Koch Feelin' Groovy Over Queensboro Bridge Name Change

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

(Alex Gorzen via Wikimedia Commons)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Ed Koch is getting a 1,400 foot-long present for his 86th birthday. Mayor Bloomberg is planning to propose renaming the Queensboro Bridge after the former mayor at Koch's birthday party tonight.

Koch said that he was delighted, grateful and surprised when he got Mayor Bloomberg's phone call telling him the news late Tuesday afternoon. Moreover, Koch thinks it’s a good fit.

“There are other bridges that are much more beautiful, like the George Washington or the Verrazano,” he said, “but this more suits my personality because it's a workhorse bridge. I mean, it's always busy, it ain't beautiful, but it's durable.”

Read the story over at WNYC.

Read More


BREAKING: D.C. Transportation Director Resigns

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

(Washington, D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) Just a few moments ago, Gabe Klein, the director of Washington D.C.'s Transportation Department and a strong advocate of transit and pedestrian-oriented policies, announced his resignation.

Klein was appointed to the post two years ago by Mayor Adrian Fenty, who, earlier this year, was resoundingly defeated in his reelection bid by City Council Chairman Vincent Gray. Klein and Gray had clashed earlier this year over funding for the city's urban streetcar program, so Klein's departure just a few months before the new mayor takes office is not a huge surprise.

Still, Klein enjoyed a fair amount of support for his agenda, which, along with the streetcar project, included the installation of more bike lanes on roads, beefing up the city's local short-trip bus service and, perhaps most successfully, launching a city-wide bike sharing service.

Vehicle sharing seems to be Klein's M.O. Before joining the local government in D.C., Klein was a regional vice president of Zipcar, the pioneering car-sharing company that has taken off in many urban areas.

For more on Klein's resignation, check back in with WAMU throughout the day.

Read More


So You're Thinking Of Starting An Infrastructure Bank...

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

President Barack Obama speaks about infrastructure in Virginia. (Image:Pete Souza, via Wikimedia Commons)

(Matt Dellinger - Transportation Nation)  The GOP takeover of the House has reshuffled the cards for transportation policy. Already, Republicans are floating the idea of pulling back stimulus funds for infrastructure—particularly high-speed rail—and they’ve proposed a moratorium on earmarks, a practice routinely defended by outgoing House Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN). Last week, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform proposed a 15-cent hike in the gas tax. But will a new, more conservative Congress balk? It seems likely.

But there may be one reform on which the Obama Administration and the new House regime can agree: the creation of a National Infrastructure Bank, or NIB for short.

Read More


TN Moving Stories: Miami-Dade Transit Tries To Figure Out Fed $ Freeze, and Queensboro Bridge To Be Renamed for Koch

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Why did the federal government freeze funding to Miami-Dade Transit? Bad accounting practices--or fraud? (Miami Herald)

Two major New York transportation structures are to be renamed. So: to get from lower Manhattan to Brooklyn, take the Carey Tunnel; from Manhattan to Queens, take the Koch Bridge. The former mayor is delighted by the renaming of the Queensboro. “It’s not soaring, beautiful, handsome, like the George Washington or the Verrazano,” he said. “It’s rugged, it’s hard working — and that’s me.” (New York Times)

Ford begins shipping the Transit Connect, the first all-electric commercial van. (Detroit News)

Does Toronto Mayor Ford need the approval of city council to scrap Transit City? He says no; the council says not so fast. (Toronto Star)

Fed up by the lack of live transit data from the NYC MTA? Someone put together a crowdsourcing app that live-tracks trains. (Wired)

Public transportation workers strike in Athens to protest the Greek government's austerity measures. (MarketWatch)

What transit options are on the table for Staten Islanders, who suffer some of the longest commutes in the country?  Possibly resurrecting the North Shore Rail Line. (NY1)

Read More


What Lies Beneath: Pavement Edition

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Carl Monismith, Director of the UC Pavement Research Center, and Jim Signore, the center's Assistant Director. Photo by Casey Miner.

(San Francisco–Casey Miner, KALW News) If you’re driving right now, or riding a bus, trolley, taxicab or your bike after a long day at work, your mind might be on the traffic, or what to cook for dinner (or why won’t that guy turn off his blinker already?). But have you ever thought about what’s underneath your wheels? The actual road?

