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The Takeaway

Deceptive Lobbying Steers Debate on Highway Bill

Thursday, April 02, 2015

As Congress debates whether to allow bigger trucks on the nation's highways, trucking and railway industries hope to sway lawmakers through deceptive lobbying tactics. 

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Storycorps

StoryCorps Podcast 418: Guardians of the Golden Gate

Friday, March 13, 2015

Kevin Berthia talks with retired California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Briggs. They met the day Berthia tried to end his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

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99% Invisible

152- Guerrilla Public Service

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

design, road, sign, highway, freeway, wayfinding, signage, caltrans, transportation

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Transportation Nation

Obama Administration Faces Tough Sell On Transportation Spending

Thursday, April 10, 2014

WAMU

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx is launching a national bus tour to highlight the need for infrastructure investment.

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Transportation Nation

New Highway Won't Turn Dulles Airport Into Major Cargo Player: Study

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

WAMU

Building a ten-mile parkway in Northern Virginia won't turn Dulles International Airport into the premier air cargo hub on the East Coast, according to a study by the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis.

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Transportation Nation

MWAA Votes to Raise Fees on Dulles Toll Road

Thursday, November 15, 2012

(photo by bankbryan via flickr)

The agency managing the largest public rail expansion in the nation voted to increase tolls on a Virginia highway in part to help fund construction of the Silver Line.

On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority unanimously approved raising the full, one-way toll on the Dulles Toll Road to $2.75 effective January 1, an increase of $.50.  In January 2014 toll will increase to $3.50.

The toll increases are a major part of the financing plan for the Silver Line extension to Dulles International Airport, a 23-mile, $5.5 billion project whose first phase is scheduled for completion late next year. The MWAA board put off a decision to increase tolls again in 2015 because of the possibility of obtaining additional state and/or federal dollars.

MWAA has two avenues to secure additional funds: Virginia’s General Assembly, which has provided only $150 million to date, and the federal TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) loan program.

“Our project is, bar none, (one) of the more worthy projects in the country for TIFIA loan financing,” said MWAA Board Chairman Michael Curto in remarks to reporters after the agency’s vote. “We’ve seen the enhanced TIFIA loan program so we’re positioned well, given that the project is shovel ready.  We’re ready to move."

Curto is not the only public official who has expressed optimism a federal loan with come through.  However, MWAA has a lot of competition for TIFIA dollars. Nineteen major transportation projects totaling $27 billion are currently applying for loans, and Congress has authorized $1.75 billion for TIFIA the next two fiscal years.

“The pool is very small compared to what the needs are just for our rail system,” said Terry Maynard, a board member of the Reston Citizens Association, which represents 58,000 residents in a Fairfax County tax district.  “It's going to be very hard to get a significant contribution.”

The association opposes not the Silver Line’s construction but its financing plan, which leaves fifty percent of the entire project’s cost on Dulles Toll Road users (75 percent of Phase II).

“We really want this to get built and succeed,” Maynard said. “We are pressing that all the money [MWAA] receives relieve the burden on toll road users.” Fairfax County residents have relayed their concerns to MWAA that drivers looking to avoid higher tolls will opt for already congested secondary roads, further clogging their communities with traffic.

Curto promised that MWAA will lobby Richmond for additional funding. He declined to criticize the McDonnell administration’s spending priorities, which have seen hundreds of millions of dollars allocated for highway expansions.

“We are going to reach out, work closely and hope to encourage the governor’s administration and the folks in Richmond that Dulles Rail should be the recipient of additional funds.  As Secretary LaHood said, it is a model project,” Curto said.

 

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Transportation Nation

DOT Doles Out $363 Million in Highway Funding

Thursday, August 02, 2012

This just in from the U.S. Department of Transportation. View a list of recipients here. And read the DOT's announcement below.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces More Than $363 Million in Grants for State Highway Projects

Funds will create jobs by expanding highway repairs and roadway safety

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced more than $363 million in grants to fund a wide variety of highway improvements, from interstate rehabilitation and reconstruction to technologies that result in improved safety and reduced construction congestion.

“Investments in transportation projects like these create jobs right away in communities across the country, and lay a foundation for future economic growth,” said Secretary LaHood. “Thanks to these grants, states, cities and local communities can move forward with the transportation projects Americans need to reach their destinations more safely, quickly and efficiently.”

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) invited states, cities, tribal governments and local planning organizations to apply for federal funding from 12 grant programs. Nearly 1,500 requests poured in from every state, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. totaling approximately $2.5 billion. Grant funding was made available through enactment of the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II.

