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Moving Stories: Roads Deadlier than AIDS; 100 Tons of Diesel in the Nile; "stylish, female bikers"

Monday, September 13, 2010

More children killed on roads in poorest nations than by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria (Guardian)

100 tons of diesel spill into Nile as barge sinks (CNN)

First hot lanes to open on I-680 in Bay Area (SF Chronicle)

"Stylish, female riders leading the charge" for biking in cities (Daily Beast)

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Montreal: City of the Future?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) I was in Montreal recently, on a family vacation. Upon arriving, I was immediately overwhelmed -- by the number of bikers. Everyone, it seemed, was riding -- families with children, young people, people in fancy suits, kids in school uniforms, hot rods in spandex. Cyclists on fancy machines with aerodynamics helmets, and hordes on the sturdy, gray-and-black Bixi bike share bikes. The two-way protected bike lanes which fill the town were full to the brim, especially around the evening commute, which is when I arrived.

Now, Montreal's outside life is a seasonal thing. The Bixi bikes are stored inside for the harsh winters, and traffic regs for bikes go out of effect November 16-March 31. But for the summers at least, Montreal seems to have achieved what many U.S. cities are after -- a division of the streets that discourages the use of personal automobiles, where cyclists are relatively safe and motorists aren't confused by looming, lawbreaking cyclists.

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Houston to Get Bike Share

Friday, September 10, 2010

(Houston -- Wendy Siegle, KUHF) The City of Houston will launch a bike share program "early next year" city Sustainability Director Laura Spanjian tells KUHF. The city was awarded $423,000 by the federal EPA to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. The city will also use the grant to increase its electric car infrastructure. The full story, here.

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The Near Death of Reagan National Airport After 9/11

Friday, September 10, 2010

(Washington, DC - David Schultz, WAMU News) This week on WAMU, we aired a story about the closure of Reagan National Airport after the 9/11 attacks.

Some background: all U.S. airports shut down the day of the attacks. All but one reopened a few days later. That one was Washington D.C.'s Reagan National, which stayed closed for three more weeks.

In the terrifying days and weeks following 9/11, it didn't require much of a leap to imagine Reagan National - located just a few miles from the Capitol and the White House - being used as a launching pad for terrorism. So the Bush Administration, acting at the behest of the Secret Service, shut it down indefinitely.

For the details on what happened next,

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Redskins in First Place, For Once

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fans of the Washington Redskins already know they're stuck with one of the worst teams in the NFL. But the worst traffic?  Afraid so, at least according to a report out by TomTom, a portable GPS and car navigation company.

The survey says that traffic on the roads around FedEx field, where the Redskins play in Landover, Md., slows down an average of 57% on game days compared to the rest of the week. That's the worst game-day congestion of anywhere in the National Football League. The next worst traffic is a 55% percent slowdown at the New England Patriots' Foxboro Stadium and the Buffalo Bills' Ralph Wilson Stadium.

USAToday first reported on the survey in its Huddle blog.  In case you're wondering, Superbowl champions the New Orleans Saints rank 12th worst in the traffic rankings with a an average 29% slowdown on game day. And the best in the league? Oakland, Calif., where traffic on game day is actually 10% faster than during the rest of the week. -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation

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Moving Stories: Pilots get more rest; NYPD quotas caught on tape; Metro a Texas campaign issue

Friday, September 10, 2010

FAA will propose new rules on how long pilots can fly without rest (Dallas Morning News)

Secret tape has NYPD pressing parking ticket quotas (NY Times)

Houston federal transit funding problems become issue in the governor's race (Houston Chronicle)

Former employee from Golden Gate Bridge, arrested on suspicion of embezzling about $98,000 (SF Chronicle)

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FTA: Houston's Metro Broke Federal Laws

Thursday, September 09, 2010

(Houston, TX – Wendy Siegle - KUHF)  It’s been four months since the Federal Transit Administration launched its investigation into METRO's procurement practices. The results of the inquiry are in, and it doesn’t look good for the Houston transit agency. FTA officials say METRO violated both federal purchasing laws and Buy America requirements when it handed over two light rail contracts to a Spanish rail car vendor. FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff called METRO’s purchasing process “alarming and disturbing” in letter he delivered in person to Houston Mayor Annise Parker and METRO officials.

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The second stimulus, I-69, and the battle for local control

Thursday, September 09, 2010

(Matt Dellinger, Transportation Nation)  Along with the proposal to jump-start a six-year transportation authorization with $50 Billion in funding, President Obama on Monday also suggested changes in the way such federal dollars are spent. His Administration's promotion of a National Infrastructure Bank and other reforms are early, tentative steps towards what could be a major reworking of the way we decide which projects to construct.

But deciding how to decide won't be easy. Anyone looking for an object lesson in the difficult issues ahead would do well to study the Interstate 69 controversy in Bloomington, Indiana, where the state and the city have locked horns over the biggest highway project in years.

