Posted On 3/21/2011 10:49:00 AM by Larry Ehl |
The President also signed into law a bill (HJR.44, PL 112-4) that continues funding for federal agencies through March 18. Congress enacted this two-week funding bill to provide more time to negotiate the wide differences between the Senate and House bills. The bill cuts nearly $1 billion in transportation programs and earmarks.
The House continues to press for a bill that would cut FFY 2011 spending by $61 billion. The Senate has revised its bill to reduce spending by $10.5 billion. The Senate will take a couple of test votes this week, which will show there's insufficient support for either of the current proposals.
Negotiations will continue, but it's very possible another short-term spending bill will be needed. If no compromise is then reached, both sides may be willing to suffer through a government shut down to help determine once and for all what the public will support.
Transportation hearings scheduled for this week:
House Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment: the President's FFY 2012 budget request for federal water infrastructure programs, 11am (Pacific).
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation, full committee hearing: USDOT's FFY 2012 budget request, 11:30am (Pacific).
House Appropriations, Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development: FFY 2012 Army Corps of Engineers civil works budget request, 11am (Pacific)
Senate Environment and Public Works, full committee hearing: USDOT's FY 2012 budget request for the Federal Highway Administration, 11:15am (Pacific).
Senate Appropriations, Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing: USDOT's FFY 2012 budget request, 6:30am (Pacific)
House Transportation and Infrastructure -- Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials: increasing private sector participation in passenger rail service, 7am (Pacific).
Posted On 3/07/2011 03:09:00 PM by Larry Ehl |
One issue will dominate the week, a proposal to continue 2011 spending for two weeks and avoid a government shutdown. The situation is very fluid, but at this point it appears the House and Senate have agreed on a two-week continuation of 2011 funding that will avoid a government shutdown. the harder negotiation will be determining the spending level for the remainder of the fiscal year. See Will USDOT Shut Down This Friday? for more details.
One other issue this week is of high interest to transportation stakeholders: a likely vote to extend SAFETEA-LU through September 30th, 2011. The bill would continue current funding levels, and includes no policy changes. The current extension of SAFETEA-LU expires at midnight this Friday (March 4).
Congressional transportation committee leaders continue to gather input and draft a multi-year authorization bill. Meanwhile, the President released a broad and general proposal for a six-year $551 billion plan to replace SAFETEA-LU. The proposal does not include a funding mechanism, and it is unclear if and when more details might be released. The President’s plan is focused on “fix-it-first” instead of adding capacity, and would consolidate over 55 highway programs into five programs and merge five transit programs into two programs to expedite project planning and delivery. The House Transportation Committee held field hearings and listening sessions across the country last week, including Vancouver.
The House’s proposed 2011 spending bill contains a number of cuts to transportation programs. Most of the spending reductions come from eliminating 2010 funding for passenger rail, TIGER, and transit New Starts programs that has not been contractually obligated, and eliminating proposed 2011 funding for those programs. Proposed 2011 transportation earmarks were also eliminated, including approximately $221 million designated for 57 projects in WA State.
Status Reports on legislation:
Posted On 2/27/2011 10:14:00 PM by Larry Ehl | 0 comments
The Roundtable will be held on Wednesday, March 2. The purpose of the Roundtable is to hear about native issues within the Committee’s jurisdiction. An agenda will be provided later.
Posted On 2/24/2011 11:30:00 AM by Larry Ehl | 0 comments
The ports of Tacoma, Seattle and Portland are hosting a roundtable discussion on February 25th to provide feedback to the federal agencies on ways to improve the supply chain in the Pacific Northwest in order to improve our regional and national economies.
This is a unique opportunity to hear from some of our major industries, as well as individuals, about the challenges we face, and possible solutions on the federal level.
PNW Supply Chain Mtg
Posted On 2/22/2011 07:15:00 AM by Larry Ehl |
Bridge partisans told to focus on nation’s transportation woes
Posted On 2/21/2011 03:35:00 PM by Larry Ehl |
Here are my tweets, starting with the beginning of the meeting.