It’s the kind of thing we only really notice when it’s not working (ahem, potholes), but pavement is everywhere. The U.S. has four million miles of paved roads, and close to ten percent of them are in California. And as KALW learned, "Pavements are complicated. They’re not the easiest thing in the world to build...It may look simple, but (it) really is an engineered structure."

KALW visited the U.C. Pavement Research Center to get some answers about just what goes into making what’s beneath our feet.  For instance: How do you know if you've made a good batch of pavement? "When you mix asphalt and aggregate together and come out of mixer, it looks like maggots in the garbage can. It’s an indication that the mix is pretty good."

Hear the story at KALW News.

Read More


NYC Defends Controversial PPW Bike Lane with Data

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Image: PPW Bike Lane. (NYC DOT)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) In Brooklyn, New York one bike lane in particular is serving as a flash point for debate between motorists and cyclists over how to use the streets. The attention, and conflict, has also increased incentive to quantify and measure the impact of the Prospect Park West bike lane—that's good for any of us craving data on transportation policies.

So, the New York City Department of Transportation has just issued informative findings from their research on the PPW bike lane. Not surprisingly, it supports the DOT's decision to build the lane. “The traffic volume, travel speed and bike lane usage data support this traffic calming project, and it’s clear that the public supports it too. We look forward to working with residents and local officials to make it even better,” says DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in an emailed statement.

The NYC DOT finds that weekday cycling has just about tripled and the number of people riding on the sidewalk, a hazard to pedestrians, has fallen dramatically from 46 percent to just 3 percent of cyclists. Additionally, the total number of weekday cyclists has almost tripled along the PPW route. Weekend bike ridership also more than doubled.

The addition of the bike lane included a new traffic pattern, designed in part to reduce car speeds by cutting the number of lanes from three to two along this edge of Brooklyn's iconic Prospect Park. The slowing effect seems to have worked according to DOT statistics. Before the bike lane, three out of four cars broke the speed limit. Now, the DOT reports, just one sixth of cars top 30 m.p.h.

What's especially interesting—and a little unexpected—is the impact on total usage. Commuter volume on the street has increased in both morning and afternoon rush hours. In the morning, there are both more cyclist commuters and more car commuters, though in the afternoon car commuting has dropped while bike commuting has spiked enough to compensate on the one way boulevard. Travel times along the route and nearby avenues are mixed; some nearby streets are now faster than before and some slower depending on time of day. Overall though, the DOT data show motor vehicle traffic has not been negatively affected while biking has increased dramatically.

See a power point slideshow of the full findings here.

Read More

Comments [1]

Drive Less? Pay Less

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

(San Francisco–Casey Miner, KALW News) Have a car, but don't drive it that often? Starting in February, that means you could pay less for your car insurance in California. Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced that two insurance companies, State Farm and the Automobile Club of Southern California, would offer plans that allowed drivers to report their own mileage and pay significantly lower premiums for driving less.

Approaching car insurance this way has obvious benefits--among them fewer accidents and reducing greenhouse gases. But it also gives insurers some leverage with infrequent drivers, who might be on the fence about continuing to own a car. Especially in cities like San Francisco, where car-sharing is increasingly popular (and personal car-sharing is starting up), an option like this could keep people from ditching their wheels.

Read More


Smile For London Uses Underground Art to Cheer Up Rush Hour

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Image: Westminster Tube Sign, (c) Transport for London 2005

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Video artists in London are making videos to cheer up commuters. The public art project Smile For London is collecting short films to play on Underground train platforms next month:

"From 17th January 2011, just at a time when Londoners are feeling the January blues and in need of a lift, we’ll be taking over the platform screens for two weeks on weekday mornings with a creative intermission; a programme of film, art and animation, exhibiting the best of London’s emerging and established artistic talent."

They specifically want videos that will make commuters smile, and the collection of entrants posted so far are a delightful diversion.

Video underground is novel, but not entirely new. New York City experimented with video inside subway cars earlier this year, but they did it for special sports advertising, not art. Several cities use projectors to play commercials, usually without sound. That's the technology in London, which inadvertently enabled this art project.

This open call for art comes in a medium mostly new to transit spaces. In fact Smile For London's call for submissions explicitly encourages innovation in video, asking artists "to create a twenty second silent piece of moving image with a view to pushing the boundaries of the medium," according to the website. This video seems meet that request based on the unusual lighting methods, though without the written technical explanation on the website, I wonder if commuters will appreciate the feat.

