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Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

As the Highway Trust Fund Runs Low on Cash, States Come to the Rescue with Creative Funding Initiatives

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 5
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 reimbursing states weekly rather than on a daily basis— to keep the Trust Fund account solvent. Based on current spending and revenue trends, this point —a cash balance of $4 billion—may be reached as early as late July according to some estimates.

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Why High-Speed Rail Isn’t Less Cost-Effective Than Other Transit Investments (Part Two)

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Last week UCLA published a working paper arguing that urban transportation projects were more cost-effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions than high-speed rail (HSR). I posted a critique of that paper, focusing first on the benefits side of the ledger, showing that the authors had overstated the user savings of light rail, bus, and bicycle infrastructure projects while HSR’s savings may have been undersold. This week, I’m going to look at costs.

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Why High-Speed Rail Isn’t Less Cost-Effective Than Other Transit Investments (Part One)

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

As someone who’s been car-free for going on six years, I’m the last person to criticize someone trying to raise the profile of local transit and active transportation investments — I rely on them every day and frequently write about the need for more. Even though most people don’t get rid of their cars when new transit services arrive, some do, and that’s amazing. We should celebrate and encourage that. But at the same time, pitting different forms of clean, efficient transit against one another isn’t productive, especially when those transit types serve entirely different purposes. I feel that this recent UCLA report understated the benefits of HSR while overselling the benefits of rail, bus, and bike infrastructure. In truth, they’re both outstanding investments and perfect complements, and we should be striving to find ways to build more of each.

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Rethinking the Way Transportation Infrastructure Is Funded

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 3A
It may come as a surprise to you, but there is a quiet revolution in transportation funding underway these days. Faced with a depleted Highway Trust Fund and uncertain prospects for more money from a deficit-conscious Congress, many states are taking matters into their own hands and aggressively pursuing more fiscal independence.

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California’s Bullet Train Hobbled by Fresh Legal, Fiscal and Political Uncertainties

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 2
Barely recovered from the damaging effects of the Sacramento Court ruling denying the California High Speed Rail Authority access to Prop 1A bond funding, the bullet train project has had to face fresh challenges.

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States’ Growing Role in Funding the Nation’s Transportation Infrastructure

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 1
As we enter the new year (celebrating our 25th year of publication), and as the deadline for reauthorization of the surface transportation program draws closer, those who want the new bill to sharply increase federal spending for transportation face a vexing reality. The Highway Trust Fund, a vital source of support for the federal surface transportation program for over half a century, no longer can keep up with the nation’s growing transportation needs. A combination of more fuel-efficient cars, rising CAFE standards and consumer embrace of hybrid vehicles has kept gas tax revenue stagnant, throwing the Trust Fund out of balance with the rising demand for transportation funds. A possible decline in per capita travel could cause the future imbalance to grow even larger.

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Five Predictions for Federal Transportation Issues in 2014

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

Transportation Issues Daily
As we, like Congress, begin our “recess,” we decided to offer some early predictions about 2014 federal transportation issues. It’s not an exhaustive list, and these may not be the most important five issues, but it’s a place to start.

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New Solar Plant Brings Jobs, Cheaper Energy and Cleaner Air to Nevada Residents

Friday, December 20th, 2013
tONOPAH-020

Building the world’s largest central tower receiver concentrating solar power (CSP) plant near Tonopah, Nevada is bringing new jobs to the area and bolstering its economy, as well as providing energy to customers hundreds of miles away…When completed, the new Crescent Dunes Solar Energy plant will power up to 75,000 homes with cleaner, cheaper solar energy during peak electricity periods. The majority of clean energy generated will be consumed in northern Nevada.

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More Setbacks for California’s Embattled High Speed Rail Project

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 24, No. 17
The Sacramento Court’s November 25 decision denying the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) access to Proposition 1A bond funds (see our column of November 26) was the first in a series of setbacks suffered by the high speed rail project in recent days. The project was dealt another serious blow on November 26, when two influential members of Congress, Jeff Denham (R-CA), Chairman of the Railroads Subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Tom Latham (R-IA), Chairman of the House Transportation Appropriation Subcommittee requested the General Accountability Office (GAO) to review the federal grant agreements with the Authority in light of the Court’s rulings.

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A Major Setback for California’s High Speed Train

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 24, No. 16
The future of the California High Speed Rail project hangs in a precarious balance as a result of two rulings handed down by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny on November 25. “The Judge’s ruling will prevent the [California High-Speed Rail] Authority from spending bond measure funds for construction until the funding plan is brought into compliance,” said Michael Brady co- lead attorney on the case…The Authority’s Chairman, Dan Richard, tried to cast the Court decision in a more positive light. “The judge did not invalidate the bonds as approved by the voters,” he said. “Like all transformative projects, we understand that there will be many challenges that will be addressed as we go forward in building the nation’s first high-speed rail system.”

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