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Kate Hinds

Kate Hinds appears in the following:

TN Moving Stories: St. Paul Residents Welcome Light Rail -- Not Gentrification; BART's Cloth Seats A Comfy Perch for Bacteria

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Neighborhood residents hope that the Central Corridor light rail line will improve St. Paul -- without bringing any of the downsides of gentrification. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

What can developing countries teach the US about buses? Three words: bus rapid transit. (Reuters via NYT)

BART commuters may choose to stand instead of sit: "High concentrations of at least nine bacteria strains and several types of mold were found on the seat. Even after Franklin cleaned the cushion with an alcohol wipe, potentially harmful bacteria were found growing in the fabric." (Bay Citizen)

Consequences of the "tarmac rule"? An analysis of federal Department of Transportation figures reveal airlines are canceling more flights, presumably to avoid idling on the tarmac and exposing themselves to the whopping fines. In fact, the cancellation rate at the nation’s major airports surged 24 percent during the eight months after the rule went into effect. (Star-Ledger)

Michelangelo's "David" may be at risk because of the vibrations caused by the construction of high-speed rail line beneath Florence. (Telegraph)

4,600 City of New York employees owe $1.6 million in parking tickets. (NY Post)

The average price of gas in the US is now up to $3.51 a gallon -- a 33 cent increase in two weeks (NPR), leading the White House to consider tapping the strategic oil reserves.

The New York Times profiles city transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Top Transportation Nation stories we're covering: Florida Governor Scott killed high-speed rail again -- and then announced he wanted to deep-dredge Miami's port.

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Florida Moves On From High-Speed Rail -- and Onto Panamax Ships

Friday, March 04, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) UPDATED WITH SENATOR SCHUMER'S COMMENTS

Just minutes after issuing a statement that he was passing on $2.4 billion in federal funds for high-speed rail, Florida governor Rick Scott announced that he told the state Department of Transportation to spend $77 million to deep dredge Miami's port.

“This is the type of infrastructure project that will pay permanent, long-term dividends, and provide a solid return on investment for Florida’s taxpayers,” Scott said in a statement, adding: "There are a number of worthy infrastructure projects that deserve our attention, and as Floridians, we know best where our resources should be focused.”

In his statement, Scott said the dredging project would create 30,000 jobs.  Rail advocates had said that building the Tampa-to-Orlando high-speed rail link would create 24,000 jobs.

Scott had been telegraphing his position for weeks, most recently in a conversation with Transportation Nation Wednesday, when he said "I want to focus on the places where we have a long-term impact, not just construction of high speed rail. Things like our ports, our highways, the infrastructure, that’s what I want to focus on. We’ve got a great position, Florida has, with the expansion of the Panama Canal and the expansion of the economies of Central and South America."

The Panama Canal is currently being widened. When that work is completed in 2014, it's expected that the enormous "post-Panamax" ships will become the norm, and ports across the United States are scrambling to accommodate them.

Although Florida State Senator Paula Dockery sarcastically tweeted her congratulations to California and New York, it's not clear yet where the US Department of Transportation will reallocate the money it had set aside for Florida's high-speed rail program. New York Senator Charles Schumer moved quickly to reemphasize his interest in the funds.  "Florida’s loss should be New York’s gain," he said today in a written statement. "Other states may not realize the potential of high-speed rail, but rail is a top priority for upstate New York. We can put these funds to use in a way that gets the best bang for the buck. The administration should redirect these funds to New York as quickly as possible.”

Plan for high-speed rail in the US as of 10/2010

Meanwhile, Congressman John Mica, who is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was more diplomatic than his colleague Dockery.  “While I am disappointed that a plan to transfer the project to local governments and allow the private sector to at least offer proposals was not possible," he said in an emailed statement. " I respect Governor Scott’s decision and will continue to work with him and others to find cost-effective alternatives that keep Florida and our nation moving forward with 21st century transportation and infrastructure systems.”

