Punting the football… Kicking the can down the roadHitting the snooze buttonStill driving blind… Road to nowhere… Spinning wheelsRiding on four flat tires…  Pick your favorite metaphor and it’s probably been used to describe the House-approved temporary fix that the U.S. Senate appears poised to pass next week to rescue the dwindling federal Highway Trust Fund and ensure reimbursements for transportation projects will continue to go out to states through next May. It’s a plan that no one seems to like, that mostly prolongs the uncertainty states have faced in recent years with regards to the federal transportation program and that sets up another battle for next spring, albeit in what could be a substantially different looking new Congress. I also have a look this week at President Obama’s Build America Investment Initiative and a super-sized roundup of links from the last three weeks on reauthorization of MAP-21, the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is putting the procedures in place and giving notice to state transportation agencies about what could happen if Congress does not act in the coming weeks to shore up the Highway Trust Fund, which is headed towards insolvency later this summer. I also have a roundup of this week’s other stories and links concerning MAP-21 reauthorization, the future of the trust fund, state activity on transportation revenue, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies.

The Senate Finance Committee Thursday began consideration of a proposal to keep the Highway Trust Fund temporarily afloat but left town for the 4th of July holiday break without voting on the measure as chairman Ron Wyden sought to gain support of Senate Republicans. I also have my usual weekly roundup of news items and links on MAP-21 reauthorization, the future of the HTF, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies.

Two U.S. Senators offered a bipartisan plan this week to raise the federal gas tax by 12 cents a gallon over the next two years and then index the tax to inflation. Also, Rhode Island lawmakers passed a budget that got rid of a bridge toll but also increased and indexed the state gas tax and created a new transportation fund. I also have the usual roundup of news and links on MAP-21 reauthorization, the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state...

The Michigan Legislature adjourned Thursday for most of the summer without voting on a plan to increase the gas tax to fix deteriorating roads and bridges. Also this week, following Tuesday’s loss by U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Virginia primary race, the jury is out on how it will impact getting a new federal surface transportation authorization bill and a Highway Trust Fund bailout in place this summer but most signs appeared to point toward a short-term solution with hopes that lawmakers could tackle something more long-term in a lame duck session following the election. I’ve also got the usual roundup of items and links on reauthorization, the trust fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden said this week his panel is hard at work considering options for saving the Highway Trust Fund from pending insolvency and he hopes to pass a bill out of the committee before the Senate adjourns for its July 4 recess. But the Senate is unlikely to consider a House Republican plan that would rely on savings from changes at the U.S. Postal Service, which continued to receive skepticism this week. And the closing of a bridge along a major artery in Delaware this week demonstrates what’s at stake in trying to find ways to invest in the nation’s infrastructure. I also have the usual round-up of links to items on MAP-21 reauthorization and the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies. 

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In February, free Wi-Fi service began on most Amtrak trains that operate on the Midwest’s shorter-distance, state-funded “corridor” routes. Within the next few years, some of these routes will also have new high-performance trains. These modern train sets will be capable of 125-mph speeds and will offer improved fuel efficiency and reliability compared to the 40-year-old equipment now in use.

Hopefully many of you have had a chance to dive into my recent post on the Top 5 Issues for 2014 in Transportation. It’s part of a series across all our policy areas here at CSG that has become a popular annual feature. The expanded version of the transportation list (which I have newly updated this week) includes extensive links to related articles and resources from throughout 2013. Now with nearly a month of 2014 under our belts, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at those Top 5 issues through the prism of the New Year and the transportation stories it has generated so far. I have updates on MAP-21 reauthorization and the future of the Highway Trust Fund, the legacy of MAP-21, continuing state activity on transportation revenues, the evolution of public-private partnerships and states and communities working on finding solutions for a multi-modal transportation future.

State capitals were where the action was in 2013, with six states approving significant revenue packages and a number of others setting in motion plans for 2014, when the activity is expected to continue around the country. Some of the attention now shifts back to Washington as Congress must again consider legislation to authorize federal transportation programs and decide what to do about the dwindling Highway Trust Fund and as the legacy of the 2012 legislation, known as MAP-21, is cemented. Meanwhile public-private partnerships, which have helped some states fund pricey transportation projects and weather fiscal uncertainty in recent years, will likely continue to evolve in the year ahead. All this as officials at all levels of government and other stakeholders continue to seek approaches to ensure the vision of a multi-modal future for communities and commerce is realized. Here’s my expanded article on the top 5 issues in transportation for 2014 and a wide variety of additional CSG and non-CSG resources where you can read more.

Florida Republican Congressman John Mica has never been a fan of federal subsidies for Amtrak, America’s national passenger rail provider.  As the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee during the 112th Congress, Mica vehemently pushed for privatization and attempted to slash Amtrak subsidies from the federal budget in an effort Democrats labeled an “unhealthy obsession.”  Now with rail reauthorization at the top of the T&I Committee agenda Mica may have finally met his foil in a Tuesday hearing which included testimony by Transportation for America (T4A) Co-Chair John Robert Smith.  

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