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Transportation Nation

States Spend Too Much On New Roads, Neglecting Maintenance, Report Says

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Despite crumbling infrastructure, states continue to spend more money on building new roads than maintaining the ones they have, says a new report.

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Transportation Nation

Proposal to Raise Gas Tax Has Allies Outside Congress

Thursday, December 05, 2013

WAMU

The federal gasoline tax, last raised in 1993 to 18 cents per gallon, would increase five cents per year over three years and have future increases tied to inflation, under legislation proposed Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). With the Highway Trust Fund set to go broke in ten months, the congressman called on leaders of both parties and the Obama administration to raise the tax to replenish the pot of money that pays for rail and road improvements.

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Transportation Nation

Stretch of 1st Avenue Repaved with New Asphalt

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A large stretch of 1st avenue has been re-paved using asphalt the Department of Transportation says is more durable and easier to maintain. Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan says the roadway was originally paved with 18-inches of concrete 30 years ago, which was more cost-effective at the time, back in 1983.

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Transportation Nation

The Ramp Stays: Virginia Neighbors Give Up, Accept Highway Route

Friday, August 23, 2013

WAMU

A coalition of homeowners groups representing 75,000 residents in Alexandria and Fairfax County is giving up its fight to delay the construction of a highway ramp. It's a case of not-in-my-backyard opposition over air pollution drowned out by a massive road project. 

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Transportation Nation

Ed Rendell on The State of U.S. Infrastructure 80 Years After the P.W.A.

Monday, July 08, 2013

The Hechinger Report

The Lincoln Tunnel and Triborough Bridge in New York City, the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state, and the Overseas Highway connecting Key West to mainland Florida are all products of the New Deal’s Public Works Administration, which went into effect 80 years ago today. The Takeaway spoke with Ed Rendell is the former governor of Pennsylvania and the founder and co-chair of Building America’s Future

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The Takeaway

The State of U.S. Infrastructure 80 Years After the Public Works Administration

Monday, July 08, 2013

The Public Works Administrations was the driving force of America’s biggest construction effort to that date. 80 years later, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the United States a D+ grade on infrastructure and 1 in 9 bridges are structurally deficient. Ed Rendell is the former governor of Pennsylvania and the founder and co-chair of Building America’s Future, which advocates for infrastructure spending. He believes that the United States has delayed investing in infrastructure long enough.

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Transportation Nation

In Second Inaugural Address, President Obama Says Building Infrastructure, Combating Climate Change Part of "Obligation"

Monday, January 21, 2013

In his second inaugural address, President Barack Obama wove in specific policy recommendations for building roads and combating climate change into a speech urging Americans to join in collective action for a better future.

"We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity," President Obama said.  "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms."

"The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult," the President added.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared."

The president also declared road-building a collective responsibility.

"For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people."

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WNYC News

City Council Asks for Quicker Fix for Sinkholes

Monday, April 02, 2012

The upside to this year’s mild winter in New York City is that fewer potholes need to be fixed. But the downside is that it’s still taking too long to fix other problems, according to some City Council members.  

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Transportation Nation

In NY Governor Cuomo's Address, No Mention of the Word "Transit"

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

UPDATED In his second annual State of the State address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo did not mention the word "transit," according to the prepared text of his speech.

Cuomo controls the MTA, the nation's largest transit system.

In the written speech, Cuomo did promise to rebuild "100 bridges and 2,000 miles of road" and vowed to move forward on his plan to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge between Westchester to Rockland Counties.  And he talks about the state's efforts to repair roads and bridges devastated by Tropical Storms Irene and Lee.

Cuomo also referred  to the MTA (or Metropolitan Transportation Authority) in two places -- by touting how he cut the payroll tax, which funds the MTA, and later by noting how "investments by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority help protect the reliability of the transportation network that supports the metropolitan New York regional economy and 8.5 million riders a day."

He also points out that the MTA's "Built in NY" program "has an impact on the economic development throughout new York State, from Oriskany to Jameston, Yonkers to Plattsburgh."'

Cuomo's delivered speech differed from his prepared remarks. Nevertheless,  Cuomo also did not say the word "transit" in his actual speech.  In his oral remarks, he did (briefly) refer to cutting the MTA payroll tax, and to MTA capital construction projects, though only in the context of his proposed infrastructure bank.

