Saturday, January 21, 2017

This Week in Transportation: January 21, 2017


This week in transportation, President Trump referenced infrastructure in his inaugural address, a Cabinet appointee came out in support of public investment, and opposition to a new Amtrak line gained traction in Rhode Island. Here are the most important and interesting transportation stories from the past week:

Here's what Trump said about infrastructure in his Inaugural Address
During his Inaugural Address, incoming President Donald Trump mentioned transportation infrastructure twice. My blog post highlights those two mentions and what they might mean for future policy.

Poll: Majority opposes Trump's current plan for infrastructure
A new poll out from the Washington Post and ABC News found that a strong majority of Americans oppose Trump's current plan for rebuilding our infrastructure, which relies heavily on incentivizing private companies to build infrastructure they could toll. 66% somewhat or strongly oppose the plan, while just 29% strongly or somewhat support it.

Trump’s Commerce pick backs public spending on transportation
The Hill reports, "Amid concerns from rural Republicans on Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Commerce Department voiced support for public investments in transportation. Wilbur Ross, who co-authored the private funding-focused infrastructure proposal that Trump floated on the campaign trail, assured senators during his confirmation hearing that the concept of using private financing was not the “be all and end all” solution...'“The infrastructure paper I put out was meant to provide another tool, not to be the be all and end all,' Ross told the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. 'There will be some necessity for [direct federal spending on transportation], whether it’s in the form of guarantees or direct investment or whatever.'"

One lawsuit down, but high-speed rail still faces five more cases
The Fresno Bee reports, "A lawsuit filed in 2014 by Kern County against the California High-Speed Rail Authority will be dismissed under the terms of a settlement announced Wednesday afternoon by the state agency... But four more CEQA lawsuits are still pending, filed by Kings County, the First Free Will Baptist Church of Bakersfield, Dignity Health, and the city of Shafter. And just last month, Kings County, local farmer John Tos, two Bay Area residents and several organizations sued the rail authority over the business financing plan it adopted to begin using money from Proposition 1A."

17 Rhode Island lawmakers oppose high-speed rail bypass
The Daily Progress reports, "A bipartisan group of Rhode Island legislators is opposing a plan to build a new Amtrak line that would speed up rail travel between Boston and New York City. Seventeen state lawmakers sent a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration this week expressing concern about the proposed bypass that would extend from Old Lyme, Connecticut, into southwestern Rhode Island. 'This bypass goes through wetlands, aquifers, nature preserves, designated open space, private property and farmland,' they wrote. 'The effect this project would have on southwestern Rhode Island would be enormous.'" Read my post about the FRA's plan for the Northeast Corridor here.

Happy reading, and happy weekend!

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