Infrastructure News December

 Golden Valley approves fourth light-rail route

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/

Early plans for what could be the Twin Cities’ fourth light-rail transit spoke are moving ahead, with the blessing of the city of Golden Valley. The city council in the first-ring suburb on Tuesday evening gave its initial approval to the proposed Bottineau route. Until now, Golden Valley had been the sole dissenter out of the five communities along the path connecting Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park. The opposition has been fueled in part by neighbors who say the trains would spoil the very essence of their community.

Minneapolis likes Southwest light rail concept but not the current plan

http://www.minnpost.com/

The City of Minneapolis moved a step closer to endorsing the Southwest Light Rail Line but will not accept a plan  that includes freight trains, light rail and the recreational trails running through the relatively narrow strip of land known as the Kenilworth Corridor.  The plan to move the freight trains, which currently travel through the Kenilworth Corridor, to a line through St. Louis Park is being strongly opposed by citizens in that community. “The freight trains will have to be relocated to St. Louis Park,” said Donald Pflaum, a transportation planner from the Minneapolis Public Works Department, as he explained the city’s position on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project to members of the City Council’s Transportation and Public Works Committee. Any plan that places freight trains, light rail and recreational trails in the Kenilworth corridor “will not be accepted by the City of Minneapolis as part of the municipal consent process,” according to the official comments that will be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration.

Worst of Central Corridor light-rail work to end soon

http://www.startribune.com/

The dirty, noisy and disruptive construction work on the Central Corridor light-rail line between St. Paul and Minneapolis will end completely by the end of the month, spelling relief for many businesses and commuters. With new streets and sidewalks laid, store owners are grappling with how to rebound from months of snarled traffic that sapped their business. Putting the finishing touches on the $957 million project next year should be far less disruptive to businesses and commuters, said Mark Fuhrmann, program director of New Starts rail projects for Metro Transit. Crews will string miles of overhead electrical wires and underground cable, install station art, build the operations and maintenance facility in St. Paul’s Lowertown, work on the signaling and communications system and test the light-rail vehicles. The rail line along the 10-mile corridor is expected to be open for business in 2014.

Metro planning stations to bring light rail to LAX

http://abclocal.go.com/

It may soon be easier to take light rail to Los Angeles International Airport. There are plans to open up a station near the LAX terminals. Currently you can take the Metro Green Line to the LAX station, but then you have to take a shuttle to the airport.There are four plans that LAX officials and Metro are looking at to bring light rail all the way to the airport. All four would require a new station to be built with a people-mover to shuttle travelers and employees to the terminal area.

Arvada, Westminster boost budgets for proposed light-rail stations

http://www.denverpost.com/

Two cities that will be home to FasTracks stations will invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to change the budget-conscious design of the commuter- rail stops. Westminster will pay nearly $500,000 to redesign the future RTD Westminster Station to feature an arched opening, rather than a simple box structure. Arvada is drafting four proposals to add art and historic markers, to align a road and to switch to brick pavers instead of flat concrete at the Olde Town station plaza. The cost of the brick pavers is estimated at about $860,000, while the three other requests would total about $485,000. City Council will vote on the proposals in January.

Plans for South Bay light rail expansion coming under fire

http://www.ktvu.com/news/

A proposed extension of the Valley Transportation Authority light rail line in the South Bay is getting mixed reviews. Some criticize the high cost for the relatively short length, while others see it as an accommodation of growth that’s expected in the not-too-distant future.Right now the light rail line ends in Campbell but there are plans for two more VTA stations extending the tracks by 1.6 miles into Los Gatos. People attending the environmental impact report meeting at the Campbell Library discussed if the increase in riders is worth the $175 million price tag.

 Infrastructure in Oil Country Getting More Funding

http://www.kfyrtv.com

In Governor Jack Dalrymple’s speech this morning he talked about his plan for the state`s infrastructure needs. Dalrymple has set aside $2.5 billion for transportation upgrades, with one billion dollars of that for one time funding infrastructure investments. A large majority of that money is coming to oil country, and that`s something people in Williston are excited about. Northwest North Dakota has taken a step forward, when it comes to infrastructure. “The oil impact grants. $214 million comes up from $130 million in the last biennium. That`s a huge issue to those of us up there who need water, sewer, roads, streets, emergency services, those types of things,” said Williston Mayor Ward Koeser. This money will be a one time investment in infrastructure and not a continuous flow of money. A portion of the impact grant will focus on making roads safer.

High-Speed Passenger Rail

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/

Washington received nearly $800 million in federal High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail funds to deliver critical rail infrastructure improvements that will expand travel choices, preserve the ability to move freight, and foster economic growth across our state. These improvements are being made along the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor, a 466-mile rail corridor running between Eugene, Oregon and Vancouver, British Columbia.

 Northeast Grid Transmission project – engineering Project of the Year

 http://www.aecom.com/News/

 The Strategic Infrastructure Projects of the Year awards are given across five categories recognizing ongoing and upcoming projects that demonstrate imagination and technical skills while offering a creative roadmap of new ideas for the inception of project infrastructure throughout North America.AECOM is the program manager and owner’s representative for the winning project, which consists of a major upgrade of PSE&G’s grid transmission system in northeastern New Jersey, United States. Encompassing approximately 200 circuit miles (321 kilometers), the project will upgrade electrical service from 138 kilovolts to 230/245 kilovolts. The conversions include 12 substations, 40 circuit miles (64 kilometers) of overhead transmission lines and 29 miles (46 kilometers) of underground transmission lines. Work on the upgrade is scheduled for completion in mid-2015 and the project is considered a model for future electricity grid upgrades planned throughout the United States.

 Parking authority studies pay-by-phone technology

http://www.post-gazette.com/

With the installation of nearly 560 multispace metering devices completed, Pittsburgh Parking Authority is pursuing other modernization initiatives. The authority board voted Thursday to consider adding a pay-by-phone feature to the multispace machines, which are used for on-street parking spaces and metered lots Downtown and in parts of 11 other neighborhoods. It also voted to develop an on-line reservation system for spaces in six of the authority’s Downtown garages. The authority bought the multispace metering devices and seven years of maintenance for about $7.3 million. Many of the machines, which accept coins and credit cards, replaced single-space meters, which took only quarters. Motorists enter their license plate numbers at the pay stations, and parking enforcement officers use that information to identify vehicles in violation.

Death by a Million Cuts: What Cities Stand to Lose If We Go Over the Fiscal Cliff

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/

The on again, off again threat of the fiscal cliff has put municipal governments in a decidedly awkward position. How should they prepare for legislation designed not to minimize pain, but rather to be too hurtful to ever enact? “It’s hard to know what the impact of a law that gets described as shooting yourself in the head will be,” says Kim Rueben, a senior policy analyst at the Urban Institute. Even so, cities are doing their best to quantify the very tangible effects of proposed cuts in dollars and cents. Last week, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake held a press conference with acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce RebeccaBlank, imploring Congress to do something. “It will hurt consumer confidence and hit discretionary spending in the retail and tourism sectors, two pillars of growth here in Baltimore,” Rawlings-Blake said. “And that means it will hurt jobs in our economy.”

 

Infrastructure News November 2012

How to Soften Future Storm Blows?

http://citiwire.net/

HurricaneSandydelivered New York, America’s premier world city, a devastating blow. Literally millions of lives were affected. Damage estimates for the city and its environs – exclusive of New Jersey and Connecticut – run as high as $18 billion.Sandy’s horrific destruction confirms beyond reasonable doubt that extreme weather events all coinciding with the forward march of climate change – will impact our coastlines throughout this century.

US infrastructure wasn’t built for extreme weather

http://bostonglobe.com

The nation’s lifelines — its roads, airports, railways, and transit systems — are getting hammered by extreme weather beyond what their builders imagined, leaving states and cities searching for ways to brace for more catastrophes like Hurricane Sandy. Even as they prepare for a new normal of intense rain, historic floods, and record heat waves, some transportation planners find it too politically sensitive to say aloud the source of their weather worries: climate change. Political differences are on the minds of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, whose advice on the design and maintenance of roads and bridges is closely followed by states.

