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Entries in Rural Transportation (8)

Thursday
Mar082018

House Transportation Subcommittee Mulls Ways to Fix Highway Trust Fund

Transport Topics

March 8, 2018

Chairman, Bill ShusterMembers of a House transportation subcommittee seem largely in agreement that the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and near-insolvent Highway Trust Fund are in desperate need of fixes — and quickly.

However, at a March 7 hearing, they agreed less on what long-term funding mechanisms should be used to make the financial, and road and bridge repairs.
“Long-term certainty and stability in infrastructure funding is critical for our states,” said Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), the Transportation Committee chairman. “Without it, our states, our economy and the American people face the consequences. Highway and transit projects get delayed, project costs go up, and our people and businesses continue to suffer the impacts of congestion and inefficiency.”
Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, agreed.
“Beginning as early as the spring of 2020, states may have to halt construction of surface transportation projects because, once again, the Highway Trust Fund will not be able to meet its obligations,” Graves said. “There are many reasons for this – motor fuel taxes have not been raised in 25 years, fuel-economy standards have increased, not all users pay into the Trust Fund.”
Thursday
Feb222018

Former San Angelo Mayor Appointed to Texas Transportation Commission

Standard-Times

February 22, 2018

Alvin NewAlvin New of Christoval has been appointed to the Texas Transportation Commission by Gov. Greg Abbott, according to a news release.

The Commission is responsible for governing the Texas Department of Transportation and for policymaking regarding the state’s highway system, developing a statewide transportation plan, assisting the development of public transportation and adopting rules for TxDOT’s operation, according to the release.

"I think it is a blessing," New said Tuesday of the appointment. 

Like local leaders San Angelo Mayor Brenda Gunter and Tom Green County Judge Steve Floyd, New said representing West Texas is important to the Concho Valley and to the state. 

"The ability to get food to the population centers and fuel to the population centers and fiber to the population centers means we need to have really good structure in our part of the state," New said. "And I will have a responsibility to try and communicate that."

U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, who recently proposed legislation to have the designation of Interstate 14 expanded to include San Angelo, said having New on the commission is important because it decides where the state's transportation dollars are spent. 

Explaining larger population centers, like Houston and Dallas, will get the bulk of money each year, it is important to have someone, like New, who will, "defend rural Texas as his predecessor did," Conaway said.

New is replacing Tyron Lewis of Odessa.

Read on...

Wednesday
Jun072017

Trump to Outline Infrastructure Plan That Includes Rural Funding

Bloomberg Politics

 June 7, 2017

U.S.President Donald Trump will outline his vision on Wednesday for an infrastructure plan that includes federal grants to rural areas as well as to states and localities to create additional funding for projects, according to a preview of the speech provided by the White House.

Trump is scheduled to speak in Cincinnati as part of what the White House has billed as a week-long effort to formally launch the initiative to deliver the $1 trillion in infrastructure investment he has promised to upgrade crumbling roads, bridges, airports and other assets.

The president proposes allocating $200 billion in federal funding over 10 years to spur at least an additional $800 billion in spending by states, municipalities and the private sector. The federal funds will be divided into four categories:

* A mixture of grants and loans to “transformative’’ projects, with Trump’s proposal to place the U.S. air-traffic control system under a private, non-profit corporation as an example.

* Grants to rural areas to repair bridges, roads, and waterways. Critics of Trump’s approach have raised concerns that rural areas would not be able to use tolls or fees needed to attract private investment.

* Enhanced loan programs, with the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, or TIFIA, as an example of how federal funds can be used with state, local, and private dollars to fund projects.

* Incentive programs with grants to states and municipalities to create additional funding for infrastructure.

Tuesday
May302017

2017 Energy and Agriculture Summit to be Held in Denver

Everything Lubbock

May 30, 2017

The Ports-To-Plains Alliance announced today it will host the 2017 Energy and Agriculture Summit June 13-14 in Denver, Colorado.

Organizations and individuals focused on energy and agriculture will have an opportunity to learn more about these critical economic drivers through dynamic panel discussions, keynote speakers and industry networking event
“The goal of the 2017 Energy and Agriculture Summit is to tell our economic story of energy and agriculture productivity,” explains Michael Reeves, president of the Ports-To-Plains Alliance. “The Summit will give industry leaders a platform to discuss pressing issues and learn how together, we can drive change.”
The 2017 Energy and Agriculture Summit, which will be held at the Denver Airport Marriott at Gateway Park, offers a great opportunity to foster innovation, cooperation and success across the Ports-To-Plains region.

Monday
May012017

That Grantham speech on doomed transportation bill may haunt the Capitol

Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham,Ports-to-Plains Alliance would like to express its appreciation to Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham for his sponsorship of HB 17-1242. His impassioned words prior to the final vote in the Senate Finance Committee were spot on.