If you're feeling inspired, local London artists can submit films until December 15th. The rest of us can watch them here. My favorite, of about six randomly sampled, is this:

How snow is made from Amael Isnard on Vimeo.

Read More

Comments [1]

Slow Down App Stops Speeding with Distorted Music

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Here's an app for those of you who know you drive too fast when your favorite song comes on.

OVK Slowdown is an iPhone app that plays your tunes, but also tracks your speed and location via GPS. If you go above the speed limit, the app starts to slow down your music more and more as you speed up. If you top out over 6.2 m.p.h. (that's 10 km.p.h.) above the legal limit, the app shuts off your audio all together.

Watch the video above for a demonstration of distorted music as traffic safety incentive.

Obviously you can still speed (in silence or with the radio), but if you're willing to admit you have a lead foot and want to break the habit, a free app can't hurt?

(via Copenhagenize)

Read More


Slowest Bus in NYC Goes Slower than a Child Can Walk

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

(New York, NY -- Jim O'Grady) The M42 bus is the winner of the 9th Annual Pokey Award, given to the slowest bus in New York City. The Schleppie Award for the city’s least reliable bus goes to the Bx41.

The advocacy group Straphangers Campaign says the M42 clocked in at 3.6 miles an hour at noon on a weekday. That’s not much faster than a young person walking. The M42 is the first bus to win back-to-back Pokeys. It moves almost 13,000 riders on an average weekday along 42nd Street.

The Bx41 bus connects the North Bronx to the South Bronx. It ran bunched or with large gaps between buses almost a quarter of the time.

Straphangers spokesman Gene Russianoff wore a tuxedo and red bow tie this morning while presiding over a mock award ceremony in Midtown to present a golden snail statue to the MTA...but the MTA didn't show.

“I don’t think they would deny the basic truth," he said. "That is, buses are slow and should be made faster. They point the finger at traffic, which we do, too. But I think these days they're more hopeful that things can be done about it.”

Russianoff praised the new Bx12 Select Bus, which ran almost 25% faster than buses without a dedicated lane.

Read More


Survey: Three Quarters favor Brooklyn Bike Lane

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)

Read the full survey here.

The two-way protected bike lane along Brooklyn's Prospect Park West has drawn controversy since before it was built.  The lane was heavily favored by the local community board, which asked the NYC DOT to come up with a plan to  slow traffic along the historic Olmstead-designed park, where more than half of all drivers routinely broke the speed limit.

Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn Borough President, wrote letters, led protests, and otherwise, vocally objected to the bike lane.   The lane,  it was believed,  would inevitably cause congestion, would change the historic nature of the boulevard -- and cyclists could be perfectly well served by the a ride through the park (though only in one direction).

But the DOT installed the lane anyway, and this fall announced its results:  speeding had been reduced dramatically, and bike riding on the sidewalk -- something once done by nearly half of all cyclists -- had dwindled to almost nothing.

But unlike in other street-use battles, which tend to die down over time, after users get used to the new street design,   the normally voluble Markowitz has remained voluble, if anything stepping up his criticism.  And some residents of Prospect Park West, which borders the park have continued their loud protest.

Meantime cyclists have been equally fierce in defending the lane, extolling the safe new path to get to work or around Park Slope.

Into this roil comes City Councilmember Brad Lander, who surveyed three thousand Brooklyn residents, and found that along Prospect Park West, residents are evenly split about the lane.  But go a block away, and continue on, and there's overwhelming support:  By a margin of three to one, Park Slope residents believe in keeping the lane.

Read More

Comments [2]

TN Moving Stories: DC Metro Has Bicycle Ambitions, NJ Transit Delays Increase, and Ford To Recycle Blue Jeans

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The DC Metro wants to triple the percentage of riders who arrive by bicycle by 2020 and quintuple it by 2030. (Greater Greater Washington)  Meanwhile, WAMU explains how Metro's track circuits work--and what happens when they don't.

