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Infrastructure in the News 8.24.16

NATIONAL NEWS

Huffington Post: Cities vs. Climate Change

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-p-fried/cities-vs-climate-change_b_11664066.html

At this, the height of a very warm summer and in the midst of a year that’s predicted to become the hottest on record, it’s clear that cities are major contributors to climate change. While urban residents are vulnerable to the so-called heat island effect, cities also offer great promise for solutions. The challenge for public health researchers is to realize the potential of cities as vibrant living laboratories that can demonstrate and generate ingenious innovations to benefit population health.

New York Times: Tesla Touts Speed and Driving Range With New Upgraded Battery

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2016/08/23/business/23reuters-tesla-product.html?_r=0

Tesla Motors Inc crowned itself the maker of the world's fastest production car on Tuesday, saying a new version of its Model S all-electric sedan can accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in just 2-1/2 seconds.

New York Times: The Real Crime Is What’s Not Done

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/24/opinion/the-real-crime-is-whats-not-done.html

The latest criminal charges of public officials in the contamination of the Flint, Mich., water supply seem righteous. After so much government ineptitude with such hideous consequences — tens of thousands of Flint residents poisoned; elevated blood lead levels in nearly 5 percent of the city’s children, many with possibly irreversible brain damage — surely these criminal charges will bring, at long last, justice for Flint.

Wall Street Journal: Local Highway Drivers Bear Brunt of Road Funding Gap (full article after Morning Transportation)

http://www.wsj.com/articles/local-highway-drivers-bear-brunt-of-road-funding-gap-1472031001

Like a lot of American cities, Milwaukee has a pothole problem. A majority of its major roads are in shoddy shape, federal data show, forcing drivers to weave to avoid surprises.

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Traffic Fatalities Continued to Surge in First Half of 2016 (full article after Morning Transportation)

http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-traffic-fatalities-continued-to-surge-in-first-half-of-2016-1471967127

Traffic fatalities rose 9% in the first six months of 2016, compared with a year earlier, as a stronger economy and falling gas prices encouraged Americans to spend more time behind the wheel, the National Safety Council said on Tuesday.

Wall Street Journal: Freight Transport Startup Cargomatic Hits Some Bumps Along the Way (full article after Morning Transportation)

http://www.wsj.com/articles/freight-transport-startup-cargomatic-hits-some-bumps-along-the-way-1471985052

Cargomatic Inc., a technology startup seeking to upend the freight transportation industry, is going through some growing pains.

Mass Transit Mag: WA: Megaproject Expert: Transit-Cost Estimates Getting More Realistic

http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/12248279/megaproject-expert-transit-cost-estimates-getting-more-realistic

Transit agencies are getting better at making realistic cost estimates, offering hope that programs such as Sound Transit 3 (ST3) can avoid disastrous overruns, a leading world expert says.

STATE NEWS

Post-Gazette: Study: Mon-Fayette Expressway, MLK busway projects would create more than 20,000 jobs

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2016/08/23/Study-touts-extensions-of-Mon-Fayette-Expressway-MLK-busway/stories/201608230132

As with many things in life, the future of the proposed extension of the Mon-Fayette Expressway hinges on the delicate balance between the cost and the benefit of the 13-mile toll road.

Courier-Journal: Mayor Landrieu: 'Cities like ours must move boldly'

http://www.courier-journal.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/08/23/mayor-landrieu/89199462/

To start off with, I want to talk about the terrible flooding in Louisiana.

Bloomberg: Can Public Transit Get Detroit Moving Again?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-23/detroit-tries-to-wean-itself-from-the-car-with-mass-transit-bid

The curse of the car drives tediously slow through the region that put the nation on wheels. Traffic creeps along on torn-up downtown Detroit streets and multiple lanes clog up on interstate highways leading into and out of this formerly bankrupt city.

Los Angeles Times: In L.A., a walkable neighborhood comes at a price

http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/hot-property/la-fi-hp-walkability-real-estate-20160820-snap-story.html

Nobody walks in L.A., as the saying goes.

The Morning Call: Would new federal rule put Lehigh Valley's Transportation funding in jeopardy?

http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-pa-transportation-planners-20160823-story.html

Some of the Lehigh Valley's most influential stakeholders are protesting a proposed federal funding change they fear will force them to compete with Philadelphia and New York for highway, bridge and transit money.

