Take a moment to envision a transportation super center –one facility connecting rail and road to a thriving port– that builds the local economy and adds to the national economy while supporting long-term, good-paying jobs. Working hand in hand with state and Federal partners, the Port of Duluth–Superior is making that idea a concrete reality with the Duluth Intermodal Project.
Last week, I was on site at the Duluth Seaway Port Authority as they broke ground on this ambitious project that will help ensure the port’s future. Supported by a $10 million TIGER grant, along with funds from the State of Minnesota and Duluth Seaway Port Authority, the Duluth Intermodal Project is real innovation in action.
Thorough planning by port leadership coupled with partnered investment will rebuild two docks and connect them to rail and road corridors to better meet the 45 percent increase in domestic freight volume that we know must be moved by 2045...
Since 1932, the Arlington Memorial Bridge has been a stunner. Its classical appearance, with a series of arches spanning the Potomac River and monumental statuary on both ends, conveys strength. That's no accident; the bridge was designed to demonstrate national unity. It also connects two of the most-treasured sites in the National Capital region, the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery, significant reminders of America's rich heritage.
But when Federal Highway Administration engineers found that the steel beams supporting the bridge were corroding quicker than expected and could not be guaranteed to meet the bridge's load, we had no choice but to begin emergency repairs last Friday, shutting down two lanes for at least the next 6 months and forcing drivers to choose gridlock or find alternate routes in a region already choked by traffic.
Now, instead of a bridge symbolizing national unity, the Arlington Memorial Bridge symbolizes a different national trend: For 6 years now, Congress has been patching together our transportation and putting off the real repairs and improvements our nation's roads and bridges so badly need. Thirty-three short-term actions, zero long-term solutions. So we gathered at Memorial Bridge to say, simply, enough is enough...
Secretary Foxx has talked a lot about the cost of transportation funding shortages --and for good reason. Last week, I visited the site of a project that exemplifies exactly what has been happening all around the country: the US 395 North Spokane Corridor or NSC. The NSC remains half-built, and there is simply no funding to build the second half, the remaining five miles that would connect it to Interstate 90.
From one standpoint, the project really symbolizes what’s right in transportation today. The people of this region came up with a project that would improve safety and reduce congestion.
The bad news is that --after 33 short-term, underinvesting extensions by Congress-- we still don’t have the federal funding to complete the NSC. Or to complete thousands of other projects like it across the country. Or to even start the thousands of other projects communities have planned to meet their most pressing transportation needs.
The NSC and its half-built and unbuilt counterparts do not need the short-term patch of another Congressional extension. They need the GROW AMERICA proposal Secretary Foxx sent to Congress in March. They need the substantial investment this nation has put off for far too long. They need a long-term timeline that lets communities plan and invest in projects that will create jobs, improve residents' quality of life, and help the local economy grow...
Acting FHWA Administrator Greg Nadeau with Washington State Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson, courtesy FHWA.
Today the House of Representatives voted on its 33rd short-term funding measure for transportation in the past 6 years, and Americans will pay the price.
On the surface, funding transportation drop-by-drop might not seem like such a big problem. But it is, and the facts are unassailable. This era of short-term patches and chronic federal underinvestment has crippled America’s ability to build the transportation system we need.
This is not anyone's idea of the preferred outcome. And while we recognize that Congress needs more time to complete work on what we do want –a long-term bill that increases investment in our nation’s infrastructure, the White House has made it clear that this pattern of perpetual uncertainty must stop...
The light might be green, but no one's going anywhere.
Fast Lane readers know that public transportation provides support for millions of hardworking Americans trying to get to jobs, a doctor's office, school, and other key places. For some families, even a routine trip to buy groceries requires multiple transit buses.
And when bus service is less than reliable --a bus breaks down or is even just late enough that you miss the next connection-- it's not just an inconvenience; it's a hardship. And it's an obstacle to the basic struggle not just of trying to get a little bit ahead, but of simply trying to stay afloat.
