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