Transportation

Following the deluge of major transportation funding packages passed by states in 2013, elections and other factors combined to make 2014 a somewhat quieter year on that front. But as 2015 legislative sessions approach, a large number of states appear poised to tackle transportation funding. While some states are holdovers from years past as a result of previously unsuccessful efforts, there are also a handful of relative newcomers to the list this year. Their reasons for addressing the issue now and the urgency with which they are approaching it may vary, but there are plenty of common justifications and common solutions that already appear to be emerging.

In an era of constrained capital budgets and escalating expenses associated with transportation project construction, policymakers may be tempted to consider only the short-term, upfront costs of those projects with little thought about their future costs. But improving long-term decision making will require planners and policymakers to begin thinking more about maintaining and operating transportation assets over time and factoring the accompanying costs into their planning. This eCademy highlights a new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Eno Center for Transportation, including policy innovations recommended at the federal, state and local levels for expanding the use of life cycle cost analysis to more accurately reflect the actual costs of transportation investments.

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In just a few short years, the presence of ride-sharing companies such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar has spread to more than 60 metropolitan areas across the country — 15 of which are in the Midwest. With a simple tap of a button on a smartphone application, a passenger can connect with a driver. The driver, using his or her personal vehicle, then provides a ride to a desired location, oftentimes at much cheaper prices than a traditional taxi or car service.
 
Should these ride-sharing companies fall under the same licensing and insurance regulations as taxi and limousine services? Should they fall under a new type of classification of service, or not be regulated at all? These are some of the questions that states and municipalities have begun to address with the rise in ride-sharing.

From key changes in Congress and state capitols to statewide and local ballot measures, Tuesday was a pivotal Election Day when it comes to transportation. I have some thoughts on the significance of this year’s batch of state and local ballot measures, a roundup of all the results, and links to information about the potential impact of the changes on Capitol Hill, in governor’s mansions and elsewhere. Plus, as always, news, links and new reports on MAP-21 reauthorization and the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state transportation funding activities, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies.

Voters in several states will consider the fate of transportation-related ballot measures in next week’s election. I have a refresher on the statewide measures in play as well as some local and county ballot measures to watch. Plus a number of items on how transportation is playing as an issue in a number of fall campaigns and how it could be on the agenda for state legislatures next year. As always, I also have my regular roundup of items on the future of the federal transportation program, state transportation funding efforts, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

Transportation policy experts expect transportation funding to be high on the agenda in many state capitols when legislators around the country convene for their 2015 legislative sessions. Some states are long past due for addressing the transportation funding issue. Others have been hard at work this summer and fall in legislative study committees and other venues trying to come up with potential funding solutions. State lawmakers and others will have an opportunity in November to hear about past legislative successes, what lies ahead for 2015, innovative funding mechanisms from around the country, lessons learned from funding campaigns, and ways to develop messages and build coalitions for success in their own states. The Washington, D.C.-based organization Transportation for America is hosting a forum Nov. 13-14 in Denver.

Transportation for America is a Washington, DC-based alliance of elected, business and civic leaders from around the country that advocates for locally driven transportation solutions as a key to economic prosperity. Next month in Denver, the organization will host a two-day conference entitled “Capital Ideas: Raising Money for Transportation Through Innovative State Legislation” (register here; see full agenda here). The conference, which is geared towards state legislators and others, will look back on the experiences of states that have recently had success in passing transportation funding measures, examine innovative state policies and provide a how-to guide for policymakers on messaging, campaign strategy and coalition building to move funding initiatives forward. Transportation for America Director James Corless discussed the conference in this recent interview, portions of which also appear in the October 23rd edition of the CSG Capitol Ideas E-Newsletter.

America’s infrastructure needs are great. As concerns about federal transportation programs endure, state governments are making strides to address their needs. While major transportation funding packages got much of the attention in 2013, states are implementing numerous strategies to address needs related to bridges, highways, transit and future funding.

From tolling to gas taxes to light rail transit projects, transportation issues are factoring into numerous 2014 state races as Election Day approaches. One example is the question of how to fund the replacement of a bridge over the Ohio River, which has come up as an issue in both Ohio and Kentucky. I also have updates this week on the chances for a new long-term federal transportation bill, the work of several state transportation funding committees, the evolution of public-private partnerships and the debate over streetcar systems and other transit projects in many communities.

The operator of the Indiana Toll Road announced this month it would seek bankruptcy protection with a creditor-supported restructuring plan. While the toll road was one of the first transportation public-private partnerships (P3s) in this country, it hasn’t really proven to be the model for other P3s as some believed it would. And, at least for now, it appears the bankruptcy will have little impact either on motorists who use the facility or on the burgeoning P3 industry in the United States. I also have a roundup of recent reports from the American Society of Civil Engineers and Eno Center for Transportation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Plus the usual collection of links on MAP-21 reauthorization, the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state transportation funding initiatives, P3s and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

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