Sean Slone

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I’ve written before about how many suggest that future funding for transportation could and should be based on performance measures (see here and here). Now the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Transportation Policy Project is just out with a new report that offers their recommendations on how to incorporate them into the decision-making process.

Next week I’ll be in New York City for a conference on public-private partnerships (P3s for short) in transportation hosted by InfraAmericas, a news-gathering organization that provides in-depth analysis of P3s. I wrote about the conference for a recent issue of our Capitol Ideas E-Newsletter. CSG is a supporting organization for the InfraAmericas U.S. P3 Infrastructure Forum and many state officials from around the country will be among the more than 400 delegates on hand to discuss how they’re partnering or hoping to partner with private companies on important infrastructure projects. I expect to have plenty to write about when I return. But before I leave, I wanted to provide a few updates on recent developments in the world of P3s and a few links to recent reports.

It appeared to be a promising development last week when Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and Max Baucus and Republican Sens. James Inhofe and David Vitter released a joint statement citing “great progress” and “common ground” on a new transportation authorization bill. But there is already significant skepticism that Boxer and her colleagues can deliver a promised six-year bill that would allow state and local leaders around the country to fund long-term transportation projects going forward. And as usual, there is no shortage of opinions on how changes in federal and state policy might help the nation better address its infrastructure needs.

New reports out in recent weeks detail how the United States is falling behind other countries in infrastructure improvement, offer “taxpayer-friendly” solutions for the nation’s transportation challenges, explain how highway infrastructure spending is connected to the larger U.S. economy and examine tax provisions for financing infrastructure. Here’s a rundown.

As states ponder a future that includes declining gas tax revenues and most likely a reduction of federal dollars for transportation, many policymakers are wondering whether private investment can be an important tool to help them meet their infrastructure needs in the years ahead.

Last week I blogged about a recent forum in which transportation and infrastructure experts came together to discuss how to move the conversation forward on addressing the nation’s infrastructure needs. One of the consistent themes throughout that meeting involved the need to put greater emphasis on performance metrics to assure the public and their representatives in government that investments in infrastructure are being well spent and having the kind of impact they hope in areas like economic development. Well there’s a new report out today from The Rockefeller Foundation and the Pew Center on the States that assesses the capacity of all 50 states to use those kinds of metrics to identify just what they’re getting for their transportation dollars.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a forum outside Washington, D.C. entitled “Changing the Conversation: Advancing a National Infrastructure Improvement Agenda.” The American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Planning Association and other organizations brought together nearly 100 attendees from the business, academic, government, advocacy, public utilities, transportation, planning and research communities to discuss what might be needed to overcome significant communication barriers and make the case for infrastructure investment in the United States. Here’s a rundown of some of the ideas I heard at the meeting, as well as some worthwhile links to the resources of some of the organizations seeking to move the dialogue forward.

The U.S. government manages nearly 30 percent of the country's total territory. Despite the fact that the energy industry leased more than 45 million acres of onshore federal lands in 2009, a new report shows that the industry is not using 21.6 million acres of land under lease for oil production or exploration. The Obama administration is now considering whether millions of acres of federal land in the West should be protected as wild lands. But some state officials believe cuts in royalties from mineral development and delays in the permitting process for public lands that could result from the new protections could have a significant negative economic impact for their states.

Our recent policy brief on State Motor Fuel Taxes and a follow-up blog post have received a fair amount of hits in recent days. Since they were posted, there have been some new developments in several states. So it’s time to revisit the subject once again. Here’s a rundown of what’s happening around the country.

State officials have plenty of thoughts on what should be in the next authorization of federal transportation programs. Last week they used a variety of venues to once again let Congress know their priorities for the successor to SAFETEA-LU, the 2005 authorization legislation that officially expired in 2009 which has been operating under a series of temporary extensions since. But many wonder whether a new bill that is expected to be substantially more limited in scope and dollars than past efforts can come close to meeting state wish lists.

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