The Colorado Statesman

May 1, 2017

“We do worry about the Balkanization of our state roads system. If Colorado Springs and then northern Colorado and other RTAs start passing their own [funding and development plans], there will be donut holes throughout the state that will be left out of improvements and will never get the improvements that are needed. Maybe that’s the preferred solution for some. It’s not for me… But that is the direction we are heading, and I think it’s a dangerous one…” 

“I don’t know what would happen if it went to the people… But I know, without a doubt, that if it doesn’t get on the ballot, then it will definitely never pass. We only get so many bites at the apple — I’ve heard that a lot today — but if the number of bites we get is exactly zero, then zero is the result we will get.”

The session’s unloved grand bipartisan transportation measure, House Bill 1242, is dead, but the closing remarks — you might say the sickbed epitaph — delivered for the bill by Republican sponsor and Senate President Kevin Grantham are worth revisiting, especially given that, in the last week, and with a little more than a week left in the legislative session, three new transportation-related bills have been introduced.

Grantham spoke right before the bill was dispatched Tuesday by the Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee, addressing the bill and its critics with words that might come to resonate beyond the committee hearing, even if in a ghostlike way, floating into remarks made years from now by lawmakers begging please for someone somehow to expand I-25 south of Castle Rock or to find a way to get their aged mother or father to the doctor in the middle of the day.

Grantham said running this year’s bill was a brave and bold move. He said the bill was unloved on the left and the right because drumming up billions for much-needed transportation upgrades in a politically and ideologically divided swing state was always going to be — and is long likely going to be — a slog.

He said people in the Capitol have to begin seeing transportation in new ways, and doing that is hard to do. He suggested that the long era of roads and more roads and single-occupancy privately owned vehicles no longer serves the population of the state the way it once did — and particularly the state’s younger and older populations — and that transit, meaning mass-transit, is popular with residents even if it’s unpopular with lawmakers.

Read on… 

Thursday
Apr202017

Colorado lawmakers’ grand bargain on transportation appears doomed

The Denver Post

April 20, 2017

The Colorado legislative session’s top priority, a major transportation bill that seeks a tax hike to improve and expand highways, is unlikely to win approval this term.

Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Cañon City Republican and one of the prime sponsors, announced Thursday morning that he does not have the votes to move it through the GOP-led chamber.

“At this point, we can’t count to three,” he said, describing the number of votes he needs to advance it through the Senate Finance Committee next week.

The bill sponsors continue to work to secure support, but Grantham did not express optimism that the vote total would shift. House Bill 1242 won approval in the Democratic-led House earlier this year but faced tougher obstacles in the Senate because it would ask voters for a 0.5 percent sales tax hike to generate money for a $3.5 billion bond package for roads.

Read on...

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...

 

Thursday
Jan282016

Maintaining and Expanding Colorado’s Statewide Transportation System:A Rural Perspective 

By Ports-to-Plains Alliance

The condition of the statewide highway system is deteriorating.  This is not about “their roads” and “our roads”.  It must be about expanding and maintaining the entire statewide system.  Congestion and road condition issues are real in urban areas.  Still the urban areas of the state must acknowledge that urban Colorado needs the statewide system to grow and prosper. Colorado roads serve all of Colorado and the nation.  

It takes only a quick look at a state highway map to recognize that the miles between urban areas require a safe, efficient system of moving goods through rural areas.  Movement of freight and people is about connections.  Urban areas rely upon rural corridors to connect to markets and resources necessary to grow their economies.  Not only do rural corridors make those connections to markets but they are also sources of the resources needed to drive those economies.  The statewide transportation system provides the food, fuel and fiber needed in urban population areas.

This is not a question of fair share.  There is not enough revenue to expand and maintain the statewide system or to address the urban transportation needs.  CDOT and its Transportation Commission have had to make decisions that they do not want to make – decisions driven by its declining budget.

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance has published Maintaining and Expanding Colorado’s Statewide Transportation System:  A Rural Perspective for the recent Voices of Rural Colorado event hosted by CLUB 20, Action 22 and Progressive 15. It provides a comprehensive look, from a rural perspective, at the statewide transportation system, funding, bonding, municipalities and counties, state policies and urban needs.  The conclusions from the rural overview are below. Ports-to-Plains urges you to read the entire publication to better understand the value and issues facing the Colorado’s statewide transportation system.  The entire publication (8 pages) is available free of charge at www.portstoplains.com/images/emma/transportation_and_rural_colorado_012116_complete.pdf

  • Rural Transportation Infrastructure is in trouble
  • The major users of the statewide system outside urban Colorado are not rural residents.  They are the urban residents on their way to a vacation or to visit family, tourists visiting our beautiful state, and trucks moving goods and resources into, out of and within the state. Should all of Colorado support the cost of maintaining that infrastructure?
  • Every local, urban solution creates a block of voters unwilling to vote for statewide transportation funding.
  • Rural legislators must understand that failure to support new statewide revenues damages the rural infrastructure.
  • Rural Colorado does not have the population required to use current tools like P3s and RTAs to generate enough revenue to maintain the statewide system.  Just looking at Interstate 70 and Interstate 76 in rural Colorado, where will the funding come from to maintain those interstates?  A mile of interstate reconstruction costs more than the entire budgets of many rural communities.