TechCrunch: A look inside Hyperloop One’s wildly fast future

https://techcrunch.com/2016/08/23/a-look-inside-hyperloop-ones-wildly-fast-future/

What’s really going on at Hyperloop One – the futuristic transportation system proposing to shoot humans from point A to B at 750 miles-per-hour?

Transport Topics: Senate Transportation Leaders Clash Over Highway Administration Greenhouse-Gas Proposal

http://www.ttnews.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=42954

The leaders of the transportation committee in the Senate are at odds over a Federal Highway Administration proposal that would measure the value of state and municipal transportation projects by their greenhouse gas emissions.

Washington Post: Open-government advocates raise concern about new Metro oversight board

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/open-government-advocates-raise-concern-about-new-metro-oversight-board/2016/08/22/e414177c-688c-11e6-ba32-5a4bf5aad4fa_story.html

A coalition of open-government advocates is raising concerns that the public could be barred from reviewing records and attending meetings held by a new multistate agency responsible for overseeing the safety of the Metro system.

WABE: MARTA Breaks Ground On First Transit-Development Project

http://news.wabe.org/post/marta-breaks-ground-first-transit-development-project

MARTA broke ground on the first of six "transit-oriented developments" at its Edgewood-Candler Park MARTA station Monday.

Dallas News: Downtown subway supporters swamp DART board room after officials spent hours wrestling over priorities

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/transportation/20160823-downtown-subway-supporters-swamp-dart-board-room-after-officials-spent-hours-wrestling-over-priorities.ece

More than 200 people showed up to a Dallas Area Rapid Transit meeting Tuesday to persuade transit officials to build a new downtown light-rail line as a subway instead of at street level.

By Brianna Gurciullo | 08/24/2016 05:44 AM EDT

With help from Jennifer Scholtes and Alex Guillén

AIRLINE PROBLEMS CAUSE THE MOST DELAYS: Troubles pinned on airlines caused the most flight delays in the country last year for the second time since 2003, surpassing weather and problems with the air traffic control system, Bloomberg Markets reports . Factors caused by airlines included technological glitches, mechanical issues and crew deficiencies. A total of 323,454 flights were delayed in 2015 because of airline problems - 6,770 more than the number of flights delayed because of FAA troubles, Bloomberg reported using DOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics data. In all, airline issues were the cause of 20.2 million minutes in delays. Weather, crowded airports and ATC problems caused 14.3 million minutes in delays.

A4A: There's more to it: But Sharon Pinkerton, Airlines for America's senior vice president for legislative and regulatory policy, told Bloomberg that the numbers need to be put into context. She noted that airlines reduced their number of flights to ease congestion and had an on-time rate of about 80 percent. The trade association has spearheaded efforts to separate ATC from the FAA and hand over authority to a nonprofit corporation, asserting that it will minimize delays.

Meanwhile: Delays caused by the country's aviation system have dropped dramatically in recent years, which doesn't help A4A's position on changes to ATC. In 2007, the number of delays was nearly 600,000. Last year, it was 316,684. Bloomberg reports that part of the reason for the drop is that the system is now better at dealing with bad weather and ATC technology is more advanced.

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

Please send tips, feedback and, of course, song lyrics: bgurciullo@politico.com or @brigurciullo.

"Replace your gaskets and paint over your rust. You'll still end up with something that you'll never trust. Thousand dollar car's life was through. 'Bout 50,000 miles 'fore it got to you. Oh, why did I ever buy a thousand dollar car."

SAFETY ADVOCATES BRACE FOR RISE IN ROADWAY DEATHS: The United States is on track to have the deadliest driving year since 2007, according to estimates released Tuesday by the National Safety Council. About 19,100 people have died on the road during the first half of 2016 -- a 9 percent increase from the same period last year and an 18 percent jump from 2014. At this rate, the total number of roadway deaths for 2016 could be more than 40,000. Our Jennifer Scholtes reported for Pros that the "safety group chalks up the increase to low unemployment rates and the fact that average gas prices in the first six months of this year were 16 percent lower than 2015 levels," which has led to Americans driving more miles. NSC expects more roadway deaths this Labor Day weekend -- over 430 -- than in any of the past eight years.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT: A trio of Senate Democrats says it's time the White House checked in on whether DOT is trying to make it easier for Americans to compare airline prices, Jennifer reports again for you Pros. Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut want Jeffrey Zients, the director of the National Economic Council, to make sure DOT is following a recent executive order on improving competition. Airlines like Delta and Southwest have prevented some travel sites from accessing their flight data, the senators pointed out in a letter to Zients , and actions like that "run directly counter to the president's goal of promoting a competitive marketplace, and we urge you to recommend the [DOT] use its existing statutory authority to ensure that consumers have unfettered access to airlines' flight schedule and pricing information."