Does California's largest high-speed rail project suffer from the "absence of a credible financial plan"? That's a criticism in the first report released by the California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group. (San Jose Mercury News)

Things are...not great on NJ Transit's Northeast Corridor line. "Since July, the railroad's on-time percentage has been lower than the previous year's in every month except November." And this is after a 25% fare hike last May. (Wall Street Journal)

Dallas's Green Line--a 28-mile rail line--is open for business. (Dallas Morning News)

The head of a NYC taxi drivers' union is suggesting that cabbies racially profile passengers. "It's our own committing these crimes against us. It's weeding out the criminal element." (NY Post)

Starting today, Santa Rosa County (Florida) begins its first foray into public transportation--a one-year trial for a bus system aimed at helping people get to and from work more easily. (Pensacola News Journal)

The U.S. State Department agreed to the framework for an open-skies aviation deal with Brazil, a move that would liberalize one of the most restrictive international airline pacts in Latin America by October 2015. (Wall Street Journal)

Ford will use recycled blue jeans for the interior of the Focus. (Alt Transport)

Read More


A Bridge to ... London?! Historical Map with Grand Rail Plans

Monday, December 06, 2010

(St. Paul, Minnesota -- Dan Olson, MPR News) Who says people out here in Flyoverland don't dream big  transportation dreams?  Remember the contemporary kerfuffle over the bridge to nowhere?  Well, here's  a circa 1871 vision for a bridge to somewhere -- a rail line from St. Paul to the East Coast, with a bridge to London! Note the heading reads "St. Paul in the year 1900."

It's a map in the Minnesota Historical Society collection in St. Paul.  MnHS curator and map wrangler Patrick Coleman says the idea was created by the Tea Partiers of that era. Check with him for more on that.

Read More


First Fare Hikes, Now NJ Transit Users Will Pay More to Park

Monday, December 06, 2010

Over there, an empty spot.  Image by Flickr user JGNY

(New York -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) New Jersey Transit is preparing to charge more money for parking spots. The cash-strapped agency says its plan to privatize eighty-one parking lots at train stations and bus stops will raise an estimated $100 million dollars.

The agency has narrowed the field of competing companies to seven. The winning firm will be chosen in May and offered a 30 to 50 year lease. It will then control 60% of the parking spots in New Jersey Transit's system.

Prices are expected to rise at lots that already charge drivers to park and fourteen free lots covered by the plan are likely to begin collecting fees. The increases come on top of a 25% fare hike in May for New Jersey Transit train and interstate bus commuters.

Critics say the agency is sacrificing steady income for a large up-front payment. Jay Corbalis, an analyst with the public policy group New Jersey Future, said the plan is mainly designed to deliver a spike of revenue toward next year's budget.

"But that compromises future revenue for the agency," he said.

He added that privatization will lock up some parcels next to train and bus stops that  might better be developed with office buildings and stores. "It raises a number of questions about the long-term use of the lots," he said. "This land would not be available for 30 to 50 years for transit-oriented development."

NJ Transit says a private operator will upgrade the lots and bring consistency to a  system that is operated by a combination of municipal, private and New Jersey Transit operators.

Read More


A Plan for Reliable Transportation For Poor Montanans

Monday, December 06, 2010

(Billings, MT – Jackie Yamanaka, YPR) – The provider of public health services for Montana’s largest community is moving most of its services to one campus. A lack of reliable transportation has hindered access to some programs spread across Billings.

Riverstone Health oversees the community health center that provides primary care to the uninsured or underserved in Billings. Many clients are low-income. The organization, formerly known as the Yellowstone City-County Health Department, is currently undergoing an expansion and renovation of its campus.

John Felton, Riverstone’s vice president of operations says the maternal health program -- Women, Infants, and Children -- will be moved to the community health center as part of renovation. “For one of us to get in the car and go a couple of miles is not a big deal if we have reliable transportation,” he says.

But for many of the center’s patients who would benefit from WIC, it is a burden to go to another location for services, he says, especially because it’s not along a bus route.

“When this project is complete, rather than getting in a car or finding a ride people will literally walk upstairs and they’ll be at the WIC program,” Felton says. He notes that Riverstone Health is located on Billings’ Southside in part because the U.S. Census has identified this area as lower-income.

“And one of the hallmarks of being low income,” he says, “is not having access to reliable transportation. So we’re on a bus line here and many of our patients walk.”

Read More


New Transit Lines Open Today in Dallas, Rhode Island

Monday, December 06, 2010

[UPDATED 12/7/2010 explaining Rhode Island service addition more accurately]

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation).   Two new transit lines launched today. Dallas Area Rapid Transit opened its electric light rail Green Line. And in Warwick, Rhode Island,  new rail service kicked off connecting the local airport with the regional commuter rail line to Providence and Boston allowing for more transit commuting options.