US stuck in the slow lane over infrastructure

http://www.efinancialnews.com/

As cash-strapped governments across Europe seek to raise cash and reduce spending by privatising their infrastructure assets, the US has remained reluctant to sell the family silver – particularly its highways, airports and transit systems. in the US, which historically had the coffers to support its infrastructure system with public funds, the deals have been few and far between. Banks and private equity funds raised cash for infrastructure deals in droves ahead of the financial crisis. Bidders laid the foundations for major deals, which included the $12.8bn privatisation of the Pennsylvania Turnpike by a partnership of Spanish firmAbertisInfraestructurasand Citi Infrastructure Investors and the $2.5bn privatisation of Chicago Midway Airport. But financial and political strains led to the collapse of both deals in 2008 and 2009. The financial crisis not only made the bank financing required to privately fund infrastructure projects disappear, it also threw municipal budgets into a tailspin, with many seeing their credit rating downgraded and cost of borrowing rise. The 2009 $787bn federal stimulus programme helped move “shovel-ready” road and other projects forward, but as those funds ran out, local governments were forced to consider their often limited options.

U.S., Mexico Sign Major Deal on Colorado River Issues: Delta Restoration, Infrastructure, Water Sharing

http://www.circleofblue.org/

Senior officials from the United States and Mexico signed a broad five-year agreement on Tuesday that marks renewed cooperation over the Colorado River, a desert lifeline that provides water to at least 30 million people, irrigation to top agricultural counties, and electricity to millions — despite water demands in the last few years rising above the average annual supply. The pact, known as Minute 319, covers three key issues: it brings Mexico into existing U.S. water management agreements for sharing shortages and surpluses; it allows U.S. states to pay for irrigation improvements across the border and reap some of the water savings; and it allocates water for the restoration of the Colorado River delta.

Federal Urban Design Element Policies Released

http://www.ncpc.gov

The National Capital Planning Commission has released the Draft Urban Design Element for the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital Region with new policies designed to make federal public spaces, campuses and buildings more livable, functional, and sustainable.

 Moody’s downgrades 27 GARVEE ratings, affects $10 bln in debt

 http://www.reuters.com

 The challenges are related to the shorter duration of current highway funding reauthorization and the possibility that more frequent reauthorizations may disrupt or reduce funds available to pay the bonds, Moody’s said in a report. Additionally, Moody’s said it concerned about the structural imbalance of the federal Highway Trust Fund that “further increases programmatic risks of GARVEEs,” Moody’s said. Tax-exempt GARVEE bonds are backed by annual federal appropriations to assist transportation projects. Moody’s said its action affects 20 ratings of GARVEEs secured solely by a pledge of federal highway aid and seven ratings of mass transit GARVEEs.

  Vikings stadium: Good neighbor or not?

 http://www.startribune.com

 NFL stadiums make notoriously bad neighbors, not so much because they get rowdy for a few hours each autumn but because they tend to be, well, massive, ugly hulks that get uglier when you add the enormous roof structures and fortress exteriors that seem to come with the package. It’s one reason why 23 of the NFL’s 31 stadiums are in suburban-like settings with wide buffers of surface parking to separate them from surrounding communities. Only a handful of the league’s venues –Seattle’s CenturyLink Field is the best of the bunch — are squeezed into intimate downtown quarters, but even those aren’t particularly inviting to close-by neighbors. Minneapolis intends to break the mold.

 Cities at odds over freight train reroute for Southwest LRT

 http://www.startribune.com

 Light-rail trains won’t be clamoring through Minneapolis and the southwest suburbs for several years, but Minneapolis and St. Louis Park are already sparring about where noisy, heavy freight traffic will end up. Residents of the suburb have gathered 1,500-plus signatures of residents who support the proposed Southwest light-rail line but oppose rerouting freight train traffic to their neighborhood to make room for the light-rail line near Minneapolis’ affluent Kenwood neighborhood. The cost to reroute is $123 million more than to keep the freight next to the light rail in Minneapolis, so it would be a non-issue if the two cities weren’t involved, saidThomMiller, co-chair of Safety in the Park.

 Golden Valley rethinks light-rail line

http://www.startribune.com/

Golden Valley City Council will reconsider its previous vote against the proposed route. But council members want something in return: One hopes Hennepin County will consider adding the city to its 911 service, and others see a station atGolden Valley Roada necessity so city residents can get to trains. InJune, the council voted 3-2 against having light rail run along an existing freight rail line that skirts Theodore Wirth Park. Hennepin County has chosen that location as part of the 13-mile transitway’s preferred route from Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park.

Hennepin County holds last forum on Southwest light rail

http://www.startribune.com

Hennepin County is holding a third and final public hearing on Thursday to take comments on the draft environmental impact statement on the proposed Southwest light-rail line. The meeting, which follows ones held in Minneapolis and St. Louis Park earlier this month, will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall,8080 Mitchell Road,Eden Prairie. The draft document details possible impacts of the 15-mile line on five cities — Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. The $1.25 billion project is slated to start construction in 2015 and open in 2018.

Plan for Bellevue light-rail yard stuns city officials

http://seattletimes.com/

While Sound Transit and Bellevue were negotiating an agreement on a future light-rail route, the transit agency didn’t mention for several months that it was thinking about building a large maintenance and storage yard in the city. That has angered City Council members, who learned only after signing an agreement last year that Sound Transit was studying Bellevue sites for a 20-acre-plus, $225 million rail yard. Finding out a project of that size wasn’t disclosed during last year’s negotiations is very troubling, saidCouncilwomanJenniferRobertson.

Busier, safer St. Paul streets

http://www.startribune.com

Building owners and property managers in downtown St. Paul have long had a love-hate relationship with Metro Transit and its riders, but the coming of the Green Line light rail and other new attractions in the city center will help change that, the agency’s new police chief predicts. Commercial real estate managers in the city appreciate that their tenants depend on buses — and starting in 2014, light rail — to bring office workers, shoppers and restaurant diners downtown.  But unlike in Minneapolis, St. Paul’s downtown streets have been known for becoming empty after 5 p.m. and on weekends. The big transit stops along Fifth and Sixth Streets at those times became known as preferred spots for gang members to deal drugs and intimidate passers-by — a bad situation that also spilled over into office hours. Building owners became frustrated with Metro Transit as a result. With the opening of the refurbished Union Depot transportation hub next month, the continuing addition of housing and nightspots, the Green Line light rail in 2014 and a newSt.PaulSaintsballpark the next year, predictions are an influx of more people will make downtown safer overall.

Infrastructure News – Update to 9/16 post

Two law firms hired to handle Vikings stadium legal issues

http://www.minnpost.com

Two Minneapolis law firms have been hired to handle legal issues for building the Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the newly created organization that will build and manage the stadium, met Friday morning and selected Dorsey & Whitney as general counsel and Fabyanske, Westra, Hart & Thomson as legal counsel for stadium construction.  MicheleKelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and a former top aide to Gov. Mark Dayton, praised the selection: “The unanimous recommendation of Dorseyand Fabyanske provides MSFA with top-tier law firms who have the necessary experience to ensure the stadium is completed on time and on budget.” At Dorsey, JayLindgren will serve as lead counsel on the project, overseeing legal aspects including financing, real estate, construction strategy, labor and employment, intellectual property and other issues.

Report Warns of ‘Devastating Impact’ of Cuts

http://www.sfgate.com/

President Barack Obama’s budget advisers, in the almost 400-page report, said its calculations were preliminary and subject to change. Even so, the budget office said, there’s “no question” that paring the budget to this degree “would be deeply destructive to domestic investments and core government functions.” The budget ax, which would begin to fall on Jan. 2 unless Congress adopts an alternative, will affect the entire federal catalog of government spending, from education and the environment to transportation and defense.

Aecom awarded Denver light rail contract

http://www.bizjournals.com

Aecom Technology Corp., a provider of technical and management support services, was awarded a contract to provide final design services for the Denver Regional Transportation District’s planned I-225 light-rail line. The value of Aecom’s contract was not disclosed. Los Angeles-based Aecom (NYSE: ACM) will provide final design for a number of elements, including tracks, seven full stations and part of an eighth station, multiple traffic signals and grade crossings, landscaping, permitting, drainage and utilities, park ’n ride areas, eight bridges and transit systems.

Boosting Ridership by Replacing Buses With Rail

http://www.theatlanticcities.com

When rail goes in, ridership goes up. At least, that’s what’s happened in Los Angeles, where the county’s transportation authority, Metro, has gone on a more than two-decade binge of light rail and subway development. A new analysis of transit ridership before and after the four lines opened shows that overall ridership has dramatically increased with rail in the picture. Scott Page, a planner with Metro, has analyzed ridership stats and documents to see how transit use patterns changed along corridors formerly reliant solely on buses but now augmented with rail lines. By comparing average ridership before and after the rail options were in place, Page shows that adding rail service has grown ridership on these corridors anywhere from 95 percent to nearly 350 percent.

