Wednesday, August 10, 2011
It is widely assumed that Texas Governor Rick Perry will soon announce plans to seek the Republican nomination for president. The governor's announcement may come this weekend, a week after his large prayer rally in Houston — which drew almost 30,000 attendants — where he prayed for divine intervention to the assist President Obama's judgement.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Texas Governor Rick Perry is preparing to jump into the race for the Republican nomination for president and his state's record on job creation will likely be a central focus of his campaign. A significant number of the jobs created in the U.S. over the past two years were created in Texas. This despite the widespread economic uncertainty and stubbornly high unemployment that's gripped the nation since the official end of the recession. However, in spite of its success at jobs creation, the state's unemployment number has remained stable.
Thursday, August 04, 2011
By Steffen Schmidt : IAFC Blogger
-Steffen Schmidt, It's A Free Country blogger.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
By Solomon Kleinsmith : IAFC Blogger
-Solomon Kleinsmith, It's A Free Country blogger.
Friday, July 22, 2011
By Anna Sale
Could Rudy Giuliani be the key to a successful presidential run for Texas Governor Rick Perry? The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza floats the possibility, noting that the two men are friends, and Giuliani could vouch for the Texas governor and boost his fundraising potential.
“Rudy would be an awesome asset to any campaign,” Perry consultant Dave Carney told Cillizza, noting that "folks of the mayor’s stature bring lot of value added to any effort.”
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
(Matt Dellinger – Transportation Nation) On June 17th, the same day Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed a ban on texting while driving, calling it “a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults,” he signed another transportation bill that would allow higher speeds and designated lanes for heavier trucks on state roads. Yee-haw!
House Bill 1201, now law, gives the Texas Transportation Commission latitude to allow trucks exceeding current weight restrictions “if supported by an engineering and traffic study that includes an analysis of the structural capacity of bridges and pavements, current and projected traffic patterns and volume, and potential effects on public safety.” The megatrucks won't be able to drive on Interstate Highways, which are still under the purview of the federal government.
The Commission can also now raise speed limits to 85 miles per hour on state highways, if “the commission determines, after an engineering and traffic investigation, that the established speed limit is reasonable and safe for that part of the highway system.”
(If you're driving a truck, however heavy or fast, please wear your seatbelt, TxDOT says.)
Those changes, though, were relatively minor pieces of a bill mostly devoted to undoing one of Perry’s great transportation innovations. The new law, “An Act relating to repeal of authority for the establishment and operation of the Trans-Texas Corridor,” was co-authored by Lois Kolkhorst, a fellow Republican who led the legislative charge against Perry’s ambitious plan to build multi-modal privatized corridors across the state.
Before the tea party uprising, Perry’s corridor concept caused a ruckus that found land-rights and budget-hawk conservatives marching side by side with John Birchers and lefty environmentalists.
The “TTC,” as it came to be know, has suffered many deaths. In January 2009, TxDOT tried to throw out the toxic brand name, but Perry continued to stand up for the concept of toll roads—and even gas tax hikes. "The name 'Trans-Texas Corridor' is over with. We’re going to continue to build roads in the state of Texas," Perry said. "Our options are fairly limited, due to Washington’s ineffectiveness from the standpoint of being able to deliver dollars, or for the Legislature to raise the gas tax," he said.
In October 2009, TxDOT made the backpedalling official when they put through a “no-build” recommendation on the first proposed Trans-Texas Corridor segment, a parallel to I-35, the comprehensive development of which was being handled, controversially, by a Spanish firm, Cintra.
This latest bill roots out every mention of the Corridor in the state code. As Austin American-Statesman’s transportation columnist, Ben Wear, put it, “The Legislature dropped a house on it, then melted it with water just to be sure.”
Perry signed it. Probably happily. The exorcism might help clear the path for a presidential run.
Friday, June 03, 2011
By Steffen Schmidt : IAFC Blogger
-Steffen Schmidt, who has a message for the GOP: Better keep looking.
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
(Matt Dellinger, Transportation Nation) When Scott Walker was running for Governor of Wisconsin last fall, he peppered the airwaves with a campaign spot that made very clear why he planned to stop the proposed Madison-to-Milwaukee high speed rail line: It was going to cost about $810 million dollars to build, he said, and “I’d rather take that money and fix Wisconsin’s crumbling roads and bridges.”