TRAVEL ACROSS THE LAND ... JUST NOT ON TRAIN TRACKS: FRA's administrator is asking Niantic to keep Pokémon and Pokéstops away from railroad tracks after companies reported the virtual objects -- part of the popular Pokémon Go game for smartphones -- are located at some of their facilities. "We are seriously concerned that the focus demanded of Pokémon Go users in play of the game distracts them from their surrounding when near railroad tracks," FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg wrote in a letter with Association of American Railroads President Edward Hamberger. "This not only puts them in danger of being hit by a train, it also endangers the safety of both passengers and crewmembers aboard trains, workers along the tracks, and members of the public who live or work in the nearby area."

BATTERY MAKERS WANT REGULATION RECHARGE: Battery manufacturers and air cargo trade groups are calling for a "coherent global policy and action plan" to combat the illegal shipping of lithium batteries. The Rechargeable Battery Association, International Air Transport Association and other groups wrote in a letter to regulators that their "concern lies not with correctly shipped batteries but with the willful disregard of the regulations by rogue manufacturers and shippers. The actions by this tiny minority threaten to undermine confidence in legitimate battery manufacture and transport." The groups go on to ask for "strict enforcement" of regulations for transporting lithium batteries, which can catch fire in transit, and "significant fines" for violators. But the groups warn against banning all lithium batteries on airlines. "The development of further and increasingly draconian regulation will only penalize legitimate law-abiding manufacturers," they wrote.

REPORT DINGS ELECTRIC VEHICLE AVAILABILITY AT DEALERSHIPS: Automakers aren't making enough electric vehicles available to car buyers, hindering EVs' potential growth, according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Aside from the all-EV Tesla Motors, UCS praises BMW for leading EV sales both nationwide and in EV-centric California, and had good things to say about GM and Nissan. But the report has finger wags for Toyota, which discontinued its plug-in Prius, as well as Honda, Fiat Chrysler and Hyundai/Kia. The report also found that while California (unsurprisingly, with its Zero Emission Vehicle program) leads on EV model availability at dealerships, most other states lag well behind in making such cars available. "You can't buy a car you can't find," said report author David Reichmuth.

Ludicrous speed, go! Speaking of Tesla, the company on Tuesday announced it has an upgraded battery pack for Model S and X vehicles that will extend their ranges up to 315 miles and boost acceleration, from 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds for the sedan Model S. The Wall Street Journal has more.

OH, SCRAP: Scrap tire piles are becoming a problem again in the Garden State, David Giambusso reports for POLITICO New Jersey. The number of scrap tires has significantly decreased since 2004, according to an audit of a state recycling program, but piles "have re-emerged on previously remediated sites as well as new sites." The report concludes: "Greater effort should be made to proactively monitor, identify, and remediate scrap tire piles within the state. Nevertheless, the vast majority of scrap tires generated in the state do ultimately arrive at an appropriate end market."

CHRISTIE BRUSHES OFF IDEA OF SELF-SERVE GAS: Will New Jersey ever have self-serve gas? No way, says Gov. Chris Christie, because New Jerseyans, particularly women, don't want it to happen. "It is incredibly politically unpopular in this state to take away gas service at the gas pumps," Christie said Tuesday, responding to a question from the audience at an education forum in the state. Polls show that 78 percent of New Jersey women and more than 50 percent of men oppose self-serve gas, he said. "It is a bipartisan issue of being afraid of the 78 percent women in New Jersey," Christie said.

PASSENGER TRAFFIC SURGES AT NYC-AREA AIRPORTS: A record number of passengers traveled through JFK International, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia airports during the first half of this year, increasing 6.3 percent compared to 2015. Emily Julia Roche at POLITICO New York has the breakdown: 28 million passengers used JFK, 19.3 million used Newark Liberty and 14.3 million used LaGuardia. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's aviation director, Thomas Bosco, said the "record-setting performance supports all the reasons why our agency remains committed to modernizing our airports."

