Saturday, June 18, 2016

Transportation News Round-Up: June 18, 2016

Photo courtesy of Maryland Transit Administration.

This week in transportation, New Jersey lawmakers came to an agreement on transportation funding, Maryland's Purple Line received a federal loan, and a new report found that infrastructure investment is falling worldwide. Here are the most important and interesting stories from the past week:

Orange County Register: High-speed rail lawsuit delays cost $63 million, 17 months
A ruling has freed up financing and land for the California high-speed rail project, but at the cost of $63 million added to costs and 17 months tacked on to the completion date.  Central Valley landowners seeking to block the project had filed suit on the grounds that the Authority's plans violated promises made to voters when bond sales were on the ballot in 2008. the $63 million will come from $160 million reserve already approved by the board that oversees the project. N.J. lawmakers: 23 cent gas tax hike for road jobs is fair trade for estate tax cut
Republicans and Democrats in the New Jersey state legislature have come to an agreement on a proposal to raise the gas tax by 23 cents in exchange for cutting taxes on estates and retirement income to finance the Transportation Trust Fund, which otherwise expires at the end of June. The fund doles out $400 million annually to local governments for road repairs. Governor Christie, however, opposes the bill, saying the tax cuts don't go far enough.

Bethesda Magazine: Feds announce $875 million loan for Purple Line construction
The team of companies designing, building, and operating Maryland's new Purple Line will receive a $874.6 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which will provide the bulk of the $1 billion in construction financing expected of the Purple Line Transit Partners. The line will cover 16 miles with 21 stations between Bethesda and New Carrollton.

DCist: Meet Olli, the driverless vehicle cruising around National Harbor
Local Motors has debuted a driverless vehicle that can bus up to 12 people while gathering data and answering riders' questions about its decisions. Olli is operating around National Harbor - the site of Local Motors' new facility - and is just a preview of what the company ultimately hopes to accomplish: a fleet of Ollis that can be hailed by an app and drive people around on public roads.

Wall Street Journal: The world needs to boost infrastructure spending, but many countries are cutting back
A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute shows that the world needs to increase its investment in infrastructure to the tune of .4% of global output to meet increasing demand - but many countries are cutting back after peak investment levels following the Great Recession. The U.S. is no exception, as infrastructure investment as a percent of GDP has declined steadily since a high in 2009. The report suggests that we can close the funding gap by leveraging banks and institutional investors such as pension funds and university endowments.

Happy reading, and happy weekend!

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