Sean Slone

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While not likely to be a major issue in the fall campaign, the future of the nation’s infrastructure did receive some attention in the party platforms released last month in advance of the Republican and Democratic presidential nominating conventions. The platforms reveal very different philosophies that could guide the federal government’s approach to infrastructure in the years to come and have a huge impact for states seeking to meet their future infrastructure needs. But the statements of the presidential candidates themselves on infrastructure issues are also prompting some attention this week.

Recognizing the challenge of financing and completing needed infrastructure projects, several states in 2016 approved legislation that allows them to enter into public-private partnerships (P3s). But P3 legislation has not always guaranteed quick success in moving projects forward and some states without P3 legislation have been able to explore P3s nonetheless. A number of other states have taken steps in recent years to clarify their goals and procedures with regards to P3 projects. These actions are taking place as the universe of P3 infrastructure projects around the country is expanding well beyond toll roads.

For many years synonymous with car culture and some of the nation’s worst traffic, the city of Los Angeles is in the midst of what city leaders hope will be an extended period of investment in public transit that is already transforming how Los Angelenos live, work and play.  

When U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx finished his remarks at the recent InfraAmericas conference on public-private partnerships, or P3s, in New York City, Kentucky state Rep. Leslie Combs was first to the microphone for the Q&A. “We just passed P3 legislation in Kentucky,” said Combs, who this spring authored the legislation that allows Kentucky, like 33 other states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, to enter into P3s to build infrastructure projects.

After nine years of construction and a series of delays, a $5.4 billion expansion of the Panama Canal was inaugurated Sunday June 26. The expansion is expected to have a significant economic impact for U.S. ports and the states in which they reside. Here’s a rundown of what a number of states are expecting, the preparations and challenges that could lie ahead for the nation’s ports and some economic factors that could reshape expectations for the new canal.

While there may be a long-term federal surface transportation bill in place and while many states have been addressing their own transportation needs in recent years, there is still much work left to do and a variety of key questions on the horizon.

That was the message from speakers at the 6th annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy held May 18-20 in Washington, D.C. Ten state legislators from across the country, chosen in consultation with CSG regional staff and Associates, attended the event, which took place against the backdrop of Infrastructure Week, a week of infrastructure-themed events in the nation’s capital and elsewhere.

New Jersey policymakers face a July 1 deadline to come up with a way to avert the impending insolvency of the state’s Transportation Trust Fund. Meanwhile, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy agreed last month to divert $50 million in sales tax revenues intended for his state’s Special Transportation Fund to help close a $1 billion budget deficit for the 2017 fiscal year. Such diversions have become commonplace in Connecticut and other states. Last December, Malloy called for a constitutional “lockbox” to prevent future diversions as a number of states have employed, but lawmakers could not agree this spring to put the measure on the November ballot. These stories return the spotlight to trust funds and lockboxes, which were the subject of a CSG Capitol Research brief last year.

Next month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to issue what is being billed as a model state policy as well as “best-practice guidance to industry on establishing principles of safe operation for fully autonomous vehicles.” Then, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) will follow suit with more detailed guidelines and materials in support of the policy this fall. Those two documents are likely to kick off what many believe will be a busy couple of years at the state and federal levels in determining how driverless vehicles will take the roads and the complex policy changes that may be needed to accommodate them. But while many states anxiously await that guidance, a couple are already making moves to accelerate the autonomous future in significant ways.

The 6th Annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. wrapped up on May 20 with a panel discussion on transit-oriented development and building communities. Panelists included Marco Li Mandri, the President of California-based New City America, a company that works on business district revitalization efforts around the country; Angela Fox, the president and CEO of the Crystal City, Virginia Business Improvement District; and Michael Stevens, president of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District in Washington, which was the home base for this year’s policy academy. They discussed the evolving responsibilities of state legislation-enabled business improvement districts in managing neighborhoods around transit hubs and the roles played by retail, restaurants, residential, office space, parks, sports facilities and transit in ensuring their success. This page includes extended excerpts of their remarks from the panel discussion, links to PowerPoint presentations and related reading and photos from both the panel and a subsequent tour of the Capitol Riverfront BID.

Aubrey Layne is the secretary of transportation for the Commonwealth of Virginia and serves as the 2016 vice-chair of the CSG Transportation Public Policy Committee. He delivered a keynote address May 19 to state legislators from around the country attending the 6th Annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. He spoke about the Commonwealth’s recent efforts to reform its processes around transportation project prioritization and public-private partnerships.

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