U.S. PIRG TOUTS SUPPORT FOR PROPOSED FHWA RULE: While groups like the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, ATA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have sent comments to FHWA opposing the agency's proposed rule to measure greenhouse gas emissions, the liberal U.S. Public Interest Research Group has a wrap-up of support for the proposal: 80,000 public comments, a letter from 60 mayors, a letter from nine state departments of transportation and a letter from 48 environmental and consumer groups.

THE AUTOBAHN (SPEED READ):

- The workhorse of the skies is being put out to pasture. Bloomberg.

- VW facing uphill battle outside the U.S. in emissions claims. The Wall Street Journal.

- The age of the aircraft carrier may be over. Reuters.

- Can public transit get Detroit moving again? Bloomberg.

- In L.A., a walkable neighborhood comes at a price. The Los Angeles Times.

- Freight transport startup Cargomatic hits some bumps along the way. The Wall Street Journal.

THE COUNTDOWN: DOT appropriations run out in 36 days. The FAA reauthorization expires in 401 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 75 days. Highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 1,501 days.

THE DAY AHEAD:

7:00 a.m. - The third day of the Air Line Pilots Association's Air Safety Forum begins with registration and coffee. ALPA President Tim Canoll and NATCA President Paul Rinaldi will speak during the opening ceremony at 8 a.m. NTSB Chairman Chris Hart will deliver the luncheon keynote address at 12:30 p.m. Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW.

Did we miss an event? Let MT know at transpocalendar@politicopro.com.

To view online:
https://www.politicopro.com/tipsheets/morning-transportation/2016/08/airline-problems-are-top-cause-of-flight-delays-018920

Stories from POLITICO Pro

Advocates: U.S. set for jump in roadway deaths this year Back

By Jennifer Scholtes | 08/23/2016 09:53 AM EDT

Looking to Labor Day, safety advocates predict the holiday weekend will bring more roadway deaths than in any of the past eight years, with the U.S. on pace for the deadliest driving year since 2007.

The National Safety Council issued the grim forecast this morning, noting that an estimated 19,100 people have been killed on U.S. roads so far this year, amounting to 9 percent more than the same time frame last year and 18 percent more than that period in 2014.

"The upward trend began in late 2014 and shows no signs of decreasing," the congressionally chartered safety council said in a written statement. "Last winter, the National Safety Council issued its largest year-over-year percentage increase in 50 years."

The safety group chalks up the increase to low unemployment rates and the fact that average gas prices in the first six months of this year were 16 percent lower than 2015 levels.

DOT released data this week showing that 1.58 trillion miles were driven in the U.S. in the first six months of 2016, beating the previous record of 1.54 trillion miles set last year.

Back

Senators call for DOT intervention on airline price comparisons Back

By Jennifer Scholtes | 08/23/2016 02:50 PM EDT

Three Senate Democrats want the White House to make sure the DOT is working to make it easier for consumers to compare airfare and flight schedules.

Massachusetts Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren joined this week with their northeastern counterpart Richard Blumenthal in writing to White House economic policy guru Jeffrey Zients, asking that he ensure the DOT is minding an April executive order directing federal agencies to report back on how they can improve competition and give consumers access to information that can help with purchasing decisions.

"Given the unprecedented level of consolidation within the airline industry, it is more important than ever that Americans maintain the ability to comparison shop," the senators wrote to Zients, director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president for economic policy. "We respectfully request information regarding what actions DOT has stated it will undertake, pursuant to its 'Agency Responsibilities' in E.O. 13725, to ensure consumers can easily access accurate flight fare and schedule information."

The senators point to what they call "anticompetitive and anti-consumer behavior among airlines," noting that carriers such as Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines prevent certain third-party travel websites from fully accessing their flight data.

"Such actions would run directly counter to the president's goal of promoting a competitive marketplace, and we urge you to recommend the Department of Transportation (DOT) to use its existing statutory authority to ensure that consumers have unfettered access to airlines' flight schedule and pricing information," they wrote.

Back

POLITICO Pro New Jersey: Audit finds scrap tire problem re-emerging Back

By David Giambusso | 08/23/2016 09:17 PM EDT

An audit of the Department of Environmental Protection's scrap tire recycling program found that while the problem of scrap tire piles has been ameliorated since 2004, in the last three years the problem has reemerged.

"Greater effort should be made to proactively monitor, identify, and remediate scrap tire piles within the state," State Auditor Stephen Eells said in the report issued this week. "Nevertheless, the vast majority of scrap tires generated in the state do ultimately arrive at an appropriate end-market."

DEP Commissioner Bob Martin responded to the audit, saying that since 2004, scrap tires have gone from 3.2 million to 560,000 - a decrease of roughly 80 percent.

Still, Martin said the department would pursue several "corrective actions" to further monitor the problem, including the use of storm water permits to gain compliance on tire storage; possible inclusion of a tire monitoring plan in the County Environmental Health Act, and "flyovers" in the fall and winter to inspect the state for illegal tire dumps.

A copy of the audit's executive summary can be read here.

This article first appeared on POLITICO Pro New Jersey on Aug. 23, 2016.

Back

POLITICO Pro New Jersey: Christie: Self-serve gas in New Jersey a non-starter Back

By David Giambusso | 08/23/2016 09:19 PM EDT

Gov. Chris Christie said today that self-serve gas in New Jersey was a pipe dream, not for any public policy reason, but because it is a political non-starter, especially with women.

Only New Jersey and Oregon have bans on self-serve gas. Polling on the issue shows that New Jerseyans don't want that to change.

"It is incredibly politically unpopular in this state to take away gas service at the gas pumps," Christie said in response to a question from the audience during an education forum in Bordentown.

"We polled this over and over," Christie said, adding in the most recent poll, "78 percent of New Jersey women said they were opposed to self serve gas."

Christie said more than 50 percent of men are also opposed to lifting the ban on self-service at the pumps. He recounted a story of when he was first elected and his then-mentor, former Gov. Tom Kean, urged him not to touch the issue.

"He said, 'By the way, before we get to the deeper issues, never have self serve gas, ever.' He said, 'I proposed it when I was governor and I got crucified," Christie said. "It is a bipartisan issue of being afraid of the 78 percent women in New Jersey."

Linh Tat contributed to this story.

This article first appeared on POLITICO Pro New Jersey on Aug. 23, 2016.

Back

POLITICO Pro New York: Port Authority says passenger traffic up 6.3 percent at region's 3 airports Back

By Emily Julia Roche | 08/23/2016 09:22 PM EDT

Passenger traffic at the region's three major airports increased by 6.3 percent during the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2015, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced Tuesday.

John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia airports all saw record numbers of passengers during the first six months of the year. According to the Port Authority, which operates the three hubs, 28 million passengers passed through JFK, 19.3 million used Newark Liberty and 14.3 used LaGuardia.

"This record-setting performance supports all the reasons why our agency remains committed to modernizing our airports in order to best serve our customers and accommodate future growth," Port Authority aviation director Thomas L. Bosco said in a statement.

This article first appeared on POLITICO Pro New York on Aug. 23, 2016.

Local Highway Drivers Bear Brunt of Road Funding Gap

Like a lot of American cities, Milwaukee has a pothole problem. A majority of its major roads are in shoddy shape, federal data show, forcing drivers to weave to avoid surprises.

All that changes once motorists hit the interstates, where just 5% or so of the pavement is in poor condition. That number could improve further if state transportation officials follow through on plans to rebuild a portion of Interstate 94 through the city, an $850 million project.

This gap between the fitness of interstate and noninterstate roads isn’t unique to Milwaukee. Across America, interstates are in far better shape than other roads, according to Department of Transportation data. The growing divide, caused in part by funding choices, leaves drivers who spend most of their time on city streets bearing the brunt of the country’s infrastructure woes.

“A lot of our roads require a complete repaving and resurfacing,” said Milwaukee Alderman Khalif Rainey, who said city potholes have already cost him two tires. “We need to see that same investment that we’re seeing in that freeway infrastructure right here on our local streets.”

Only about 2% of rural interstates and freeways and 6% of urban interstate and freeways are in poor condition, according to Department of Transportation assessments. Meanwhile, roughly 35% of noninterstate urban roads are in poor condition, up from about 24% in 1994, the data show.

The department only counts roads that receive federal aid. Those roads handle about 85% of the nation’s traffic, even though they constitute only about a quarter of the lane miles.

Politicians, including this year’s major-party presidential candidates, frequently bemoan the lack of funding devoted to infrastructure repair. But the different fates of interstates and city streets suggest a shortage of money may not be all that is ailing America’s byways.

