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Financing Surface Transportation in the United States: Forging a Sustainable Future—Now!

Posted by Content Coordinator on Monday, April 30th, 2012



Conference History

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) has conducted a series of four conferences addressing the evolution of transportation finance and funding. The first TRB conference on transportation finance, Transportation Finance for the 21st Century, was held in Dallas, Texas, in 1997. It focused on a variety of new tools and techniques known collectively as innovative finance. These approaches encompassed diverse public and private-sector actions that moved beyond the traditional federal-aid and state-aid funding processes to include private activity bonds, state infrastructure banks, and public–private partnerships, among others. All were considered cutting-edge approaches in their formative stages. The proceedings of the 1997 conference led to acknowledgment of the need for providing federal, state, and local governments with a resource that could facilitate understanding and increase utilization of the new funding and project delivery options. This suggestion ultimately evolved into a research project undertaken by TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program [20-24(13)], which created a clearinghouse for innovative finance information. The project’s products were incorporated into the Center for Excellence in Project Delivery website now maintained by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
In 2000, transportation professionals gathered in Scottsdale, Arizona, to discuss the new finance opportunities stimulated by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). Funded at $198 billion, this bill constituted a significant increase of $77 billion in funding over its predecessor, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. At TRB’s third transportation finance conference, Meeting the Funding Challenge Today, Shaping Policies for Tomorrow, held in 2002 in Chicago, Illinois, transportation professionals focused on the reauthorization of TEA-21 and the exchange of information on tools and techniques designed to enhance and expedite project delivery.

The 2010 conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, titled Forging a Sustainable Future—Now! was con- ducted at a critical crossroad for transportation finance amid a global economic downturn and the uncertainties that lay ahead. With Congress having had to transfer money from the general fund into the Highway Trust Fund for the first time in its history and with the reauthorization of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users still pending, transportation professionals gathered to participate in thought-provoking discussions, to explore revenue generation alternatives, and to help identify research topics to advance the knowledge and understanding of infrastructure needs.

Workshop Sessions

Suzanne Sale of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Joint Program Office in the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA’s) Office of Innovative Program Delivery opened the workshop sessions by welcoming workshop participants. She explained the role that the preconference workshops have played in previous TRB transportation finance conferences as being less formal in nature and more intensive explorations of specific topics of interest that provide time for questions and interaction. She indicated that the objective of these interactive workshops is to assemble subject matter experts and practitioners who will offer their professional perspectives and personal insights on tools and techniques to enhance the financial decision- making process for transportation investments.

Read the full report (PDF) here: Financing Surface Transportation in the United States

About the Transportation Research Board
“The mission of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) is to promote innovation and progress in transportation through research.  In an objective and interdisciplinary setting, TRB facilitates the sharing of information on transportation practice and policy by researchers and practitioners; stimulates research and offers research management services that promote technical excellence; provide expert advice on transportation policy and programs; and disseminates research results broadly and encouraged their implementation.”

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