Highways and Bridges

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently made more than $470 million in unspent funds for transportation projects immediately available to states. The money comes from funds initially allocated for 671 earmarked projects in appropriations bills between 2003 and 2006 that are now either dead or delayed. While the rescissions could give states greater flexibility to use those funds, they could provide additional challenges for states hoping to jump-start their moribund projects.

While MAP-21, the surface transportation authorization bill approved by Congress this summer, had numerous provisions (and a few notable omissions), observers say the legislation’s establishment of transportation performance measures is one of the key reforms with the potential to be truly transformative for the federal-aid highway program. National transportation goals will be emphasized and there will be important roles for state governments and metropolitan planning organizations in developing performance measures and targets. CSG has long been a supporter of state performance measurement initiatives through efforts like our States Perform website. That’s why we jumped at the chance to host an upcoming webinar for Cambridge Systematics that will help the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) design a performance reporting approach that policymakers at all levels will find useful.

Stateline Midwest Vol. 20, No. 7: July/August 2012

After two years of seeking options and legislative support to build a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder appears to have found a way to make it a reality.

He signed in June what’s known as an “interlocal agreement” with the Canadian...

The Council of State Governments hosted the 2012 CSG Transportation Policy Academy June 26-28 in Washington, DC just as Congressional negotiators were reaching final agreement on a new federal surface transportation bill. Eight state legislators from seven states and representing all four of CSG’s regions attended the academy. The group included five legislators who chair transportation committees in their respective states. The policy academy agenda included visits to Capitol Hill and the U.S. Department of Transportation, a bus tour of regional transportation construction projects hosted by the Virginia Department of Transportation and briefings on such topics as the state of the nation’s infrastructure, the importance of infrastructure investment to the economy, the future of the federal-state partnership in transportation and innovative transportation financing options for states including public-private partnerships and state infrastructure banks. Here are some highlights of remarks by policy academy briefers and links to resources where you can learn more.

On July 5th, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation (House Bill 3) to allow the state to enter into public-private partnerships (P3s for short) to finance transportation projects. As a result, Pennsylvania became the 33rd state to adopt such legislation. The 32 other states they join all have their own stories to tell about their experiences and justifications for employing the financing tool, as I was again reminded last month at the annual InfraAmericas U.S. P3 Infrastructure Forum in New York City.

Finance at the state and federal levels and alternatives to the gas tax are two major topics in the transportation discussion. In addition, as high-speed rail is put on the backburner elsewhere, the dream is still alive in California. This session focused on how infrastruture investment can impact the road construction industry and a company like UPS. Speakers also discussed what California has planned in high-speed rail and what it could mean for the rest of the country.

Finance at the state and federal levels and alternatives to the gas tax are two major topics in the transportation discussion. In addition, as high-speed rail is put on the backburner elsewhere, the dream is still alive in California. This session focused on how infrastruture investment can impact the road construction industry and a company like UPS. Speakers also discussed what California has planned in high-speed rail and what it could mean for the rest of the country.

Finance at the state and federal levels and alternatives to the gas tax are two major topics in the transportation discussion. In addition, as high-speed rail is put on the backburner elsewhere, the dream is still alive in California. This session focused on how infrastruture investment can impact the road construction industry and a company like UPS. Speakers also discussed what California has planned in high-speed rail and what it could mean for the rest of the country.

The U.S. Senate Wednesday passed a long-awaited, 18-month, bipartisan, $109 billion bill to authorize federal surface transportation programs on a vote of 74 to 22. Attention now turns to the House, where leaders could decide to take up the Senate measure or seek to resurrect their own five-year, $260 billion plan that has so far failed to win the same level of support. Meanwhile the March 31st deadline when the latest SAFETEA-LU extension expires looms large and many believe another short-term extension will be needed to give time for the House to act and for lawmakers to work out details of a final bill. But, as U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a Congressional committee today, that scenario is complicated by the start of the road construction season when states must have some certainty that the money will be there to pay road contractors over the next several months and beyond. Still, despite the challenges ahead and the Senate bill’s shortcomings, many are praising both its passage and its provisions, many of which could have a huge impact for state governments for years to come. Here are some notable elements of the legislation.

Gas and sales tax increases, state infrastructure banks, public-private partnerships and state lotteries are among the ideas being floated in state capitals around the country to help meet infrastructure needs. Here are a few updates from the last couple of weeks on how those ideas are faring.

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