Sound Transit gearing up for Capitol Hill light-rail station projects

http://www.bizjournals.com/

Sound Transit officials Wednesday talked about the agency’s plans for transit-oriented development projects at the Capitol Hill light rail station. The light rail stop is under construction at Broadway East and East John Street. The station is expected to open in 2016, but the five project sites will be sold to developers in 2014. Together, the sites total about 100,000 square feet.

Dayton Approves $2 Million for SW Light Rail

http://hopkins.patch.com/

Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday approved $2 million in grant funding for Southwest Light Rail, just days after the project received a low score from the state’s economic development department. Dayton approved a total of $47.5 million in grants, with the largest chunk—$25 million—going to a new St. Paul Saints ballpark, the Star Tribune reports. On Tuesday, local leaders criticized the state Department of Employment and Economic Development for giving SW LRT the lowest score among the 37 projects that applied for grant funding.

Twin Cities’ Central Corridor project installs first of 14 substations

http://www.rtands.com

Crews have completed placement of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Central Corridor light-rail line’s first traction-power substation just south of the Raymond Avenue Station. Fourteen substations, located about one mile apart, will convert alternating electrical current to direct current, which will power the light-rail vehicles using a system of overhead catenary wires. Throughout the next year, the 13 other substations will be installed at a rate of one a month.

New twist on Vikings tailgating

http://www.startribune.com/

Think of it as a new twist on tailgating — “railgating.” Beginning with the Minnesota Vikings’ Sept. 23 home game against the San Francisco 49ers, the city of Minneapolis wants to allow nearly two dozen food trucks and a beer stand with Minneapolis brews to set up on two blocks of 5th Street along the Hiawatha light-rail line between Park and 5th Avenues. The idea is part of an experiment by Mayor R.T. Rybak and other city officials to create a more vibrant downtown game-day experience in anticipation of the opening of a new Vikings stadium in 2016. The $975 million development will be built on and near the current Metrodome site…The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and the Vikings are expected to pick an architect for the project in the next few weeks. Groundbreaking is expected to take place next summer.

 St. Paul wins $25 million for Saints ballpark

 http://www.startribune.com

 The city received  $25 million is one among the nine projects that divvied up $47.5 million in state economic development grants.  The biggest chunk of state grant money goes to build a Saints ballpark in Lowertown. “Welcome, everybody, to the site of a new Lowertown ballpark,” a grinning city Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hahm said at a sunny, applause-filled news conference near the Farmers Market. The ballpark promised at least 248 jobs, including 225 in construction. It also is expected to bring 400,000 visitors to Lowertown and $10 million a year to the city, according to the grant application. The land swap for the ballpark site that gave the city Port Authority the team’s current home at Midway Stadium. The authority intends to convert it to a “job developer with highly sought-after railroad access.”

 Light-rail construction 68 percent complete

http://www.mndaily.com/

Central Corridor light- rail construction reached major milestones near the University of Minnesota campus prior to the holiday weekend as workers put in extra hours to have roads, sidewalks and crosswalks completed and open for the start of the fall semester. “There was a giant push to get everything done on campus before the beginning of the fall semester,” said Jacqueline Brudlos, spokeswoman for the University’s Parking and Transportation Services. “Fortunately, this huge public works project keeps moving successfully forward.”

 Minnesota DOT Releases Winona Bridge Plans

 http://www.wxow.com/

 The Minnesota Department of Transportation has announced a recommendation regarding the Winona bridge. The bridge connects Minnesota Highway 43 to Wisconsin Highway 54, and is currently in need of repair. The bridge has been closed multiple times in the last few years for repairs, causing commuters headaches. Last August, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced it would only consider rehabilitation projects to preserve the existing bridge. However the new plan includes construction of a new bridge. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is recommending the construction of a new Highway 43 bridge in Winona and the renovation of the existing structure.

 New Blatnik lights will shine from inside

 http://www.superiortelegram.com

 After public comment on two options to light the Blatnik Bridge, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced a design featuring an illumination from inside the bridge was chosen.  “Public comments overwhelmingly preferred the illuminated design, which will feature strategically-placed fixtures that cast light off the interior of the structure,” MnDOT said in a statement. The Blatnik Bridge’s new energy-efficient lighting system will be operational by fall 2013, and is expected to cost $1.2 million to install. The cost will be split between the Minnesota and Wisconsin departments of transportation. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2013.

 Two infrastructure projects in North Dakota will help power homes in the Bakken state

 http://markets.cbsnews.com

 North Dakota state regulators signed off on a proposed natural gas processing plant, as well as a separate wind energy project, to be built in the state’s western region. The approval came last Wednesday, and the projects together account for $360 million of brand new infrastructure.

 The Energy Boom Has Made North Dakota The Strongest Housing Market In America

 http://www.businessinsider.com

 While national home prices turned positive for the first time in August, according to Case-Shiller, housing is a local story and many markets continue to perform worse than others.  A housing recovery depends on a number of factors like job creation, foreclosure inventory, home prices, and so on.  While most of the job growth is coming from the mining and logging sector, there is also remarkable growth in construction, transportation, professional services and similar jobs that are creating the new infrastructure needed to support this boom.

 Obama administration finalizes ‘historic’ fuel economy standards

http://www.mlive.com

Following years of negotiating, new federal vehicle fuel economy standards will nearly double by 2025.U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, today made the “historic announcement” that will push automakers to produce a light-vehicle lineup that averages 54.5 miles per gallon in the next 13 years, up from 28.6 mpg in 2011.“Today is a monumental day for the American people, the U.S. auto industry and this administration’s efforts to make our cars more efficient – helping families save more at the pump while still preserving consumer choice,“ LaHood said during a media conference call Tuesday afternoon.

Infrastructure News, September 14th

Report Warns of ‘Devastating Impact’ of Cuts

http://www.sfgate.com/

PresidentBarackObama’s budget advisers, in the almost 400-page report, said its calculations were preliminary and subject to change. Even so, the budget office said, there’s “no question” that paring the budget to this degree “would be deeply destructive to domestic investments and core government functions.” The budget ax, which would begin to fall on Jan. 2 unless Congress adopts an alternative, will affect the entire federal catalog of government spending, from education and the environment to transportation and defense.

Aecom awarded Denver light rail contract

http://www.bizjournals.com

Aecom Technology Corp., a provider of technical and management support services, was awarded a contract to provide final design services for the Denver Regional Transportation District’s planned I-225 light-rail line. The value of Aecom’s contract was not disclosed. Los Angeles-based Aecom (NYSE: ACM) will provide final design for a number of elements, including tracks, seven full stations and part of an eighth station, multiple traffic signals and grade crossings, landscaping, permitting, drainage and utilities, park ’n ride areas, eight bridges and transit systems.

Boosting Ridership by Replacing Buses With Rail

http://www.theatlanticcities.com

When rail goes in, ridership goes up. At least, that’s what’s happened in Los Angeles, where the county’s transportation authority, Metro, has gone on a more than two-decade binge of light rail and subway development. A new analysis of transit ridership before and after the four lines opened shows that overall ridership has dramatically increased with rail in the picture. Scott Page, a planner with Metro, has analyzed ridership stats and documents to see how transit use patterns changed along corridors formerly reliant solely on buses but now augmented with rail lines. By comparing average ridership before and after the rail options were in place, Page shows that adding rail service has grown ridership on these corridors anywhere from 95 percent to nearly 350 percent.

Sound Transit gearing up for Capitol Hill light-rail station projects

http://www.bizjournals.com/

Sound Transit officials Wednesday talked about the agency’s plans for transit-oriented development projects at the Capitol Hill light rail station. The light rail stop is under construction at Broadway East andEast John Street. The station is expected to open in 2016, but the five project sites will be sold to developers in 2014. Together, the sites total about 100,000 square feet.

Dayton Approves $2 Million for SW Light Rail

http://hopkins.patch.com/

Gov.MarkDaytonon Thursday approved $2 million in grant funding for Southwest Light Rail, just days after the project received a low score from the state’s economic development department. Dayton approved a total of $47.5 million in grants, with the largest chunk—$25 million—going to a new St. Paul Saints ballpark, the Star Tribune reports. On Tuesday, local leaders criticized the state Department of Employment and Economic Development for giving SW LRT the lowest score among the 37 projects that applied for grant funding.

Twin Cities’ Central Corridor project installs first of 14 substations

http://www.rtands.com

Crews have completed placement of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Central Corridor light-rail line’s first traction-power substation just south of the Raymond Avenue Station. Fourteen substations, located about one mile apart, will convert alternating electrical current to direct current, which will power the light-rail vehicles using a system of overhead catenary wires. Throughout the next year, the 13 other substations will be installed at a rate of one a month.

