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The Infra Blog

Guest on The Infra Blog: Frank Vacca, Chief Program Manager, California High-Speed Rail Authority

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
Frank Vacca, Chief Program Manager, CHSRA

As of Oct. 2012, Frank Vacca has been the Chief Program Manager for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. In his role, Vacca leads technical and engineering teams as they focus on delivering the high-speed rail project.

“I believe California will be the first high-speed-rail system in North America…We’ve overcome all the legal challenges before us…We have the first billion-dollar contract, and the designs are mature enough to start construction…So there’s nothing, no obstacles, in front of us right now.”

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Special Message from InfrastructureUSA: Moving Forward in 2015

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
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InfrastructureUSA is a powerful advocate for comprehensive infrastructure investment and the source for perspectives on all infra areas. Now, we need your assistance to keep this nonprofit project vibrant in 2015. We aim to increase our reach, expand our usership, and turn up the volume on the dialogue to restore America’s infrastructure. With your engagement, we can rebuild our failing infrastructure and bring about positive change throughout the nation.

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Obama’s Disappointing Legacy on Transportation Policy

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 14
For a long time, the nation’s transportation policy escaped critical scrutiny. Not any longer. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) — hardly a partisan anti-Obama cabal —has published a hard-hitting but carefully balanced critique of the Administration’s handling of the federal transportation program. Authored by Rebecca Strauss, associate editor of CFR’s “Renewing America” policy briefs, the article singles out a series of failed policy initiatives, notably Obama’s signature high-speed rail project (“it has turned into an embarrassment”), proposals for a $10 billion infrastructure bank and a $50 billion “Fix-it-First” program (both ignored by Congress); and failure to submit to Congress a legislative proposal for a multi-year surface transportation program for the first five-and-a-half years of the presidency.

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Highway Boondoggles + The Illiana Expressway

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
Photo by Brad/Flickr Creative Commons License

(This post also appears in Going Places, a policy blog by CNT’s Jacky Grimshaw)I recently read the U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s excellent new report, Highway Boondoggles: Wasted Money and America’s Transportation Future. I couldn’t help thinking about the decision(s) looming in CNT’s backyard about the proposed Illiana Expressway.Highway Boondoggles focuses on the national and local mismanagement […]

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Guest on The Infra Blog: Erik Steavens, Rail Division Director, Texas Department of Transportation

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
Erik Steavens on The Infra Blog

Erik Steavens is a twenty-year transportation professional with a diverse background in multimodal transportation. For the past two years, he has managed his own firm, TIP Consultants, to assist public and private sector clients in navigating through the complex transportation funding and implementation environment. Previously, Steavens was the division director of intermodal programs for the Georgia Department of Transportation, where he managed the state’s rail, transit, aviation and port interests.

“Certainly we have been blessed with corridors in Texas that have the potential for the ridership and revenue growth that could sustain a high-speed rail operation…There are very few places in the country that could make those claims. So we are optimistic. We are hopeful that we can help facilitate a project that could be a true game changer for Texas.”

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Will There Be a “Tipping Point” for High-Speed Rail in the U.S.?

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 13
Count me among the skeptics…Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood liked to justify a national HSR program by drawing a parallel with the commitment to build the Interstate Highway system. But the analogy is misleading. What made the Interstate highway program politically feasible and financially sound was the concept of a user fee collected from millions of highway users and dedicated exclusively to the program. A national rail program could not hope to have this kind of revenue stream. Instead, it would need to depend on massive federal subsidies for years to come.

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Solar-Paneled Roadways: Future Infrastructure

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
Solar-Paneled Roadways: Future Infrastructure

We’re all aware that America’s infrastructure is in trouble and needs some serious restoration work done ASAP…I don’t need to convince you that we have an urgent problem…Instead, I am here to spark a conversation about a potential solution to two of the problems. In my opinion it’s a pretty sweet deal as it is one solution that fixes two issues. I don’t know about you, but when I’m shopping around I’m a sucker for two for one deals so this tickles my fancy nicely. The problems are our aging roadways and power grid. The solution, potentially, is solar freakin’ roadways.

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Guest on The Infra Blog: Lynn Richards, President & CEO, Congress for the New Urbanism

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
Lynn Richards, Center for the New Urbanism

Lynn Richards is President and CEO of the Congress for the New Urbanism. Previously, Richards had a long and distinguished career at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), holding multiple leadership roles over 13 years including Acting Director and Policy Director in the Office of Sustainable Communities. She worked with dozens of state and local governments to implement placemaking approaches by developing policies, urban design strategies, and environmental solutions for vibrant, prosperous neighborhoods. Additionally, she produced groundbreaking research on water and land use strategies.

“The U.S. is anticipated to grow by another 100 million by 2050. So there will be a need for new transit infrastructure. There will be a need for new streets and roads. There will be a need for new schools…We can use our infrastructure investment as a way of revitalizing cities and to bringing people back into the cities and to create…thriving economies.”

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Guest on The Infra Blog: Dan Sullivan, Mayor of Anchorage

Monday, September 22nd, 2014
Dan Sullivan, Mayor of Anchorage

Mayor Sullivan was elected to the Anchorage Assembly in 1999 where he served three terms, including serving as Chairman during the 2006-2007 term. He was elected Mayor in 2009 and re-elected to his second and final term in 2012.

“Here we are, a country with pretty extreme debt, at these days $17 trillion and counting, so there’s going to be more and more pressure not to spend money rather than pressure to spend more money…I think our dependency on federal dollars coming in is going to decline, and so we just have to start taking care of our own needs.”

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Guest on The Infra Blog: Rudy Malfabon, Director, Nevada Department of Transportation

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
Rudy Malfabon, Director, Nevada DOT

Rudy Malfabon has worked for the Nevada Department of Transportation for more than 25 years. As director, he is responsible for the daily operations of the department that has an annual operating budget of over $800 million and close to 1,750 employees.

“I think that transportation infrastructure is an investment in the economy and it grows the economy. It pays back dividends. Not just the jobs that are created during construction, but the jobs that are sustained by businesses that are improved in access by that transportation.”

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