Live tweeting House Transport listening session from Vancouver
Room at capacity, 125 people, SRO, at least that many waiting outside & can't get in
Reps Mica, DeFazio (OR), Shuster (PA) & home district Rep Herrera Beutler at listening session
Mica: for those who couldn't get in or may not get to speak, you have 2 weeks to submit comments for record
Herrera Beutler: CRC is most important project, "we gotta get it right". "there are a lot of questions left to answer"
DeFazio: we are not investing enough to maintain current system, much less building system to compete in 21st century.
DeFazio: transportation projects have more private than public sector jobs
Shuster: gotta figure out how to do more with less. CRC good example - how do we bring cost down.
DeFazio - 150,000 bridges on fed system needing serious repair now. Need to invest
Funny. Mica to Hammond: "Put down your statement and tell us what you want to see in the new bill"
Mike Ennis of conservative think tank: Citing MN bridge rebuilt in 437 days as blueprint for feds doing more with less
Mica not interested in anecdotes about WA system. Wants specific examples of leg provisions to modify or eliminate
Mica: Feds need to spend the $35B in RRIF acct and $6B in HMTF instead of raising gas tax.
Hammond: WSDOT is "more strategic with less" instead of "do more with less"
Capell: continue or increase fed funds to MPOs and locals. Critical to matching local funds for projects.
Hammond: better operations, technology, tolling & transit key to getting more from existing system.
AGC rep: streamline permit process. Delegate more authority to states to manage/comply with fed rules
AGC: force FHWA to rule more quickly on contract disputes. WSDOT: yes, process can be onerous. [Note: Hammond added collaboration with FHWA -WA is pretty good but she hears from other DOTs that process is more broken there]
AGC: Feds should use more best practices in rule/law compliance instead of being totally outcome oriented.
CRC opponent: many other large projects around country built for less than CRC estimate. e.g., Hoover Bypass
Mica to CRC critic: so what's your finance plan? What is fed role since states design project?
CRC critic: Feds should require local vote. Don't talk to state/local "bureaucrats". Audience groans loudly.
CRC critic basically implies project supporters influenced by "outside" financial interests. Even louder groans from audience.
WSDOT CRC manager: when multiple fed agencies involved, do simultaneous not serial reviews. The latter=huge delay
OR Iron Works: we just did 1st streetcar built in US in 58 years. Got more orders now. Keep Build America, it works.
Ennis: use more PPPs, more design build. Look at revising prevailing wage. WA should be more aggressive on PPP.
DeFazio: PPPs good in some cases but not all. And they always include tolls so private Corp. can make profit.
DeFazio: PPPs are not the magical solution. WA state likes PPPs more than me.
Shuster: CRC seems very expensive, sort of [implies] too expensive. Some applause from crowd.
DeFazio: leading int'l company looked at PPP for CRC: Not interested unless could toll I-205, which locals oppose.
Shuster: i feel your pain on project cost increases due to enviro regs. PA has lots of waterways.
Now using lottery to pick audience members to [ask questions].
There was Some talk of xtra costs due to stringent stormwater rules.
OR iron works: Why do streetcars in existing road need enviro impact study? Delays project DeFazio seemed to agree.
Posted On 2/21/2011 03:31:00 PM by Larry Ehl |
A lot happened in federal transportation last week:
The House Transportation proposes to extend SAFETEA-LU through September 30, 2011.
The full House passed a bill funding federal agencies for the rest of FY 2011. Many people are speculating that House-Senate negotiations will drag out and cause a temporary shutdown of federal agencies.
The President proposed a FY 2012 that would significantly reorganize transportation programs.
Florida rejected $2.4 billion in federal passenger rail grant funds. Gov. Gregoire announced WA state is ready to accept some of that funding for WA state's ready-to-go projects.
Status Reports on legislation:
Posted On 2/21/2011 07:15:00 AM by Larry Ehl |
H.R. 662, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011 is a bipartisan bill sponsored by Chair John Mica and Ranking Member Nick Rahall.
The bill extends programs at currently authorized levels, and is a “clean” extension with no policy changes.
The full House is very unlikely to act on the bill this week. House members have an in-district work period during the week of February 21, so the House is most likely to act on the bill during the week of February 28.