Part of the reason urban drivers see so many potholes could also be because of funding decisions that favor interstates, said Adie Tomer, a fellow at the Brookings Institution.  “There are incentive systems in place to make sure those roads are maintained to their best quality,” he said.

State officials say there is a good reason why they lavish so much attention on their interstates. Although they make up only 2.5% of the country’s lane miles, interstates transport about a quarter of its traffic, including much of the heavy freight traffic. Speeds are higher on interstates, so the pavement needs to be in better condition to ensure a safe ride, transportation experts say. States devote about a third of their federal highway funds to interstates.

At the same time, in most of the country, states are directly responsible for maintaining interstates, whereas local officials are in charge of local roads. And while state governments often have funding streams in place to help their local counterparts pay for road repairs, there is often not enough money to keep all roads in good condition, forcing officials to set priorities.

“We have limited funding and we have to figure out how to spend that,” said Matt Hardy, planning director at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. “Maybe it’s fine to leave it in poor condition because get three cars over it a day.”

Some parts of Interstate 94 in Milwaukee date from the 1950s and weren’t designed to carry today’s loads, said Mike Pyritz, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. When residents ask why neighborhood streets continue to deteriorate even as interstate project advance, he says: “It’s not an either-or proposition. Both of them can be done.”

Transportation officials are under pressure to keep their interstates in good shape. “The interstates tend to be higher profile, so it’s a natural reaction to take care of those,” said Carlos Braceras, Utah’s transportation chief.

Federal policy encourages that trend. Washington will reimburse states for 90% of eligible interstate projects, versus 80% for projects on other roads. Likewise, federal officials are working on a rule that would require states that receive money from the largest federal highway grant program to limit the share of interstates in poor condition to only 5%.

“States prioritize their projects, and interstates are the most heavily traveled roads; they carry freight,” said Nancy Singer, a spokeswoman for the Federal Highway Administration, a branch of the Department of Transportation. “It makes sense that that’s where most of your resources would go.”

In South Carolina, Transportation Secretary Christy Hall funnels much of her state’s federal highway money, $646 million in 2015, to interstate projects in order to meet that standard. A recent independent audit found that 9% of the state’s Interstate system was in poor condition compared with 54% of other major highways in South Carolina.

“The interstates are going to be our highest priority when we look at federal funds,” she said.

Drivers see the difference.

“Most of the interstates are in better shape than the other roads,” said Tony Pope, an insurance agent in the Charleston area. “The local municipalities and the state have not had the funding in place to resurface the roads that need to be resurfaced.”

U.S. Traffic Fatalities Continued to Surge in First Half of 2016

Traffic fatalities rose 9% in the first six months of 2016, compared with a year earlier, as a stronger economy and falling gas prices encouraged Americans to spend more time behind the wheel, the National Safety Council said on Tuesday.

Traffic fatalities have been trending upward since 2014, when the price of gasoline plummeted and a strengthening economy spurred more travel. The average price at the pump has dropped more than a $1.30 per gallon, or 35%, since this time two years ago, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

States including Vermont, Oregon and New Hampshire have been particularly deadly since the upward trend started in 2014, according to preliminary estimates compiled by the NSC, an Illinois-based nonprofit that collects data from state authorities.

Deaths on the road nearly doubled in tiny Vermont, population 620,000. The state recorded an 82% increase this year compared with the first six months of 2014.

Vermont is so small that even one bad crash can send its year-over-year change skyrocketing, said Scott Davidson, chief of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. It had 57 fatal accidents in 2015, he said. “If I have a bus crash, my numbers go through the roof,” said Mr. Davidson.

In most states, Vermont included, people are simply driving more, leading to more crashes, Mr. Davidson said. “Nationally, there’s just more miles being traveled,” he said.

Oregon recorded a 70% increase and New Hampshire a 61% rise in fatalities compared with the first six months of 2014, according to the NSC.

Until recent years, traffic fatalities were on a decades-long decline, hitting a historic low in 2011. But 2015 saw the greatest percentage rise in traffic fatalities in 50 years, the NSC previously reported.

“The past year and a half has been one of the few upticks in the past 20 years,” said Troy Costales, safety division administrator at the Oregon Department of Transportation. He attributed it to speeding, drug- or alcohol-impaired driving and distraction.

