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.

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 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.

The final panel at the CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Portland, Oregon focused on the future of the federal-state-local partnership in transportation. Among the speakers was Larry Ehl, the founder and publisher of Transportation Issues Daily, a nationally recognized blog on federal transportation issues. Ehl draws on more than 20 years as a government affairs and transportation professional including as Federal Relations Manager for the Washington State Department of Transportation, Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA) and Director of Corporate and Government Relations for the construction services company Fisher Companies, Inc. He talked about rural transportation concerns, complete streets policies and the search for new transportation revenues at the state and local levels.

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.”

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.

As they age, seniors face many transportation challenges. There are numerous ways state governments can help meet these challenges both for seniors who are still behind the wheel and for those who are no longer able to drive. They include policies to make road and pedestrian infrastructure safer, improve access to public transportation and better coordinate limited transportation resources.

This week, President Obama banks again on infrastructure investment to stimulate the nation’s economy. Also, a key Senate committee approves a four-month extension of surface transportation programs as a House Appropriations subcommittee passes a 2012 transportation budget that cuts overall spending and Administration-favored programs. There are also items this week on congestion reduction, sprawl and smart growth.

As President Obama prepares to deliver a major jobs speech next week, he and two key Democratic Senators are warning that not extending transportation programs by the end of the month could compound America’s already significant job losses. This just as the federal government announced today that employers added no net jobs in August. There are also items this week about the impact of potential transportation funding cuts to states, the condition of U.S. infrastructure, alternative funding options, public-private partnerships, climate change and freight transportation.

Transportation Demand Management incorporates various policy strategies to reduce traffic congestion by shifting transportation away from single-occupancy vehicles, shifting travel out of peak periods or shifting it to less congested roads or modes of transportation. Though many states have successful transportation demand management programs, the future of these programs may be in jeopardy unless dedicated funding for them can be found and unless state agencies continue to demonstrate their value in addressing policy objectives like congestion reduction and air quality improvement.

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