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!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Transportation News Round-Up: June 4, 2016

Photo courtesy of Gov. Cuomo's office.

This week in transportation, cities competed for federal Smart City money, construction began on a new LaGuardia Airport, and the South Carolina state legislature passed a road funding bill. Here are the most interesting and important stories from the past week:

TIME: How technology can fix America's crumbling infrastructure
Kevin Curry of Infor outlines the steps America needs to take in order to properly manage its increasingly deficient transportation infrastructure system. Specifically, Curry suggests creating a comprehensive inventory of every transportation asset, identifying the most viable projects, prioritizing projects based on established criteria (e.g. safety, comfort, reliability), and modeling the effects of investing in repairs, maintenance, or replacement.

Government Technology: Effort to build a smarter transportation network takes a giant step forward
The Smart City Challenge is underway, with various American cities competing for a $50 million federal prize as well as a suite of services from tech companies to help them achieve their urban renewal visions. This article illustrates some of the projects the cities are undertaking. For example, Kansas City is deploying automated kiosks to help residents figure out their best public transportation options, and vehicle-to-vehicle communications to help reduce freight congestion. Portland will launch a "mobility marketplace" that allows users to get traffic information as well as buy and sell mobility services.

CNBC: This is how electric cars become the norm
Jennifer Granholm, former Governor of Michigan and current electric car driver, advocates for a "coast to coast network" of high-speed charging stations colocated with existing rest stops to help electric car drivers get from one coast to the other. This would arise through public-private partnerships, using public funding to leverage private investment in the stations.

WNYC: Construction on a new LaGuardia to begin this week
With funding secured and a 35-year lease signed, construction is beginning on a new LaGuardia Airport, an airport frequently cited in conversations about the state of our air travel infrastructure. The project, which will cost $4 billion and be largely completed by 2021, will rebuild the airport's main terminal and connect it to new terminals being built by Delta, shifting the airport's footprint closer to the Grand Central Parkway to allow for two miles of new runway space, which will in turn reduce gate delays.

The Post and Courier: House approves roads bill, sends to governor
After years of on again, off again negotiations, the South Carolina legislature has passed a bill to allow for major new investment in the state's roads and highways without raising taxes. The state transportation department will be able to leverage $200 million a year into $2.2 billion in bonds over the next decade. The legislation also reforms how commissioners are selected for the DOT Commission, which is responsible for appointing a DOT Secretary and approving infrastructure bank projects.

Happy reading, and happy weekend!