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. 

New Hampshire’s first gas tax increase in more than 20 years won final approval in the state legislature this week. Meanwhile, the defeat of a ballot measure to increase sales taxes and enact a car tab fee to fund transit service in Seattle’s King County means residents will see cuts in bus service hours just as ridership is on the rise. Plus, just as the Highway Trust Fund gets ready to run dry, there are renewed concerns about the condition of bridges in the United States. I also have the usual updates and 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. And I have news about a worthwhile conference you’ll want to add to your summer travels.

The House Budget Committee this week passed a budget resolution that could leave the Highway Trust Fund—and states—in the lurch. I also have the usual updates on MAP-21 reauthorization, state transportation funding activities, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

The final speaker at CSG’s Transportation Policy Academy in Portland, Oregon was someone who knows that city well. Bob Stacey is a member of the Portland Metro Council representing District 6. He previously served as Planning Director for the City of Portland, Senior Policy Advisor to Oregon Gov. Barbara Roberts, Executive Director for Policy and Planning at the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet), Chief of Staff to Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Oregon. Stacey spoke about the federal-state-local partnership on transportation, why the partnership isn’t working very well right now and how a metropolitan strategy might help redefine it.

Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) Commissioner Charles Zelle has long been thinking about his state’s transportation future and is now the man in charge of making the case for additional investment to the public and policymakers. The longtime bus company executive, who was appointed commissioner by Gov. Mark Dayton last year and began work in January, is a veteran of two panels that in recent years sought to lay out a long-term transportation vision for the state (the most recent panel’s work is detailed in my recent Capitol Research brief “Transportation Funding Commissions II.”) Zelle spoke about those experiences, his new mission and the state’s transportation challenges during a public policy roundtable July 15th at the CSG Midwest Annual Conference in St. Paul. He also responded to questions from Midwestern state legislators who took part in the discussion.

Massachusetts, Texas and Wisconsin are among a list of states this year looking at how borrowing and tax increases fit into their futures as they try to meet transportation needs. I also have updates this week on transportation revenue measures under consideration in Arkansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont and Virginia, plus a roundup of recent news and resources from the world of transportation public-private partnerships.

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.

A new report says Chicago could reduce congestion and increase mobility by building a $12 billion, 275-mile regional network of high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes among other infrastructure projects. The report comes just as several HOT lane projects prepare to come online in other parts of the country, as some toll road projects suffer growing pains, and as new data shows all-electronic tolling may now cost less to collect than fuel taxes. Here are some updates on recent developments.

Next month in New York City, InfraAmericas will host its eighth annual infrastructure forum on public-private partnerships (P3s). CSG is a supporting organization for the forum, which brings together state, federal and local policymakers and transportation officials, private sector developers, investors and others for two days of panels focused on the latest trends and projects in the P3 universe and what the future may hold for P3 deals. InfraAmericas wants more state government officials to attend and from what I’ve heard, there remains a great interest in state capitals with regards to how P3s can be used to finance transportation projects. That’s why CSG became involved with InfraAmericas in supporting the conference. Before I head up to the Big Apple (and hopefully some of you do to), I thought it would be a good time to catch up on some recent news and resources in the world of P3s and tolling. Below are some updates on P3 projects in several states as well as a look at how the federal authorization debate could shape how states make use of P3s and tolling in the future. But first I have more information about the InfraAmericas conference agenda and how you can register to attend.

Absent a consensus on how to address an ever-widening gap between state revenues available to spend on transportation infrastructure and how much it actually costs to maintain and improve it, a number of states in 2011 turned to specially appointed task forces and commissions for answers. Iowa, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Washington were among the states with panels to issue recommendations. This brief examines their processes and findings, how their funding recommendations have fared politically and the chances for future success.

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