The federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out of money even earlier than expected this summer, according to new data released this week. That’s likely to make it even tougher for Congress to come up with a funding solution in time and it has many in Washington and around the country concerned about what would be an unprecedented situation for state transportation programs. I also have the usual collection of links to items on state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies.

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.

October 2013 ~ Stateline Midwest

Three months after an effort to block the sale of E15 stalled in the U.S. Supreme Court, the fuel blend began being offered in another Midwestern state. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple announced in September the availability of E15 (a mix of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline) at...

With the government shutdown continuing into a second week, there may be a whole lot less bureaucracy in Washington these days. But that actually may be throwing up some roadblocks for the completion of transportation projects around the country. I also have links to some recent reports on performance measurement, transportation funding and why some public-private partnerships fail.

As growth of the US electric car industry hastens the network of publicly available chargers necessary to power these vehicles faces pressure to grow as well. One possible force slowing the effort to create a ubiquitous charging network is the intersection of public electric vehicle charging stations and state electric utility regulation. The primer examines state-level regulatory choices: the choice to regulate chargers as electric utilities and the choice to permit utility ownership of chargers. Both policies could have important implications for the viability of a charging market. 

Virginia’s transportation bill that went into effect on July 1, it included a new $64 fee for registering “hybrid electric motor vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, and electric motor vehicles.”. A number of other states have at least considered following suit. North Carolina’s Senate passed a measure that would tax electric vehicle (EV) owners and hybrid vehicle owners $100 and $50 respectively. The measure has yet to make it through the House. Kansas considered taxing plug in EVs as they charge, a measure that would be analogous to the way the gas tax is collected. Arizona lawmakers considered a 1.43 cent per mile tax on EVs. But such actions and proposed actions are not simply about states seeking new revenues to pay for transportation. States are also trying to even the playing field for all those who drive on America’s roads and perhaps to breathe some life back into the concept of a user fee to help maintain them. In doing so though, states must try to balance policies elsewhere that seek to encourage the proliferation of such vehicles because of their potential for environmental benefit.    

Before I depart for the long holiday weekend, I thought I would pass along some transportation policy-related links you might want to peruse in between turkey sandwiches, Black Friday sales and endless football over the coming days. There are items below about some potential new transportation leaders in Washington, a starter list of states that might address transportation revenue needs next year, and more.

The U.S. Senate Wednesday passed a long-awaited, 18-month, bipartisan, $109 billion bill to authorize federal surface transportation programs on a vote of 74 to 22. Attention now turns to the House, where leaders could decide to take up the Senate measure or seek to resurrect their own five-year, $260 billion plan that has so far failed to win the same level of support. Meanwhile the March 31st deadline when the latest SAFETEA-LU extension expires looms large and many believe another short-term extension will be needed to give time for the House to act and for lawmakers to work out details of a final bill. But, as U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a Congressional committee today, that scenario is complicated by the start of the road construction season when states must have some certainty that the money will be there to pay road contractors over the next several months and beyond. Still, despite the challenges ahead and the Senate bill’s shortcomings, many are praising both its passage and its provisions, many of which could have a huge impact for state governments for years to come. Here are some notable elements of the legislation.

There was a lot of Capitol Hill activity this week on federal surface transportation authorization legislation, despite the dire predictions from some last week at the Transportation Research Board meeting (that I report about in the latest Capitol Ideas E-Newsletter) that it’s unlikely to amount to much given the politics, Congressional schedule and wide disparity between House and Senate legislation. Here’s a roundup of what’s happened this week.

Before I depart for the holidays, I thought I would leave you transportation policy fans with a few things to read on those iPads and Kindle Fires you may find under the tree Sunday morning. In what has become an annual tradition, it’s time to clear out the CSG Transportation inbox so we can start fresh in the New Year. There are lots of items below on many of the issues we cover regularly here on the blog including: state...

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