The Dallas Morning News calls Dallas' 28-mile Green Line a "new era" as the DART rail system adds 15 new stations and grows from 48 to 72 rail miles (the Green Line shares track for four miles with another line).  The cities of Farmer's Branch and Carrollton are now connected with downtown, the Baylor University Medical Center, Victory Park and the Pleasant Grove area of south Dallas.

Along with those extra rail miles, DART adds: 18 new high capacity light rail vehicles, 38 redesigned rail cars, 2,700 parking spaces, and 10 park-and-ride lots. DART estimates that its light rail lines are responsible for about $7 billion in current and projected transit-oriented development.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood enthusiastically touts on his blog that the $1.8 billion project, including $700 million in Federal money, was completed on budget and ahead of schedule, six months ahead of schedule by some counts.

See the new route on this special Green Line centric DART map, or watch the video above to actually see the view from the front of a test train run. It almost looks fake as the train passes pristine empty stations again and again.

The new rail line in Rhode Island, is far more modest, but also Green. The new service connects the T.F. Green International airport and its surrounding area to Warwick, RI, in the process making possible rail commuting to Providence and Boston. The six trains each weekday will connect to Amtrak regional rail in those cities. This, in theory, offers an alternative to a ride up Interstate 95 for some commuters south of Providence. They can now park at the new station and commute by rail from to Providence, or if they want, connect on to Boston.

As Jef, in comments section correctly points out, this opens the door to reverse commuting to the Warwick area and thus potential transit oriented development in the airport area.

Read More

Comments [2]

VA Governor McDonnell Makes Good On Promise To Accelerate Highway Spending

Monday, December 06, 2010

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell

(Washington, D.C. -- David Schultz, WAMU) We told you earlier about Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's discovery of $1.5 billion dollars in unspent transportation funding. McDonnell, a Republican, found the money through a comprehensive audit of the state's Department of Transportation that he ordered immediately after succeeding Virginia's previous governor, Democrat Tim Kaine.

Now, the Governor is delivering on his pledge to get that $1.5 billion out the door as quickly as possible. Earlier today, he announced that almost three quarters of that newly-discovered funding would be advertised immediately -- meaning contractors can start bidding on it today. Excerpts from McDonnell's announcement are posted below.

But first -- in the interest of balance -- a caveat about that funding: Virginia Democrats say McDonnell didn't really discover any new funding and, in actuality, is drawing down the Transportation Department's cash reserves, which will make the state less able to respond to a natural disaster in the future.

Anyway, here's that announcement:

Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will advertise an estimated $1.1 billion in construction and maintenance projects during the first six months of Fiscal Year 2011. The estimated economic impact of this work is 33,900 jobs created or supported, as well as $2.83 billion in economic activity and $282.5 million in taxes that come back to the Commonwealth.


According to studies published by the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, every $100 million spent on highway construction and maintenance projects adds 3,000 jobs created or supported, $250 million in economic activity and $25 million in taxes that go back to Virginia coffers.

McDonnell directed VDOT to more quickly initiate transportation improvements. A recent independent audit of the agency criticized its ability to move projects through the pipeline. VDOT and members of the McDonnell administration have been developing new business practices that speed the investment of transportation funding.

Read More


Do Bad Past Debt Decisions Make Voters Weary of Transit Investments?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Wonder why voters seem to be coming down against big transit projects like the ARC? Over at "It's a Free Country," our colleague Bob Hennelly tallies up what local governments have spent on big projects like stadiums and shopping malls.

Much of the state and local debt can be traced to the proliferation of so-called "special district" governments like your local "economic development” or “incinerator authority.”

These entities can be used to build critical transportation and water projects or to finance higher education.  But they also can provide the grease for the "private-public" partnerships  that builds sports stadiums and shopping malls for the politically connected.

In 1952, there were just 12,340 of them. By the start of the 21st century there were 35,359 of them. Eleven states each now have over one thousand such publicly-funded independent authorities.  Not surprisingly, Illinois tops the list with 3,145, followed by California with 2,830 and Texas with 2,245. Pennsylvania has 1,885 and New York has spawned 1,135.

Full story here. -- TN

Read More


TN Moving Stories: All Aboard The European Road Train, A Possible Stay of Execution for LI Bus, and Santa Rides Chicago's L Train

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Washington Post's Dr. Gridlock ponders: is the federal transit benefit good transportation policy?

