Friday, March 11, 2011

Did        you know?

European countries have used public dollars to leverage private investment for more than 50 years. Last year, the European Investment Bank raised 80 billion Euros through capital markets and private investments to finance projects that promote European economic development.

In his Fiscal Year 2012 budget proposal, President Obama recommended a $556 billion six-year federal transportation bill. The proposal illustrates the White House’s strong commitment to change the budget system — moving away from arbitrary federal formula funding to a system that makes existing transportation infrastructure more efficient, creates new financing tools, and demonstrates the value of innovative investments.  

The administration proposes to do this through key programs and initiatives, including a new National Infrastructure Bank that would finance projects of regional significance. It would be funded with $5 billion per year upfront that would then leverage another $500 billion in private-sector investments, similar to the European Investment Bank. A new Transportation Leadership Award would provide $32 billion in incentives over six years, to reward states and regions that implement proven strategies that further U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) strategic goals, strengthen collaboration among different levels of government, focus on performance and outcomes, and encourage the development of a multimodal transportation system that connect people to opportunities and goods to markets.

The President’s plan also prioritizes “fix-it-first” ahead of new spending; consolidates 60 DOT programs into five; promotes planning and performance; and, for the first time, recommends fully paying for the plan without increasing the deficit (although he does not outline any new revenues).   

The White House proposal would increase funding for road and bridge construction by 48 percent over the previous authorization. Even more encouraging, the President recommends a 127 percent increase in funding for public transit, to $119 billion over six years. That thinking coincides with what Europe, Asia, the Middle-East, and South America are already doing.

Other key programs in the proposal include $53 billion over six years for high-speed rail and an “up-front” $50 billion economic boost targeted to projects that will quickly create jobs, like highway infrastructure, transit state of good repair, New Starts, and Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans.

The proposal is a good blueprint that Congress can use as a basis for its transportation reauthorization bill. U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Representative John Mica (R-Fla.) recently held listening sessions across the nation to solicit feedback from local transportation officials and citizens on the next six-year federal transportation bill. Read MPC’s written testimony at the Feb. 20 listening session in Chicago.

For more information on the President’s transportation budget proposal, read the article: President Obama proposes $556 billion transportation bill.

Click on the links below to read MPC’s partners thoughts on the proposal:


Local News

New bike study measures where rubber meets roadChicago Tribune “The data from the study, which will be conducted annually as part of Chicago's Bike 2015 master plan for bicycling (, will be used to determine where to invest next in creating bike lanes across Chicago.”

CTA’s least walkable train stationsCarfree Chicago “All of these stations were in the City of Chicago, which may surprise some folks who think of suburbs as always being less walkable than the city.”

New bike lanes called a cycle track are planned for ChicagoChicago Tribune “A new type of bike lane is being designed for Chicago to boost the confidence of cyclists that it's safe to ride on streets without fear of being struck by vehicles.”

Chicago to build electric car charging networkThe Energy Collective “It’s part of a smart grid demonstration project, partially funded by the federal government, to get a jump-start on the potential impact on the electric system if Chicagoans start buying battery-powered vehicles in big numbers.”

Cycle “It’s no surprise that Chicago is going all out to become one of the nation’s top bike-friendly cities. Chicago’s incoming Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, said one of his main transportation priorities in the city will be to build 25 miles of new protected bike lanes annually.”

IDOT and the FRA Seek Public Input on High Speed “The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are seeking public opinion on possible improvements along the high-speed rail from Chicago to St. Louis. IDOT and the FRA have recently begun a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement to research what can be done to encourage travel along the high-speed rail.”

Network ResetMAS Studio “MAS Studio and the Chicago Architectural Club are pleased to announce the competition: NETWORK RESET, a single-stage international competition that seeks to provide ideas and actions that can reactivate the Boulevard System of Chicago and rethink its potential role in the city.”

West Chicago: Privatization price was right Daily Herald “When West Chicago privatized its municipal garage and street sweeping operations last fall, officials touted the savings for taxpayers.” 

Chicago Transit Authority Selects Capital Improvement Program “The Chicago Transit Authority selected Chicago Transit Partners (CTP) to oversee the agency’s ongoing capital improvement plan. After a competitive procurement process, CTP will once again oversee various construction projects for the agency.”

National News

GAO: Trucking the least efficient mode of freight shippingStreetsblog Capitol Hill “The Government Accountability Office published a study finding that the costs of freight trucking that are not passed on to the consumer are at least six times greater than the equivalent rail costs and at least nine times greater than the equivalent waterways costs.”

Public poll shows bipartisan support for public rail fundingThe Infrastructurist “Harris pollsters found that most people thought favorably of high-speed service.”