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BREAKING: No High-Speed Rail For Florida -- Scott Tells DOT No, and the Court Upholds His Authority To Do So

Friday, March 04, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Florida Governor Rick Scott told US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood this morning he would not move forward with high-speed rail. And his decision was backed up by the Florida Supreme Court, which upheld his authority to reject the $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funds for the project.

A DOT official said there are no more deadlines and that money will now leave Florida. “The U.S. Department of Transportation now plans to evaluate our options for making this $2.4 billion available to states eager to develop high-speed rail corridors, where the business case is strong, in regions across the United States.”

Earlier this morning the justices rejected a lawsuit brought by two state senators that challenged the governor's refusal to accept $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funds for the project.  The court's decision is below.

Meanwhile, Scott's spokesman, Brian Burgess, released the following statement:

"The Governor is gratified that the court provided a clear and unanimous decision, he is now focused on moving forward with infrastructure projects that create long-term jobs and turn Florida’s economy around.  He also spoke with US DOT Secretary LaHood this morning and informed him that Florida will focus on other infrastructure projects and will not move forward with any federal high speed rail plan."

And Ray LaHood's statement reaffirmed that the president's high-speed rail program would move forward. “The Obama Administration’s bold high-speed rail plan will not only create jobs and reinvigorate our manufacturing sector in the near term, it is a crucial and strategic investment in America’s future prosperity. I know that states across America are enthusiastic about receiving additional support to help bring America’s high-speed rail network to life and deliver all its economic benefits to their citizens.”

Filed_03-04-2011_Ruling

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TN Moving Stories: Housing Near Public Transport More Energy Efficient, Mexican Trucks Coming to US Roads, and NY Bike Registration Legislation Withdrawn

Friday, March 04, 2011

An EPA report says housing near public transportation uses less energy than homes in the suburbs, even Energy Star-rated ones. (USA Today)

Politifact fact-checks Florida's high-speed rail debate.

Queens Assemblyman Michael DenDekker is withdrawing his proposed legislation requiring bicycles to be registered. (NY Daily News)

The Bicing story: the video below shows the impact that Barcelona's bike share program has made on city streets.

NJ Governor Chris Christie says: "I’m ready to invest in mass transit between New Jersey and New York--I’m just not willing to be fleeced for it" -- and adds that two recent ideas for a trans-Hudson tunnel - extending the #7 and the "Gateway" tunnel - are better projects for the state than the ARC tunnel was. (Star-Ledger)

President Obama and Mexican President Calderon have agreed to let Mexican trucks on US highways (Marketplace).  What does that mean for American truckers? (The Takeaway)

The NY Daily News wants NYC DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan to stick to dedicated bus lanes -- and only dedicated bus lanes -- on 34th Street.

Lose something in a NYC taxi? There's an app for that! (NY1)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and Florida Governor Rick Scott are scheduled to talk about high-speed rail this morning. The NYC DOT's 34th Street redesign will itself be redesigned.  The DC chapter of the ACLU wants people who have had their bags searched on the Metro to come forward and help them sue WMATA. And the House voted to extend the nation's surface transportation law.

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11th Hour for Florida High-Speed Rail: Look What's On Gov. Scott's Schedule Tomorrow

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Florida's planned high-speed rail route

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Tomorrow is the deadline for Florida to either move forward with high-speed rail -- or forfeit its $2.4 billion in federal funds. Governor Scott has twice rejected the Department of Transportation's money -- but is he poised to change his mind? Look what's on his schedule tomorrow:

9:00am-9:15am MEETING WITH SECRETARY RAY LAHOOD (VIA PHONE)

Stay tuned.

In the meantime, let's review the timeline:

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Florida Mayors to Rick Scott: We May Never Have This HSR Opportunity Again, Please Reconsider

Thursday, March 03, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) With just hours to go before oral arguments begin in Florida's high-speed rail lawsuit -- and one day before the Department of Transportation-imposed deadline for the state to accept the $2.4 billion in federal money or lose it -- the mayors of Orlando, Tampa and Lakeland jointly sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott they say addresses his concerns about the state's liability.

