Leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee announced this week they have agreed in principle on how to proceed with the next federal surface transportation authorization bill, the successor to 2012’s MAP-21. I also have the usual roundup of links on the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

In Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States the Court held 8-1 that a private party, rather than the federal government, owns an abandoned railroad right-of-way granted by the General Railroad Right-of-Way Act of 1875.  When the federal government owns abandoned railroad rights-of-way, state and local governments may convert them into “Rails-to-Trails.”  The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus curiae brief in this case.

Leaders in Washington State say a transportation funding package is dead for this legislative session, putting in jeopardy a number of mega-projects many say the state needs. I also have items this week on the nation’s road spending priorities and a reported uptick in transit ridership. Plus the usual updates on MAP-21 reauthorization, state transportation funding efforts, public-private partnerships, and state multi-modal strategies.

Day two of the CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. included a transportation policy roundtable featuring a variety of transportation stakeholders and experts. Among them was Brian Pallasch, Managing Director for Government Relations and Infrastructure Initiatives at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). He spoke about ASCE’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.

The passage of MAP-21, the federal surface transportation authorization bill, in 2012 brought with it a host of policy changes but little in the way of long-term funding security for states trying to meet their growing infrastructure needs. Perhaps partially in reaction, an unprecedented number of states—including Missouri—explored new transportation revenue options in 2013. Meanwhile, bridge collapses earlier this year in Washington state and Missouri once again brought into sharp focus what’s at stake in finding new funding to fix old facilities. This session explored how Missouri is hoping to shape its transportation future, how a new emphasis on performance measurement under MAP-21 will impact states and how the state of the nation’s aging infrastructure makes it a critical time for transportation policy.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments recognizes that the New International Trade Crossing is vital to ensuring the ongoing viability of existing trade between the United States and Canada and will lay the foundation for future productivity, growth and economic stability of local economies across the Midwest.

I have a new Capitol Research brief out this week looking at the “Changing Face of Transportation Revenues.” In it, I talk with university research professors and other transportation experts about the strategies states have pursued this year to fund transportation investment. In honor of the report’s release, I thought I’d pass along a few updates on what’s happening in a few other states. I also have updates below on tolling, public private partnerships, infrastructure conditions and performance measurement.

While 2013 has been a big year for states considering and approving new transportation revenues, there are signs that a number of states are still struggling to figure out how to pay for maintaining their infrastructure. There’s a plan in Texas to convert some drilling-affected roads to gravel. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has started posting weight restrictions on some of its bridges. I also have a number of other recent items below to catch you up on the last couple of weeks and provide plenty of reading material through the long holiday weekend.

The final morning of CSG’s Transportation Policy Academy in Portland, Oregon featured a transportation policy roundtable, which included a presentation on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. Greg DiLoreto is the 2013 President of ASCE and since 1999 has served as General Manager and CEO for the second largest water utility in Oregon, the Tualatin Valley Water District, which serves over 200,000 in the west Portland metro area. He told policy academy attendees the infrastructure grades in the new report card aren’t acceptable and America is paying a heavy price.

The big picture regarding transportation infrastructure funding typically centers around the rapidly declining revenues that are tied to the primary funding source for roads—the motor fuels tax. But the real picture is even bigger than that for state governments.

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