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The Takeaway

Obama Continues to Push Infrastructure Bill

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Senate is set to vote on a new part of President Obama's $447 billion jobs bill which includes funding for programs to help build roads, bridges and other public works programs. The bill is likely to fail, but that has not stopped the president from continuing to campaign for its passage. Andrea Bernstein, director of the Transportation Nation project and senior correspondent for WNYC, looks at why President Obama continues to push for infrastructure despite it looking like a losing cause.

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Transportation Nation

Road Rules: How Do We Learn Them? And When Will People Follow Them?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

(San Francisco - KALW) A big part of life in the Bay Area is how we get around. We drive and complain about parking; take MUNI and complain about delays; bike and risk car collisions (and complain), ...

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WNYC News

Officials Plan Repairs for 150 Upstate Roadways

Friday, September 02, 2011

State officials have pledged to clear and quickly repair more than 150 roads closed upstate flooded and ripped apart by Tropical Storm Irene.

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Transportation Nation

Road Update: NJ and NY

Monday, August 29, 2011

Upstate New York roads, as viewed by helicopter (photo by Karen DeWitt/NYS Public Radio/WXXI)

For New Yorkers trying to get in -- or out -- of the Catskills, flooded roads and downed trees continue to limit travel in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

The New York Thruway says sections of I-87 remain closed in both directions between exits 14 and 17.

Flooding has also closed parts of the east-west highways of 17, 28 and 23.  Those roads lead into some of the hardest hit regions in the state including Margaretville and Windham. For New York road updates, go to 511NY.org.

In New Jersey, conditions are better today than yesterday -- the DOT says it's only dealing with 85 incidents statewide, down from Sunday's 300+ -- but new problems are cropping up as storm waters continue to rise in some areas.

All lanes on NJ Route 17 northbound in Hasbrouck Heights (near the interchange with Route 46) are now closed due to flooding.

I-287 northbound in Boonton and Parsippany, near exits 43 and 44, is also closed. Route 80 is experiencing a number of ramp and lane closures, particularly in the towns of Parsippany and Wayne.

The New Jersey Turnpike has some delays as crews continue to pick up debris.

The NJ DOT says the Garden State Parkway is in good shape, although there are some delays in Southern Ocean County.

For up to date conditions, visit 511nj.org.

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The Takeaway

Los Angeles Braces for 'Carmageddon'

Friday, July 15, 2011

This evening, at 7 p.m. (PST), a ten-mile stretch of Los Angeles’s Interstate 405 — the nation’s busiest stretch of road — will close down until Monday morning. Bracing for the worst, Los Angelans are labeling the temporary shutdown "Carmageddon." But is it really an apocalyptic nightmare in the making? Or a virtual snow day to celebrate?

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Transportation Nation

Study: On Job Creation, Bike Lanes Beat Roads

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back in January we reported on a study using local data that found that building bike lanes brought more bang for the buck on job creation than building roads. Now, the original researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute of U. Mass Amherst have expanded that study to 11 cities with the same findings.

The PERI study (PDF) finds:

"Overall we find that bicycling infrastructure creates the most jobs for a given level of spending: For each $1 million, the cycling projects in this study create a total of 11.4 jobs within the state where the project is located. Pedestrian-only projects create an average of about 10 jobs per $1 million and multi-use trails create nearly as many, at 9.6 jobs per $1 million. ... and road-only projects create the least, with a total of 7.8 jobs per $1 million."

The study says bike lanes generate more jobs per dollar spent because building a bike lane is more labor intensive than building a road. "A greater portion of the spending is used to employ construction workers and engineers, both labor-intensive industries." So, for example, "a bike path which requires a great deal of planning and design will generate more jobs for a given level of spending than a road project which requires a greater proportion of heavily mechanized construction equipment and relatively less planning and design."

They study adds that a greater proportion of road spending "leaks" out of state for supplies.

These findings are already being used by advocates like America Bikes and the League of American Bicyclists to argue for more bike lanes, and to steer tight infrastructure dollars toward bike plans at a time when an increasingly effective argument for spending on road repair is not disrepair but job creation.

Via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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The Takeaway

How Superhighways Changed America — For Better and Worse

Thursday, June 09, 2011

It’s hard to imagine it now, but in the mid-1920s, the U.S. only had 250 routes for cars. Today, there are more than 55,000 auto bridges, close to 4 million miles of road, and an intricate system of high speed super highways that connect every major city in the country.

These superhighways — which allowed drivers to travel long distances at high speeds — redefined American cities and culture.

