Saturday, November 19, 2016

This Week in Transportation: November 19, 2016

This week in transportation, transportation came into focus for the next Congress, California's high speed rail briefly considered buying foreign train parts, and DC Metro's maintenance program may get an extension. Here are the most important and interesting stories from the past week:

House, Senate appear split on infrastructure as top priority
The Hill reports, "Republican leaders in the House and Senate appear to disagree on whether an infrastructure package will be an immediate priority for the next Congress... House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Monday that he supports fixing the nation’s infrastructure and believes it could be a top priority for the lower chamber, though he emphasized that any plans would need to be fully paid for... But across the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has adopted a different tone. The Kentucky Republican seemed to throw cold water on Trump's infrastructure proposal last week, saying it would not be a top priority."

Opinion: Trump's big infrastructure plan? It's a trap.
Ronald A. Klain, who oversaw implementation of the Recovery Act under President Obama, writes for the Washington Post, "I’ve got a simple message for Democrats who are embracing President-elect Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan: Don’t do it. It’s a trap. Backing Trump’s plan is a mistake in policy and political judgment they will regret, as did their Democratic predecessors who voted for Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts in 1981 and George W. Bush’s cuts in 2001."

Foreign train parts? Never mind, says California High-Speed Rail Authority
The Silicon Valley Business Journal reports, "The authority that’s building the system, due to begin service from San Jose in 2025, withdrew a waiver to the Buy America Act today that it filed just last week with the Federal Railroad Administration. Had the waiver been granted, it would have allowed the authority to equip its trains with components built outside the United States... Though it wasn’t stated explicitly, it’s clear that the authority came under political pressure following last week’s announcement."

Metro's SafeTrack could cost twice as much as expected and likely won't conclude until June
The Washington Post reports, "Metro’s SafeTrack maintenance program will cost significantly more than anticipated and take at least three months longer to complete, according to a progress report released Wednesday. The report by the Federal Transit Administration estimates that the total cost of the project will be $118.8 million — nearly twice the $60 million price tag Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld floated in June... Additionally, the FTA report confirms what had already become apparent after recent changes to the SafeTrack schedule. Although the project was originally expected to conclude by March 2017, managers are now predicting a June 2017 completion date."

Happy reading, and happy weekend!

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