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.  

Partially in response to a 2009 crash on the Washington, DC Metro system, which killed nine, Congress made safety an underlying concern of federal transit policy. This tragedy, combined with the knowledge that while fatality rates have fallen in other modes, rates incurred from transit have stagnated, became a call for action for the federal government to not only better oversee the safety of America’s transit system but also to fundamentally change the way the transit sector considers safety.

Stateline Midwest ~ May 2013 

Four years ago, federal lawmakers made a historic funding commitment to passenger rail — billions of dollars for new equipment and projects to improve intercity and interstate service. The Midwest has received $2.5 billion of the money obligated so far under the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program (a little more than a quarter of total federal funding) for close to 40 projects.

Stateline Midwest ~ December 2012

Passenger rail service in the Midwest is growing and improving, with record numbers of people taking the train and upgrades to service under way.

It took a storm of unprecedented proportions for it to happen but Superstorm Sandy, in forcing the shutdown of bridges and tunnels, subways, shipping routes and airports, managed to accomplish what months of campaigning could not: putting infrastructure front and center in the 2012 election (or at least disrupting the regular political dialogue and partisanship momentarily). As we enter the campaign’s final weekend, here are some links to ponder about Sandy, the election and what’s at stake for the future of the nation’s infrastructure.

Transportation has been a mostly neglected issue on the presidential campaign trail this year. That has left media organizations and political and transportation analysts to try to fill the void in differentiating where President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney stand on transportation issues and what the election of one or the other might mean for state governments. With a week to go before the nation chooses a chief executive who may determine the future of transportation for decades to come, here’s a reading guide on the candidates.

Stateline Midwest ~ March 2012

When passengers boarded a train in February from Chicago to Kalamazoo, Mich., they became a part of history — the first-ever high-speed rail service in the Midwest.

They may have also gotten a glimpse into a part of the region’s transportation future.

For passenger rail advocates, train travel at speeds of up to 110 mph has always been an integral part of their vision for improving interstate...

Finance at the state and federal levels and alternatives to the gas tax are two major topics in the transportation discussion. In addition, as high-speed rail is put on the backburner elsewhere, the dream is still alive in California. This session focused on how infrastruture investment can impact the road construction industry and a company like UPS. Speakers also discussed what California has planned in high-speed rail and what it could mean for the rest of the country.