XL’s Surety Group Guards Financial Investments in Public/Private Partnership Projects with BuildSecure
To support the timely completion of Public/Private Partnership infrastructure projects, the Insurance segment of XL Group plc (“XL”) unveiled BuildSecure, performance guarantee assistance for the finance community, available from XL’s Surety group. According to David Hewett, President of XL’s Surety group, “Today’s much needed infrastructure projects are delivered by unique partnerships with public entities working with private businesses determined to get not only the job done, but create a revenue-producing opportunity. While sureties typically protect the public sector from contractor performance issues, this new approach extends that bond protection to the financial community.” “Any construction project runs the risk of experiencing delays, but delays can be significantly costly and hinder or delay the revenue streams needed to recover the costs of these projects,” said Mr. Hewett.
Boehner: House Will Move Multiyear Bill by Year’s End
House Republicans will introduce a multiyear surface transportation reauthorization bill “in the coming weeks” and “hope to move the legislation through the House before the end of the year,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced Thursday. The bill would expand domestic energy production to pay for transportation infrastructure, with funding levels likely to be at or above current levels. The “energy and infrastructure jobs bill” would combine an expansion of energy production with initiatives to repair and improve infrastructure, according to a posting on the speaker’s blog. It would also reform the way infrastructure money is spent.
Feds say they’ll mediate deal for St. Croix bridge
Two federal Cabinet secretaries will meet soon with the Minnesota and Wisconsin congressional delegations to hammer out differences over an embattled $690 million proposal for a new St. Croix River bridge.Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told the Star Tribune that he’s planning a meeting that would include Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Building a new St. Croix bridge, LaHood said, “will create a lot of jobs” in what he described as an important project. “It will be a good opportunity to discuss the bridge and show LaHood’s strong support of the bridge,” said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. “He’s been very aggressive about wanting to help. “The pace of debate over the proposed four-lane bridge quickened Wednesday, the day before a possible committee vote that could advance Klobuchar’s bridge bill to the Senate floor. Thirty legislators in Minnesota and Wisconsin issued a statement condemning the proposed bridge as wasteful and said it would divert money from other urgent transportation needs.
Stillwater residents react to new bridge development
A proposal for a new bridge over the St. Croix River between Wisconsin and Minnesota cleared a major hurdle Thursday. Members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee overwhelmingly approved the bill, sending it to the full Senate. Thursday’s action is a victory for proponents of the long-debated and controversial replacement for the aging Stillwater Lift Bridge. The proposal would build a $690-million four-lane, freeway bridge about a mile downriver from Stillwater. Supporters said the new span will handle more traffic and ease gridlock in scenic downtown Stillwater — which swells with visitors during the summer high season. Opponents of the project would like to see a smaller, cheaper bridge. Bill Neuendorf is an engineer and director of policy and advocacy at Transit for Livable Communities. He’s concerned the bridge proposal moving through Congress would expand the freeway system and encourage sprawl in an environmentally sensitive area. The legislation is expected to get strong support when it goes up for vote in the House and Senate. If Congress approves, construction could begin in 2014.
No light rail crossing for I-94 bridge
The future of public transit in the Interstate 94 corridor between Minnesota and Wisconsin shed a couple of “ifs” this week when transportation officials and consultants declared a dedicated St. Croix River crossing a no-go.The Gateway Corridor Commission has decided if a light rail transit (LRT) line or bus rapid transit (BRT) line is built from the Twin Cities to the border, neither one will cross the I-94 St. Croix bridge.The Gateway Corridor Commission, an organization studying options for public transit in the corridor, cited space constraints on the bridge as reason for modifying portions of four of eight transit alternatives for the corridor under review. Any BRT or LRT option built along this section of I-94 would be planned to end at Manning Avenue in Woodbury, which is about four miles west of the bridge.
Dayton decries ‘duplicity’ over stadium
Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that he intends to regroup with sponsors of the Vikings football stadium bill next week for a fresh push, but said he’s frustrated by “all the duplicity” he sees on a project that he said is less about football than about needed economic development.” The stadium, for me, is more about economic development and jobs than it is about football,” Dayton said. “Far more. To me this is about a public/private partnership of a large scale that can generate several thousand jobs in the next three years or so.”
ANWR house bill to be introduced: ‘Alaskan Energy for American Jobs’
According to a Friday press release from the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resource Committee, Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Alaska’s Rep. Don Young will introduce a bill on Nov. 11 that would open a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas development.According to the release, the bill, dubbed the “Alaskan Energy for American Jobs Act” (.pdf) will link expanded oil and gas production in ANWR with a broader House initiative announced last week by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to spur private-sector growth and repair and create infrastructure.“As former Chairman of both the House Natural Resources and Transportation Committees, I am proud of the fact that I am the only Member to pass both a highway bill and a bill opening ANWR out of the House. With the Highway Trust Fund struggling to stay in the black, we must find new sources of revenue to fund infrastructure projects,” said Rep. Young.
Issaquah, Eastside mayors urge Bellevue leaders to act on light rail
Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger joined other Eastside mayors to urge the Bellevue City Council to reach a deal for light rail through downtown Bellevue. Otherwise, if Bellevue and Sound Transit leaders cannot reach a pact, light rail expansion to Issaquah and other cities could be jeopardized.“Each one of us would like to see light rail come to our city,” the mayors wrote in a letter dated Nov. 3. “The decisions made by Bellevue now will impact when our communities will see the benefit of the regional investment in light rail.”The letter from Frisinger, Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride, Mercer Island Mayor Jim Pearman and Redmond Mayor John Marchione came days before the Bellevue council votes on a pact to bring light rail to downtown Bellevue.The agreement under consideration calls for Bellevue to contribute $160 million for a light rail tunnel beneath downtown.
Private study says light-rail work to hurt Bellevue businesses
As the Bellevue City Council prepares to take a key vote Monday night on Sound Transit’s plans for light rail through downtown, a privately funded study paints a grim picture of how business will fare when the construction barricades go up.Hebert Research reported that shoppers will visit stores less frequently, 100 businesses will move or shut down, 7,239 workers will lose their jobs and business losses will reach $1.4 billion over four years. Some council members see the report as a warning of what could happen if rail goes through the heart of downtown as planned, while others dismiss it as misleading and politically motivated.Critics of the study say it exaggerated economic damage by suggesting during the phone survey that train tracks might run along downtown streets — an option Sound Transit says it has dropped in favor of a tunnel.
Cost estimate doubles for California high-speed rail project
Building California’s high-speed rail project could cost $98.5 billion over 20 years, more than twice what was previously thought, according to a draft copy of a business plan obtained late Monday by The Bee. The amount is still far less than the cost of expanding airport and highway systems to accommodate the state’s growing population, the California High-Speed Rail Authority said in the report. Even with conservative ridership and cost estimates, it said, the system will operate at a profit.
Napa light rail proponents face funding deadline
The two-man consortium hoping to bring light rail to the Napa Valley remains shy of its initial investment goal, with only days standing between now and a self-imposed deadline. The pair — Chuck McMinn of the Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition and Keith Rogal of Napa Pipe — had previously said they hoped to raise $2 million by Nov. 17 to fund a feasibility study on their light rail proposal. Should the $165 million figure hold up, it would be roughly $50 million cheaper than what was estimated in a 2003 NCTPA rail study. That proposal, however, planned to run trains from Calistoga south to the Vallejo ferry building, with additional lines providing service to Fairfield and Suisun City.