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Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

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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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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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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Los Angeles Parking Meter Reform, Reasonable Edition

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

The LA Times Editorial Board published a post this morning imploring city officials to come up with a more just system, so I’m throwing out a few ideas. My motivation here is two-fold. First, to find a solution that maintains high enough fees to discourage scofflaws because parking turnover is important to both consumers and businesses — $23 simply doesn’t meet that requirement. Second, to minimize the frustration of excessive fines resulting from the rare, honest mistake, and to reduce the confusion that leads to those mistakes. If you get three parking tickets a month, it’s you that needs to re-evaluate, not the city. Parking tickets have a place in a congested, highly urbanized city, but they must be perceived as fair if they’re to survive. Here are my recommendations:

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States’ Fiscal Initiatives Offer a Solution to the Impending Trust Fund Shortfall

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 8

While transportation stakeholders and the Washington press corps are agonizing about the impending Highway Trust Fund shortfall and its impact on the federal transportation program, they are ignoring developments outside the Beltway that go a long way toward mitigating the prospective funding shortage. For in fact, individual states, far from standing idly by, are responding to the fiscal uncertainties in Washington by stepping up and augmenting their transportation budgets.

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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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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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