Transportation

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For states interested in partnering with the federal government on capital improvements to passenger rail, the current options are severely limited. Since fiscal year 2011, the main federal grant program — the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program — has not been funded by the U.S. Congress.
That leaves only one funding source, a U.S. grant program known as TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery), which funds an array of transportation-related projects thought to have a significant impact on the nation, a region or a metropolitan area.
In the most recent round of TIGER funding, only one passenger-rail improvement project successfully secured a grant — $12.5 million to upgrade parts of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route in Kansas and Colorado. Matching funds of $9.3 million will come from a mix of state, local and private sources.

In an effort to develop alternate funding sources to implement critical transportation and infrastructure projects, states across the country increasingly are looking to public-private partnerships, known as P3s, as an important strategy. States in CSG's Southern Legislative Conference have been particularly active in pursuing the P3 format for a number of years. This webinar provides the latest perspectives and approaches from three SLC states—Florida, Texas and Virginia.

This act amends existing laws relating to vehicle licensure, fees, license plates, safety, inspection and other requirements to include a new class of vehicle known as an “autocycle.” An “autocycle” is defined as “a three-wheeled motor vehicle that has a steering wheel and seating that does not require the operator to straddle or sit astride and is manufactured to comply with federal safety requirements for motorcycles.” Except as otherwise provided, an autocycle shall not be deemed to be a motorcycle.

Two new reports and a variety of recent developments in states lay bare the challenges of relying on the gas tax as a revenue source to meet transportation needs. I also have updates on some of my “States to Watch in 2015” and the usual roundup of recent items on MAP-21 reauthorization, public-private-partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal activities.

Massachusetts state Sen. Thomas McGee had a cautionary note for attendees at a recent conference in Denver on state transportation funding efforts. “It’s not just about reaching the finish line,” he said at the conference hosted by Transportation for America. “It’s about where you go from there.”

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.

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