At Eastern Greene Middle School in southern Indiana, citizens peruse maps of the state's route for Interstate 69

The proposed 1400-mile extension of Interstate 69 into a Canada-to Mexico "NAFTA" highway has been on the books for twenty years. It was one of the high-priority corridors designated in the 1991 transportation reauthorization—a notable exception in a bill that was otherwise hyped as the beginning of post-interstate multimodalism and increased local control over planning.

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Moving Stories: Highway deaths lowest since 1950; liquor sales = roads in VA?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Highway deaths fall to lowest level since 1950.  Economy (and less traffic) may have played a role. (AP)

LaHood again pushing for U.S.-built trains on visit to Seattle (Seattle Times)

California agency approves $20 million in state funds for embattled BART link to Oakland Airport (SF Chronicle)

Plan to privatize liquor sales in order to pay for transit facing questions in Virginia (Washington Post)

U.S. DOT likely to reject joint venture between Delta and Virgin for flights to Australia and New Zealand (AP)

Upper Manhattan state senator candidates voice support for congestion pricing, not tolls (Streetsblog)

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Obama Plan Could Help Dems. But Not the Way You Think.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

(Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Did President Obama do his party a political favor by proposing $50 billion in new transportation infrastructure spending to a budget-weary nation right before the November midterms? Was his labor day infrastructure plan an effort to allow struggling Democrats to distance themselves?

At least one vulnerable Democrat under fire for supporting the president’s first $787 billion stimulus plan now says he’s not on board for any more. And just like that, Sen. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) has put a little distance between himself and a White House sagging in the polls.

“I will not support additional spending in a second stimulus package. Any new transportation initiatives can be funded through the Recovery Act, which still contains unused funds,” Bennett said in a statement released Wednesday.

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Label Debate: Letters vs. Numbers

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Another start to another school year, another debate about grading systems. So it's a good time for Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to unveil proposed changes to fuel economy labels.

The current label --which hasn't received a major overhaul for decades-- lists estimated miles per gallon for city and highway driving, the estimated annual fuel cost, and how the vehicle's fuel economy compares to other vehicles. What the government says it lacks is a way to take new technology into account. So the United States Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency have jointly announced plans to revamp the label, which would theoretically be displayed on new cars beginning in 2012.

The agencies have laid out two options, and they're taking public comment on them (click through to see labels)

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So, you're going to a party and you're going to have a few beers....

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) The NYC DOT wants you to designate a driver by calling him, or presumably her... um "You The Man." The city "You the Man" app will allow drunk New Yorkers to find the nearest car service in any of the city's five boroughs. Presumably, you can use it even if you don't have a car, but just happen to be out and about, needing a ride home.

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Moving Stories: Obama's plans may have to wait; transit strikes boost bike-sharing; Virginia DMV changes rules for immigrants

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Obama transportation plan likely to have to wait (Washington Post)

NTSB again asking for seats, restraints for airline passengers under two (AP)

Tube services resume in London after 24-hour strike (BBC News)

Bike share gets a boost from transit strikes in London, Paris (WSJ)

Police put GPS on criminal's car without a warrant in Virginia (WAMU News)

London forced to use gas-guzzling vans to re-distribute bike share (BBC News)

Virginia DMV no longer accepting a federal document as proof of residence for immigrants (WAMU News)

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Democrats Say Obama Transpo Plan a Surprise

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

(Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Presidents Barack Obama's proposal Monday for $50 billion in new spending on highway and railroad infrastructure has players on Capitol Hill scratching their heads while at the same time predicting the money likely wont pass Congress this year.

Aides to key lawmakers in both the House and Senate said they knew little of Obama's proposal prior to his announcement Monday in front of a labor union audience in Much of what Capitol Hill knows of the White House's actual intentions it has learned from the press, several said.

"We didn't know Obama was going to make the announcement until Sunday and we didn't get any details until yesterday," one House Democratic aide told Transportation Nation. "There are a lot of questions here, a lot of gaps, as to how this is going to work, the aide said.

Obama proposed $50 billion in new spending for new railroads construction, highway installation and maintenance, and other infrastructure improvements. The president billed it as a way to further stimulate job growth, which continues to flag less than two months before the mid-term elections.

The White House has proposed funding the infrastructure bank through increased taxes on oil companies. While such a move could be popular with the public, no one on Capitol Hill who spoke to Transportation Nation was clear on how long the program would last, whether such tax increases would continue beyond a couple of years, or whether the proposed program would temporarily replace a renewal of the national transportation reauthorization bill.

That bill has stalled in Congress as lawmakers struggle to find money to pay for it. The Highway Trust fund used to fund the bill stands as much as $150 billion short of what it would need to pay for proposed infrastructure projects in the bill. The White House has rejected the idea of raising the federal gas tax to make up the gap, and lawmakers have so far failed to agree on an alternative.

