WASHINGTON, D.C.—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 CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, D.C., Sept. 15-17....

This session featured discussion about Alaska’s unique transportation portfolio and how some key state projects and programs are helping the state plan for the future in uncertain times; the future of tolling and public-private partnerships; a new report on how states and communities can incorporate analysis of the life cycle costs of transportation projects into decision-making to maximize infrastructure investments; and government initiatives and partnerships with the private sector to ensure a future for electric and alternative fuel vehicles in the United States.

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.

Pages