Rapid transit closer to realization as Honolulu’s rail project breaks groundThe Transport Politic “The massive scheme, which will extend 20 miles from downtown to East Kapolei once construction is finished in 2019, will radically redefine transport on Oahu, offering residents a true alternative to traffic-plagued surface streets and highways.”

How bicycling will save the economy (if we let it)Grist “In the many North American cities where two-wheeled transportation is taking off, a new bicycle economy is emerging. It's amazing how much money can stay in your community when it isn't being pumped into the gas tank, big insurance, and the auto market.”

World Bank’s Lin says U.S. needs to invest in infrastructureBusiness Week “The U.S. and other developed countries can stoke growth and reduce excess industrial capacity by investing in infrastructure at home and in potential consumer nations abroad, the World Bank’s chief economist, Justin Lin, said in New York today.”

Apple Valley hopes to ‘set standard’ for transitFinance & Commerce “With a little help from national design and planning experts, a Minneapolis suburb that’s known mostly for large-lot homes and big-box retail offerings hopes to become a shining example of transit-oriented development.  Earlier this week, Apple Valley was one of six cities nationwide to be selected by the American Institute of Architects for a program that sends national experts across the country to help cities make good planning decisions.”

Who wants Florida’s $2.4 Billion in high-speed rail funds?Streetsblog Capitol Hill “Scott put the final nail in the coffin this morning when he formally told Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, for the last time, he was rejecting the federal funds for the project.”

Senate clears 7-month extension for highway, transit programsEngineering News Record “In a move that will provide some stability for transportation construction, the Senate has approved a bill to extend federal highway and transit programs through Sept. 30, the last day of the 2011 fiscal year.” 

Moving beyond the “[Streetfilms will] be tackling many fascinating topics in the next few months from "Bus Rapid Transit" to "Congestion Pricing" to "Car Share" to show how each can help people to use cars less - or not at all.”

Gas prices rise, as do savings for U.S. transit ridersReuters “U.S. gas prices have increased 28 cents a gallon in the last 10 days to $3.47 per gallon. Individuals who travel by bus or commuter rail instead of filling up their tanks at that price would save $825 per month on average, the American Public Transportation Association said.”

U.S. gets a lesson from developing countries on buses  – The New York Times “The lowly bus is getting a makeover that could one day help U.S. workers whiz past traffic to their jobs on time while saving fuel in the country that is the world’s largest oil consumer.”

Transportation’s road to recoveryPolitico “We have neglected our infrastructure at our peril. Choosing not to maintain infrastructure dooms the country to economic decline.”

The greenest homes are near public transportation Gearlog “A new study from the EPA shows that one of the biggest determining factors to whether or not your home is green is location.”

Senate passes Surface Transportation Extension Act, Obama “One day after the House overwhelmingly passed the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011 by a final vote of 421 to 4, the Senate approved, by voice vote, vital legislation to extend highway, transit and highway safety programs through the end of September, clearing the measure for signature by President Obama, which also occurred Friday.”

Lawsuit Seeks to Erase Bike Lane in New York CityThe New York Times “Well-connected New Yorkers have taken the unusual step of suing the city to remove a controversial bicycle lane in a wealthy neighborhood of Brooklyn, the most potent sign yet of opposition to the Bloomberg administration’s marquee campaign to remake the city’s streets.”

Latin America’s Bus Rapid Transit Boom Offers Lessons for the “Bus rapid transit (BRT) is often the most feasible, quickly implemented and cost-effective way to improve mobility in the United States, concluded a distinguished panel of transport experts at this morning’s event at The Brookings Institution.”

High-speed rail is profitable, study “A study shows that high-speed rail from Tampa to Orlando — a proposal Gov. Rick Scott rejected — could be operated with a healthy profit.”

Global News

Governments of Canada and Quebec join in public-private partnership to enhance commuter service “Partnering with the private sector to deliver this project as a public-private partnership (P3) will leverage private sector expertise, allow the transfer of design and construction risks to the private sector, and generate positive value for money compared to traditional procurement, to the benefit of taxpayers.”

Rea Vaya impresses New York officialsBusinessDay “Johannesburg’s recent development of its Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system has been held up as a shining example of excellence when it comes to building an effective rapid bus transport system on routes traditionally used by busses and cars.”

Japan considers paying half of California high-speed rail costsThe Infrastructurist “Japan certainly enjoys a good bullet train. Now it wants to make sure California does too — so much so, that it appears willing to foot a significant portion of the state’s high-speed rail bill.”

Superbus: Dubai to Abu Dhabi at 250 kmph? Zawya “Carrying 23 passengers at 250 kmh on a dedicated "speed track", this cross-over between a bus and a limousine is seen by its European designers as the shape of things to come in sustainable transport.”


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