Scott has been resolute in his belief that the state's taxpayers would be on the hook if the project goes bust. The Mayors' letter argues that the state is protected and that the "USDOT has unambiguously waived its standard repayment obligation."

The letter concludes: "We may never have the opportunity again in Florida to build a project of this scale, impact, and significance with 90% federal funding.  We have had every reasonable indication that the balance of construction costs and operating costs will be funded by the private sector.  This provides a remarkable combination of resources for a project promising so many benefits to our region and our State. It is our sincere belief that this letter fully addresses all of your concerns and that there is no reasonable risk to the State of Florida or any other impediment to moving forward with this worthwhile project."

We've reached out to the governor's office for his reaction and will update if we hear anything.

Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court will be hearing arguments in the case today at 3pm; there will be a live video stream here.

You can read the letter the mayors sent the governor here (pdf) or below.

Letter to Gov Scott HSR 03-02-11 v6

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TN Moving Stories: FL HSR Arguments Today, and Ford Talks Connected Cars

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The DOT is open to tolling existing highways. (Dallas Morning News)

Oral arguments in the Florida high-speed rail lawsuit begin today at 3pm. You can read the legal arguments here; WFSU TV will be carrying the proceedings live. Lawsuit coverage here, here and here.

New York City has abandoned a plan for a pedestrian plaza in the middle of 34th Street. (AP via WSJ)

Allegiant Air has asked the DOT if it can change ticket prices based on the cost of fuel -- right up until the time of departure. (Business Week)

The head of Ford Motor Co. talks about the future of gridlock and connected cars at a TED conference. (CNN)

Wisconsin Republicans are looking at yanking the parking spaces of their Democratic counterparts to compel them to return to the capitol. (Bloomberg)

Bill Bradley and Tom Ridge call for more transpo spending in Politico. "...with an almost 20 percent cut in the transportation budget, the House Continuing Resolution goes a bridge too far. We need to invest more in infrastructure. Less is the wrong way to go."

Bombadier Aerospace wants to make fully recyclable airplanes. (Smart Planet)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: Long Island Bus may lose half its lines. The House voted to extend the Surface Transportation Act. Florida Governor Rick Scott tells TN he's still not interested in the high-speed rail funds--and that he has no meetings scheduled with the DOT before Friday's deadline. Meanwhile, the US experienced its third largest year in traffic.

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Rick Scott Not Wavering on Rejection of High-Speed Rail, Says No Meetings with US DOT Before Deadline

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Donald Trump and Florida Governor Rick Scott at a New York City event to promote the state's tourism industry (photo by Kate Hinds)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)  Florida Governor Rick Scott isn't wavering in his rejection of high-speed rail funds.  And he says he has no meetings scheduled with the US DOT to discuss the issue -- despite the fact that Friday is the deadline for Scott to turn over authority for Florida high-speed rail to another entity.  If he doesn't the funds will revert to the U.S. DOT.

Scott was in New York City today as part of a multi-city tour promoting Florida's tourist industry. Transportation Nation grabbed him for a few minutes afterwards; transcript below.

Q: You talk about jobs. Senator Nelson says high speed rail will bring 24,000 jobs to Florida – how can you turn it down?

Rick Scott: Well, my concern is I want to focus on the places where we have a long-term impact, not just construction of high speed rail. Things like our ports, our highways, the infrastructure, that’s what I want to focus on. We’ve got a great position, Florida has, with the expansion of the Panama Canal and the expansion of the economies of Central and South America. My concern about the high-speed rail is it’s a large number-- $2.4 billion-- however it doesn’t cover all the operating costs, it doesn’t cover the construction costs, and, if it doesn’t work, and we have to shut it down, we have to give all that money back. That’s what I’m worried about.

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TN Moving Stories: As Gas Prices Rise, So Does Public Transit Ridership, and See Google's Street View Trike

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Los Angeles says that higher gas prices are pushing more people onto that city's public transit (KABC-TV). Raleigh is experiencing the same ridership spike (News & Observer).

