emma Dumain) home from covering the Republican National Convention, only to run smack into former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Lookit, Mr. Secretary, maybe next time the bouquet will be yours. Until then, reach out: or @brigurciullo, or @Gardner_LM and or @JAScholtes.

"Leavin' on a southern train/Only yesterday you lied/Promises of what I seemed to be/Only watched the time go by/All of these things you said to me."

ALL CLEAR FOR 'CLEAR' AT D.C. AIRPORTS: The privately run service that lets travelers skip TSA lines has just started up at D.C.-area airports. David Cohen, chief administrative officer of the company CLEAR, told MT the service is now operational at both Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles International airports after "soft launches" last week. This foray into the National Capital Region makes a total of 16 U.S. airports with CLEAR checkpoint lanes. And the company has dreams of grand expansion.

The plan: Cohen noted that Detroit Metropolitan Airport's overseers just gave the nod for CLEAR to start up there and that the company's goal is to expand to a total of 20 major airports by year's end. "We absolutely have a plan, and the plan is to be in the busiest airports across the country," he said. "And that's what we're working on now."

TIME FOR AN ATC TRANSFORMATION? We asked MT readers: Are you optimistic 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.

Rui Neiva, a policy analyst at the Eno Center for Transportation, told us: "Regardless of political considerations, ATC reform is essential for the future of our aviation system. Without it, we will sputter from piecemeal reform to piecemeal reform and achieve little. Only transformational reform - be it a nonprofit system, or another innovative model - will allow the U.S. to efficiently and effectively deploy NextGen and reap the benefits of a modern ATC system. Canada has proven that this can be done, and after 20 years they are a leader in innovation, efficiency and safety. They have also just announced a 7.9 percent decrease in user fees, which means that their user fees are now lower, in real terms, than when they were first enacted in 1999."

SHINING A LIGHT: After the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that few headlight systems deserve an "acceptable" or "good" rating, John Bullough at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows in a new analysis that proper aiming is an important factor.

Bullough writes that "headlights aimed too low will impair a driver's visibility, whereas headlights aimed too high will increase glare to other drivers." If the headlights had been aimed properly, twice as many would have been rated as "acceptable" or "good." He concludes that "some headlights do outperform others at providing visibility while minimizing glare to others. Nonetheless, it may not be obvious to consumers that having their headlights aimed properly on a regular basis can also have a meaningful safety impact."

THIS WEEK: Democrats are descending on Philadelphia this morning for their national convention. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson inspected security on Friday. House T&I member Eleanor Holmes Norton will speak at the convention, though she'll focus on D.C. statehood efforts. And SEPTA, PECO and Proterra will offer free electric bus rides to the public on Monday and Thursday around the convention area.

Amid the political festivities, transportation geeks have a few opportunities to check out infrastructure-focused talks:

Monday - The National Conference of Democratic Mayors hosts a discussion on transportation and infrastructure.

Tuesday - The National Marine Manufacturers Association hosts a reception and boat rides on the Delaware River with delegates and lawmakers. Back in D.C., the Wilson Center hosts a talk on green ports.

Wednesday - Bloomberg Politics hosts a conversation about how U.S. infrastructure has become an important campaign issue, and what challenges the new president will face in improving and enhancing it across the country. The publication also partners with Building America's Future in hosting an infrastructure discussion with former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.


- Tesla Races to Finish 'Gigafactory' in Time for Model 3 Rollout. The Wall Street Journal.

- The Future Of Paratransit In D.C.: Finding The Right Price Tag For A Civil Right. WAMU.

- Testing Sites for Self-Driving Cars Become a Priority. The New York Times.

- 7-Eleven sells first soaring slurpee, courtesy of drone. Bloomberg BNA.

- Volkswagen has emissions-cheating fix ready. The Associated Press.

- Preclearance at Foreign Airports Seen as a Necessity to Fight Terrorism. The New York Times.

- Chicago Metro Station Canopy Collapses After Possible Lightning Strike. NBC Chicago.

THE COUNTDOWN: DOT appropriations run out in 66 days. The FAA reauthorization expires in 431 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 105 days. Highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 1,531 days.


3 p.m. - The National Conference of Democratic Mayors holds a discussion on "City Solutions: Transportation and Infrastructure." Arts Ballroom, 1324 Locust Street, Philadelphia.

Did we miss an event? Let MT know at

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