The importance of infrastructure to economic development was the focus of remarks by Charlie Howard at the CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Portland, Oregon on July20th. Howard is Director of Integrated Planning at the Puget Sound Regional Council, a Metropolitan Planning Organization and Regional Transportation Planning Organization that helps to develop policies in regional growth management, transportation and economic development in the Seattle area. He told policy academy attendees how the Seattle region’s burgeoning population is informing what his agency does.

The opening dinner of CSG’s Transportation Policy Academy in Portland, Oregon included remarks by Jennifer Dill, Ph.D., professor in the School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University and Director of the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium. She introduced the group to the city of Portland and its unique approach to transportation and land use planning in a presentation entitled “Toward Sustainable Urban Mobility: Insights from Portland’s Journey.”

Efforts by states and communities to move forward with infrastructure investment were among the reasons some areas of transportation saw improvement in recent years, according to a new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers that provides a treasure trove of information for state officials about exactly what the nation faces.

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 few items from the last few weeks provide a look at what states are learning about their future infrastructure needs, the harsh fiscal realities they face and how transportation priorities may need to change in the years ahead: The condition of roads in Texas is costing individual motorists as much as $2,000 a year, a new report says. Massachusetts transportation officials say they won’t build any more superhighways and are calling on people to travel by means other than the solo car trip. After the failure of this summer’s transportation sales tax referendum in Georgia, a think tank offers ideas for Plan B. Pennsylvania awaits word from its governor on how to move forward to address that state’s transportation needs. Minnesota officials expect the state’s roads to be in decline over the next two decades as transportation revenues remain flat. Connecticut gets an assessment of how its infrastructure capital program stacks up against other states. And Tennessee re-evaluates its lengthy transportation wish list.

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.

Ultimately the support of Georgia’s Republican governor, Atlanta’s Democratic mayor, and the local and state chambers of commerce wasn’t enough to convince Atlanta-area voters to vote for a one percent sales tax increase to fund a list of regionally chosen transportation projects. Neither were the Atlanta metro region’s notorious traffic congestion and less than comprehensive transit system. Nor the claims by public officials that there was no “plan B” or better option forthcoming for funding the region’s transportation needs. Instead, it was an unlikely alliance on the “No” side that was able to claim victory for sending the Atlanta region’s Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) down to defeat in Tuesday’s Georgia primary election.

Even as programs that fund bike and pedestrian infrastructure such as Safe Routes to School, Complete Streets and Transportation Enhancements have been targeted for elimination at the federal level, states and localities are demonstrating a continued commitment to them, reflecting the public's desire to have transportation options, leisure opportunities and communities that are healthier and safer. But the infrastructure needs are great, the funding is insufficient and projects are being increasingly scrutinized. 

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...

For those not off to Grandmother’s house just yet, here are a few recent transportation-related stories, links and reports for your post-tryptophan coma reading pleasure. There are items on surface transportation authorization, traffic congestion, the economic impact of infrastructure investment and transportation finance.

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