But a new report by the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG) takes Governor Walker to task for cutting $48 million in local transportation assistance—much of which would be used for road and bridge repair—while proposing a 13% increase in spending on new highway capital projects. WISPIRG’s report “Building Boondoggles?” isn’t fooling anyone with the question mark in its title. The authors, Kyle Bailey and Bruce Speight, make no bones about the “troubling” nature of Walker's “new construction largess.”
In response to a $3.6 Billion state deficit, Bailey and Speight point out, the Governor has suggested cuts “in most areas of the state budget, including education, health care and state assistance for local cities, towns and counties. State funding for local road repair and transit have also been put on the chopping block. Transit in particular has been put at risk by receiving a 10% across the board cut.” At the same time, Walker's belt-tightening left room for a billion-dollar widening of Interstate 90 south of Madison, a $390 million widening of the Tri-County Freeway in Winnebago and Calumet Counties, and the $125 million construction of a four-lane road through Caledonia county between Milwaukee and Racine.
WISPIRG questions the wisdom of these specific projects, which, to be fair, were kicking around for years before Walker became Governor (but then again, so was the Madison-to-Milwaukee high-speed rail project). But more to the point, Bailey and Speight raise the question of how Governor Walker can suggest adding to the new-road budget an amount—$328 million—that could have prevented his cuts to transit and maintenance. (Walker's office respectfully declined to comment for this story.)
Expanding the system while deferring maintenance is not just a Wisconsin thing. According to another report, released today by Taxpayers for Common Sense and Smart Growth America, this is a nationwide habit. The two groups found that between 2004 and 2008, while bridges crumbled and roads deteriorated, states spent 57 percent of their highway budgets on road widening and new road construction.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a hard act to follow. He was elected on a platform of ridding his state of an almost $11 billion deficit, and promised to do it without raising a cent in taxes. His hardliner attitude has earned him accolades and anger and a dozen of the 37 newly elected and reelected governors took lessons from him on the campaign trail.
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
(Houston, TX - Wendy Siegle, KUHF) Last January, Texas, America’s second most populous state, failed to secure federal stimulus dollars for its high-speed rail plan. Why?
Because it didn’t have one.
It still doesn’t, by the way. The Lone Star State is known for being independent, not just for its perpetual resistance to interference by the federal government, but also for its independently-minded politicians and constituents. So instead of having one vision for the state’s rail network, Texas had eight, or nine, or possibly 10.
Monday, July 12, 2010
(Houston, Texas - Melissa Galvez, KUHF) Houstonians live in a largely-lawless world when it comes to using a phone and driving. The federal push and coverage of distracted driving's dangers has yet to change the mind of Texas lawmakers. The KUHF News Lab has been profiling the enforcement challenge faced by cops and the national regulatory environment surrounding talking and texting while driving. But I also sent a query out to my KUHF colleagues: would anyone be willing to go cell-phone free while driving, for three full days-- and then talk with me about it? Two drivers recorded their thoughts, which we've turned into audio.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Rusty signs and heedless drivers at 50 of Chicago's most dangerous rail crossings. (Chicago Tribune)
Texas gubernatorial candidates asked to lay out transportation plans. (Dallas Morning News)
Legally blind blogger working to improve pedestrian safety around DC (Wash Post).
NY Times drives the return of the Mercedes gullwing, with a $186,000 price tag.
Raleigh-to-Richmond high-speed rail? The conversation continues in North Carolina. (WUNC)
New York's transit cuts reach a museum. (NY Times)
Will the Giro d'Italia come to DC? (WAMU News)
Friday, July 09, 2010
(Houston, TX - Melissa Galvez, KUHF News Lab) For most drivers in Texas, it is legal to both talk on a cell phone and text while driving — except in school zones and certain cities. There are some who say one or both of those should be outlawed. In the second of a series on distracted driving, a look at how such a law could be enforced.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
(Houston, TX - Melissa Galvez, KUHF NewsLab) Regional transportation planners here are looking at less money for road projects in the coming years. Knowing that commuters will face crowded highways and bumpy roads longer, they're connecting with motorists to ask where the money should go. To where the people are? Where the congestion is? Here's more: read, listen: