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Interview: Senator Max Baucus on Transportation, Deficit, Rural Issues

Friday, December 10, 2010

Senator Max Baucus (Dem. Montana) spoke with Jackie Yamanaka of Yellowstone Public Radio on Thursday. The Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee discussed his role as a member of President Obama's deficit commission and the need for a long term transportation authorization bill. He wants more debate on balancing rural and urban infrastructure spending before he'll support several of the proposals recommended the commission.

Listen to the interview or read the full transcript below.

Jackie Yamanaka: Thank you Max for joining me to talk about transportation. There is a tax component and I will get to that, but first I wanted to ask you about the extension of the transportation bill, that the House passed last night…What are the prospects the Senate will do the same before the end of the year?

A better solution is to, next year, get on with passing a long term, solid highway bill. I’m going to be working as well as I can to accomplish that.

Senator Max Baucus: Well, I think excellent. There’s no question in my mind it will get passed in the Senate.

But the real question is: how do we get a more sound transportation policy in this country. In the last several years, transportation bills have been short term extensions rather than solid, five or six year authorizations and that’s caused a real problem for states who are less able to budget, for highway contractors, less able to budget and know what to bid on, problems for a lot of people with jobs and ancillary businesses related to highway construction whether asphalt or aggregate or what not.

I’m going to be pushing strongly for a longer term transportation/highway bill, five years roughly, so people can plan, so people can predict the future, so states and those related to highway constructions are able to predict the future. And that’s one reason, I think the economy has stalled a little bit, that is unpredictability. It’s uncertainty. People are just uncertain what’s in store for them.

But the real question is: how do we get a more sound transportation policy in this country. In the last several years, transportation bills have been short term extensions rather than solid, five or six year authorizations and that’s caused a real problem for states…

We will pass some legislation to allow construction to continue at roughly the current rate for next year but that’s not a very good solution. A better solution is to, next year, get on with passing a long term, solid highway bill. I’m going to be working as well as I can to accomplish that.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Boston's First Solar-Powered Transit Station Breaks Ground, and: Are NYC's Subway Pickpockets Dying Out?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Attorney, labor mediator--and transit activist--Theodore Kheel died Friday; he founded a group called "Nurture New York's Nature" that supported making mass transit entirely free.

Massachusetts breaks ground today on its first solar-powered transit station--Fenway Center. You know it's only a matter of time before the Green Monster nickname gets bandied around. (WBUR)

Are NYC's subway pickpockets going the way of the dinosaurs? "You don't find young picks anymore," NYPD Transit Bureau Detective Nelson Dones said. "It's going to die out." (New York Daily News).  Plus: crime on the LIRR has dropped 15% over last year. (Newsday; subscription required)

GM retirees wrestle with the decision over whether to buy stock in the company or not. (New York Times)

The National Journal's Transportation blog wonders how to resolve the impasse over the fuel tax.

A NJ Transit passenger videotaped a bus driver's unorthodox driving performance ("At some moments he touches the steering wheel with just an index finger, and at other times he does the grown-up’s version of 'Look Ma, no hands'")--and learns some hard lessons about the transit agency's customer complaint system.  (Newark Star-Ledger)

Omaha will kick off a year-long process to update its transportation master plan this week: one goal is trying to create walkable communities with less dependence on automobiles. (Omaha World-Herald).

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