“Distraction is one that we’re talking a lot about, you just get a sense that distraction is playing a part and is a compounding factor,” he said.

Nationwide, about 19,100 people, enough to fill 382 school buses, died in crashes between January and June of this year, the council said. Another 2.2 million were injured, the council said.

“While many factors likely contributed to the fatality increase, a stronger economy and lower unemployment rates are at the core of the trend,” said the council’s statement. Lower gas prices steered a 3.3% increase in the number of miles driven in the fist six months of this year, the council said.

The council estimated the total cost for crashes in the first half of 2016 at $205 billion.

“Our complacency is killing us,” Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, said in a statement. “One hundred deaths every day should outrage us.”

Corrections & Amplifications:

Traffic fatalities in Vermont, Oregon and New Hampshire are up 82%, 70% and 61% in the first half of 2016 compared with the first half of 2014. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated those increases occurred since the first half of 2015. (Aug. 23, 2016)

Freight Transport Startup Cargomatic Hits Some Bumps Along the Way

Cargomatic Inc., a technology startup seeking to upend the freight transportation industry, is going through some growing pains.

The Los Angeles-based company’s interim chief financial officer resigned last week, and its chief operating officer left last month. Meanwhile, its cash supply has dwindled, an employee familiar with the firm’s finances said. But the company is likely to receive more funding soon, its biggest investor said.

Founded in 2013, Cargomatic is one of a host of startups offering to match shippers with trucking companies via apps and websites. These “Uber for trucking” businesses aim to provide a faster, cheaper alternative to the brokers who dominate the $57 billion U.S. transportation management market, where many freight loads are still booked by phone.

Research firm Armstrong & Associates estimated in July there were 27 companies offering digital freight-matching services. They have raised more than $180 million from venture-capital firms since 2011, with over one-third of that funding coming this year alone, Armstrong said.

Cargomatic’s niche is arranging truck transportation around major U.S. ports, where thousands of independent truckers and small fleets carry freight from the docks to nearby warehouses and rail yards. The company raised $8 million in a January 2015 funding round led by venture-capital firm Canaan Partners.

But Cargomatic has struggled this year, laying off around a third of its staff in March, as the number of containers passing through U.S. ports has stagnated and the startup sought to automate more services, said Hrach Simonian, a general partner at Canaan, who sits on Cargomatic’s board.

Startups typically aim to have cash to fund at least six to nine months, analysts say. They risk running out of funds to meet payroll and other obligations if their cushion gets too low.

Cargomatic has enough cash to cover about two months of operating costs, the person familiar with their financial situation said.

Mr. Simonian said the company isn’t facing a cash crunch and that Canaan is planning to invest more money in it. “The fact that there’s two months of cash left is irrelevant,” Mr. Simonian said. “They have [an] indefinite runway…There will absolutely be a new cash infusion in the company in short order.”

The closely held Cargomatic hasn’t disclosed financial data.

In May, Cargomatic co-founder Jonathan Kessler stepped down as chief executive amid pressure from Canaan. He now serves as Cargomatic’s chief product officer. The company doesn’t currently have a chief executive.

Interim Chief Financial Officer Seth Klein resigned earlier this month, and Chief Operating Officer Sean Whiteley left in July, Mr. Simonian said. Both moves as well as Cargomatic’s cash position were originally reported by DC Velocity, a trade publication.

“I think they found out that there were other people being brought in and they saw the writing on the wall,” Mr. Simonian said. “Then they left.”

Mr. Klein and Mr. Whiteley couldn’t be reached for comment.

Richard Gerstein, who in June was named chairman of Cargomatic’s board of directors, said the company needed to “recalibrate” its management. “There’s a perception in Silicon Valley that you can just start with a blank piece of paper and you don’t need to know the rules. That might work in some industries, but not in freight transportation,” he said. “To scale this company, we need people who have knowledge of the traditional technology in manufacturing and distribution.”

Cargomatic’s problems come as freight-technology startups are drawing growing interest from investors. Transfix, a New York-based mobile app developer that connects companies looking to ship goods with truck drivers, raised $22 million in Series B funding in July, one of the largest investment rounds for a company of this type.

Some technology-focused freight companies have partnered with traditional logistics firms to grow. In June, DB Schenker, one of the world’s largest logistics companies, agreed to use Austin, Tex.-based uShip Inc.’s digital freight-booking platform in Europe.