New twist on Vikings tailgating

http://www.startribune.com/

Think of it as a new twist on tailgating — “railgating.” Beginning with the Minnesota Vikings’ Sept. 23 home game against the San Francisco 49ers, the city of Minneapolis wants to allow nearly two dozen food trucks and a beer stand with Minneapolis brews to set up on two blocks of5th Streetalong theHiawathalight-rail line between Park and 5th Avenues. The idea is part of an experiment byMayorR.T.Rybakand other city officials to create a more vibrant downtown game-day experience in anticipation of the opening of a new Vikings stadium in 2016. The $975 million development will be built on and near the current Metrodome site…The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and the Vikings are expected to pick an architect for the project in the next few weeks. Groundbreaking is expected to take place next summer.

 St. Paul wins $25 million for Saints ballpark

 http://www.startribune.com

 The city received  $25 million is one among the nine projects that divvied up $47.5 million in state economic development grants.  The biggest chunk of state grant money goes to build a Saints ballpark in Lowertown. “Welcome, everybody, to the site of a new Lowertown ballpark,” a grinning city Parks and Recreation Director MikeHahmsaid at a sunny, applause-filled news conference near the Farmers Market. The ballpark promised at least 248 jobs, including 225 in construction. It also is expected to bring 400,000 visitors to Lowertown and $10 million a year to the city, according to the grant application. The land swap for the ballpark site that gave the city Port Authority the team’s current home at Midway Stadium. The authority intends to convert it to a “job developer with highly sought-after railroad access.”

 Light-rail construction 68 percent complete

http://www.mndaily.com/

Central Corridor light- rail construction reached major milestones near the University of Minnesota campus prior to the holiday weekend as workers put in extra hours to have roads, sidewalks and crosswalks completed and open for the start of the fall semester. “There was a giant push to get everything done on campus before the beginning of the fall semester,” said Jacqueline Brudlos, spokeswoman for the University’s Parking and Transportation Services. “Fortunately, this huge public works project keeps moving successfully forward.”

 Minnesota DOT Releases Winona Bridge Plans

 http://www.wxow.com/

 The Minnesota Department of Transportation has announced a recommendation regarding theWinona bridge. The bridge connects Minnesota Highway 43 to Wisconsin Highway 54, and is currently in need of repair. The bridge has been closed multiple times in the last few years for repairs, causing commuters headaches. Last August, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced it would only consider rehabilitation projects to preserve the existing bridge. However the new plan includes construction of a new bridge.The Minnesota Department of Transportation is recommending the construction of a new Highway 43 bridge inWinonaand the renovation of the existing structure.

 New Blatnik lights will shine from inside

 http://www.superiortelegram.com

 After public comment on two options to light the Blatnik Bridge, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced a design featuring an illumination from inside the bridge was chosen.  “Public comments overwhelmingly preferred the illuminated design, which will feature strategically-placed fixtures that cast light off the interior of the structure,” MnDOT said in a statement. The Blatnik Bridge’s new energy-efficient lighting system will be operational by fall 2013, and is expected to cost $1.2 million to install. The cost will be split between the Minnesota and Wisconsin departments of transportation. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2013.

 Two infrastructure projects in North Dakota will help power homes in the Bakken state

 http://markets.cbsnews.com

 North Dakota state regulators signed off on a proposed natural gas processing plant, as well as a separate wind energy project, to be built in the state’s western region. The approval came last Wednesday, and the projects together account for $360 million of brand new infrastructure.

 The Energy Boom Has Made North Dakota The Strongest Housing Market In America

 http://www.businessinsider.com

 While national home prices turned positive for the first time in August, according to Case-Shiller, housing is a local story and many markets continue to perform worse than others. A housing recovery depends on a number of factors like job creation, foreclosure inventory, home prices, and so on.  While most of the job growth is coming from the mining and logging sector, there is also remarkable growth in construction, transportation, professional services and similar jobs that are creating the new infrastructure needed to support this boom.

 Obama administration finalizes ‘historic’ fuel economy standards

http://www.mlive.com

Following years of negotiating, new federal vehicle fuel economy standards will nearly double by 2025.U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, today made the “historic announcement” that will push automakers to produce a light-vehicle lineup that averages 54.5 miles per gallon in the next 13 years, up from 28.6 mpg in 2011.“Today is a monumental day for the American people, the U.S. auto industry and this administration’s efforts to make our cars more efficient – helping families save more at the pump while still preserving consumer choice,“ LaHood said during a media conference call Tuesday afternoon.

Infrastructure News June 11th issue

House Bill Would Maintain Highway Spending, Cut TIGER Grants

http://www.joc.com

Federal highway spending in fiscal 2013 would remain the same as the prior year, but there wouldn’t be funding for TIGER grants or high-speed rail, through a bill introduced in the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. The bill would provide $39.1 billion from the Highway Trust Fund for highway spending, and the funding level could change if Congress approves a multiyear surface transportation bill. There is also no language in the bill that would pull back highway contract authority from the states. “Making smart investments in the nation’s transportation infrastructure is one of the best ways to help provide an environment for American businesses to create jobs and economic growth. This bill targets taxpayer dollars where they can be best used to improve the reliability, safety, and efficiency of our transportation systems, while also holding the line on spending to help reduce the nation’s growing deficits,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said.

House transportation appropriations bill would cut TIGER funding in FY2013

http://www.progressiverailroading.com

Late last week, the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee marked up the fiscal-year 2013 budget for the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) bill, which would establish spending levels for federal programs, according to a legislative update from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the bill on April 19. The THUD bill would provide $10.5 billion for Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs, APTA officials said. The House would maintain spending for all Highway Trust Fund/Mass Transit Account contract authority programs at FY2012 levels. However, the General Fund programs would reduce funding for New Starts grants by $138 million to $1.8 billion, including $127.6 million for Small Starts. The Senate bill would increase New Starts funding by $89 million, bringing the FY2013 budget to $2 billion.

GOP unveils $51.6B DOT, HUD budget

http://thehill.com

As lawmakers debate a new road and public transit spending bill, Republican leaders in the House unveiled on Wednesday a $51.6 billion budget for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.  The House Appropriations Committee said Wednesday that it will consider its Transportation, Housing and Urban Development budget for fiscal year 2013 in a subcommittee hearing Thursday. The draft of the proposal released Wednesday contains a $3.9 billion reduction for the agencies from 2012 spending and it is $1.9 billion less thanPresidentObamarequested for the departments earlier this year.  AppropriationsCommittee ChairmanHalRogers(R-Ala.) said his committee had to make “smart investments” in transportation and housing development.

New St. Croix bridge could bring big changes to western Wisconsin

http://minnesota.publicradio.org

The new St. Croix bridge is much more than just a bridge, it’s actually three major projects: firstly, there’s the bridge itself; second and third are the highway approaches from the Minnesota and Wisconsin sides. In preparation, the state of Wisconsin in the 1990s began widening eastbound Highway 64 towards New Richmond. Now that the project has the green light, the state plans to finish extending the highway several miles west to the bridge landing. That means building a new roadway through acres of lush farmland.

Planning for Central Corridor public art

http://minnesota.publicradio.org

A coalition designing a plan for art along the Central Corridor light rail line is planning four public meetings this week. Public Art St. Paul is among many the groups behind the Central Corridor Public Art Plan. President Christine Podas-Larson says the meetings will be a forum for artists to learn what social, environmental and other issues residents want reflected in art. What do they care about?” Podas-Larson said. “What are the social issues that are out there? why do people gather? What is the nature of gathering places? We really want to understand that better so that in this plan that can be expressed and have a meaningful place.”

Bellevue citizens group proposes deep-bore tunnel for light-rail line

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/

Sound Transit could avoid disturbing South Bellevue residents — and save money — by putting its planned light-rail line into a nearly two-mile-long, deep-bore tunnel, a citizens’ group said Thursday. But the latest proposal from Building a Better Bellevue (BBB) was received with skepticism from some public officials, who questioned the group’s cost claims and said it may be a nonstarter because Bellevue and Sound Transit already have agreed on a different route. The adopted route, approved by the federal government, follows Bellevue Way Southeast and 112th Avenue Southeast before dipping into a short cut-and-cover tunnel through downtown. Sound Transit and Bellevue are discussing how to reduce costs of the line, portions of which may be elevated or in a trench.

Voters have turned against California bullet train, poll shows

http://www.latimes.com/

A strong majority of voters is against the bullet train project just asGov.Brownis pressuring the Legislature to green-light the start of construction, a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll finds. In a state renowned for betting big on mega-infrastructure projects, including the world’s most famous freeways and canals that move oceans of water across hundreds of miles, the fast-approaching decision on the bullet train project marks a historic Golden State moment.

