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Infrastructure in the News 7.26.16


The Washington Post: Digitalization transforms the future of industry

As industry becomes increasingly digitalized, a vast range of machines are generating and transmitting more and more data. The future of industrial innovation lies in connecting many different assets and devices—from gas turbines and trains to buildings—and harnessing the data gathered to improve performance, minimize downtime and lower cost. Some companies are ahead of the pack, developing more efficient platforms that can maximize digitalization’s capabilities.

Wall Street Journal: Crude Slump, Pipeline Expansion Mark End of U.S. Oil-Train Boom

The oil-train boom is waning almost as quickly as it began.

Wall Street Journal: Tesla Races to Finish ‘Gigafactory’ in Time for Model 3 Rollout

Tesla Motors Inc. is scrambling to finish building its massive $5 billion battery factory here years ahead of schedule to meet demand for its coming cheaper sedan and provide power for new types of vehicles Chief Executive Elon Musk says are under development.

The Washington Post: White House takes aim at a fast-growing source of emissions: airplanes

The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday took a key step toward limiting pollution caused by the nation’s fleet of commercial aircraft, part of a broader push in the Obama administration’s waning months to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

NextCity: The Urbanist’s Guide to the DNC

Huge protests and party in-fighting threaten to overshadow any substantive conversations at this week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, but if the speaker list provides any indication, the central themes of the week are intended to be immigration, the Black Lives Matter movement and the continuity between the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton.

NGT News: Electrifying Politics: Free EV Bus Rides at 2016 Dem Convention

Today, as thousands of Democratic representatives and supporters come together in Philadelphia for the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC), the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), PECO and Proterra areoffering free test rides on a battery-electric mass transit bus, Proterra’s Catalyst, to demonstrate their mutual sustainable transit and energy values.

Greater Greater Washington: Is Tim Kaine a good pick for urbanism? Here's what our writers think.

Tim Kaine is the Democratic candidate for Vice President. Currently one of Virginia's US senators, Kaine was the state's governor from 2006-2010, and its lieutenant governor for the four years before that. We asked our contributors what Kaine has done for and against urbanism.

APTA: Public Transportation Organizations Recognized For Sustainability Accomplishments

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recognized six organizations today for their outstanding achievements in sustainability.  Public transit agencies and businesses voluntarily participate in the APTA Sustainability Commitment program and pledge to implement processes and actions that create continuous improvements in environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Based on specific measurable achievements, organizations are given Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze Level recognition.  


The New York Times: L Train Will Shut Down From Manhattan to Brooklyn in ’19 for 18 Months

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to close a tunnel that carries the L train, one of New York City’s most crowded subway lines, creating what officials acknowledge will be among the largest disruptions in the transit system’s history.

The Washington Post: With L Train shutdown, New York’s subway copies Metro’s style

Think a 14-day SafeTrack shutdown is rough, Metro riders? Try 18 months.

Philly Mag: DNC a Victory for Ridesharing in Philly?

The first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia wasn’t far off from what one would expect when an estimated 50,000 visitors descend upon a city. Bernie Sanders supporters protested from City Hall to South Philly, again, and marijuana legalization advocates marched an anaconda of a joint down Broad Street.

The Texas Tribune: Texas Bullet Train Opponents Hope to Block Project Next Year

The state Legislature could put up major road blocks next year for a private firm's plans to build a high-speed rail project connecting Houston and Dallas now that a federal transportation board has decided the project falls under state jurisdiction.

WAMC: Rail Advocates Praise Study Of Potential New England Expansion

A federally-funded study estimates it would cost $1.2 billion to add more frequent high-speed passenger rail service linking Boston, Springfield, Montreal and New Haven.  Advocates say the benefits to the region justify the large expense.

Charleston Regional Business Journal: Charleston, Greenville lagging in public transit, mayors say

Greenville Mayor Knox White and Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg agreed Thursday at a multistate economic forum that public transit has been left behind as their two regions have grown in stature globally. Amtrak talks come to Alabama where one crucial city is without a station

The ongoing talks about restoring Amtrak service along the Gulf Coast will make their way this week to the largest city along the rail line without a train station: Mobile. Why do Jersey beachgoers keep walking out into traffic?

It's a typical beach day out on Atlantic Avenue, which means the usual pedestrian chaos. Beachgoers crossing the many streets without traffic lights assume the cars will stop: The 2010 law tells them the vehicles must. Some families lead with the stroller, toddler on the dad's shoulders, an older sibling stumbles, stops and goes back for an errant flip-flop. Boogie boards are used as shields, umbrellas and chairs balanced under arms. Ready, set, cross.