Word on the street is that the Senate agrees with this legislative approach, and so it is very likely T-LU will be extended through the end of the year.
Posted On 2/17/2011 12:44:00 PM by Larry Ehl |
The Roundtable will be held on Wednesday, March 2. The purpose of the Roundtable is to hear about native issues within the Committee’s jurisdiction. An agenda will be provided later.
Posted On 2/16/2011 11:30:00 AM by Larry Ehl | 0 comments
|Reps. Rahall, Mica, Capito|
Speakers included representatives of state and local governments, contractors, and business.
Interesting tidbits from the meetings:
Ranking Minority Member Nick Rahall said he "envisions reauthorization legislation containing about half the money" compared to last year's draft $500b bill, and that the lower amount won't even maintain current needs.
Public private partnerships can be a good approach but won't help some states. WV State DOT Director Paul Mattox noted that due to the West Virginia terrain "our construction costs are too high and our traffic loads too low," said Mattox, "making it a challenge for us to attract private partners" who would build new highways in exchange for toll revenues.
There are other approaches that can save money and time, Mattox explained, citing the "combining planning and construction bids into single "design-build" contracts as a way the state is saving money on road work. He said more than $20 million was saved on the U.S. 35 upgrade alone."
Transit is important also, even in rural states, Mattox observed. “Many West Virginians, particularly in the rural areas, are transit-dependent and utilize these services to get to work, the doctor, shopping and to take care of the necessities of life." This comment from a State DOT Director reflects the belief of most State DOTs and runs counter to the erroneously claims constantly promoted by some interest groups that state DOTs care only about roads.
One construction company executive commented on the growing mantra of doing more with less: "If we continue doing more with less, soon we'll be doing nothing." Another executive noted that "We need a comprehensive bill passed, so we can know what to expect and make informed decisions on things like what equipment to buy."
Rahall addressed the controversy of earmarking: “I strongly believe that an elected representative knows his or her district better than an unelected bureaucrat in Washington, or even the President of the United States,” Rahall said. “If we were to eliminate such a process as earmarking, we would be empowering those unelected bureaucrats in Washington and/or the President of the United States.”
"Highway funding woes bring hearings to state," Charleston Gazette
"Beckley hosts U.S. House transportation hearing," The Register-Herald
Image: (Kenny Kemp, Charleston Gazette)
Posted On 2/15/2011 08:02:00 AM by Larry Ehl |
From their release:
"Today, travel on roads and rail in the United States requires 10 million barrels of oil per day and is the source of over 23 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Faced with a real threat to national security from both climate change and oil dependence, the 112th Congress has an opportunity to achieve significant oil savings and GHG reductions from the U.S. transportation sector. This paper provides a primer on both federal surface transportation authorization and the main recipient of funding from the legislation, the federal highway trust fund (HTF)."
Posted On 2/15/2011 08:00:00 AM by Larry Ehl | 0 comments
The President proposes to increase federal support for transportation to $128 billion in 2012, compared to $77 billion in 2010.
The Administration will begin pushing for a $556 billion six-year transportation bill, almost doubling SAFETEA-LU funding levels . The revenue source is not identified, and the President wants increased spending to be compensated through reduced spending elsewhere (or revenue increases).
Funding would apparently come from a “bipartisan financing for the transportation trust fund,” though no such agreement on what that means yet exists.
- Formally embraces a “fix-it-first” approach for highways and transit.
- $13.4 billion in discretionary funding in 2012, a $1.3 billion decrease from 2010 levels. (This figure excludes $109 billion in obligation limitations for the surface transportation plan. Including surface transportation obligation limitations, Department of Transportation’s total budgetary resources increase by $53 billion over 2010.)
- Includes a six-year, $556 billion surface reauthorization plan to modernize the country’s surface transportation infrastructure, create jobs, and pave the way for long-term economic growth.
- Creates a single transportation account (the “Transportation Trust Fund”) by shifting all general fund transit programs, Amtrak and high-speed rail, TIGER-type grants, and the new National Infrastructure Bank to being funded out of the Trust Fund via contract authority.
- Jump-starts productive investment and stimulates job growth with a first-year funding boost of $50 billion in 2012.
