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Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

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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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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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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What’s the Big Fracking Deal?

Thursday, April 24th, 2014
Marcellus Shale Drill Rig, PA. Photo by Ken Skipper , USGS

In Search of a Reasonable Debate on Hydraulic Fracturing
One of the touchiest subjects in today’s discussion on environmental protection laws and energy independence is the exploration of the new natural-gas-retrieval technology known as hydraulic fracturing, or more commonly, “FRACKING.” Much confusion is a result of both opponents and proponents of fracking screaming their versions of the truth at the top of their lungs on any media outlet that will allow it. Trying to search the web for answers is just as difficult, as search engine results are flooded with a cacophony of biased studies from self-interested non-profit organizations or corporately funded, cherry-picked research groups.

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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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