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The Takeaway

App Assignment: Your Most/Least Favorite Road

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

What's your most or least favorite stretch of road? Everybody has one. Maybe it's two miles of straightaway splitting farming fields you drive with your truck, or a winding stretch through a forrest you traverse on your bicycle. Alternatively it could be a smog-choked creeping mass of metal along I-95, or a particularly harrowing entrance ramp to Highway 42 in Louisiana. As many Americans will be driving short and long distances this summer, hopefully to take some time off to relax, we want to see your picks for superlatives. Take a picture or send us a video...NOT while in the driver's seat. It can be of anything you want — technically even your driveway probably counts. We'll play your descriptions on the air and post them here to the website. 

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Transportation Nation

FEMA Officials Assessing Flood Damage To Montana Roads

Friday, June 03, 2011


(Roundup, MT-YPR) -- Federal emergency teams are in Montana assessing preliminary flood damage to roads, bridges and other public infrastructure.

Normally such assessments are used to determine whether a state might qualify for a presidential disaster declaration.

Governor Brian Schweitzer determined the flooding  so far warranted seeking the declaration.

In his request Schweitzer said, “This incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments.”

The Democrat included 37 of Montana’s 56 counties and 5 of its American Indian Reservations in the request to President Barack Obama.

One of the counties in that request is Musselshell in central Montana.

County officials estimate nearly 30 roads and up to 7 bridges were damaged by last weeks flooding. This includes washed out roads, sink holes, and at least two bridges that were knocked off their footings.

There could be additional damage but high water is prevent officials from getting a first hand look.

If the state’s request for a presidential disaster declaration is granted federal money could become available for roads, bridges and other public infrastructure.

This flooding was due to heavy rain.

DES officials say the worst is yet to come with anticipated spring run-off of mountain snowpack bringing even more water to swollen rivers.

 

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Transportation Nation

Senator Max Baucus Asks for Federal Dollars for Montana's Flood-Damaged Roads & Bridges

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Montana flooding in Crow Agency south of Billings (photo by Donna Martinez/American Red Cross)

(Billings, Montana -- Yellowstone Public Radio) Senator Max Baucus is calling for a quick federal response after touring some of Montana’s flood-ravaged roads, bridges and other infrastructure this week.

During a conference call late last week with county and tribal officials, Baucus was told some county roads were “liquefied” by the flood waters. The officials added they don’t have the money for repairs. Afterwards, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure wrote a letter to US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to request federal funds to help pay for repairs.

“A lot of America is stressed by Mother Nature,” Baucus says. “So there may be an opportunity there in a disaster appropriations bill to include some special Montana needs. It might include some county roads and bridges.”

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are now in Montana assessing the damage from May’s flooding.

Officials are warning Montanans and those downstream that heavy mountain snowpack has just begun melting -- which will further strain swollen rivers, streams and saturated ground.

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Transportation Nation

TxDOT: Road Projects Need To Be Bike and Pedestrian-Friendly

Monday, April 04, 2011

(Houston -- Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has adopted a new policy: all road projects must make room for pedestrians and bicycles, not just cars. In some cases this would require building narrower car lanes to make room.

The new rules mean Houston should start seeing more bike and pedestrian-friendly roadways in the future. TxDOT’s requirements come a year after the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a policy statement underscoring the importance of integrating walking and bicycling into transportation projects.

TxDOT says its new mandate emphasizes its commitment to invest in projects that cater to those on bike and those on foot. Under the guidelines, any shoulder on a new or reconstructed road must be at least 14 feet wide.  That will give cyclists a tad more space to ride since the norm has usually been between 11 and 12 feet.

Tom Beeman, an engineer with TxDOT’s Design Division, says the wider lane will also give cars more room, “to either maneuver around [cyclists] or move into the other lane a little bit." He believes the extra couple of feet will create a safer environment for all modes of transportation. "That would be our minimum design," he notes.  Where feasible, says Beeman, more feet of pavement can be saved for bike and pedestrian use.

Beeman says a road's main lanes may become slightly narrower in some cases to allow for a wider shoulder.  TxDOT will also be adding more sidewalks and widening existing ones in some places to make it easier for people to walk on a continuous route.

So why has TxDOT decided to revise its policy? Well, according to Beeman, "The world’s changing. A lot of people are now walking, or they’re using bikes for fitness, or to commute just to cut down on the gas price. The cost of gas is going up so they may be taking shorter trips or living closer. We’re developing communities that are much more dense and we have all modes of transportation that we’re trying to provide for."

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