Meanwhile, LA's City Council approved a bicycle master plan that sets a long-term goal of some 1,680 miles of interconnected bikeways and calls for 200 miles of the new bike paths to be added every five years. (AP via Silicon Valley Mercury News)

Georgia may tweak its gas tax so that the rate rises with inflation--and be pegged to the cost of road construction. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Say hello to Google's street view trike, which can boldly go where no car can:

New York's $370 million subway communications network is years late and $76 million over budget. (NY Daily News)

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood wants your questions; he'll supply video answers. (FastLane blog)

D.C. Council member and former mayor Marion Barry has racked up so many parking tickets that his car has been booted. (Washington Post)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: Two Florida senators filed a lawsuit to force Governor Rick Scott to accept the feds' high-speed rail money. The Governor was not amused. Metro-North's beleaguered New Haven line will have full service restored -- and gets some new cars to boot.  We take a look at a California court decision on transportation equity. And: where should the seed money to fund an infrastructure bank come from? One person's idea: inducing US multi-nationals to repatriate some of their foreign profits with a tax holiday--and using those funds as seed money.

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BREAKING: Florida Governor Says Lawsuit "Disrespects" Taxpayers

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Gov. Rick Scott just issued a terse statement in response to a lawsuit seeking to force him to accept federal money for the state's high-speed rail project.

“My position remains unchanged, I’ve yet to see any evidence that Florida taxpayers would not be on the hook. Senators Altman and Joyner’s disrespect for taxpayers is clear by their lawsuit trying to force the state to spend this money.”

Earlier today two state senators filed a lawsuit in Florida Supreme Court, saying the governor had overstepped his constitutional authority. The court has given Scott a deadline of noon tomorrow to respond. 

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Florida's High-Speed Rail Case on Fast Track

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Florida Supreme Court, Tallahassee 

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) The Florida Supreme Court has requested that Governor Rick Scott respond by noon tomorrow to a lawsuit filed earlier today by two state senators.  (The court scheduling notice can be found here.) The senators are arguing that Scott doesn't have the authority to reject federal funds for the program.

Meanwhile, Florida Senator Bill Nelson has requested more time from Ray LaHood. The transportation secretary had said that if an agreement isn't reached on high-speed rail by this Friday, he'll give the $2.4 billion to other states.  Senator Nelson writes:

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I know you believe the high-speed rail proposal for Florida is among the best such projects in the country.  And, as you know, I certainly agree.

I cannot thank you enough for all your efforts so far to save the project in Florida, including granting us an extra week extension to find a subgrantee.  I am writing now to ask that you please allow at least one additional week before having to give our money and jobs to another state.

Specifically, some lawmakers in Florida today sued Gov. Rick Scott in a bipartisan effort to stop him from killing high-speed rail.  Their suit asks the Florida Supreme Court to order Scott to expeditiously accept the $2.4 billion in federal transportation money, and it seeks an injunction if necessary.

The plaintiffs who filed the suit called me this morning to ask that I convey to you their request for more time for the court to consider their case and to ensure that Florida gets the money it was awarded.

I thank you in advance for your favorable consideration.  I am enclosing the aforementioned lawsuit.  Please do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions.

The Department of Transportation had no comment on the letter.

Also maintaining radio silence is Congressman John Mica, who's been balancing his roles as the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and being a Republican from  Florida -- and whose own plan to save the state's high-speed rail program gained no traction.

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BREAKING: Florida High Speed Rail Lawsuit -- State Senators Say Gov has "Exceeded... Constitutional Authority"

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Two state senators have filed a lawsuit to force Florida Governor Rick Scott to "expeditiously accept" $2.4 billion in federal money for the state's high-speed rail plan.

Republican Thad Altman and Democrat Arthenia Joyner claim in their petition to the Florida Supreme Court that the governor has overstepped his authority and is legally obligated to accept the high-speed rail money from the federal government, because the Florida State Legislature voted in December 2009 to authorize the project.

The massive document, which contains not only the legal argument but dozens of exhibits and letters, can be found here (pdf) or below.

Governor Scott said two weeks ago he was rejecting funds for high-speed rail because he was convinced there would be cost overruns. Since then, US Department of Transportation Secretary RayLaHood granted the governor two one-week extensions in an effort to change his mind. But the governor said as recently as this morning that he remained unconvinced.

Governor Scott's office has not yet returned calls seeking his comment on the lawsuit, while the Department of Transportation has no comment. More as we learn it!

Filed 03-01-2011 Altman v Scott

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TN Moving Stories: Chicago To Build 'Cycle Tracks,' Florida Polls Mulling HSR Lawsuit, and India's Infrastructure Budget

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers is mulling suing Governor Rick Scott over his rejection of high-speed rail. (WESH TV, Orlando)

Chicago is testing a new kind of bike lane called a cycle track. (Chicago Tribune)

The Indian government says the country needs $1 trillion worth of infrastructure work. It won't get that number in its 2011 budget, but there's an increase. (Wall Street Journal)

The Indian budget also sets up a National Mission for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles to encourage the manufacturing and selling of eco-friendly vehicles. (AltTransport)

Transit advocates are seeking an overhaul to Maryland's commuter train service. (Washington Post)

The NY Daily News wants to Christie-ify the World Trade Center transit hub.

Gothamist talks with New York State Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, a Queens Democrat who has introduced legislation that would require every bicycle in New York State to have a license plate.

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: In his first remarks on infrastructure since the Florida High Speed rail near-death experience, the President acknowledges "controversy." NY state suburban legislators and the head of the MTA square off over the payroll tax for transit. Ten US senators from the Northeast are hungrily eyeing Florida's high-speed rail money. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by New York City officials who want to force cabs to purchase more fuel-efficient cars. And experience a day in the life of a Volt owner.

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TN Moving Stories: Automakers Struggle To Win 20-Somethings, Britain's HSR Woes, and Navigating by iPad

Monday, February 28, 2011

Automakers struggle to market cars to the younger generation. (NPR)

Joan McDonald --Gov. Cuomo's choice to head the New York State Department of Transportation -- is scheduled to go before lawmakers today in Albany, talking budget and transpo funding. (Wall Street Journal)

High-speed rail in Britain has had cross-party support, but it's now facing opposition on environmental grounds. (Telegraph)

Navigating by Apple: the FAA is allowing some pilots to use iPads instead of paper charts. (Autopia)

Turf battle: the FAA and the NTSB are sparring over who has access to safety data. (Wall Street Journal)

MetroCard vandals are becoming more aggressive in some parts of New York. (NY Post)

The NY Daily News's Pete Donohue writes: "The MTA is paying hired-gun lawyers more than $540 an hour to deny token booth clerks earning $18 an hour a modest raise."

If Karsan wins NY's "Taxi of Tomorrow" competition, will they assemble part of the vehicle in Brooklyn? (Brooklyn Paper)

The National Journal debates Rick Scott's rejection of high-speed rail in Florida.

New York City is eyeing ways to maximize parking meter revenue. (NY Daily News)

More than $4 million in federal funds is ready to fuel passenger train service across New Hampshire. But legislation proposing to disband the N.H. Rail Transit Authority has stalled the effort. (Nashua Telegraph)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: Washington State has reached an agreement with the DOT over high-speed rail funds. A new report says improving transit in outer boroughs is key to NYC's job growth. And Houston's bicyclists and pedestrians win a small victory.

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TN Moving Stories: WTC Transit Hub Costs Bloom, NY Goes After Cabbies Who Refuse Outer Boro Fares, and Another Toyota Recall

Friday, February 25, 2011

The cost of the transit center at the new World Trade Center site has ballooned to $3.4 billion -- a figure once deemed "simply unacceptable" by the Port Authority. (New York Times)

An Illinois congressman who voted to eliminate funding for an Amtrak line sounds like he hopes to get the chance to reconsider. (WQAD)

WNYC looks at the differing accounts of how the NYPD and the MTA coordinated efforts to capture an accused stabber on a subway train earlier this month.

