Highway Trust Fund

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.

Congress’ decision this summer to once again tap general funds to temporarily patch up the dwindling federal Highway Trust Fund loomed large over discussions at the 2014 CSG Transportation Policy Academy, held Sept. 15-17 in Washington, D.C. But the nine state legislators who attended the event also heard about plenty of innovation going on in states and communities around the country.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Even as federal inaction on transportation continues, a number of states have moved forward over the last couple of years to address their transportation needs. 
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WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congress’ decision this summer to once again tap general funds to temporarily patch up the dwindling federal Highway Trust Fund loomed large over discussions at the CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, D.C., Sept. 15-17....

The 2014 CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. wrapped up September 17 with a listening session at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Carlos Monje, counselor to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and others were on hand to talk about federal transportation programs and to field questions and comments from the state legislators in attendance. Monje has recently been nominated for the post of Assistant Secretary for Policy at DOT. The wide-ranging discussion focused on such topics as efforts to push for a long-term transportation bill, the success of the federal TIGER program, public-private partnerships and mileage-based user fees. This page includes selected excerpts from participants in the meeting and links to additional resources on some of the topics discussed.

Day two of the 2014 CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. wrapped up with remarks by Joshua Schank, President and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, a D.C.-based foundation and think tank focused on transportation issues. He spoke about why Congress has been unable to pass a long-term surface transportation bill and some potential alternative approaches for structuring the federal transportation program. This page includes highlights of Schank’s remarks and some related links of interest.

Day two of the 2014 CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, DC began with a morning-long policy roundtable featuring transportation stakeholders, experts, analysts and advocates. The group included speakers from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Trucking Associations, the Center for American Progress, the Heritage Foundation, the Bipartisan Policy Center and Transportation for America. Topics include the condition of the nation’s infrastructure, states and the future of transportation funding, mileage-based user fees, a proposal to eliminate much of the federal gas tax and give states much of the responsibility for raising transportation revenues and making investment decisions, and the future of the federal-state-local partnership in transportation. This page includes excerpts of remarks by speakers and attendees, photos, PowerPoint presentations and additional resources and links from the event.

Nine state legislators from around the country, many of them transportation committee chairs, attended the invitation-only CSG Transportation Policy Academy September 15-17, 2014 in Washington, D.C. The event included a tour of transportation projects in Northern Virginia and a panel focused on how states like Virginia and Maryland have made use of public-private partnerships in transportation. Attendees took part in a roundtable with transportation stakeholders, experts and advocates including speakers from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Trucking Associations, the Heritage Foundation, the Center for American Progress, the Bipartisan Policy Center and Transportation for America. Lawmakers also had the opportunity to meet with members of Congress and officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation. They visited the Washington office of the American Society of Civil Engineers and heard talks by former D.C. Planning Director Harriet Tregoning, who now directs the Office of Economic Resilience at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Joshua Schank, President & CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, a Washington-based think tank. Topics included the condition of the nation’s infrastructure, the federal role in transportation and state transportation funding initiatives. This page includes links to additional pages highlighting various portions of the policy academy and including extended remarks from speakers and participants, additional resources and links for further reading.

While August was a time of summer vacations for many, for me the month disappeared in a blur of CSG meetings in far-flung places like Baltimore, Seattle and Anchorage (which is why the blog has been on an extended hiatus since my last post on July 25). Now with Congress set to return next week and the days of summer dwindling to a precious few, it’s time to round up the transportation stories you may have missed while you were catching rays on the beach or joining CSG for an Alaskan adventure last month. I have a look at the Missouri vote on a sales tax increase to fund transportation and the temporary reprieve for the federal Highway Trust Fund, plus links to a huge variety of stories on state transportation revenue activities, public-private partnerships, transit projects, high-speed rail and other topics.

Punting the football… Kicking the can down the roadHitting the snooze buttonStill driving blind… Road to nowhere… Spinning wheelsRiding on four flat tires…  Pick your favorite metaphor and it’s probably been used to describe the House-approved temporary fix that the U.S. Senate appears poised to pass next week to rescue the dwindling federal Highway Trust Fund and ensure reimbursements for transportation projects will continue to go out to states through next May. It’s a plan that no one seems to like, that mostly prolongs the uncertainty states have faced in recent years with regards to the federal transportation program and that sets up another battle for next spring, albeit in what could be a substantially different looking new Congress. I also have a look this week at President Obama’s Build America Investment Initiative and a super-sized roundup of links from the last three weeks on reauthorization of MAP-21, the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

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