Leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee announced this week they have agreed in principle on how to proceed with the next federal surface transportation authorization bill, the successor to 2012’s MAP-21. I also have the usual roundup of links on the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

I have a new Capitol Research brief out this week looking at the “Changing Face of Transportation Revenues.” In it, I talk with university research professors and other transportation experts about the strategies states have pursued this year to fund transportation investment. In honor of the report’s release, I thought I’d pass along a few updates on what’s happening in a few other states. I also have updates below on tolling, public private partnerships, infrastructure conditions and performance measurement.

While 2013 has been a big year for states considering and approving new transportation revenues, there are signs that a number of states are still struggling to figure out how to pay for maintaining their infrastructure. There’s a plan in Texas to convert some drilling-affected roads to gravel. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has started posting weight restrictions on some of its bridges. I also have a number of other recent items below to catch you up on the last couple of weeks and provide plenty of reading material through the long holiday weekend.

The final morning of CSG’s Transportation Policy Academy in Portland, Oregon featured a transportation policy roundtable, which included a presentation on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. Greg DiLoreto is the 2013 President of ASCE and since 1999 has served as General Manager and CEO for the second largest water utility in Oregon, the Tualatin Valley Water District, which serves over 200,000 in the west Portland metro area. He told policy academy attendees the infrastructure grades in the new report card aren’t acceptable and America is paying a heavy price.

The big picture regarding transportation infrastructure funding typically centers around the rapidly declining revenues that are tied to the primary funding source for roads—the motor fuels tax. But the real picture is even bigger than that for state governments.

A handful of states are still weighing transportation revenue options to meet infrastructure needs as the collapse of a bridge in Washington State continues to have reverberations around the country. I also have some updates on states pursuing public-private partnerships and expanded tolling and one more plug for an important conference on the subject that takes place later this month in New York City.

Here’s what should scare anyone concerned about the state of the nation’s infrastructure after last week’s collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River north of Seattle: that wasn’t even one of the bridges in particularly bad shape and it wasn’t in one of the states particularly known for bridges in bad shape. And while that incident—and the subsequent collapse of a highway overpass in Missouri—has once again kick-started the calls for additional funding to shore up crumbling infrastructure, analysts believe they are unlikely to have much impact in prompting policy makers to take action.

Transportation plans in Maryland, Ohio and Virginia are one step closer to becoming a reality this week. For other states though, the debate over how to fund transportation going forward continues. I also have some noteworthy items below on the condition of America’s infrastructure and what states are doing about it.

With the days of 2012 dwindling to a precious few, it’s time to look ahead to 2013 and what could be on the horizon for states seeking funding solutions to their infrastructure needs. Could 2013 be the year states move to increase their gas taxes or fees or enact other revenue raising measures? A number appear poised to do so. But, it should be said, that appeared to be the case at the beginning of this year too (see my not very prescient January blog posts here and here). Nevertheless, there is certainly a lot of transportation talk in state capitals in advance of 2013 legislative sessions. So, with no risk of damaging my already abysmal record of prognostication, here’s my list of states it might be worth keeping an eye on next year.

We have several new transportation-related publications here in the Knowledge Center this month. Here are a few updates and additional resources on the topics they address.

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