MBTA ridership growth contributes to nationwide surge

http://www.boston.com

The MBTA saw one of the highest growth rates in ridership in the first quarter of the year among America’s public transit systems, contributing to an overall 5 percent surge nationally, the American Public Transportation Association announced today. The MBTA’s rates of growth for light rail (12.6 percent), heavy rail (6.4 percent), and bus ridership (10.6 percent) placed it among the top 5 systems nationally in each of those categories, the association said. In the first three months of the year, Americans took a total of almost 2.7 billion trips on public transportation, according to the association. That was 125.7 million more than in the first quarter of 2011, a 5 percent increase. Nationwide, all modes of transportation saw increases in ridership. The MBTA is the country’s fifth busiest transit system, behind New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington D.C., according to the T. The Green Line is the nation’s busiest light rail system.

 US officials seek answers on Detroit rail project

http://www.cbsnews.com

Federal transportation officials could give final approval to Detroit’s Woodward Avenue light rail project in two months if city and state officials can provide answers to questions on costs and who will run the system.Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood met Monday morning at City Hall with Mayor Dave Bing, Gov. Rick Snyder and some business leaders involved in raising private funds to help build and operate the light rail. It would run between downtown and Detroit’s New Center area.Snyder says some of LaHood’s questions involve operating and capital costs.

Infrastructure News, May 3rd

Could public-private funding improve U.S. transportation?

http://minnesota.publicradio.org

Our roads are crumbling and Congress is still battling over the transportation bill. Canada and Europe routinely fund transportation projects with public-private partnerships, also known as PPPs. What are PPPs and why is the U.S. only recently warming up to them? The Daily Circuit did an in-depth segment on transportation funding in February. Richard Geddes, Policy analysis and management associate professor at Cornell University, was part of that show and mentioned PPPs. We wanted to learn more as a PPP bridge is being built inVirginia.

Public-private deals seen boosting road projects

http://articles.chicagotribune.com

Financing for roads and highways is likely to attract a growing number of public-private partnerships once Congress passes federal transportation funding, a panel of experts at a Federal Association of Municipal Analysts conference in Las Vegas said on Friday. Congress last month opted for a 90-day extension of transportation funding amid a standoff between Democrats and Republicans over competing long-term proposals, casting uncertainty over the eventual level of federal spending for building and repairing highways.

City of Gonzales and Chevron Energy Solutions Announce Transformative Public-Private Partnership To Generate $4.7 Million in Energy Savings

http://www.sacbee.com

The City of Gonzales announced the creation of a transformative public-private partnership aimed at significantly reducing the city’s energy and maintenance costs. The partnership provides for a number of public infrastructure improvements designed to reduce the City’s utility and maintenance costs. Improvements include upgrading all City-owned streetlights, constructing two solar installations to produce 462 kW of power, and upgrading the City’s water pumping station to help conserve water and electricity and enable the City to pump water at optimal times, when energy costs are lower. The work is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a more sustainable public utility model that can be replicated by other communities.

Sergio Marchionne commits $3M to Woodward light rail; Dan Gilbert promises support to United Way

http://www.freep.com

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne pledged today to support the privatelybacked Woodward Avenue light-rail project, committing $3 million over five years for Chrysler to sponsor one of the stations on the 3.3-mile route from downtown Detroit to the city’s New Center. .. Last week, the M-1 Rail group said private companies and philanthropic groups had pledged $84 million toward the light-rail project, which has an estimated cost of $137 million.

 Light-rail may be Bottineau Line option

 http://www.startribune.com

 While nothing is set in stone for a proposed transit corridor in the north Hennepin County suburbs, one thing is clear after recent public meetings: people prefer a train to a bus, even though the latter would cost less. “It’s fair to say that light-rail transit has more support than bus rapid transit,” saidJoeGladke, who manages engineering and transit planning for Hennepin County. He added, however, that opinions are “all over the place” on the different routes being studied. The next couple months will be critical for theBottineauTransitway, a 13-mile line that would connect downtown Minneapolis with either Maple Grove or Brooklyn Park. It’s the latest corridor being considered for light-rail transit, along with the Southwest line.

 Central Corridor light-rail’s $40K bonus has critics in a huff

 http://www.twincities.com/

 There’s a $40,000 bonus headed to Walsh Construction, the lead contractor on the easternmost seven miles of the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line in St. Paul. But Tait Danielson-Castillo is dubious. The executive director of the Frogtown Neighborhood Association sits on one of several Construction Communication Committees that grades Walsh each quarter on safety, outreach and responsiveness to complaints. CallingWalshthe public face of the project, he and two others on a committee gave the contractor poor marks – ones and twos on a 10-point scale – when filling out evaluation cards April 11.

 Firm sued in Minn. bridge failure bid on new St. Croix span

 http://www.htrnews.com

 An engineering company linked to a fatal 2007 bridge collapse in Minnesota is seeking to design a major bridge crossing on the state’s border with Wisconsin. The Minnesota Department of Transportation said Wednesday that San Francisco-based URS Corp. is among the bidders to design a $571 million to $676 million span crossing the St. Croix River east of the Twin Cities. URS also is seeking a contract to review the bridge’s design if another firm is selected to design the structure.

Twin Cities’ rail-transit proposals could be on a collision course

 http://www.minnpost.com/

 Within the next year or two, there’s the potential for a three-train pileup at the state Capitol. Local officials from the southwest, northwest and east could be converging simultaneously at the Capitol seeking $100 million or more in state funding for each of three possible light-rail transit (LRT) lines – in the Southwest, Bottineau and Gateway corridors. That could be mission impossible if Republicans retain control of the Legislature in this fall’s election. In the current legislative session, both houses have resisted providing even a $25 million down payment on the state’s share of the cost for the proposed $1.25 billion line in the Southwest Corridor between downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie.

 Wisconsin ready to borrow $225 million for Stillwater bridge

 http://www.twincities.com/

 A state commission has given the Wisconsin Department of Transportation the authority to borrow $225 million to fund the St. Croix River Crossing Project. The Wisconsin Building Commission, which is chaired by Gov. Scott Walker, approved the measure Wednesday, April 18. The state budget includes the bonding, but WisDOT needed approval from the building commission before borrowing the money. “This finally puts some dollars behind the commitments we’ve made,” said Dave Solberg, WisDOT’s manager on the project. Construction of the new bridge, which will replace the aging Stillwater Lift Bridge, is estimated to cost from $571 million to $676 million. That money is being split between the two states, with Wisconsin paying an estimated $256 million to $305 million. With approval to borrow $225 million, Wisconsin has secured 80 percent to 90 percent of what it needs based on the current cost estimate, Solberg said. He said the state has several million dollars already earmarked for the bridge.

 Goodbye, gasoline: Some vehicle fleets make switch to compressed natural gas power

 http://finance-commerce.com/

 As companies with vehicle fleets cope with the rising cost of fuel, a decision that Delano-basedRandy’s Environmental Services made last fall looks like a smart move. In October,Randy’s became the first Minnesota waste-disposal company to replace some of its diesel trucks with compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) vehicles. At least three other Twin Cities-area waste haulers are also making the switch:Dick’s Sanitation of Lakeville, Waste Management of Blaine and Ace Sanitation of Ramsey.

 Caltrain downtown extension gets top billing for top dollar

 http://www.sfgate.com

In all the talk lately of high-speed rail, Caltrain electrification and construction of the Transbay Terminal, the downtown extension of Caltrain (to be shared by high-speed rail) has seemingly been overlooked. No longer. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is making the extension one of its top projects for major federal funding, it said at a meeting Friday. A federal program that helps pay for big rail transit projects in metropolitan regions has helped pay forBARTto SFO, Silicon Valley light rail lines and the just startedBARTextension to the Berryessa neighborhood of San Jose. Muni’s Central Subway is expected to receive a federal funding guarantee of $942.2 million within months.

Radio Program on Public Private Partnerships for Transportation

http://www.dorsey.com/lindgren_mpr_42712/

Infrastructure News, March 28th

ND: Williston Basin oil study due next year predicted to spur infrastructure

http://www.cnbc.com/

Sen. John Hoeven says a re-evaluation of the amount of recoverable oil in the Williston Basin is slated to be completed late next year by the U.S. Geological Survey. The North Dakota Republican says the updated assessment will likely be higher than earlier estimates and will spur more investment and infrastructure.