Aides on both sides of the Capitol are already skeptical that Senate Republicans would give Barack Obama a legislative victory by allowing the plan to pass before the November elections.

"The White House has chosen to double-down on more of the same failed 'stimulus' spending," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), said in a statement.

But Democrats aren't exactly predicting success. "I'd be surprised if we passed the infrastructure part of the plan" one Senate Leadership aide said. House and Senate aides both said they expect to be briefed on the plans details by White House or the Department of Transportation in the coming days.

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Bike to the Theater

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) How should you get to Broadway? Drive? Cab? Train? In New York City, Transportation Alternatives wants you to bike, and to make it easier, they'll be setting up a "bike valet" on Thursday-Saturday nights through September. Of course, you'll have to stow your helmet under your seat.

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Moving Stories: European Transit Unions Strike, and All Aboard the Quiet Car

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Is this the first of the UK's "austerity strikes?"  London Underground workers begin a series of 24-hour strikes.   (Marketplace).  Meanwhile, across the channel, French transit employees are also striking.  (NPR)

Shhhh:  NJ Transit launches "quiet car" pilot program.  Put down the cell phones, commuters.  (Star Ledger)

New York's construction industry likes the president's $50 billion infrastructure plan.  Republicans, not so much.  (WNYC)

The Federal Aviation Administration is mulling over the National Transportation Safety Board's request to require children under two years old to have their own seats.  (AP)

Camden Yards fans aren't riding the rails to get to the stadium -- which isn't helping Baltimore achieve its light rail passenger goals.   (WTOP)

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$50 Billion More for Infrastructure? Just the Facts (The White House version)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

September 6, 2010

President Obama to Announce Plan to Renew and Expand America’s Roads, Railways and Runways

Infrastructure investments one key way to continue recovery and keep our economy growing


WASHINGTON – Today in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, President Barack Obama will announce a comprehensive infrastructure plan to expand and renew our nation’s roads, railways and runways.

This proposal is among a set of targeted initiatives that the President will outline in Cleveland on Wednesday to support our economic recovery and ensure long-term sustainable growth.  The plan builds upon the infrastructure investments the President has already made through the Recovery Act, includes principles the President put forth during the campaign, and emphasizes American competitiveness and innovation.

A fact sheet on the President’s plan announced today is below.

FACT SHEET: Renewing and Expanding America’s Roads, Railways, and Runways

The President today laid out a bold vision for renewing and expanding our transportation infrastructure – in a plan that combines a long-term vision for the future with new investments. A significant portion of the new investments would be front-loaded in the first year.

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Obama: Infrastructure, Transportation Equals Jobs

Monday, September 06, 2010

(Marketplace) We mark this holiday by noting that there are millions of people in this country who wish they were laboring. We have the highest unemployment rate for a Labor Day in almost 30 years. Labor Day 1982 saw a 10.1% jobless rate. Today, it's 9.6%.

President Obama was in Milwaukee today -- endorsing another $50 billion in government infrastructure projects.  It will all be paid for by ending a tax break for oil and gas companies, he said.  More from Marketplace's John Dimsdale.

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Care to Watch Them Suffer in Traffic?

Monday, September 06, 2010

Travelers sit in traffic on Interstate 90 in Chicago Friday, as they hit the road for the start of the Labor Day weekend. AAA auto club projected a nearly 10 percent increase in the number of Americans traveling this Labor Day holiday over the 2009 holiday.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

We'll know the numbers shortly, but the projections are heavy: 35 million people -- about one in 10 Americans -- taking a trip at least 50 miles this weekend.  It's a massive movement that puts transportation and infrastructure so powerfully on our minds that the president is addressing it today, promising $50 billion in spending on roads and rails.

So how does the system cope with all this?  We figured it could be a fun, webby waste of time as you surf around this holiday.  Just as the East Coast fixed on watching Hurricane Earl roll in on Friday, check in on the Chicago commuters, crammed in on Friday (above).  Are they suffering, now, in bumper-to-bumper?  How many miles of red is there on the Seattle map, as ferries dump to highways and buses and the mighty I-5 carries drivers home?  How is the weekend of Amtrak cancellations along the East Coast playing out with the trip home today?

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Moving Stories: Obama has $50B road, rail plan; Traffic better on road to Beijing; whither Broadway

Monday, September 06, 2010

Obama unveils $50 billion road, rail plan today in Milwaukee (Politico)

Upbeat Chinese news agency reports massive traffic jam eased (Xinhua)

How would you re-design a crosswalk?  (Good)

Virginia facing fallout from DMV computer crash, which affected records for 40,000 (WAMU News)

Toyota Prius top-selling car in Japan for August (AP)

Broadway's journey from "grand avenue ... to narrow passageway" under Bloomberg (NY Times)

Tony Daniels quits as Program Director of  California High Speed Rail.  Replaced by former FRA employee. (Examiner)

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