Wall Street Journal: Second Avenue Subway Project Is Slowed

Already delayed for decades, the Second Avenue subway line will have to wait at least another month for test trains to run on newly laid tracks as a scheduled December opening date looms, officials said.

Wall Street Journal: TSA’s Penn Station PreCheck Center Will Close Soon

Travelers passing through New York Penn Station have until the end of the week to sign up there for expedited service through airport security checkpoints.

Politico Morning Transportation

By Lauren Gardner, Jennifer Scholtes and Brianna Gurciullo | 07/26/2016 06:09 AM EDT

THE AMERICAN DREAM ... OF VW PAYBACK: If you think Volkswagen drivers in the U.S. got a raw deal, just check out the compensation situation overseas. POLITICO Europe's Kalina Oroschakoff and Nicholas Hirst report that while VW has set aside billions to fix or buy back cars in the U.S., "in Europe, the automaker's message to the ruling classes and car owners could not be more different: Forget about it."

'Largely impotent': That inequity is incensing lawmakers in Brussels and other European capitals. But European policymakers are "largely impotent" compared to their U.S. counterparts - left mostly powerless by "the continent's fractured regulatory system and fractious legal environment," Kalina and Nicholas explain.

So they'll sue?: Because European governments are so toothless in that regard, several consumer groups are threatening lawsuits against Volkswagen. But even that route is harder in Europe, since legal traditions don't facilitate class-action lawsuits like we see here in the states. From POLITICO Europe: "European judges will expect plaintiffs to prove not only that Volkswagen is legally liable, but that actual losses were suffered - something that will be made more difficult after Germany's Federal Motor Transport Authority green-lighted several fixes proposed by Volkswagen. And European judges balk at the steep damages that are sometimes awarded by American courts. ... In many European countries, lawyers have to file separate claims on behalf of each named individual. At best, they have to name and identify each claimant in a class action."

WMATA PROBLEMS: Looks like Metrorail's July 5 red-light overrun - a major issue FTA is seizing on as WMATA works to improve its safety culture - was an even bigger mess than previously known. Metro General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld disciplined five employees after the incident because they evacuated passengers onto tracks with a live third rail, The Washington Post reports.

The Post writes that "communication broke down in the aftermath of that incident, with Metro staff evacuating several passengers onto the tracks before properly confirming that controllers had cut power to the tracks to ensure that people would not be electrocuted. After those people were on the tracks, the power was turned off, and no one was injured."

On the docket: Metro's safety committee expects an update on red signal overruns on Thursday from Chief Safety Officer Patrick Lavin before the board of directors meets. Also on the agenda: "Update on NTSB Recommendations from L'Enfant Incident."

While Metro has indicated that FTA would release its final investigative report on blown red lights within WMATA this week, agency spokesman Steve Kulm told MT it won't come until "later this summer."

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.

Have you found yourself stuck in a massive traffic jam trying to get back within the Beltway after a weekend beach trip? Count yourself lucky you aren't these folks trying to cross the channel into France. Woof. Reach out: or @brigurciullo, or @Gardner_LM and or @JAScholtes.

" Johnny, Johnny I was by your side/I'm looking for a ride, told me you won't be denied/You want a taste of everything/You're going too fast, you're gonna crash/But you know you'll survive."

GET OFF THE BUS: FMCSA suspended 14 people earlier this month for allegedly operating unsafe commercial tour bus companies, DOT's Office of Inspector General announced last week. The agency charges that the individuals in question falsified agency documents "and records related to bus safety, maintenance, and driver qualifications to impede FMCSA inspections and reviews." FMCSA also alleges that they falsely claimed their companies had established training and driver-safety programs, among other fraudulent submissions.

TOUGHER CO2 STANDARDS THAN ICAO? The EPA issued its conclusion Monday that plane emissions contribute to climate change, clearing the way for rulemaking, Pro Energy's Alex Guillén reports. While the so-called endangerment finding isn't surprising, the agency signaled that it could go even further than the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization's carbon dioxide standard when it issues rules. That would please environmental groups but go against the wishes of manufacturers and airlines, which say they already are inclined to use the least amount of fuel possible to get from point A to point B. The FAA will also play a role in writing the regulations, which will apply to large, non-military aircraft.

FRA: TAKE CARE WHEN X-ING: Now that the fight over how long railroads have to implement positive train control has died down (for now), FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg is focusing on a less-flashy - but still significant - safety goal: preventing deaths at railroad grade crossings. A string of fatalities involving families at train tracks in the past six weeks prompted the head rail regulator to issue a long statement Monday urging lawmakers, states, railroads and tech companies to join with the agency in doing more to stave off those tragedies.