Non-Oil Producing Areas Get $48 Million

http://www.kfyrtv.com/

The North Dakota State Treasurer has announced that non-oil producing counties and townships in North Dakota will receive a special distribution of funds. The state will distribute $48 million on Friday, March 30. According to the Treasurer`s office, the funds were provided for in House Bill 1012 and Senate Bill 2371, both passed last year. “Our state has experienced so many weather related challenges this past year,” said State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt. “These funds will allow our counties and township to address the much needed repairs to their transportation infrastructure.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Announced Fourth Round of TIGER Discretionary Grants Program

http://www.infrainsightblog

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced a much-anticipated fourth round of funding for USDOT’s popular TIGER Discretionary Grants program, totaling $500 million for capital investments in surface totaling $500 million for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure. Pre-applications must be submitted by Feb. 20, 2012 and final applications must be submitted by March 19, 2012.  Previous rounds of competitive TIGER grants were heavily over-subscribed.  The last round attracted 848 applications with funding requests for $14.29 billion, while USDOT awarded funds in December 2011 for 46 capital projects totaling $511 million.

 Transportation bill to fund road and transit projects

 http://www.jdsupra.com/

 Following an extended debate over a number of non-germane energy amendments, the Senate overwhelmingly approved March 14 a $109 billion transportation bill that would fund road and transit projects for the next two years. The bipartisan 74-22 vote places added pressure on Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and House Republicans to either pass a measure of its own or take up the Senate-approved version before current highway funding expires March 31. The legislation extends current levels indexed to inflation while also reforming the project review process and consolidating a few federal programs. The Speaker’s preferred language is a five-year, $260 billion package that would pay for infrastructure projects with revenue from new domestic oil and gas drilling; while House Republicans have been divided on the measure, it is possible that the House could move to the Senate bill soon.

 Lawmakers debate funding for Southwest light rail

 http://minnesota.publicradio.org/

 Legislators are debating whether to fund the proposed Southwest light rail line in this year’s bonding bill.  Gov. Mark Dayton has made expanding light rail in the southwest metro a top priority this year. But House transportation leaders this week failed to include the light rail line from Eden Prairie to downtown Minneapolis on a list of recommended projects.  The project has the support of business leaders, who are hoping lawmakers will give the Southwest LRT a green light this session.

 Met Council delays action on light-rail contract

 http://www.startribune.com/

 Amid concerns of the governor, the agency overseeing transit has delayed action on awarding a major contract for building the proposed Southwest Corridor light-rail line. Gov. Mark Dayton last week expressed concern that the Metropolitan Council was about to award the contract to URS Corp. of San Francisco. The firm had been criticized for work on the old Interstate 35W bridge before it collapsed in 2007.The issue was expected to come up Monday at an agency transportation meeting. One council member had said a vote could be taken on a recommendation by its staff. But action has been indefinitely postponed.

 Bridge still faces opposition

 http://www.kare11.com

 A rare sight of bipartisanship Friday when both Minnesota and Wisconsin governors celebrated the recent signing of the St. Croix bridge legislation. “This is a remarkable moment,” said Governor Mark Dayton, a Democrat. ‘We should almost call it a a bridge called “cooperation” because this is a great example of crossing party lines and state lines to get something done,’ saidRepublican GovernorScottWalker. “It will create 6,000 construction jobs on both sides of the river and that’s huge for Minnesota and I’m sure it’s huge for Wisconsin, as well,” said Dayton. However, Oak Park Heights’ city leaders have not approved a “municipal consent” with the Minnesota Department of Transportation which is needed to move forward. 

Mn/DOT tries to bridge differences over St. Croix bridge project

 http://www.kare11.com

 Officials with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) and Oak Park Heights met Tuesday night hoping to bridge their differences over a St. Croix River bridge. President Barack Obama recently signed legislation that approved a long awaited four-lane bridge across the St. Croix connecting Oak Park Heights and St. Joseph, Wisconsin. But officials with Oak Park Heights have yet to sign a “municipal consent” which is needed to move forward, that’s because they will have to relocate utility lines and reconstruct roadways because of the bridge project.

 Md. Public-Private Bill Heads For Debate

 http://www.nbcwashington.com

 The House of Delegates on Saturday gave an initial nod to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed policy governing public-private partnerships on big projects like roads and public buildings, but some lawmakers heatedly objected to a new provision ensuring speedy legal proceedings for participants in such a partnership. The change would allow legal appeals to be heard on an expedited track before the Court of Special Appeals, the state’s intermediate appellate court. It was not part of the initial proposal by the O’Malley administration, but was added by a House panel. But supporters of the change say time is money, and companies that want to take part in large partnerships with the state to build expensive infrastructure should have speedy legal review of matters of law.

 Cuomo Seeks Law for Private Investment in New Tappan Zee Bridge

 http://www.businessweek.com

 Governor Andrew Cuomo is seeking legislation that would allow private-equity firms to help finance construction of public-works projects, including a new $5.2 billion Tappan Zee Bridge. The bill would authorize the state to lease bridges, roads and state buildings to help pay for construction, maintenance and operations of infrastructure, said Thomas Madison, executive director of the New York State Thruway Authority. Cuomo doesn’t want to sell state assets, said Karen Rae, deputy secretary of transportation. Carlyle Group LP (CG) and Macquarie Group Ltd. (MQG) are among companies expressing interest in the Tappan Zee.

 What Chicago’s infrastructure trust means to institutional investors

 http://www.pionline.com

 If a new infrastructure trust being set up by the city of Chicago is successful, it could prove to be a new model for melding private money — including institutional dollars — and traditional public financing. That model would open up a whole new set of domestic infrastructure investment opportunities at a time that institutional investors are boosting infrastructure allocations. While many institutional investors such as CalPERS and CalSTRS have global infrastructure allocations, most other allocations by U.S. plans have a domestic bias, according to a global study of pension plan investment in infrastructure released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in September. Despite that bias, one of the main barriers to investment in infrastructure in the U.S. is that the “United States infrastructure market is immature and has not provided many opportunities to investors,” the report noted, mainly because of a lack of deals offering room for private investment.

 Senate Republicans present $496 million bonding bill

 http://hometownsource.com

 The Southwest Corridor Light Rail Transit Line has struck out twice in the bonding game at the State Capitol, the project failing to appear in the $496 million Republican Senate bill released today (March 28).  “It’s not dead and buried, but I think it’s not going to be strongly considered this year,” said Senate Majority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester, Senate Capital Investment Committee chairman, of the project, citing concerns from legislative transportation committee chairmen.Although Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton slated $25 million in his bonding bill, House Republicans, like the Senate, slated nothing  for the proposed light rail line.But other area projects found favor in the more spacious Senate bonding bill.

Infrastructure News March 16th

Senate passes bipartisan overhaul of highway, transit programs; House urged to act quickly

http://www.washingtonpost.com

The Senate voted Wednesday to overhaul transportation programs and keep aid flowing to thousands of construction projects while strengthening highway and auto safety. The 74-22 vote stepped up pressure for quick action by House because the government’s power to collect about $110 million a day in federal gasoline and diesel taxes, the main source of revenue for highway and transit programs, is set to expire March 31. If a final bill isn’t on the president’s desk by then, Congress would have to approve a temporary extension to avoid a shutdown of the programs, including the furlough of Federal Highway Administration employees and the layoff of construction workers. The Senate’s measure would spend $109 billion over about two years. It would increase the amount of money available for states by raising current spending levels to take into account inflation over the past several years. That’s still far short of the dollars that two congressional commissions have said are needed to maintain aging highways, bridges and rail systems while expanding the nation’s transportation network to accommodate population growth between now and 2050.

Use of Public Transit Grew in 2011, Report Indicates

http://www.nytimes.com

In another indication that more people are getting back to work, Americans took 200 million more rides last year on subways, commuter trains, light-rail systems and public buses than they did the year before, according to a new report by a leading transit association.  Americans took 10.4 billion rides on public transportation in 2011 — a billion more than they took in 2000, and the second most since 1957, according to a report being released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association, a nonprofit organization that represents transit systems. The increase in ridership came after the recession contributed to declines in the previous two years.

 North Dakota, California and the Oil Boom

 http://online.wsj.com/

 While one plays host to a modern-day Gold Rush, the other shuns fossil fuels and wallows in debt.  In his speech last week responding to high gas prices, President Barack Obama insisted that “we can’t just drill our way out of” our energy woes. Travel to boomtown USA: Williston, North Dakota. Williston sits atop the Bakken Shale, which will later this year be producing more oil than any other site in the country, surpassing even Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, the longtime leader in domestic output. This once-sleepy town is what the Gold Rush might have looked like had it happened in the time ofMcDonald’s, Wal-Mart and Home Depot. And the oil rush is making Dakotans rich in a hurry, with farmers and other landowners becoming overnight millionaires from lucrative royalties and leases.