So for folks in L.A. who depend on the bus, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (LACMTA) Division 13 Bus Maintenance and Operations Facility, a new, state-of-the-art facility that will significantly improve bus service in the heart of the city, is more than just a garage.
It's a lifeline, and it's exactly the kind of investment in public transportation infrastructure that we need to continue making...
Photo courtesy @MetroLosAngeles.
In the spirit of #InfrastructureWeek, it is important to recognize that the future presents a number of serious transportation challenges.
Our population is increasing, our roads are deteriorating, and as the President likes to say, “We have 100,000 bridges old enough for Medicare.” Congestion is choking economic growth and slowing job growth. Business owners are finding it harder to ship their goods, and folks are finding it harder to get to work. In fact, the New York Times recently reported that commuting time is the single largest factor when calculating the odds of escaping poverty. Never before has the connection between economic prosperity and transportation been so self-evident. So Congress must be acting to meet the needs of modern transportation, right? Think again.
Yesterday, Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, sent a letter to the House Committee on Appropriations expressing his concerns with the Fiscal Year 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. In his letter, Mr. Donovan made it clear that the bill proposed by members of the committee seriously underfunds important investments that are necessary to address the very real challenges of both housing and infrastructure.
I echo Mr. Donovan’s concerns...
In yesterday's #InfrastructureWeek edition of the Fast Lane, I wrote that even if Congress does manage to pass its 33rd short-term extension of our nation's transportation law, "the previous 32 short-term measures have all but stripped away the ability of state and local governments to complete big projects."
And this morning, I saw first-hand how our inability to invest adequately in transportation is affecting the everyday lives of people in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The nearly one million people living in the greater Knoxville area look a lot like the folks in communities I've visited across America. They're trying to get their children to school on time, get themselves to work, and get home for dinner. They're doing their part, trying to get a little bit ahead if they can, trying to ensure a better life for their kids.
But, short-term extension after short-term extension, their government is failing them. And exhibit "A" of that failure is the Alcoa Highway...
It's happening again. The May 31 expiration date for federal transportation funding is fast approaching.
Earlier today, I wrote to State Department of Transportation leaders, informing them that all federal participation in transportation infrastructure construction will stop if we reach that date without action by Congress. States will not be reimbursed for construction costs. They will not receive technical support. And, as construction season begins after a long winter, projects will grind to a halt.
Maybe Congress will act in time. But at best, they’re likely to pass another short-term extension, the 33rd such patch in the past 6 years. And at best, they’ll prolong a dangerous status quo of funding infrastructure at a level that has left our transportation system gasping for air.
That's why thousands of stakeholders across the nation are rallying for the 3rd annual Infrastructure Week to urge Congress to say “no” to more short-term measures and “yes” to a long-term solution.
I’ll be leading the charge with kick-off events here in Washington, DC, and a week of activities in Tennessee, Iowa, and California...
Photo courtesy of Eric Wagner (@WagnerEric), Bloomberg Government (@BGOV)
Fast Lane readers have probably noticed that traffic congestion is on the rise because of higher volume on our roadways, which means more stress on pavements. And because one of the Federal Highway Administration’s primary goals is to ensure the nation’s highway system is maintained in a state of good repair, that means greater stress on our resources.
But the longer lasting pavement sought by our Long-Term Pavement Performance research program would help state and local DOTs to stretch their budgets. It would also mean fewer damaging potholes for drivers.
At FHWA's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, we have a machine that specifically helps us understand pavement durability. It’s called the Accelerated Load Facility, or the “ALF,” and it does just what the name suggests: it simulates the effects of many years of heavy traffic in just a few months...
Fast Lane readers know that we've been talking about the Obama Administration's GROW AMERICA surface transportation proposal since we sent it to Congress last month. But a lot of Americans don't know what GROW does and why this nation needs it. So today, we've got a fresh out of the box explainer video to share.
If passed by Congress, the GROW AMERICA Act will provide 6 years of transportation funding certainty, increase investment in our transportation system, and implement smart policies that ensure taxpayers get a bigger bang for their buck.
We think those long-overdue benefits are worth 101 seconds of your time, and we hope you'll agree...