Port Authority looks to recommit ARC money, dusts off repair wish list. (Wall Street Journal)

"Road Trains" --known as the European Union’s Safe Road Trains for the Environment (or EU SARTRE--you can't make this stuff up)-- move closer to reality in Europe. (Wired)

Traffic fatalities are down in DC. But: "Just because there are fewer deaths doesn't meant that there are fewer accidents and injuries. Further, the fatalities MPD reports are just pedestrians, they don't take bicyclists into account." (DCist)

The Virginia Department of Transportation has wrapped up the installation of 70 mph speed limit signs on various rural sections of interstate. (Land Line Magazine)

If your NYC Metrocard is damaged or expired, chances are a token booth clerk can't help. (NY Daily News)

Bike lane editorials in the New York Daily News: First, Transportation Alternative's Paul Steely White sings their praises, but the editorial board wants Janette Sadik-Khan to prove the lanes' worth.

In Lyon, cyclists travel faster than cars during rush hour. And, interestingly, they ride faster on Wednesdays than the rest of the week. (Alt Transport)

Will the Long Island Bus be saved? New York's MTA has told Nassau County that it will conditionally keep operating the Long Island Bus through next year even if Nassau can't immediately fulfill its obligation to fund the system. (Newsday)

In Chicago, Santa rides the L train. "Santa and his reindeer can be found on a flat car in the middle." (Chicago Tribune)


Read More


Jim Oberstar, Exit Interview after 17 Terms with House Transportation Committee

Friday, December 03, 2010

Rep. James Oberstar (Dem-Minn.) is about to leave the House after serving 17 terms representing the 8th Congressional District of Minnesota. He's spent 15 years as the senior Democrat  on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, with two terms as chairman. Oberstar has presided over or participated in some of the biggest highway and transportation bills in recent memory. But his vision for a transformative, nearly $500 billion surface transportation authorization bill was dashed when Congress couldn't agree on how to fund the ambitious bill earlier this year. Transportation Nation Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich sat down with Oberstar in his Capitol Hill office to talk about the Congress and the future of transportation funding in an age of budget austerity.

"In the stimulus, the $34 billion we were allocated for highway and transit resulted in resurfacing and rebuilding 35,411 lane-miles of highway nationwide. That’s equal to ¾ of the entire state highway program. Yet that represents 4 percent of the state of good repair needs of our national highway system. Four percent!"

Listen here:



Todd Zwillich: Congressman James Oberstar of Minnesota. Thanks for being with us.

Rep. James Oberstar: My privilege and pleasure to be on the program with you.

TZ: I wanted to start with some transportation issues, of course since you have had your tenure as Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. You tried to achieve an ambitious surface transportation bill. It did not come to pass. … left undone, what do you think is the most critical transportation issue facing this country?

JO: A long term authorization for the surface transportation programs of the nation: highway, bridge, transit, highway safety. And the livability issues that have become such a centerpiece for transportation over the past dozen plus years, since the end of the interstate era and the beginning of a new era for transportation. Livability is foremost in people’s minds. Passing a long-term, six year authorization would give stability to the states, to the contractor community, to building trades, labor, to the transit sector, it will result in—if we pass the $450 billion bill—six million construction jobs over the next six years. It will give states the ability to bring our existing portfolio of highway projects up to a state of good repair and go beyond with major rebuild projects such as the Brent-Spence bridge between Ohio and Kentucky, which carries 3 percent of the GDP of the nation. It would allow Oregon to complete its work on a whole stretch of bridges that were sub-standard on Interstate 5 on the West Coast.

"This is the transportation bill of the future that we need. A funding mechanism for it is essential, that’s where it foundered. President Obama said that he could not support an increase in the user fee, the gas tax, which three Republican presidents have supported: Eisenhower, President Reagan, and President George Bush the first."

There are many other instances I can provide of major rebuild projects that are long term, create stability in the construction sector, but add to our GNP and ability to move goods and people more efficiently. This is the transportation bill of the future that we need. A funding mechanism for it is essential, that’s where it foundered. President Obama said that he could not support an increase in the user fee, the gas tax, which three Republican presidents have supported: Eisenhower, President Reagan, and President George Bush the first.

But the reluctance to

Read More

Comments [3]