 N.D. budget: State watching infrastructure

 http://www.jamestownsun.com

 North Dakota officials are grappling with the gusher of infrastructure needs associated with booming oil development and water management. Although the latest revenue forecast for the current biennium is running 28.5 percent above an earlier prediction, the state confronts big obligations for roads, housing, and water projects,Gov.JackDalrymplesaid. But the state faces significant infrastructure needs in the years ahead,Dalrymplesaid. The state has appropriated $1.2 billion to address infrastructure, housing and safety needs in North Dakota’s Oil Patch in the 2011-13 budget. So far, $391 million has been awarded, with about $806 remaining.

 Berg visits Dickinson to address housing concerns the area as result of ongoing oil boom.

 http://www.thedickinsonpress.com

 North Dakota CongressmanRickBergmet withDickinsoncommunity leaders Tuesday to address housing concerns the area is facing because of an ongoing oil boom. After touring new housing developments in west Dickinson,Bergsat down with city representatives at the Chamber of Commerce to discuss the housing crunch. He saidDickinson’s lack of housing is one of a few issues he is working to improve.“ As I see in western North Dakota, we’ve got three big problems. We’ve got infrastructure problems. We’ve got housing problems. We’ve got safety issues,”Bergsaid.

 $700 million for Minnesota transportation passes U.S. Senate

http://ecm.com

U.S. Sen.Amy Klobuchar announced today (Wednesday, March 14) that more than $700 million for Minnesota transportation and infrastructure has passed the Senate as part of the Surface Transportation legislation. The bill provides critical investments in Minnesota’s roads, bridges, transit, congestion mitigation projects, and freight and mobility improvements. The legislation also includes Klobuchar’s provisions to improve driver safety, such as incentives to prevent texting while driving, implement graduated license programs and improve teen driving safety. Klobuchar also secured the passage of four amendments in the final bill. “This legislation paves the way for critical investments in Minnesota’s roads and bridges, giving a much-needed boost to local economies and helping make our roads safer for families,” Klobuchar said. “The bill also includes my provisions to prevent texting while driving and keep families safe on the road.”

Obama signs bill; work to start this summer

http://www.twincities.com

PresidentBarackObamasigned legislation Wednesday, March 14, exempting the proposed St. Croix River bridge from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and allowing the project to move forward. “I’m just really happy that this has gotten done,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said hours after the signing. “After 30 years of debate and delay, this is long overdue.” The bridge – expected to cost as much as $676 million – will connect Oak Park Heights and St. Joseph, Wis., diverting traffic from the aging Stillwater Lift Bridge. The Minnesota Department of Transportation will build and test sample foundation elements in the river this summer. Construction is expected to start in 2014 and take three years.

GOP pushes 25¢ Twin Cities transit fare hike

http://www.startribune.com

GOP legislators are pushing increased fares for metro buses, light-rail and commuter trains, part of a longstanding effort to shift more of the cost of transit from taxpayers to riders. Supporters say a 25-cent hike is justified as gasoline prices rise for motorists, but opponents say the increase would violate a deal that broke the state budget impasse last summer. Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, noted that since the last fare increase in 2008 “virtually everything in everybody’s life has gone up.” Gimse also argued that another fare increase would reduce the dependence of Metro Transit on future state funding.

Light-rail is still best for Southwest

http://www.startribune.com

The March 10 article “Critics rail about state money for Southwest light-rail line” repeats questions about how best to serve the booming number of jobs in the southwest part of the Twin Cities.Fortunately, these questions have been answered — a result of a thorough cost-effectiveness analysis.A detailed Southwest Corridor Alternatives Analysis completed in 2008 looked at options for this corridor, including doing nothing, enhanced bus (on existing roads), bus rapid transit (buses on their own right of way), and light rail.Each of these options was considered in addition to numerous highway improvements. The answer was clear: Light-rail transit would be the best and most cost-effective addition to the southwest metro’s transportation system

Critics rail about state money for Southwest light-rail line

http://www.startribune.com

The biggest light-rail transit project in the Twin Cities is heading for a bumpy ride. Fans and critics of a line between downtown Minneapolis and the southwest suburbs are on a collision course over spending state funds to build it. “I’m not afraid to stand up to folks who are in love with trains and say, ‘Hold on here just a minute,'” saidRep.MikeBeard, R-Shakopee, chair of the House transportation committee. “It’s going to be a battle,” saidRep.FrankHornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, a major supporter of the Southwest Corridor light-rail project. The $25 million at stake is a fraction of the project’s $1.25 billion cost, but a large step toward the Southwest Corridor becoming a reality. A refusal to commit the money could signal a lack of state support and stall the project, putting it behind others on the waiting list for crucial federal funding.

Highway funding stuck in reverse

http://www.startribune.com

Minnesota’s aging roads and bridges are facing a reckoning in Congress. Distracted by partisan battles, lawmakers are struggling to fund upgrades to a decades-old transportation infrastructure that highway engineers say is deteriorating faster than the nation’s ability to keep up. The Senate remains at an impasse, but the House is working on a plan that would actually give Minnesota nearly $50 million less this year compared to last. The prospective cut mostly reflects the GOP-led ban on earmarks, which have provided the state with about $150 million in additional transportation dollars since 2010. Congress relies heavily on the federal gas tax to help fund highway upgrades, but the tax expires at the end of this month. With each passing day, transportation officials across the country are waiting to see whether lawmakers can break the partisan logjam, which has held up a major road bill — in one form or another — for 2 1/2 years.

 Rural transit program sees increased ridership

http://www.postbulletin.com

 Rural public transit ridership boomed in Zumbrota in 2011, but plans to expand the service to other communities are on hold until funding becomes available. Hiawatha Public Transit ridership in Zumbrota grew from 12,814 in 2010 to 17,333 in 2011, the greatest increase of riders in all of the transit company’s service areas. The Three Rivers Community Action transit program started service in 1995 in the Lake City area after receiving a grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The program’s success led to expansion to Oak Center,Frontenac, Elgin, Plainview, Wabasha,Kellogg, Cannon Falls,Winona, Red Wing, Faribault, Zumbrota, Wanamingo andGoodhue. The Zumbrota service was the last to be included about four years ago, according to Amy Repinski, director of Three Rivers’ transit program .“I’m hoping in the future that service can be expanded to Pine Island, Zumbro Falls and Millville, where there are frequent requests for public transit,” she said. But expansion of the program is subject to funding by the state. MnDot provides 85 percent of the operating cost for the transit service, and bus fares provide the other 15 percent.

The benefits of bringing light rail stations to South LA

http://www.intersectionssouthla.org

Congress memberMaxineWaterswrote a letter urgingArthurLeahy, CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA), to seek funds for the construction of light rail stations in South Los Angeles. The proposed light rail construction is in Leimert Park and Westchester on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor. The funds for the light rail stations would come from a TIGER grant – a competitive nationwide grant program that creates jobs by supporting investments in transportation infrastructure.Watershopes to gainLeahy’s support in amending the transportation bill, H.R. 7, which would add one billion dollars in TIGER funds over the next two years in addition to constructing the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor in Leimert Park and Westchester.

National Association of Counties Report

http://www.naco.org/newsroom

This week NACo is releasing the results from their survey “Fixing It: Infrastructure and the Economy.”  According to the survey eighty-six percent of counties report having bridges in poor condition, 91 percent say that the receipt of infrastructure funding would help create jobs, and 51% of counties report experiencing funding cuts of 10-25 percent since 2008.

Infrastructure News, March 1st

Does Light Rail Really Alleviate Highway Congestion?

http://www.theatlanticcities.com

Transit advocates take for granted that public rail transportation relieves congestion on the roadways, but experts consider the question far from settled. Take two influential studies published in the last few years as an example: One found the latent demand for road space so strong that even expanding public transit cant hope to diminish it while another concluded that cities with well-established rail systems do indeed have less traffic.than those that do not. And that’s just in the recent past; the debate stretches back much farther. New research by two geographers at the University of Denver nudges the literature in a hopeful direction. Focusing on light rail in Denver, Sutapa Bhattacharjee and Andrew Goetz examine the question from two angles at once: they perform a temporal analysis that compares highway traffic before and after the system opened, and a spatial analysis that measures whether or not traffic changes have taken root on highways adjacent to the rail corridor.