The 12 programs are:

Public Lands Highway
Interstate Maintenance
Transportation, Community and System Preservation
Ferry Boat
National Scenic Byways
Value Pricing Pilot
Highways for LIFE
National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation
Railway-Highway Crossing Hazard Elimination in High Speed Rail Corridor
Delta Region Transportation Development
Innovative Bridge Research and Deployment
Truck Parking Border Infrastructure
All 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico were awarded grants. Some examples of selected projects:

Louisiana received more than $3 million to improve I-10 from the Lafayette Parish Line to the Atchafalaya Floodway Bridge. In addition to new pavement, the project will upgrade the guardrail and add new roadway striping to the route. The road is a high-volume truck corridor and is one of the state’s major hurricane evacuation routes.

Ohio received $3.34 million to improve I-75 in downtown Dayton from Fifth Street to Riverview Avenue. This two-mile stretch of interstate is Ohio’s second-most congested area. The project will improve driver safety and reduce traffic congestion for the 104,000 drivers who use it each day.

Missouri received $2 million for engineering work needed to replace the two bridges on I-44 over the Meramec River and to add an eastbound lane to reduce congestion and improve safety for drivers in St. Louis County.

Descriptions of each program and grant awards can be found here.

“The demand for these funds demonstrates a clear need for increased infrastructure investment,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. “The President asked us to rebuild America - we have work to be done and Americans ready to do the work.”

These programs were authorized by Congress to support projects that improve roadway safety, maintain the nation's roads and bridges and make communities more livable.

 

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Transportation Nation

Democrats Chase the Transpo Spending Unicorn

Thursday, June 30, 2011

President Barack Obama listens to a question during a press conference in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

(Washington DC) Democrats are holding onto the dream.

The partisan politics that swirl around the much-maligned $787 billion stimulus has all but erased any chance of new transportation infrastructure spending, at least until the economy improves.

But listen to top Democrats—including President Barack Obama—over the last couple of days, and you wouldn’t know that both the Republican party, as well as much of the public, has lost their appetite for such spending.

With talks over raising the federal debt limit and reigning in the deficit at a standstill, Obama took to the White House East Room Wednesday afternoon to push back on what he sees as Republican intransigence. The GOP is sticking to its guns: no tax increases of any kind can be part of a deal on the debt limit.

Obama had plenty to say about that. But he also said that new job spending—you could call it stimulus—should be part of the deal as a way to goose the still-flagging economy.

“I think it’s important for us to look at rebuilding our transportation infrastructure in this country.  That could put people back to work right now -- construction workers back to work right now.  And it would get done work that America needs to get done.  We used to have the best roads, the best bridges, the best airports.  We don’t anymore.  And that’s not good for our long-term competitiveness,” the president said.

Obama seemed to suggest that the new spending could be folded in as part of a broader deal to cut the deficit. Such spending has not specifically come up in meetings with Republicans so far, according to aides on Capitol Hill.

But Democrats have enjoyed hammering the GOP lately for ignoring middle-class jobs at the expense of the wealthy. It’s a reliable cudgel, to be sure. And Democrats are now promising that once a debt deal is behind them and all the painful cuts are made, they’ll return with an aggressive jobs plan chock full of transportation wishes.

Witness Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) on Thursday morning in Washington. Schumer gave a politically charged speech castigating Republicans for trying to hamper Obama by blocking any measures that might help job growth in the short term.

Schumer said Democrats would soon launch a “Jobs First” agenda, designed to speed a drop in the unemployment rates and build long-term economic soundness. Of course, in this toxic atmosphere, it’s also designed to poll-test well with 2012 voters.

Schumer called for:

“A Highway Bill that will put people back to work building critical infrastructure that is necessary to help our economy compete, for example by making it easier to transport manufactured goods from their plant in Ohio to the port in Washington, or Los Angeles or New York.”

and also:

“A National Infrastructure Bank, which both labor and the Chamber of Commerce have strongly supported, and which would create a platform to leverage private sector investment for projects of national or regional significance.”

Of course neither of those items is new on the Democrats’ wish-list. But Obama and Schumer clearly think that pushing for them on the cusp of an election year will play well with prospective voters. For now, they’re clawing for traction against consistent GOP messaging that out-of-control spending is what got the nation into this debt conundrum to begin with.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the GOP leader, took to the Senate floor Thursday with this: “Who really thinks that the answer to a $1.6 trillion deficit is a second Stimulus, that the answer is more deficit spending? Where in the world did that idea come from?”

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