'Solvable challenge: "We have put more focus and attention on this problem than ever before - through funding, a brighter public spotlight, new attention from FRA safety specialists, new research, new partnerships with tech companies and law enforcement and more aggressive and frequent investigations," Feinberg said in the statement. "We will continue to do all that we can to have a greater impact on this solvable challenge - and we urge our partners and friends to join us."

State of play: Congress funneled more money to the federal railway-highway grade crossing program, which disburses the funds to states, in the fiscal 2016 spending deal, plus more money for PSAs warning of the dangers grade crossings present. FRA and Google have partnered to integrate federal grade crossing data into the tech giant's mapping programs.

THERE'S A FEE FOR THAT: Budget air travel enthusiasts in Europe can expect to see fewer Ryanair flights on routes from London's Stansted airport thanks to the U.K.'s decision to leave the EU, POLITICO Europe reports . CEO Michael O'Leary told The Guardian that the Irish airline "will pivot our growth away from U.K. airports and focus more on growing at our EU airports over the next two years," which means slashing capacity and frequency on several of those routes as the company deals with the business and regulatory uncertainty the vote to leave has provoked.

CLEAR THE CONGESTION: Nearly 20 senators and 50 House members signed a letter sent to Secretary Anthony Foxx on Monday calling for the DOT to look at the movement of people instead of vehicles in a proposed rule on congestion relief measures. Democratic Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware and Robert Menendez of New Jersey as well as Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon sent the letter to Foxx.

"If we focus, as this proposed rule does, on keeping traffic moving at high speeds at all times of day on all types of roads and streets, then the result is easy to predict: States and MPOs will prioritize investments to increase average speeds for cars, at the expense of goals to provide safe, reliable, environmentally sensitive, multimodal transportation options for all users of the transportation system, despite those goals being stated in federal statute," the letter reads.

WINING AND DINING: Members of the House and Senate transportation committees were invited to a reception sponsored by CSX Transportation on Monday night in Philadelphia. The honorary hosts included Democratic Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Cheri Bustos, Corrine Brown, Mike Capuano, Andre Carson, Elijah Cummings, Donna Edwards, Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler and Dina Titus. (h/t Michael Beckel via Twitter)


- Flight 370: With search suspended, a cold-case file awaits. The Associated Press.

- Apple taps Bob Mansfield to oversee car project. The Wall Street Journal.

- Canada to ban rail cars involved in fiery crash. The Associated Press.

- U.S., Mexico air transport accord enters in force, seen boosting travel. Reuters.

- Preclearance at foreign airports seen as a necessity to fight terrorism. The New York Times.

- Historic solar flight marks first round-the-world journey. The Associated Press.

THE COUNTDOWN: DOT appropriations run out in 65 days. The FAA reauthorization expires in 430 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 104 days. Highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 1,530 days.


9:30 a.m. - The Wilson Center hosts a talk on green ports. WWC, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

10:30 a.m. - The National Marine Manufacturers Association hosts a reception and boat rides on the Delaware River with delegates and lawmakers.

Noon - The National League of Cities and Build America Mutual host a discussion with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendall on "communities that are successfully building for the future." The Democratic National Convention. RSVP to Brian Egan: or (202) 626-3107.

5 p.m. - The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association wraps up its summit in Boston on all-electronic tolling, managed lanes and interoperability.

5 p.m. - During the Democratic National Convention, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will join with Reps. Rick Larsen and David Price for a discussion on transportation and infrastructure. The Auto Alliance Hub.

Did we miss an event? Let MT know at

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Stories from POLITICO Pro

EPA hints at stronger plane emissions rules than U.N. standard Back

By Alex Guillén | 07/25/2016 11:13 AM EDT

EPA declared today that emissions from aircraft contribute to global climate change, the first step toward creating regulation, and it indicated it may go further than the international requirement.

The endangerment finding, as the conclusion is known, comes as no surprise given the years of research showing the link between greenhouse gases and climate change. The finding triggers a requirement under the Clean Air Act to issue regulations, although that rulemaking will take place largely under the next president.

Earlier this year, the U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization settled on a carbon dioxide standard that will apply to new aircraft designs by 2020. Some environmental groups have criticized those standards as too lax, but domestic manufacturers and airlines are urging EPA to stick to the ICAO standard.

EPA said in a release it "anticipates moving forward on standards that would be at least as stringent as ICAO's standards." The U.S. standards will be developed with consultation from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The rules would not apply to smaller planes typically used for recreation, nor to military aircraft.

The EPA's proposed endangerment finding released last year drew scorn from Republicans, and GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has vowed to revisit a separate but related 2009 finding that allowed EPA to regulate emissions from cars and power plants.

Aircraft make up a relatively small but rapidly growing source of global carbon dioxide emissions - about 3 percent. U.S. aircraft are responsible for 29 percent of global aviation emissions, according to EPA.