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The Infra Blog

Interactive Map: Our Energy Democracy

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
Center for Social Inclusion: Energy Democracy

A new interactive map from the Center for Social Inclusion illustrates projects across the country where local communities are taking a stand to improve their economic futures and fight climate change. The map, called Energy Democracy for All, highlights “over 100 projects that are rooted in communities, with a particular lens toward communities of color, who by 2042, will become the majority in our nation.”

From energy conservation in Dover to biofuel crops in Durham, these projects are a testament to the effectiveness of civic engagement across the USA. Visit energydemocracy.centerforinclusion.org to see what’s happening in your region!

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Hopes for a Long-Term Transportation Bill Are Fading

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 7
With federal transportation spending outpacing tax receipts by some $1.25 billion/month, the cash balance of the Federal Highway Trust is drawing perilously close to the point where the U.S Department of Transportation will be obliged to institute cash management strategies—such as slowing down or delaying state reimbursements — to keep the Trust Fund account solvent. Based on current spending and revenue trends, this point —a cash balance of $4 billion in the Highway Account —will be reached in late July according to the latest U.S. DOT estimate However, CBO estimates that “both the highway account and the transit account will end the end of the fiscal year with a positive balance” according to an April 14 memo from the Congressional Budget Office (Subject: CBO’s Highway Trust Fund Runs, April Baseline)

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Why Infrastructure Investment Needs to be a National Priority

Friday, May 23rd, 2014
Deborah Wince-Smith, President & CEO, Council on Competitiveness

The U.S. receives an enormous return on infrastructure investments. Maintaining the status quo is not acceptable. America’s infrastructure underpins the U.S. economy. It is the thread that knits our great nation together. To compete in the global economy and raise our standard of living, we must renew and update America’s aging public infrastructure. Time is running out.

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Guest on The Infra Blog: Paul Yarossi, Executive Vice President, HNTB

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
Paul Yarossi, Executive Vice President, HNTB

Paul Yarossi is Executive Vice President of HNTB and President of HNTB Holdings, Ltd. As president of HNTB Holdings Ltd, Paul Yarossi serves on the company’s board of directors and is responsible for overseeing and directing the firm’s governance, capitalization strategy, compliance and audit functions, as well as its external and government relations. He also participates in a number of high-level roles on behalf of the industry, which gives him a broad perspective on current issues and trends. He previously served as chairman of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the U.S. transportation construction industry’s representative in Washington, D.C. ARTBA is bringing recommendations forward regarding the next federal highway funding bill. Yarossi has presented testimony to the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, and the U.S. House Oversight Committee.

“…We continue to look at infrastructure rehabilitation and expansion as a cost rather than an investment…I think we need to change how we talk about infrastructure and start telling people less about what they won’t have and more about what they’ll get in return for their money.”

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Ten Years and $400 Billion in Federal Highway Spending Later, Are We Any Better Off?

Friday, May 16th, 2014

The federal government has spent $365 billion out of the Highway Trust Fund’s highway account since 2005, pouring money into new roads, capacity improvements, and system preservation. At the same time, fewer people are driving, and those that are are doing it less: total annual vehicle-miles traveled haven’t budged for almost a decade even as we’ve added 20 million new residents, and per-capita VMT has fallen significantly. The number of cars on the road has remained essentially unchanged, cars per 1,000 residents peaked in 2007, and young people are doing just fine without a driver’s license, thank you.

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Guest on The Infra Blog: Janet Kavinoky, Executive Director, Congressional & Public Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
Janet Kavinoky, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Janet F. Kavinoky is a nationally recognized expert in transportation policy, funding, and finance. As executive director in the Chamber’s Congressional and Public Affairs Division, Kavinoky leads all transportation strategy, policy, and lobbying efforts. She has expertise in developing consensus policy positions among diverse stakeholders and lobbying Congress and executive branch agencies on a wide range of legislative and regulatory matters relating to surface, air, and water transportation.

“We need to look at infrastructure going forward, in the same way, I think, that an entrepreneur does when they’re pitching a business plan to an investor. An entrepreneur helps the investor visualize what’s going to happen, lays out a strategy, and inspires confidence to execute on that strategy. “

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Guest on The Infra Blog: Robert Puentes, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program

Monday, May 12th, 2014
Robert Puentes, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

Robert Puentes is a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program where he also directs the program’s Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative. The Initiative was established to address the pressing transportation and infrastructure challenges facing cities and suburbs in the United States and abroad.

“There’s no doubt that the paralysis in Washington is real and pervasive. I think we overemphasize, though, the federal role in a lot of this…I think, in fact, the federal paralysis is making states, cities, metropolitan areas experiment with a whole host of different things in order to get projects done.”

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US DOT Unveils Details of Proposed Administration Transportation Bill

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 6
For all its stirring of discussion on a myriad of important policy issues, this proposed legislation demonstrates at a core level that the revenue necessary for any such bill is nearly impossible to add up in a way that is both fiscally plausible and politically palatable in the current moment. The “details” the Administration is providing come with an important asterisk (*), denoting the blank slate it ascribes to something called “corporate tax reform,” the very pillar on which the rest of the proposed bill is supposed to stand. As such, the funding plan is not considered to be a serious proposal, but rather a place-holder designed to prompt a “dialogue” with Congress on funding, while encouraging others to come up with something that is more politically realistic in this election year.

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The GROW AMERICA Act: Response from the Infra Community

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
The Grow America Act: Response from the Infra Community

On Friday, May 2, the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation released the GROW AMERICA Act, a $300-billion transportation bill aiming to provide comprehensive solutions to our nation’s transportation woes. According to the GROW AMERICA fact sheet. Despite the bill’s cumbersome acronym (Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency, and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America) the bill promises to resolve a slew of nagging transportation problems, from environmental impact to financing.

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Guest on The Infra Blog: Marcia Hale, President, Building America’s Future Educational Fund

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
Marcia Hale, President, Building America

As President of the Building America’s Future Educational Fund, Marcia Hale is one of the leaders of Infrastructure Week 2014.

“If you take this down to a local level or a state level almost all these projects get approved in referendum…When you take it to a larger scale and it’s Washington…that’s when things get stymied. It’s more a debate about the money and investment, but what this country really needs is a vision, a long-term vision for what it needs to be able to compete and what that means on all various levels of infrastructure.”

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