2017 was a big year for state transportation funding efforts, following in the footsteps of recent odd-number years 2013 and 2015 that also saw significant activity. So, what’s on tap for 2018? Here’s my annual look ahead.
Infrastructure investment was a big winner on Election Day 2017 as a variety of state and local ballot measures around the country to raise taxes or authorize borrowing won voter approval. Here’s a roundup of what happened Tuesday and a look ahead to 2018.
While 2017 is considered an off-year in most state election cycles, Election Day this year still will find transportation on the ballot in a variety of ways. From two key gubernatorial contests to state and local ballot measures, here’s a preview of what to look for on November 7 as well as updates on a few transportation-related matters already decided by voters.
Thursday, October 19 marked the deadline for cities to apply to become the home of Amazon’s second corporate headquarters, a $5 billion project that is expected to eventually employ 50,000 people with average salaries of more than $100,000. The competition, which the company announced last month, sparked a bidding war that demonstrated the growing importance of ecommerce and logistics to the nation’s economy and that allowed many parts of the country to tout their infrastructure assets and, in some cases, to recognize the infrastructure challenges they may need to face in the future.
Nevada is home to the Tesla Gigafactory, where lithium-ion batteries for electric cars are being manufactured. The state is a test bed for Hyperloop One technology, for unmanned aerial systems and for connected and automated vehicles. Nevada was the first to pass autonomous vehicle legislation in 2011. With Project NEON, Nevada has undertaken the largest public works project in its history, which will widen the busiest stretch of highway in Las Vegas. The director of the Nevada Department of Transportation, Rudy Malfabon, will discuss how these and other initiatives are driving his state forward. Plus, the committee will engage in interactive policy discussions on the takeaways from this summer’s CSG Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Policy Academy in Detroit and a busy year for state transportation funding efforts around the country.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on October 6 announced the latest recipients of federal grants to enable testing of alternative methods of transportation funding. The $95 million Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives program was established under 2015’s FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act.
President Trump this week appeared to back away from what was expected to be a cornerstone of his plan to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. Meanwhile, federal autonomous vehicle policy gets an update from the U.S. Department of Transportation and in new legislation expected to go before a U.S. Senate committee next week.
The U.S. House of Representatives this week approved bipartisan legislation known as the SELF DRIVE Act (HR 3388), which would give federal law priority over state laws when it comes to regulating the safety and design of autonomous vehicles. Action now moves to the Senate, where another bill is expected to emerge this Fall and where a hearing will take place next week. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao next week is expected to travel to Michigan to release an update to the autonomous vehicle policy guidance document issued a year ago by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These activities could lead to not only an increase in the number of vehicles being tested around the country in the years ahead but also provide clarity for state policymakers on the role state governments can play in regulating these vehicles going forward.
It seems that each day brings a barrage of new articles on what’s going on with autonomous and connected vehicle policy around the country. Just in the two months since we convened the CSG Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Policy Academy for a group of state policymakers in Detroit (check out the meeting archive with extensive summaries of each policy academy session), there have been plenty of developments. Here’s a collection of some of the recent news, state updates and reports on this multifaceted, rapidly evolving transportation topic.
CSG convened the Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Policy Academy June 12-14, 2017 in Detroit. A group of state policymakers from around the country attended the event. The academy included a June 13 panel on the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy issued in 2016 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and its model state policy. Panelists included Cathie Curtis of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Staff Sgt. Terence McDonnell of the New York State Police traffic services section and Santa Clara University law professor Robert Peterson.