Transportation Bill Doesn't Look Far Down the Road

2012 National Conference

CSG Transportation Policy Task Force
Transportation Bill Doesn't Look Far Down the Road
December 1, 2012

The new federal surface transportation authorization bill includes many provisions welcomed by state governments. But the two-year bill, known as MAP-21, did not address long-term transportation revenue needs. Attendees learned how states are implementing MAP-21 and exploring potential new transportation revenue sources and got an update on the state of the nation’s infrastructure. Speakers included representatives from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Texas Department of Transportation, and Texas A&M University’s Texas Transportation Institute.

Speakers and Presentations:

  Richard Baker, Assistant Research Scientist/Associate Transportation Researcher, Texas A&M University's Texas Transportation Institute

  Download the Presentation: "Mileage Fees" in PDF (without audio) or as a Video (with audio)

  James Bass, Chief Financial Officer, Texas Department of Transportation

  Download the Presentation: "Transportation Bill Doesn't Look Far Down the Road" in PDF (without audio) or as a Video (with audio)

   Brian Pallasch, Managing Director of Government Relations and Infrastructure Initiatives, American Society of Civil Engineers

  Download the Presentation: "State of the Nation's Infrastructure" in PDF (without audio) or as a Video (with audio)

Speaker Biographies:

Richard Baker
Baker began working in the Austin Office of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute in September 2006 after receiving his Master of Public Service and Administration degree from Texas A&M University. During his graduate studies Mr. Baker served as a graduate assistant researcher. Mr. Baker also holds a bachelors degree in political science from Texas A&M University.

Since joining TTI, Baker has worked extensively on researching mileage and VMT-based revenue generating mechanisms. In 2008 he conducted research into public attitudes and perceptions regarding mileage-based user fees and helped develop a framework for implementing a mileage-based user fee in a rural and small urban setting. This effort involved continual interaction with a 16 member community advisory committee, several stakeholder interviews and two focus groups. Mr. Baker is currently involved in research examining the institutional issues surrounding a transition away from the fuel tax and to mileage based transportation financing mechanisms. This includes an examination of various user fee frameworks in place throughout the United States, their legal arrangements and their taxation assessment and collections protocols. Mr. Baker is also in the process of developing a model for estimating future mileage-based user fee revenues at the state level that allows for various administrative and pricing related variables to be incorporated.

Mr. Baker has also worked on several other pricing related research projects. He recently completed work on research to evaluate the potential of various incentives to induce large commercial trucks to utilize a tolled bypass in the Austin, Texas area. Mr. Baker has also analyzed customer surveys for the Loop 49 toll facility in Tyler, Texas and the Interstate 30 Managed HOV Lanes in Dallas and Tarrant Counties, Texas. In 2007 Mr. Baker conducted an analysis of the potential for congestion pricing to be implemented and reduce wait times at El Paso area commercial border crossings and in 2008 he has worked with the New York City Department of Transportation in developing screening criteria to determine appropriate management strategies, including pricing, for various New York City corridors.

Mr. Baker has worked on several public outreach projects. Mr. Baker was involved in the development of materials for an open house conducted in the Austin area regarding managed lanes and has assisted in numerous focus groups related to public perceptions of managed lanes in Texas. He has also conducted research regarding equity and environmental justice issues associated with various managed lanes projects in operation and under development across the U.S. 

James Bass
James M. Bass is the chief financial officer and directs the Finance Division of the Texas Department of Transportation. He is responsible for programming and scheduling of all transportation projects and letting management activities associated with project delivery. He also oversees grant management, toll operations and innovative financing/debt management.
Bass began his TxDOT career in 1985 working summers in the Fort Worth District, where he maintained records and audited field measurements, among other duties. While earning his bachelor's degree in accounting at the University of Texas at Austin, he also worked part time as an engineering aide in the Austin District's South Travis/Hays County Area Office. There he audited field measurements and processed monthly payments to highway contractors. After graduation in 1991, Bass began full time as an accounting clerk in the Finance Division's Revenue Accounting Section in 1992, and a year later was promoted to budget analyst in the Budget and Forecasting Section.

Becoming a manager in the Budget and Forecasting Branch in 1997, Bass worked on preparation of TxDOT's Legislative Appropriations Request and Operating Budget, and corresponded with the Legislative Budget Board, State Auditor's Office, and the Office of the Texas Comptroller. He also worked on TxDOT's Cash Forecasting System for the State Highway Fund, which details revenue and expenditures on a monthly basis. Bass was selected as division director effective November 1999, and his title was changed to chief financial officer in 2005. 

Brian Pallasch
Brian T. Pallasch, CAE, is currently managing director of government relations and infrastructure initiatives at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in Washington, D.C.  He has been responsible for managing the ASCE’s government relations department including federal and state legislative affairs, regulatory affairs, grassroots and policy development, since joining the staff in 1999.  Since 2008, Pallasch has been responsible for managing ASCE’s strategic initiatives regarding infrastructure including development of the Report for America’s Infrastructure. Additionally, Pallasch serves at the co-chair of the Water Resources Coalition.

Prior to joining the staff of ASCE, Pallasch served as director of government relations for the American Subcontractors Association (ASA) in Alexandria, Va. for three years where he was responsible for all federal and state relations.

Pallasch served as president of the American League of Lobbyists in 2007-2008, after serving on the Board of Directors from 2004-2006.  In 2001-2002, Pallasch served as chair of the Government Relations Section Council of the American Society of Association Executives.  He served as chairman of the Procurement Committee of the Small Business Legislative Council from 1997-99.

Prior to joining ASA, Pallasch served as the director of government relations for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) for 5 years.  Previously, Pallasch was the project coordinator of the Citizenship Education and Peace Project at the Council for the Advancement of Citizenship (CAC) in Washington, D.C.  Founded by Sen. Jennings Randolph (D-WV), CAC’s goal is to promote the importance of civic education at all levels of the educational system.
Pallasch holds a Master of Arts degree in International Affairs from the American University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and International Affairs from the University of Southern California.

In 2009, Pallasch was named one of the top association lobbyists by CEO Update.
Pallasch resides in Alexandria, Va. with his wife and two children.