Metro business groups promote Southwest Light Rail

http://www.kare11.com/

It’s not uncommon to see Chamber of Commerce leaders at the State Capitol, but their cause this legislative session is catching some by surprise. They promoting the Southwest Light Rail, more specifically $25 million in bonding for the line that would connect downtown Minneapolis to St. Louis Park,Hopkinsand Shakopee. That’s only part of the projected $125 million price tag, but an important piece to a financing plan that would leverage federal dollars. “The Met Council’s own figures show that 80-plus percent of all riders of the metropolitan transit system, whether it be bus, light rail, or north star are either going to or from their place of employment, or they’re going to or from school,” Matt Kramer, president of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce told reporters Tuesday.

Poll: Most Minnesotans support state funding for Southwest Light Rail

http://www.bizjournals.com

About 61 percent of Minnesotans support spending $25 million in state bonding funds on building the Southwest Light Rail line, according to results of a poll conducted by three chambers of commerce. The poll surveyed 700 state residents during the month of January.

Light Rail: Hiawatha Line=Blue, Central Corridor=Green

http://minneapolis.about.com

2012 is scheduled to be the last major year of construction for the Central Corridor light rail. Work continues apace on University Avenue and in downtown St. Paul, with lots of track laid, brand new stations, and plenty of progress to be seen. Weather depending, 75% of the project should be completed by the end of the year. The lane closures and disruption continue, and hopefully University Avenue and downtown St. Paul businesses manage to survive another year. So please support University Avenue businesses – it may look like a mess, but parking really isn’t that bad. Most businesses still have plenty of street parking in the side streets, or are sharing lots with other organizations – look for signs.

Metro Transit unveils new branding for Light Rail and BRT

 http://www.downtownjournal.com

Metro Transit operator The Metropolitan Council has revealed the new branding for the Light Rail transit (LRT) and bus-rapid transit (BRT) system. Together, the system will be known as METRO, with individual lines identified by color names. The existing Hiawatha LRT line has been dubbed the Blue Line. The upcoming Central Corridor and Southwest Corridor LRT lines have been collectively dubbed the Green Line. I-35W’s BRT line has been named the Orange Line, and a the Cedar Avenue BRT line will be known as the Red Line when it is completed in November.

Stillwater bridge bill passes U.S. House

http://www.twincities.com

A bill that will pave the way for a new St. Croix River bridge passed the U.S. House with 339 votes shortly before 10 a.m. today. Eighty voted against the measure. The news sent shockwaves through downtown Stillwater this morning. “We’re now in the final stage of a 60-year process,” saidStillwater MayorKenHarycki, just minutes after the historic vote. “This wasn’t a Democratic bridge. This wasn’t a Republican bridge. This was a bridge to serve the people, and that’s what Congress did today.” The passage of the bill removes “the last remaining roadblock” for a new four-lane bridge south of Stillwater,Rep.TomPetri, R-Wis., said during House debate on the measure Wednesday night. “We just need this final action in order to finally proceed with the bridge. It’s time to end the gridlock.”

MPR News Primer: St. Croix River bridge

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/

After more than a decade of bitter politics and litigation, Congress is close to a vote authorizing a new St. Croix River bridge to replace the aging span in Stillwater.  The 80-year-old Stillwater Lift Bridge has served as a vital connection across the St. Croix River. But now it’s a choke point. When the Lift Bridge rises to let boat traffic pass on the river, cars back up into downtown Stillwater and up Minnesota 36, creating all kinds of traffic congestion and hazards. Congestion crashes occur at twice the rate of a similar segment of roadway, the Minnesota Department of Transportation says.

 Which city’s rail system has the best Walk Score?

http://greatergreaterwashington.org

Last week, David Klion computed the Walk Score for all Washington Metro stops. How does Metro stack up to the other heavy rail systems in the United States?  The answers may surprise.

 White House’s Summary of USDOT 2013 Budget Proposal

http://www.transportationissuesdaily.com/

 The President has proposed a $74 billion 2013 budget for USDOT, along with a six-year surface transportation reauthorization totaling $476 billion. According to White House briefing materials, below are highlights (page one) of the 2013 budget; the longer summary is reprinted below.   USDOT has released a 68-page report on the 2013 proposal which also contains information about its authorization proposal. Visit USDOT’s Performance & Budget information center and the White House’s budget page for more information about other issue areas.

 John Boehner May Scale Back Highway, Energy Bill

http://www.rollcall.com

Facing increasing opposition from within his own party, Speaker John Boehner may scrap his ambitious five-year highway and energy package in favor of a shorter and more palatable measure.  Although the bill was intended to be his signature legislative policy proposal, Boehner has struggled to pull together enough GOP votes to pass it. He was first forced to break the comprehensive package into separate energy, funding and transportation bills last week. But as opposition to the transportation portion continued to build, he was then forced to delay a vote on it until next week. Although it is unclear what effect the latest tinkering will have on the schedule, it appears likely the bill could be delayed for at least another week while changes are made.

Surface transportation legislation revisions still unclear, Mica says

 http://www.progressiverailroading.com

In a speech yesterday to American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) members, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said several options for revisions to the House’s surface transportation legislation are being discussed. But after talking with House Speaker John Boehner on Monday, Mica still didn’t know what the final options will be, including the number of years the bill would cover, he said.  Press reports earlier this month claimed that Boehner was considering a shorter and less expensive bill than the original five-year $260 billion legislation that Mica introduced earlier this year. “The final proposal I cannot tell you exactly where we will be,” Mica said, adding that he is pushing for the bill to cover “as long a term as possible” to give stability to surface transportation and infrastructure planning.

LAX Light Rail Opponents Sue Uncle Sam

http://www.courthousenews.com

South Los Angeles residents challenged the approval of a $1.75 billion light rail project toward LAX airport, insisting that at least part of the line should go underground.     The Crenshaw Subway Coalition sued the Federal Transit Administration in Federal Court, seeking to stop the project on environmental grounds.     The “Crenshaw-LAX” project is an 8.5-mile light rail line which will link the Metro Green Line and Expo Line. It is under construction at Crenshaw and Exposition Boulevards.     The metro project came in for criticism after it became public knowledge that the line will stop 1 mile short of LAX.     The LA Weekly in January called the metro line a “monument to stupidity,” and said that Los Angeles officials were “creating a potentially hobbling obstacle for the airport.”     City leaders floated the idea of a tram or rail extension to bridge the remaining mile to LAX terminals, NBC News reported last year.

Report: California needs infrastructure upgrades

http://www.bizjournals.com

California’s infrastructure is out of date and needs a $65 billion investment, a civil engineering group said Thursday. The American Society of Civil Engineers    American Society of Civil Engineers Latest from The Business Journals Follow this company rated infrastructure from aviation facilities to wastewater systems and gave an overall grade of “C” in a report that seeks to call attention to deficiencies. The worst grade went to levee and flood control systems, earning a “D” grade.The best grade went to solid waste facilities, which earned a “B.”“To remain a strong and prosperous state, we must maintain and continue to improve infrastructure that makes California’s quality of life second to none.” saidYazEmrani, co-chairman of the committee that issued the report card.

Conrad Presses Transportation Secretary on Oil Patch Infrastructure Needs

http://conrad.senate.gov/

“In  North Dakota, investment in transportation infrastructure is not keeping pace with our growing needs,” SenatorConradrecently toldSecretaryLaHood.  “Unfortunately, we have a transportation system from another era.”SenatorConradnoted that road networks in the oil patch are incapable of handling the increased truck traffic as a result of the energy development.  Traffic bottlenecks are common, slowing the movement of oil and other goods, while creating safety hazards. ChairmanConradsaid the vast energy reserves can only benefit the nation if significant investments are made to upgrade our roads.  SecretaryLaHoodechoedSenatorConrad’s repeated calls for Congress to pass a new multi-year highway bill to address the neglected and inadequate state of the nation’s roads, bridges and transit systems.

America’s crumbling transportation infrastructure

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/

It’s hard to claim that America’s transportation system is in great shape. The American Society of Civil Engineers says the United States has a $3 trillion backlog on transportation projects and it costs drivers in traffic jam time, wear on cars and damage to the environment.   Taxes on gasoline have always been a strong source of funding for transportation infrastructure projects as long as there were more drivers using more gasoline, thus paying more taxes. People are willing to pay more for transportation infrastructure if they know their money is actually going to fixing the roads they use.

 A Bank for Infrastructure Funding

http://www.governing.com

A national infrastructure bank’s purpose is to help increase state and local deal flow and private-sector deal flow.  In the U.S. public-private partnership market today, it is very hard and very expensive to get to close with a project. What an infrastructure bank will do is decrease the likelihood of closure of a project because there will be an additional federal champion involved, additional federal underwriting and higher underwriting standards. The bank also has a best practices unit in it, so there’ll be some technical assistance to state and local governments that often run into problems closing projects because there’s not the capacity to assess bids. That’s another aspect that the federal bank is meant to support.

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