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Ports-to-Plains Alliance

Wednesday
Feb082017

GOP Senator floats new highway funding bill

The Hill

February 8, 2017

A rural Republican senator is floating a new idea to pay for federal highway aid and boost other transportation projects around the country.

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), chairwoman of Senate’s surface transportation subcommittee, unveiled legislation this week that would temporarily take freight cargo and passenger revenue from Customs and Border Patrol and funnel it towards the ailing Highway Trust Fund. 

The fund is financed by the federal gasoline tax and pays for road construction, maintenance and other transportation projects throughout the nation. By 2026, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the fund will be facing a $107 billion funding gap. 

Read on...

 

Friday
Jan202017

City, county working to bring jobs to Plainview with new business park

KCBD News Channel 11

January 20, 2017

Mayor Wayne DunlapThe City of Plainview could soon be home to a new business park, a venture Hale County and the city are working on together.

One of the main goals for the project is to provide more jobs.

"Roughly three years ago, Cargill Corporation closed here in Plainview," said Wendell Dunlap, Mayor for the City of Plainview, "and that afternoon, we realized for the very first time that we were not prepared to bring in new businesses."

The closure took nearly 2,000 jobs with it.

"We've been very very fortunate," he said. "For about a year we felt it. But, we have moved on."

Mayor Dunlap tells us the city and Hale County are going into business together.

"It's a 50/50 partnership on purchasing the land and also, on the operation of the land," he explains.

With about 100 acres of land already purchased, including the old Jimmy Dean plant, the city is hoping to create more jobs for folks who live out here.

"What we want is try to bring in businesses that employ 30, 40, 50, 100 people- is what we're hoping for," Mayor Dunlap says.

The mayor tells us he hopes construction will begin by the end of the year.

Read on...

Thursday
Jan192017

Most Americans don’t want new tolls to pay for road and bridge improvements, poll says

The Washington Post

January 19, 2017

A plan to pump up to $1 trillion into infrastructure by luring private investors won’t win public support if it means new tolls on existing roads and bridges, according to a new poll.

In Washington Post-ABC News poll, 66 percent of those surveyed said they oppose a plan that would grant close to $140 billion in tax credits to investors who put their money into roads, bridges and transit in return for the right to impose tolls.

While the survey question made no mention of the incoming president, prior to the election Donald J. Trump proposed giving private investors an 82 percent tax credit to put money into projects, credits that theoretically would reduce their need to profit from the investment.

Trump said his plan would lead to up to $1 trillion worth of new projects. He said the more than $137 billion cost of the tax credit would balance out because tax revenue would be recouped by taxing the wages of people put to work on the projects and from taxes paid by contractors hired to do the work.

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Thursday
Jan122017

Donald Trump and the rising reshoring movement

TRG International

January 12, 2017

In June 2015, Donald Trump, then the Republican frontrunner, threatened to slap a 35% tariff on Ford’s cars and trucks made in Mexico if the automaker went ahead with plans to move its production of small cars from the US to Mexico. The feud between Mr. Trump and Ford was a highlight of his repeated pledges to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US. Mr. Trump also made it very clear that he opposes free trade agreements like TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and will renegotiate NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement).

Fast forward to 2017, Ford just announced on Jan 03 that it will cancel plans for the US$1.6 billion plant in Mexico and instead invest in expanding its facilities in Michigan, IL. And TPP is now dead in the water when both the White House and congressional leaders gave up on passing it. Is reshoring, the practice of bringing outsourced production back to home countries, becoming a major trend that will reshape the future of global manufacturing? And should emerging economies be concerned?

Read on...

Tuesday
Jan102017

Rep. Burrows files bill for I-27 extension study

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

January 10, 2017

State Rep. Dustin Burrows wants Texas to study the proposed extension of Interstate 27.

The day before the state’s 85th Legislature convenes, Burrows filed a bill that would direct the Texas Department of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study on extending Interstate 27 from Lubbock to Laredo along the Ports- to-Plains map.

