Cargo and Freight

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer said Thursday her committee plans to introduce and mark up a new surface transportation authorization bill next week. The measure is expected to be a five- or six-year bill that would keep current spending levels, adjusted for inflation. But elsewhere on Capitol Hill this week there were ominous signs that agreement on a way to pay for such a bill has yet to emerge. Meanwhile states continue to be concerned about key transportation projects that could be scuttled if Congress fails to act to shore up the Highway Trust Fund.

New Hampshire’s first gas tax increase in more than 20 years won final approval in the state legislature this week. Meanwhile, the defeat of a ballot measure to increase sales taxes and enact a car tab fee to fund transit service in Seattle’s King County means residents will see cuts in bus service hours just as ridership is on the rise. Plus, just as the Highway Trust Fund gets ready to run dry, there are renewed concerns about the condition of bridges in the United States. I also have the usual updates and links to items on MAP-21 reauthorization and the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies. And I have news about a worthwhile conference you’ll want to add to your summer travels.

August 29 now appears to be the "drop dead date" for Congressional action to avert a shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, the U.S. Department of Transportation said this week. Meanwhile, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx hit the road to make the case for infrastructure investment as state officials from around the country continued to talk about the impact of federal uncertainty on their projects. I also have my usual roundup of items on state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

The chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said this week that Congress is running out of time to act to avert insolvency for the federal Highway Trust Fund as state transportation officials and leaders of state chambers of commerce warned of the consequences if that were to come to pass. But there still appears to be no agreement in sight about how to fund a trust fund fix and a long-term surface transportation bill. I also have the usual roundup of news items and resources on MAP-21 reauthorization, state transportation funding activities, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

The federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out of money even earlier than expected this summer, according to new data released this week. That’s likely to make it even tougher for Congress to come up with a funding solution in time and it has many in Washington and around the country concerned about what would be an unprecedented situation for state transportation programs. I also have the usual collection of links to items on state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies.

Alaska lawmakers are considering asking voters to create a state infrastructure fund that would help pay for airport, road and other projects around the state. Meanwhile, Connecticut and Kansas are among the states with similar trust funds that are looking to prevent future raids on those funds when times are tight. I also have my usual weekly round-up of items this week on the future of the Highway Trust Fund and MAP-21 reauthorization, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships, and multi-modal strategies being employed in various states and communities around the country.

President Obama this week proposed a four-year, $302 billion transportation bill that he said could be partially funded through a corporate tax overhaul, a plan Congressional leaders have already said is unlikely to gain traction this year. He also joined a chorus of voices warning that hundreds of road and bridge projects around the country could be stopped in their tracks if Congress fails to renew the Highway Trust Fund. Meanwhile, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp offered up his own plan to rework the tax code this week, which he believes could yield $126.5 billion to fund infrastructure investment. I also have updates this week on state transportation revenue activities, public-private partnerships and multi-modal strategies.

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.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this week heard testimony from a variety of transportation stakeholders, many of whom said they would like to see an increase in the federal gas tax to fund transportation. Meanwhile, despite evidence that 2014 may not be as big a year for state transportation funding as 2013 was, a handful of states moved forward this week with efforts to seek new revenues. I also have this month’s roundup of updates and links to my Top 5 Issues for 2014.

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Energy production in North Dakota and Alberta continues to grow, and producers are counting on railroads to help them get crude oil to market. Much of this oil comes to or through the Midwest. The dangers of shipping oil by rail were most recently demonstrated when two trains collided near Fargo, N.D., on Dec. 30, leading to a derailment. Explosions and fire in at least 10 oil-carrying cars followed, and the town of Casselton had to be evacuated.

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