- $8 billion in 2012 and $53 billion over six years for passenger rail
- $30 billion over six years for a National Infrastructure Bank to invest in projects of regional or national significance to the economy. (Let’s hope the Administration sends a formal proposal on this to Congress. It’d be a first.)
- $4.1 billion in FY 2012 and $28 billion over six years for a FHWA livability grant program targeting multi-modal transportation hubs and bike/ped/transit access
Initiates Transportation Leadership Awards to create incentives for State and local partners to pursue critical transportation policy reforms.
- $119 billion for transit over the next six years — about double the amount set aside for transit each year under the previous transportation bill.
Transportation Weekly (subscription info: email@example.com)
"President Obama Proposes Major Funding Increases, Reorganization for Nation’s Transport,” Transport Politic
"Obama Proposes Infra Bank, Livability Grants, Doubling Transit Funds," StreetsBlog Capitol Hill
"Obama Budget Proposes $556B, Long-term Transportation Bill," StreetsBlog Capitol Hill
Posted On 2/14/2011 11:12:00 AM by Larry Ehl |
|LaHood visiting WA state|
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today said President Obama’s $129 billion budget for the U.S. Department of Transportation, the first year of a comprehensive six-year transportation plan, will lay a new foundation for economic growth and competitiveness by rebuilding the nation’s transportation systems, enabling innovative solutions to transportation challenges and ensuring the highest level of safety for all Americans.
“President Obama’s budget for the Department of Transportation is a targeted investment in America’s economic success,” said Secretary LaHood. “If we’re going to win the future, we have to out-compete the rest of the world by moving people, goods, and information more quickly and reliably than ever before. President Obama’s investments in rebuilding our crumbling roadways and runways, and modernizing our railways and bus systems will help us do just that.”
Nationwide, our transportation systems are already congested and overburdened. With the United States’ population expected to grow from more than 300 million in 2010 to more than 400 million by 2050, rebuilding and expanding the capacity of our roads, airports and transit systems is a strategic necessity for long-term economic growth. The transportation investments proposed in President Obama’s FY12 budget will put Americans to work repairing the bridges and repaving the roads we have now, while supporting the development of the new electric buses and high-speed rail lines of America’s future.
Posted On 2/14/2011 10:45:00 AM by Larry Ehl | 0 comments
Today Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler praised the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for announcing plans to conduct a listening session in Vancouver, Washington on February 21st:
Chairman Mica deserves credit for acting on the belief that the best ideas originate in local communities – not in DC agencies with federal bureaucrats. Having a well-maintained, efficient transportation system will be a boon to Southwest Washington’s economic recovery.”
Posted On 2/08/2011 01:26:00 PM by Larry Ehl |
LaHood said he has discussed the legislation with House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica, Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller, and Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer.
The Hill reports LaHood's comments:
"I'd like to have a transportation bill on the president's desk by the August recess," he said Friday during a conference call with reporters. He said the bill would be "significant and substantial" and that lawmakers in the House and Senate appear committed to complete the legislation."LaHood optimistic on long-term surface transportation bill," The Hill
In the meantime, LaHood said the $48 billion included in the economic stimulus has helped start 15,000 projects and create thousands of jobs in the past two years.
Posted On 2/07/2011 10:01:00 AM by Larry Ehl |
This could be the first substantive public peek at the Administration's authorization plan
Posted On 2/07/2011 09:18:00 AM by Larry Ehl | 0 comments
Boxer's additional (prepared) remarks:
Economic recovery and job creation are top priorities for this Committee and the Congress in 2011, which is why I decided to kick off the year with a hearing on the importance of transportation. Not only is
I am working closely with Senator Inhofe on the next surface transportation authorization because we both agree it is a priority and we want to see a new bill enacted this year.
Just last night I sat with the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee John Mica at the State of the Union, and he agrees enacting a bill should be a priority for this Congress.
Although we may not agree on everything, we both want to work together to get a bill done.
That's why I was particularly pleased to hear President Obama highlight investments in transportation as part of his State of the Union address.
