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Monday
Mar062017

Chao Tells Conference ‘Time Has Come’ to Rebuild U.S. Transportation Infrastructure

AASHTO Journal

March 6, 2017

U.S. Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao"The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding," U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told leaders of state departments of transportation at an annual Washington, D.C., conference of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

In her prepared remarks as posted on a USDOT website, Chao echoed a signature statement issued the night before by President Trump as he said he would ask Congress for a major new infrastructure investment program.

Trump in his Feb. 28 speech to a joint session of Congress highlighted improvements he wants to make in transportation systems. Chao, in her March 1 keynote remarks at the AASHTO "Washington Briefing," told the state agency CEOs that "already, numerous meetings have been held – at the White House and at the Department of Transportation – with key infrastructure stakeholders from all over the country."

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Thursday
Mar022017

Colorado’s bad roads are costing drivers more than frustration and stress

The Denver Post

March 2, 2017

Deteriorating, congested and unsafe roads and bridges are costing Colorado drivers a total of $6.8 billion annually in additional vehicle maintenance, fuel and accelerated vehicle depreciation overall.

According to a report released Wednesday by TRIP, a national transportation research group based in Washington, D.C., each Denver driver spends 49 hours stuck in traffic and $2,162 each year on additional vehicle operating costs with other Colorado motorists falling shortly behind.

“These additional operating costs could be the extra maintenance that goes into when a driver hits a pothole and has to get something like an axle repaired,” said Carolyn Bonifas Kelly, TRIP’s associate director of research and communication. “But it could also mean things like tire wear, additional fuel costs of driving on damaged roads and even the accelerated rate of vehicle depreciation when drivers trade their vehicles in.”

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Monday
Feb272017

Mayor, TxDot Discuss Freight Mobility and Transportation

Everything Lubbock

February 27, 2017

Mayor, Dan PopeLUBBOCK TX - The Texas Department of Transportation is looking for ways to expand freight and transportation opportunities. TxDot met with Mayor Dan Pope and key stakeholders Thursday.

"Business and investment often follows interstates, businesses need to be able to move their product and we need to connect I-27 to I-20," Pope said.

According to Pope, today was a step in the right direction.

"TxDot's here to get our input on freight planning, and that's important to our community."

TxDot Director of Freight and International Trade Caroline Mays believes the Fast Act will provide funding needed to expand economic opportunity in Texas.

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Friday
Feb242017

Trump to map out infrastructure ideas in address to Congress

The Hill

February 24, 2017

President Trump will begin to map out his highly anticipated ideas for repairing U.S. roads, bridges and airports in the coming weeks, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday.

Spicer said during the daily briefing that infrastructure issues will be addressed in Trump’s joint speech to Congress next week as well as in the budget, which is expected to be released in mid-March. 

“The infrastructure projects and priorities that the president has talked about it, whether it’s air [traffic] control in our airports or roads and bridges, will be something that he’s going to work on with [the Department of Transportation], but also talk about in his budget,” Spicer said. “You’ll see more in his joint address to Congress.”

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Wednesday
Feb222017

Those who spend the most time on the road are pleading to pay more for gas. Here’s why.

Star-Telegram

February 22, 2017

WASHINGTON- As President Donald Trump and lawmakers in both parties roll out massive infrastructure plans, no one seems to be willing to consider the hottest, most vexing piece of that legislative puzzle: raising the federal gasoline tax.

Suddenly, the effort has an important new ally: the nation’s railroads.

Motorists and truckers pay the same 18.4 cents and 24.4 cents a gallon, respectively, they did when Bill Clinton was president from 1993 to 2001. But those pennies don’t buy what they did in 1993.

The tax was enough to pay for the federal share of building and maintaining the nation’s roads, bridges and transit systems. But every year since 2008, when the shortfalls started, lawmakers have punted on higher taxes. Instead, they’ve transferring ever larger amounts of general revenues into the Highway Trust Fund to keep it running.

As of last year, Congress had poured $143 billion into the fund’s depleted coffers since the shortfalls began.

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Tuesday
Feb212017

Texas Oil Fields Rebound From Price Lull, but Jobs Are Left Behind

New York Times

February 21, 2017

MIDLAND, Tex. — In the land where oil jobs were once a guaranteed road to security for blue-collar workers, Eustasio Velazquez’s career has been upended by technology.

For 10 years, he laid cables for service companies doing seismic testing in the search for the next big gusher. Then, powerful computer hardware and software replaced cables with wireless data collection, and he lost his job. He found new work connecting pipes on rigs, but lost that job, too, when plunging oil prices in 2015 forced the driller he worked for to replace rig hands with cheaper, more reliable automated tools.

“I don’t see a future,” Mr. Velazquez, 44, said on a recent afternoon as he stooped over his shopping cart at a local grocery store. “Pretty soon every rig will have one worker and a robot.”

Oil and gas workers have traditionally had some of the highest-paying blue-collar jobs — just the type that President Trump has vowed to preserve and bring back. But the West Texas oil fields, where activity is gearing back up as prices rebound, illustrate how difficult it will be to meet that goal. As in other industries, automation is creating a new demand for high-tech workers — sometimes hundreds of miles away in a control center — but their numbers don’t offset the ranks of field hands no longer required to sling chains and lift iron.

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Wednesday
Feb152017

Texas transportation funds will be protected, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says

Star-Telegram

February 15, 2017

Texas’ new pot of transportation funds will be protected, even though the state faces a funding shortage in many other areas, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick recently told a large gathering.

“Last session we put billions into transportation and locked it away,” Patrick told about 1,000 people during a gathering known as the Texas Transportation Forum last week in Austin.

The comments are especially interesting today, after a Texas Tribune story reports that lawmakers are now looking at dipping into the transportation funding to help with other needs.

Patrick acknowledged to the crowd that there are provisions to use some of the transportation funds — estimated to be an extra $38 billion over 10 years — for other needs, if absolutely necessary. But he also said he didn’t expect to take such steps.
Wednesday
Feb152017

With money tight, Texas budget writers eyeing billions approved by voters for roads

The Texas Tribune

February 15, 2017

More than a year after Texas voters approved routing billions in state sales taxes to roads and bridges, some lawmakers are questioning whether the first payment of $5 billion should move forward as planned.

Texans voted in 2015 to boost funding for state’s public roadways and bridges, which have strained under the state’s growing population. Proposition 7 — loudly cheered by top Texas leaders and supported by 83 percent of voters — changed the constitution to route some taxes collected on car sales to the State Highway Fund.

But in an unusually tightfisted legislative session, some Texas lawmakers are raising the prospect of reducing that initial cash infusion to the State Highway Fund scheduled for this year to free up money for other state programs.

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