Leaders in Washington State say a transportation funding package is dead for this legislative session, putting in jeopardy a number of mega-projects many say the state needs. I also have items this week on the nation’s road spending priorities and a reported uptick in transit ridership. Plus the usual updates on MAP-21 reauthorization, state transportation funding efforts, public-private partnerships, and state multi-modal strategies.

With the government shutdown continuing into a second week, there may be a whole lot less bureaucracy in Washington these days. But that actually may be throwing up some roadblocks for the completion of transportation projects around the country. I also have links to some recent reports on performance measurement, transportation funding and why some public-private partnerships fail.

The U.S. Senate Wednesday passed a long-awaited, 18-month, bipartisan, $109 billion bill to authorize federal surface transportation programs on a vote of 74 to 22. Attention now turns to the House, where leaders could decide to take up the Senate measure or seek to resurrect their own five-year, $260 billion plan that has so far failed to win the same level of support. Meanwhile the March 31st deadline when the latest SAFETEA-LU extension expires looms large and many believe another short-term extension will be needed to give time for the House to act and for lawmakers to work out details of a final bill. But, as U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a Congressional committee today, that scenario is complicated by the start of the road construction season when states must have some certainty that the money will be there to pay road contractors over the next several months and beyond. Still, despite the challenges ahead and the Senate bill’s shortcomings, many are praising both its passage and its provisions, many of which could have a huge impact for state governments for years to come. Here are some notable elements of the legislation.

There was a lot of Capitol Hill activity this week on federal surface transportation authorization legislation, despite the dire predictions from some last week at the Transportation Research Board meeting (that I report about in the latest Capitol Ideas E-Newsletter) that it’s unlikely to amount to much given the politics, Congressional schedule and wide disparity between House and Senate legislation. Here’s a roundup of what’s happened this week.

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.

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released a three-page outline of a bipartisan bill to authorize federal transportation programs Tuesday and held the first hearing on the plan Thursday. There is also news this week about state efforts to find new sources of revenue to fund transportation, including public-private partnerships.

With freight demand expected to double over the next 40 years, it's more important than ever to consider the impact of freight transportation on the environment. This policy brief examines the opportunities for state government to enact policies, get behind federal initiatives and support industry efforts to make freight transportation greener.

Transportation is the second-leading source of greenhouse gas emissions and constitutes a key target in the battle against climate change. But by taking a proactive approach, states can moderate its effects and reduce its impacts.