Aviation

The benefits of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to the nation’s infrastructure were touted this week as the 2009 federal stimulus package turned five years old. Meanwhile policymakers and analysts continued to express concern about future federal and state infrastructure investment both in Washington and state capitals.

Hopefully many of you have had a chance to dive into my recent post on the Top 5 Issues for 2014 in Transportation. It’s part of a series across all our policy areas here at CSG that has become a popular annual feature. The expanded version of the transportation list (which I have newly updated this week) includes extensive links to related articles and resources from throughout 2013. Now with nearly a month of 2014 under our belts, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at those Top 5 issues through the prism of the New Year and the transportation stories it has generated so far. I have updates on MAP-21 reauthorization and the future of the Highway Trust Fund, the legacy of MAP-21, continuing state activity on transportation revenues, the evolution of public-private partnerships and states and communities working on finding solutions for a multi-modal transportation future.

State capitals were where the action was in 2013, with six states approving significant revenue packages and a number of others setting in motion plans for 2014, when the activity is expected to continue around the country. Some of the attention now shifts back to Washington as Congress must again consider legislation to authorize federal transportation programs and decide what to do about the dwindling Highway Trust Fund and as the legacy of the 2012 legislation, known as MAP-21, is cemented. Meanwhile public-private partnerships, which have helped some states fund pricey transportation projects and weather fiscal uncertainty in recent years, will likely continue to evolve in the year ahead. All this as officials at all levels of government and other stakeholders continue to seek approaches to ensure the vision of a multi-modal future for communities and commerce is realized. Here’s my expanded article on the top 5 issues in transportation for 2014 and a wide variety of additional CSG and non-CSG resources where you can read more.

On the day President Obama’s 2013 budget proposal was released and as Congress prepares to debate two competing surface transportation authorization bills this week, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood used a conference call budget briefing to both highlight the President’s own authorization proposal and to restate the administration’s preference between House and Senate authorization proposals.

With Washington still embroiled in the debt ceiling debate and no momentum for a new transportation reauthorization bill, we get a glimpse this week at the potential cost of doing nothing to improve America’s infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) issues a new report today entitled “Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Surface Transportation Infrastructure.” The report indicates that not only are American households and businesses absorbing enormous costs today as a result of deteriorating infrastructure, over the next 30 years these costs could further reduce America’s productivity and competitiveness in the world, cause millions of Americans to forgo discretionary purchases in order to pay transportation costs that could have been avoided, cause the U.S. to lose out on creating jobs in high paying services and manufacturing industries, produce a significant drain on wages and productivity and result in the United States losing billions of dollars in foreign exports.

Yesterday, Texas lawmakers pulled legislation targeting Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents who conduct invasive airport patdown searches after the federal government threatened to ground all flights out of the state.  

The bill (HB 1937), which unanimously passed the Texas House on May 13, would make it a crime, punishable by a $4000 fine and one year in jail, for TSA screeners to touch the genitals of a traveler without probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.

This Act regulates building near public-use airports. The Act requires owners of proposed structures within a three-mile area surrounding a public-use airport to get special permits from the state aeronautics commission before building such structures. 

CSG South

The airline industry serves not just as an economic engine for states, cities and regions, but as a cog in the essential network of transportation within the United States. Yet the industry finds itself in a very difficult period. With the new focus on homeland security in the United States, exacerbated by war, the terrorist attacks of 2001, a downturn in the economy, and anomalies such as the SARS virus, the airline industry has found itself in a state of turmoil, loss and great trepidation. With the industry especially important to its birthplace, the Southern region, this report highlights the contributions of carriers to local and regional economies and the challenges that face them in Southern states.

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