Transportation for America is a Washington, DC-based alliance of elected, business and civic leaders from around the country that advocates for locally driven transportation solutions as a key to economic prosperity. Next month in Denver, the organization will host a two-day conference entitled “Capital Ideas: Raising Money for Transportation Through Innovative State Legislation” (register here; see full agenda here). The conference, which is geared towards state legislators and others, will look back on the experiences of states that have recently had success in passing transportation funding measures, examine innovative state policies and provide a how-to guide for policymakers on messaging, campaign strategy and coalition building to move funding initiatives forward. Transportation for America Director James Corless discussed the conference in this recent interview, portions of which also appear in the October 23rd edition of the CSG Capitol Ideas E-Newsletter.

From tolling to gas taxes to light rail transit projects, transportation issues are factoring into numerous 2014 state races as Election Day approaches. One example is the question of how to fund the replacement of a bridge over the Ohio River, which has come up as an issue in both Ohio and Kentucky. I also have updates this week on the chances for a new long-term federal transportation bill, the work of several state transportation funding committees, the evolution of public-private partnerships and the debate over streetcar systems and other transit projects in many communities.

The operator of the Indiana Toll Road announced this month it would seek bankruptcy protection with a creditor-supported restructuring plan. While the toll road was one of the first transportation public-private partnerships (P3s) in this country, it hasn’t really proven to be the model for other P3s as some believed it would. And, at least for now, it appears the bankruptcy will have little impact either on motorists who use the facility or on the burgeoning P3 industry in the United States. I also have a roundup of recent reports from the American Society of Civil Engineers and Eno Center for Transportation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Plus the usual collection of links on MAP-21 reauthorization, the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state transportation funding initiatives, P3s and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

Congress’ decision this summer to once again tap general funds to temporarily patch up the dwindling federal Highway Trust Fund loomed large over discussions at the 2014 CSG Transportation Policy Academy, held Sept. 15-17 in Washington, D.C. But the nine state legislators who attended the event also heard about plenty of innovation going on in states and communities around the country.

Day three of the 2014 CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. began with a briefing on public-private partnerships (P3s). State legislators attending the academy heard from Thomas Halloran of the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Innovative Finance Office about the state’s exploration of a P3 to build the Purple Line light rail project in the D.C. suburbs. Douglas Koelemay, the Director of the Virginia Office of Public-Private Partnerships, spoke about his state’s extensive experience on P3s on projects like the Capital Beltway Express Lanes and how the Virginia P3 program may change going forward. And Jonathan Gifford from the Center for Transportation Public-Private Partnership Policy at George Mason University discussed trends in the evolution of P3s around the country and emerging best practices in P3s for states. This page includes highlights of the speakers’ remarks, photos from the event, presentations and related resources and links.

Day two of the 2014 CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, DC began with a morning-long policy roundtable featuring transportation stakeholders, experts, analysts and advocates. The group included speakers from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Trucking Associations, the Center for American Progress, the Heritage Foundation, the Bipartisan Policy Center and Transportation for America. Topics include the condition of the nation’s infrastructure, states and the future of transportation funding, mileage-based user fees, a proposal to eliminate much of the federal gas tax and give states much of the responsibility for raising transportation revenues and making investment decisions, and the future of the federal-state-local partnership in transportation. This page includes excerpts of remarks by speakers and attendees, photos, PowerPoint presentations and additional resources and links from the event.

The opening day of the 2014 CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. included a dinner featuring remarks by Harriet Tregoning, director of the Office of Economic Resilience at the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. As the recent director of the District of Columbia’s Office of Planning, Tregoning worked to make DC a walkable, bikeable, livable, globally competitive and sustainable city—re-writing the city’s zoning code for the first time in 50 years, planning the revitalization of the poorest parts of the District, and collaborating with her transportation colleagues to bring the nation’s largest bike-sharing program to the nation’s capital. Prior to this she was co-founder of the Governors’ Institute on Community Design. She also served as both Maryland’s Secretary of Planning and then as the Nation's first state-level Cabinet Secretary for Smart Growth. Prior to her tenure in Maryland state government, Tregoning was the director of Development, Community and Environment at the Environmental Protection Agency. She spoke about sustainable transit as an engine for economic growth. This page includes photos from the event, Tregoning’s PowerPoint presentation, excerpts from her remarks, and a selection of related links and resources.

The 2014 CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. got underway September 15 with a bus tour of key Northern Virginia transportation projects. Officials from the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority were on board to lead the tour, which highlighted the operational toll Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway, soon-to-open Express Lanes on I-95, and the Silver Line Metro, which is reshaping development in the Tysons Corner area. This page includes a compendium of photos, presentations, and links related to the tour.

While August was a time of summer vacations for many, for me the month disappeared in a blur of CSG meetings in far-flung places like Baltimore, Seattle and Anchorage (which is why the blog has been on an extended hiatus since my last post on July 25). Now with Congress set to return next week and the days of summer dwindling to a precious few, it’s time to round up the transportation stories you may have missed while you were catching rays on the beach or joining CSG for an Alaskan adventure last month. I have a look at the Missouri vote on a sales tax increase to fund transportation and the temporary reprieve for the federal Highway Trust Fund, plus links to a huge variety of stories on state transportation revenue activities, public-private partnerships, transit projects, high-speed rail and other topics.

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.

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