Nossaman's Infrastructure Practice Group regulary provides updates on infrastructure projects and finance issues across the country on its blog, Infrainsightblog.com. When the group provides an update that we think is informative for our readers, we try to mention it here.
One recent article by our Infrastructure Group, "New Surface Transportation Legislation Likely to Encounter Many Roadblocks in the Coming Months," seems particularly useful. The article indicates that the Obama Administration has the passage of a multi-year surface transportation bill high on its legislative agenda, and its new budget proposal pushes for a $556 billion surface reauthorization bill. John Mica, the Republican Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, however, has warned transportation stakeholders that a Republican bill this year might contain only $250 billion in new budgetary authority over the next six years. Mica is instead looking to alternative measures in an effort to increase revenues through transportation-related taxes.
A few other items of note:
- Fuel taxes are currently inadequate to keep pace with transportation funding, yet they're unlikely to increase in this economic climate.
- Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood seek to expand investment in the nation's high-speed rail, but the House Appropriations Committee has limited transportation spending and is pushing for cuts (including cuts of $1 billion for high speed rail and $224 million for Amtrak).
- The US Department of Transportation will seek to fund projects that "give the most bang for the buck," as opposed to formula funding.
- California state and local agencies are pushing to streamline the environmental process by allowing the state to assume most federal responsibilities for environmental documents, which will, in turn, allow "concurrent" -- rather than consecutive -- federal/state review of projects (and thereby cut down the time it takes from design to implementation of a project).
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