NY's Taxi and Limousine Commission wants to stiffen fines for cabbies who refuse to make outer borough trips. (WNYC)

SF's BART owned up to their decision to illegally fire their general manager --then rescind that firing -- but her fate as head of the transit district remains unclear. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Denver may have to refund $1.2 million in parking tickets after an investigation showed that they were issued by non-authorized agents. (Denver Daily News)

Toyota is recalling over 2 million vehicles for carpet and floor-mat flaws that could jam gas pedals. (Bloomberg)

Los Angeles's historic Union Station will be purchased by the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority for $75 million under a deal that will clear the way for the expansion of transit operations and new development on the property. (Los Angeles Times)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: Florida's high-speed rail project is dead again -- which enrages -- and disappoints -- some politicians.

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Florida Governor's Decision Disappoints -- and Enrages

Thursday, February 24, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) He's made no official announcement, but Florida Governor Rick Scott's decision not to hand over authority for high speed rail to another entity, thereby killing the project, is drawing a loud response. (And of this writing, officials said that even US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood hasn't been formally notified). Earlier today the governor told a local Fox News affiliate: "I'm very thankful that the federal government cares about our infrastructure" and "I'm not convinced this project is a good project." And bipartisan denunciations condemning his refusal to move forward with high-speed rail are rolling in.

Senator Bill Nelson, who spent the last week trying to change Scott's mind, called the governor's decision a "monumental mistake" and added "I think..the governor in rejecting the project may even be exceeding his constitutional authority."

His scathing statement continues: "I am disappointed and – quite frankly – think it pitiful that Scott would turn down $2.4 billion in allocated funding for high-speed rail in the nation’s fourth largest state.  Such a decision will cost Florida 24,000 new jobs and will obstruct economic growth along the I-4 corridor, and eventually all the way from Orlando to Miami." (His full -- and lengthy -- statement can be found in a link at the end of this post.)

Meanwhile, Congressman John Mica - the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a member of Scott's own party --was more measured. His statement that said: “The Governor has made his decision to not pursue the Florida passenger rail project. I understand his concerns with the overall project, which would incur certain risks. I have done all that I can to salvage the project to this point and present what I consider to be a viable alternative plan that places the risk with the private sector and protects the taxpayers. I feel confident the 21-mile segment from the Orlando Airport to the Convention Center and Disney World can be a feasible and profitable transportation link for Florida. While the Governor’s action will terminate the project at this time, it is my intention to work to salvage millions of dollars already expended and years of study on the critically important link from the Orlando Airport to our tourist area. I intend to reassess the project and work with local partners to continue seeking a federal and local solution in building this infrastructure project.”

You can read Senator Nelson's full statement below.

Bill Nelson statement pdf

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TN Moving Stories: Maryland's Transpo Woes, GM Reports Profits, and TED Takes On Transportation

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Although Virginia gets a lot of attention for its transportation woes, Maryland may be in a worse position. (Washington Post)

General Motors says it earned $4.7 billion last year -- the most in a decade -- and turned its first profit since 2004. (NY Times)

Google invests in a company that could make electric cars more efficient. (AltTransport)

New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved a five-year contract with McKinsey & Company -- where Jay Walder once worked -- to help managers cut costs in a range of expected purchases totaling $880 million. (NY Daily News)

At a field hearing in California, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chair John Mica said “Anyone who comes to Los Angeles and thinks we do not need improvements in transportation must be living on another planet." Meanwhile, LA Mayor Villaraigosa tells the committee he has some ideas about how to fund mass transit. (Los Angeles Times)

TED takes on transportation: the TEDActive Mobility Project is exploring ways to reduce the cost, time and necessity of driving. (PSFK)

RayLaHood blogs about streetcars.

Streetsblog reports on a wide-ranging panel discussion about the future of large infrastructure projects in the NY region.

Second Avenue Sagas looks at yet another plan for a trans-Hudson tunnel that's making the rounds -- wonders "if too many cooks are stirring the cross-Hudson soup."

