Administration and Finance

Day two of the 2014 CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. wrapped up with remarks by Joshua Schank, President and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, a D.C.-based foundation and think tank focused on transportation issues. He spoke about why Congress has been unable to pass a long-term surface transportation bill and some potential alternative approaches for structuring the federal transportation program. This page includes highlights of Schank’s remarks and some related links of interest.

Day two of the 2014 CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, DC began with a morning-long policy roundtable featuring transportation stakeholders, experts, analysts and advocates. The group included speakers from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Trucking Associations, the Center for American Progress, the Heritage Foundation, the Bipartisan Policy Center and Transportation for America. Topics include the condition of the nation’s infrastructure, states and the future of transportation funding, mileage-based user fees, a proposal to eliminate much of the federal gas tax and give states much of the responsibility for raising transportation revenues and making investment decisions, and the future of the federal-state-local partnership in transportation. This page includes excerpts of remarks by speakers and attendees, photos, PowerPoint presentations and additional resources and links from the event.

The 2014 CSG Transportation Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. got underway September 15 with a bus tour of key Northern Virginia transportation projects. Officials from the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority were on board to lead the tour, which highlighted the operational toll Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway, soon-to-open Express Lanes on I-95, and the Silver Line Metro, which is reshaping development in the Tysons Corner area. This page includes a compendium of photos, presentations, and links related to the tour.

Nine state legislators from around the country, many of them transportation committee chairs, attended the invitation-only CSG Transportation Policy Academy September 15-17, 2014 in Washington, D.C. The event included a tour of transportation projects in Northern Virginia and a panel focused on how states like Virginia and Maryland have made use of public-private partnerships in transportation. Attendees took part in a roundtable with transportation stakeholders, experts and advocates including speakers from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Trucking Associations, the Heritage Foundation, the Center for American Progress, the Bipartisan Policy Center and Transportation for America. Lawmakers also had the opportunity to meet with members of Congress and officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation. They visited the Washington office of the American Society of Civil Engineers and heard talks by former D.C. Planning Director Harriet Tregoning, who now directs the Office of Economic Resilience at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Joshua Schank, President & CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, a Washington-based think tank. Topics included the condition of the nation’s infrastructure, the federal role in transportation and state transportation funding initiatives. This page includes links to additional pages highlighting various portions of the policy academy and including extended remarks from speakers and participants, additional resources and links for further reading.

CSG South

This presentation was given by SLC Fiscal Policy Manager, Sujit CanagaRetna, before the Louisiana Transportation Funding Task Force in September 2014. The presentation covers four broad areas. Part I provides a quick snapshot of the condition of the nation’s transportation and infrastructure network, while Part II outlines some of the reasons for their dismal condition. Part III enumerates the typical revenue sources and other financing tools deployed by states to fund transportation. Finally, Part IV details some recent actions in the states, both proposed and enacted, related to funding transportation.

While August was a time of summer vacations for many, for me the month disappeared in a blur of CSG meetings in far-flung places like Baltimore, Seattle and Anchorage (which is why the blog has been on an extended hiatus since my last post on July 25). Now with Congress set to return next week and the days of summer dwindling to a precious few, it’s time to round up the transportation stories you may have missed while you were catching rays on the beach or joining CSG for an Alaskan adventure last month. I have a look at the Missouri vote on a sales tax increase to fund transportation and the temporary reprieve for the federal Highway Trust Fund, plus links to a huge variety of stories on state transportation revenue activities, public-private partnerships, transit projects, high-speed rail and other topics.

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.

When it comes to meeting the transportation needs of its residents, Alaska has some defining characteristics that set it apart from other states in the challenges it faces. “Alaska’s primary challenges stem primarily from its vastness, limited infrastructure and arctic climate,” said John R. Binder III, deputy commissioner for the Alaska Department of Transportation.

Punting the football… Kicking the can down the roadHitting the snooze buttonStill driving blind… Road to nowhere… Spinning wheelsRiding on four flat tires…  Pick your favorite metaphor and it’s probably been used to describe the House-approved temporary fix that the U.S. Senate appears poised to pass next week to rescue the dwindling federal Highway Trust Fund and ensure reimbursements for transportation projects will continue to go out to states through next May. It’s a plan that no one seems to like, that mostly prolongs the uncertainty states have faced in recent years with regards to the federal transportation program and that sets up another battle for next spring, albeit in what could be a substantially different looking new Congress. I also have a look this week at President Obama’s Build America Investment Initiative and a super-sized roundup of links from the last three weeks on reauthorization of MAP-21, the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

InfraAmericas logoAs states continue to experience infrastructure deficits and uncertainty about how those needs will be met going forward, public-private partnerships (P3s) have become an important tool in the toolbox for some when it comes to project finance and delivery. But the types of projects being pursued and the types of agreements states are entering into with the private sector have evolved considerably in recent years. Past experiences have made both states and private investors more discerning and deliberative partners. Federal tools such as the TIFIA loan guarantee program have helped many large P3 projects advance but doubts about the future of the federal transportation program overall have prompted some states to hesitate in pursuing many large, long-term projects.