I welcome the President's commitment and look forward to working with him, as well as my counterparts in the House and Senate, on drafting a bill that will create jobs, accelerate economic recovery, and build the foundation for long-term prosperity.
Today's hearing, which is focused on transportation's role in supporting our economy and job creation, is part of our early efforts to get a bill enacted in 2011.
We know transportation infrastructure investment is a proven jobs creator. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT) every $1 billion in Federal money for transportation that is matched by state and local funds creates and saves approximately 34,700 jobs.
These jobs are particularly needed today. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the December 2010 unemployment rate in the construction industry was 20.7%, more than twice the nationwide unemployment rate of 9.4%.
High unemployment in construction has a big impact on our overall economy. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), the transportation construction industry in the United States supports the equivalent of more than 3 million full time jobs and generates over $380 billion in total annual economic activity for the nation, nearly 3% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Not only does success in the transportation construction industry improve GDP, commerce in the U.S. benefits every day from transportation investments that shorten travel times, increase productivity, improve travel-time reliability, and improve safety.
Infrastructure investments enhance the productivity of businesses and individuals. Failing to invest creates the disruptions that waste money, time, and fuel and undermine our competitiveness.
According to the Texas Transportation Institute's 2010 Urban Mobility Report, Americans waste 4.8 billion hours a year sitting in traffic due to congestion. This translates to almost 4 billion gallons of extra fuel consumed and a $115 billion cost to the nation when the cost of fuel and lost productivity are factored in.
Our witnesses today are testifying on behalf of the:
• American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO),
• Associated General Contractors of America (AGC),
• American Road and Transportation Builders (ARTBA),
• National Asphalt Pavement Association,
• National Stone Sand and Gravel Association,
• International Union of Operating Engineers,
• United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, and
• National Industrial Transportation League.
From states to business and labor, these are but a few of the broad coalition of stakeholders working to enact a transportation bill. These witnesses will tell us how Federal funding for transportation puts Americans to work, strengthens our economy, and rebuilds the infrastructure that keeps our country moving.
And, I want to take this opportunity to point out that I joined with the stakeholders in opposing the House Rules change which eliminated the point of order that helped guarantee highway funding and, as a result, will allow Congress to return to the old shell game of collecting fees from highway users but not spending them on transportation so that spending elsewhere can be increased.
Reducing spending on transportation is a mistake that would put jobs and our economic recovery at risk.
As Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, job creation will continue to be my top priority. I am grateful to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their interest in moving forward together on a transportation bill that invests in our transportation system to help ensure it will meet America's needs in the coming years.
Posted On 2/06/2011 08:45:00 PM by Larry Ehl | 0 comments
"The nationwide meetings with state and local officials and transportation stakeholders will help inform the Committee’s drafting of a long-term reauthorization of the nation’s highway, transit, and highway safety programs. The legislation will help improve our transportation infrastructure and promote job creation in the nation’s hard-hit construction industry.
The Committee will seek input on how to consolidate and improve the performance of programs, cut government red tape and streamline the project delivery process, increase private sector investment in our infrastructure, identify creative financing alternatives, and other ideas for writing the legislation. The previous multi-year law (SAFETEA- LU) expired in September 2009.
“The best ideas to improve and streamline government programs often come from outside of Washington, and before we draft any legislation these meetings will provide the Committee with valuable insight and information,” Mica said.
Chairman Mica, Members of the Committee and other lawmakers will participate in the hearings and meetings, which will begin on February 14, 2011 in West Virginia, home state of the Committee’s Ranking Democrat Member Nick J. Rahall. At least a dozen other sessions across numerous states are currently planned for February 17-25, including a joint House-Senate hearing in Los Angeles in cooperation with Senator Barbara Boxer, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. (Further details regarding meetings will be announced at a later date.)
The Committee will travel to the following communities to gather information for the transportation reauthorization bill:
Beckley, West Virginia
Charleston, West Virginia
Philadelphia Metropolitan area
Rochester, New York
Chicago Metropolitan area
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Memphis Metropolitan area
Posted On 2/06/2011 06:55:00 PM by Larry Ehl |
The hearing is scheduled to be available via webcast.
Posted On 2/03/2011 03:09:00 PM by Larry Ehl |