The bill calls for a study analyzing the cost and the impact to be complete by 2019.

“The bill would direct TxDOT to examine a critically needed expansion of I-27, which currently ends in Lubbock,” Burrows said of the Amarillo to Lubbock highway. “Given the economic and population growth West Texas has experienced during the last 20 years, the continuation of the interstate to Laredo would allow for further industry and business expansion along the route.”

Read on...

Wednesday
Jan042017

The Road to Better Transportation

U.S. News

January 4, 2017

The importance of transportation infrastructure for American society cannot be overstated. Our highway system, ports, airports and railroads are the arteries of the economy, moving goods, services and workers inside cities and between states.

In urban areas, public transit plays an equally important role not just for workers but for connecting all Americans to opportunities in their communities. In New York City, some 55 percent of all commuters take public transit every day. As our cities become more congested, a growing transit system can provide an alternative to driving. At the same time, our population of baby boomers will most likely rely on public transit as they age. Improvements in public transit can spur economic development and increase the capacity to move people.

Yet despite its significance, we as a nation have neglected our transportation infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers' 2013 report card graded the national transportation infrastructure from a high of C+ for bridges and rail to an embarrassing D for aviation, roads, and public transit. It estimates that highway congestion costs the U.S. economy $101 billion annually and that $170 billion per year of annual investment is needed to make significant improvements. Likewise, deficiencies in our transit systems cost another $90 billion per year.

Read on...

Tuesday
Dec202016

Trump team plans for infrastructure ‘task force’ to advance top spending priority

The Washington Post

December 20, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump is preparing to create an infrastructure “task force” that will help carry out the ambitious federal spending program he intends to undertake upon taking office, according to several individuals briefed on his plans.

Key members of Trump’s team — including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, senior counselor Stephen K. Bannon, senior adviser Stephen Miller and Gary Cohn, whom Trump has tapped to head the National Economic Council — are all involved in the discussions, according to one person familiar with the initiative.

The task force head is “not Cabinet level,” this individual said, but would play a critical role in coordinating among federal, state and local officials as well as private investors as the new administration prepares to inject hundreds of billions of dollars into projects across the country.

Read on...

Wednesday
Dec142016

Pickett says more money needed for Texas roads

USA Today

December 7, 2016

AUSTIN — Even though Texas voters have dedicated billions to transportation in recent years, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee on Wednesday said new money needs to be found if the state is to ease chronic congestion in its cities. 

The statement might come as a disappointment to voters who last year overwhelmingly supported Proposition 7, which dedicates more than $2.5 billion a year in sales tax revenue to transportation. In 2014, voters also passed a measure that is now adding about $1 billion a year in oil-and-gas severance tax revenue to transportation.

Combined, the two measures go most of the way to finding the $5 billion a year that transportation analysts in 2013 said needed to be added to Texas’ $10 billion annual transportation budget to keep up with growth and ease congestion.

 However, House Transportation Chairman Joe Pickett on Wednesday poured cold water on the notion that the new revenue is sufficient. 

“We’re at a stalemate,” the El Paso Democrat, who played a leading role in passing the road-funding measures, said during a hearing of the House Select Committee on Transportation Finance.

The comments came in response to state Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, who said he understood the state’s new emphasis on building and maintaining roads without relying on tolls or debt.

Simmons cited an obvious limitation. Without issuing bonds, the Texas Department of Transportation doesn’t have enough money to tackle projects such as a $5 billion expansion of Interstate 35 through Austin — Texas’ most congested road.

 “The biggest projects have virtually no chance of getting done,” he said, adding that as a consequence, road money is allocated to smaller projects and the biggest problems go unsolved.

Pickett answered that it’s not merely a matter of going into debt for a single project in Austin. There are dozens of others in the state about which a similar argument could be made, he said.

As Texas has grown over the past 25 years, leaders in both parties tried to avoid being accused of raising taxes by issuing debt and building toll roads, Pickett said. But both methods of finance come with a cost in terms of fees to administer tolls and interest on debt, Pickett said.

Read on…

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