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: With two days left to save Florida's high-speed rail program, talks are ongoing -- but the governor remains unconvinced. The NRDC lists its 15 "smart cities" for public transit. Chicago has elected a mayor who is pro-bike and pro-transit. And greater Houston politicians may vote to curtail funding for alternative transit projects.

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Florida High-Speed Rail: Talks Ongoing, Gov. Remains Unconvinced

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) With two days left to broker an agreement on high-speed rail in Florida, talks are ongoing -- but Governor Rick Scott remains unconvinced.

The parties -- among them Senator Bill Nelson, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Congressman John Mica, and Congresswoman Corrine Brown -- are keeping it close to the vest.

A spokesperson for Senator Bill Nelson's office would only confirm that talks between the DOT and Florida officials were ongoing -- and that there were no new developments.

Congressman John Mica (R-FL) is in Los Angeles holding hearings on the transportation reauthorization bill. A spokesman didn't return requests for comment.

But Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL) who has been toiling with Mica, Nelson and other members of Florida's congressional delegation to salvage the state's high-speed rail program, has been working the phones and will return to Florida tomorrow for the final push, according to her press secretary, David Simon. An official familiar with the US DOT says "discussions are still ongoing and Friday is still the deadline."

Governor Rick Scott's press office hasn't responded to Transportation Nation queries, but a spokesman did tell the St. Petersburg Times (article here) "Nothing in the discussions so far alleviates the governor's concerns that Florida's state taxpayers would still be on the hook."

Scott last week said he was sending back $2.4 billion in federal funding for high speed rail. He said Florida's $280 million contribution was too risky.

Meanwhile, tonight in Orlando there's a pro-high-speed rail rally, organized by the former Orange County commissioner.

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TN Moving Stories: Oil Prices Up -- As Are Airline Prices, NJ Transit Riders Exhale, and Florida Still Without Top Transpo Official

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A California Democrat introduced a bill that would fire the current members of the board governing California's high-speed rail project and replace them with experts who don't have a financial stake in the undertaking. (Oakland Tribune)

Oahu's $5.5 billion, 21-station rail project has officially broken ground. (Examiner)

Maryland's newest toll road opens to traffic today. "The full cost of the Intercounty Connector - the exchange of woodlands for asphalt; the effects on residents along its path; debt payments that could require raising tolls throughout the state - will be analyzed for years. The immediate question is how opening the first 7.2 miles will affect traffic." (Washington Post)

Higher oil prices send airline fares up. (Dallas Morning News)

NJ Transit riders issue a collective exhale after Governor Christie's budget address yesterday. (Asbury Park Press)

DC's Metro Transit Police Department says that thefts of electronic devices accounted for 76% of all robberies on the Metro in 2010 (Washington Post). So they've created a helpful PSA:

The Brooklyn Paper says that ambulances are no strangers to the Prospect Park West bike lane.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has yet to name the state's top transportation official, but already he has installed the agency's chief of staff, hired its lawyer and pulled the trigger on a major decision to blow up plans for high-speed rail. (St. Petersburg Times)

The Massachusetts woman who lost her boa constrictor on a Boston subway car has been hit with a $650 cleaning bill by the MBTA, which had to "sanitize" the car. (Boston Herald)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: NJ Governor Christie's budget increases transpo funding. Controversy continues over whether a new ring road for Houston is a must -- or a road to nowhere. And opponents of the Prospect Park West bike lane don't want new bike lanes, anywhere in the city.

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NJ Governor Christie's 2012 Budget: Is That A Transpo Increase We See?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Governor Christie delivers his budget address in Trenton, New Jersey

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) New Jersey Governor Christie released his 2012 budget today.  And while nearly every agency took a hit, transportation spending will see an increase in state funding.

The budget also specifies that one of the goals this year is to avoid fare increases and expand bus service. This will be welcomed by New Jersey Transit passengers, who experienced a 22% fare hike last year.

Kate Slevin, the executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, was cautiously optimistic. "It's good news for transit riders – and drivers as well," she said, adding that more mass transit would help reduce New Jersey's famous traffic congestion.

More later--but in the meantime, you can read the budget below.

NJ Budget FY2012

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