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The Infra Blog

The Changing Nature of State-Federal Relations in Transportation

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 11
With the Republicans likely to control the Senate next year and the presidential elections casting a shadow over any new proposal to raise taxes, there will be a huge temptation for Congress to kick the can down the road once again — beyond the presidential election and into the next Congress. Remember, it took three years and eight short-term extensions to pass the last reauthorization, MAP-21!

Fortunately, many individual states are trying to compensate for the lack of congressional action on long term funding by raising additional revenue of their own. Our survey has identified more than 30 states that have launched transportation-related fiscal initiatives in the past two years.

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Making the Grade – Civil Infrastructure Industry Leaders Weigh In on Plan to Fix America’s Failing Infrastructure

Thursday, July 31st, 2014
Extreme Makeover: Infrastructure Edition

On June 27th in Washington D.C., a new report was released that outlines innovative new ways that the federal government, industry and other stakeholders can work together to solve the crisis of the failing state of U.S. infrastructure. Entitled “Making The Grade,” the six point plan is the result of experts from 45 different organizations, including corporations, professional organizations, think tanks, financial advisors and academic institutions.

The report’s name is intended as a rallying cry in response to last year’s quadrennial report card by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which gave America’s overall infrastructure a D+ grade. Several of the report’s contributors continued the rallying cry in a #FlashBlog event last week. Following is a summary:

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Guest on The Infra Blog: Frank Moretti, Director of Policy and Research, TRIP

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Frank Moretti, Director of Policy and Research, TRIP

Frank Moretti is the director of policy and research for TRIP – a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that prepares reports on a variety of transportation issues, including traffic congestion, traffic safety, road and bridge conditions, transportation planning and air quality.

“The nation is increasingly reliant on its rural economy…and as that dynamic is changing we wanted to take a look at the nation’s transportation system and see if we have in place a rural transportation system that can support not only the rural economy, but the nation’s economy moving forward.”

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12 U.S. DOT Secretaries Speak, But Won’t Agree on a “Fix”

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 10
The 12 bipartisan secretaries allude in their letter to their combined experience stretching back over 35 years. Indeed, they arguably have more institutional knowledge, experience and expertise in transportation funding than the whole current Congress combined. Their coming together at this moment also bespeaks to their above-the-fray non-partisanship and general collegiality…So the obvious question for them is: Why can’t they, or why won’t they, make a single substantive consensus recommendation on exactly how transportation funding should be increased?

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Open Letter from Secretary Foxx and 11 Former DOT Secretaries Urging Congress to Address Long-Term Transportation Needs

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

As Congress considers legislation to avoid a shortfall of the Highway Trust Fund, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and 11 of his predecessors offered the following open letter to Congress. In addition to Secretary Foxx, Secretaries Ray LaHood, Mary Peters, Norman Mineta, Rodney Slater, Federico Peña, Samuel Skinner, Andrew Card, James Burnley, Elizabeth Dole, William Coleman and Alan Boyd all signed the letter. Their message: Congress’ work doesn’t end with the bill under consideration. Transportation in America still needs a much larger, longer-term investment.

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Subtle Signs of Progress in the Urban Highway Debate

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Last Friday, Streetsblog highlighted a project moving forward in Denver to widen, bury, and partially cap an elevated freeway that runs through the city, leaving neighborhoods divided and disinvested in a city that’s otherwise booming economically. It’s a sad story, especially given Denver’s tendency toward smart transportation and development policy, and becausebigger freeways don’t do much of anything to improve traffic in the long term. It’s also somewhat surprising, as other cities across the country (and the world) have seen aging urban freeways as an opportunity to heal the wounds of the past rather than doubling down on destructive development from a bygone era.

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Making the Grade: The Six-Point Plan to Bring Our Infra Back

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
Making the Grade

America, a nation that was once the world’s model for public infrastructure development, has declined to near-failure. Our neglect has already led to thousands of crumbling roads, decaying bridges and drought-stricken regions. A concrete plan to get us back on track just couldn’t come soon enough. That’s exactly what Autodesk’s new report, Making the Grade, intends to do. The report represents the consensus of experts from over 45 public and private companies who participated in a roundtable discussion convened by the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Making the Grade offers a strong case for increased awareness, prioritization, and investment across the country.

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Interactive Map: Demolitions in Manhattan

Thursday, July 17th, 2014
Demolitions in Manhattan

In just a little over a decade Manhattan has seen hundreds of demolitions, from Wall Street to Inwood Heights. AddressReport’s interactive map plays an animation to visualize each and every demolition that took place since 2003.

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States’ Transportation Revenue Initiatives Help to Compensate for an Absence of Congressional Action on Long-Term Funding

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No.
While transportation stakeholders and the Washington press corps focus on the impending insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund and bemoan the fact that the House-Senate agreement to replenish the Trust Fund provides only short-term funding ($10.8 billion) through May 2015, they are ignoring developments outside the Beltway that go a long way toward compensating for an absence of congressional action on long-term funding. For in fact, individual states, far from sitting idly by, are responding to the fiscal uncertainties in Washington by stepping up and raising additional revenue to meet their transportation needs.

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AASHTO’s “Nation at a Crossroads” Infographic Calls for Action

Thursday, July 10th, 2014
Without Federal Investment States Can

The infographic reveals a slew of alarming facts and predictions centering on the depletion of MAP-21 funding by Fall of 2014, which will lead to states being responsible for 100% of transportation funding. Did you know that, already, 45% of Americans don’t have access to transit? Did you know that 1 in 4 of our bridges is in need of significant repair? While states have come up with some viable funding mechanisms of their own, it’s clearly time for the Fed to step in and replenish this vital source of transportation funding.

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