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LaHood: Politics Means No Surface Transportation Bill This Year

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood doesn't think there's much chance Congress will pass a surface transportation spending bill this year.

The bill is on its way to being three years late -- it was supposed to be reauthorized in September, 2009.

"Given the politics, the number of days that remain, the differences between what the Senate and House are looking at -- I think its very unlikely we will have a surface transportation bill during this year of Congress," LaHood told a gathering of transportation professionals at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting.

"When you look at the number of days that Congress will be in session -- it is limited.  Given the political atmosphere that is around us now with presidential politics and every member of Congress seeking reelection in November that obviously will play into what happens."

LaHood told reporters after the panel that another big obstacle is the differences between the two-year Senate bill and the five-year House bill, which as of yet has no "pay-fors." "I think the difference between a two-year bill and a five-year bill is a pretty big gulf to overcome particually given the number of legilsative days," LaHood said.

But his remarks seemed to take his own top aides by surprise.

"I didn't hear him say we're not going to have a reauthorization bill this year," said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, who was in the audience and left with Secretary LaHood.. "I'm an optimist, the real way we are going to put people to work the fastest and make progress on all these policies, is by getting a reauthorization bill as soon as possible."

LaHood's comments came at a panel of transportation secretaries going back to Alan Boyd, who was Lyndon B. Johnson's transportation secretary.  The moderator asked the secretaries if they were optimistic or pessimistic about the future of transportation funding.

“I’m hopeful but I’m very concerned," said Boyd, who went first, "because it seems to me looking and listening as I do now from my vantage point in Seattle so many of my fellow Americans want to have good roads, good bridges, but they don’t want to pay for it, they want somebody else to pay for it. There is this sense to me  around the country: no new taxes.  The world keeps changing and if America is going to be the leader it says it is and wants to be its got to improve its infrastructure. "

(LaHood did express optimism about the future of high speed rail -- that story here.)

 

 

 

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Cuomo Talks MTA Payroll Tax, and Pregnancy May Have Its (Parking) Privileges

Monday, January 24, 2011

In Miami, a parking garage so beautiful, people get married there.  What can THIS mean for the future of driving?   And of public space? (NY Times)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has unkind words for the MTA payroll tax. "It is a very onerous tax. Not just in this area." Meanwhile: "MTA CEO Jay Walder revealed that he'd yet to talk to the new governor about transit issues -- saying he'd been speaking with the governor's aides, instead." (New York Post)

But: Cuomo is keeping both Walder and Port Authority head Chris Ward on. (Crain's NY)

A NYC Councilman has proposed free parking for pregnant women. (NY Daily News)

Meantime, bobcats and lynx now have a new design for a crossing over I-70 in the Rockies (Denver Post)

The Twin Cities public transit system is "fraught with distrust" as feuding bureaucracies fail to set priorities in the best interests of the public. "People are interested in how decisions get made," said one suburban legislator. "I've asked, and I get a different answer from nearly everyone I ask."(Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

The Washington Post takes a look at the methodology behind the Texas Transportation Institute's recent report.

A summit to save debt-ridden Caltrain yielded ideas ranging from better coffee at stations, free Wi-Fi and business-class seating to toll lanes on Highway 101, tax increases and consolidating the Bay Area's multitude of transit agencies. (San Francisco Chronicle)

First Chicago, then DC...now Boston is considering selling naming rights to everything from the lines and stations of its subway, bus and commuter systems to its Web site, smart phone apps and Charlie Cards. “We want to do it tastefully and not over-commercialize the MBTA,” said general manager Richard Davey. “I would probably be reluctant to rename Park Street the Anheuser-Busch Park Street Station. But, at the same time ... we’re very open to hearing proposals.” (Boston Heral

Some of the Transportation Nation team is in DC this week at the Transportation Research Board conference. If you see people with microphones, emanating that public radio aura, say hello!

Top Transportation Nation stories that we’re following: Not all transportation projects create jobs equally. The Mayor of Tehran can't attend the ITDP awards. And: New York City taxi rides, visualized  in full color.

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