Tag Archive for 'bridges'

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President Obama signs FAST Act, first long-term Transportation Bill in a decade

transportationgov-banner_originalFrom Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx:

On my first day at USDOT, it had been more than eight years since Congress had passed a long-term surface transportation bill, and my efforts to push hard for a long term bill began immediately.

The message I kept hearing was, “let’s do this later,” so I worked with my team to turn the corner from “impossible” to “inevitable.”

Today we finally broke through when President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act into law, marking the first long-term transportation bill passed by Congress in 10 years… To read all of Secretary Foxx’s comments click here

 

ASCE Reports: Congress Passes Five-Year, $305 Billion Transportation Bill

 

ASCEAfter 36 extensions Congress n the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate both approved a five-year, $305 billion highway, transit and railway authorization bill.  The overwhelming, bipartisan vote was 359-65 in the House and 83-16 in the Senate. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law on Friday, December 4, 2015

The Bill known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The FAST Act provides nearly $233 billion for highways, $49 billion for transit and $10 billion federal passenger rail. By the end of the bill’s five-year duration, highway investment would rise by 15% and transit spending would grow by nearly 18%. The FAST Act is the longest surface transportation authorization bill since the enactment of a five-year bill in 2005.

The bill includes:

  • Creation of a dedicated $1.25 billion freight program to help ensure federal investments are targeted at improving U.S. economic competitiveness;
  • Providing $900 million per year for large-scale projects under a new, nationally-significant freight and highways program;
  • Cutting the TIFIA program from $1 billion annually to around $300 million per year. TIFIA helps leverage billions of dollars in private sector capital for investment in our nation’s infrastructure;
  • Innovation initiatives, such as establishing a national program to explore surface transportation funding alternatives to the fuels tax; and
  • Investment in transit by creating a new research and deployment program, increasing funds for fixed guideways, and establishing a new bus facility program.

The bill was paid for through $70 billion in general fund money, which came from sources unrelated to transportation. The largest offset comes from spending down a capital surplus account in the Federal Reserve. The bill does not #FixTheTrustFund as ASCE had been calling for, because it does not provide a sustainable source of revenue to the Highway Trust Fund. The Highway Trust Fund is now slated to experience a $24 billion shortfall starting in fiscal year 2021 should Congress fail to provide a funding fix.

For more information and details on FAST CLICK HERE

 

TRIP Reports:CONNECTICUT’S TOP TRANSPORTATION ISSUES: NOVEMBER 2015

 

Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility

Executive Summary

Seven years after the nation suffered a significant economic downturn, Connecticut’s economy continues to rebound. The rate of economic growth in Connecticut, which will be greatly impacted by the reliability and condition of the state’s transportation system, continues to have a significant impact on quality of life in the Constitution State.

An efficient, safe and well-maintained transportation system provides economic and social benefits by affording individuals access to employment, housing, healthcare, education, goods and services, recreation, entertainment, family, and social activities. It also provides businesses with access to suppliers, markets and employees, all critical to a business’ level of productivity and ability to expand. Conversely, reduced accessibility and mobility – as a result of traffic congestion, a lack of adequate capacity, or deteriorated roads, highways, bridges and transit facilities – diminishes a region’s quality of life by reducing economic productivity and limiting opportunities for economic, health or social transactions and activities.

As the insurance capital of the nation and with an economy based largely on finance, engineering, manufacturing, information technology, electronics, agriculture and mining, the quality of Connecticut’s transportation system will play a vital role in the state’s level of economic growth and in the quality of life in Connecticut.

In this report, TRIP looks at the top transportation issues faced in Connecticut as the state addresses its need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways, bridges and transit systems.

Signed into law in July 2012, MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), has improved several procedures that in the past had delayed projects.  MAP-21 does not address long-term funding challenges facing the federal surface transportation program. The current federal transportation legislation was initially set to expire on September 30, 2014. However, following numerous short-term extensions passed by Congress, the bill is now set to expire on December 4, 2015. Congress will need to pass new legislation prior to the expiration to ensure prompt federal reimbursements to states for road, highway, bridge and transit repairs and improvements.

CT_Infographics_Nov_2015The level of funding and the provisions of the federal surface transportation program have a significant impact on highway and bridge conditions, roadway safety, transit service, quality of life and economic development opportunities in Connecticut.

COST TO CONNECTICUT MOTORISTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS

An inadequate transportation system costs Connecticut motorists a total of $5.1 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • TRIP estimates that Connecticut roadways that lack some desirable safety features, have inadequate capacity to meet travel demands or have poor pavement conditions cost the state’s residents approximately $5.1 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear), the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion, and the financial cost of traffic crashes.
  • TRIP has calculated the average cost to drivers in the state’s largest urban areas as a result of driving on roads that are deteriorated, congested and lack some desirable safety features. The chart below details the costs to drivers in the Bridgeport/Stamford, Hartford and New Haven urban areas.

Conn 1POPULATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN CONNECTICUT

The rate of population and economic growth in Connecticut have resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system.

  • Connecticut’s population reached approximately 3.6 million residents in 2014, a nine percent increase since 1990.
  • Connecticut had 2.5 million licensed drivers in 2013.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Connecticut increased by 18 percent from 1990 to 2013 –from 26.3 billion VMT in 1990 to 30.9 billion VMT in 2013.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in Connecticut is projected to increase by another 15 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2013, Connecticut’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 41 percent, when adjusted for inflation. U.S. GDP increased 65 percent during this time.

CONNECTICUT ROAD CONDITIONS

A lack of adequate state and local funding has resulted in one-third of major urban roads and highways in Connecticut and one-quarter of major rural roads and highways having pavement surfaces in poor condition, providing a rough ride and costing motorist in the form of additional vehicle operating costs.

  • Thirty-three percent of Connecticut’s major locally and state-maintained urban roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 46 percent of the state’s major state and locally maintained urban roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 21 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Twenty-five percent of Connecticut’s major locally and state-maintained rural roads and highways have pavements in poor condition, while an additional 48 percent of the state’s major state and locally maintained rural roads are rated in mediocre or fair condition and the remaining 27 percent are rated in good condition.
  • Roads rated in poor condition may show signs of deterioration, including rutting, cracks and potholes. In some cases, poor roads can be resurfaced, but often are too deteriorated and must be reconstructed.
  • Driving on rough roads costs Connecticut motorists a total of $1.6 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs. Costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
  • The chart below details pavement conditions on major urban roads in the Bridgeport/Stamford, Hartford and New Haven urban areas:

Conn 2CONNECTICUT BRIDGE CONDITIONS

More than one-third of locally and state-maintained bridges in Connecticut show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length.

  • Nine percent of Connecticut’s bridges are structurally deficient. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks and emergency services vehicles.
  • Twenty-six percent of Connecticut’s bridges are functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.
  • The chart below details bridge conditions in the Bridgeport/Stamford, Hartford and New Haven urban areas:

Conn 3HIGHWAY SAFETY AND FATALITY RATES IN CONNECTICUT

Improving safety features on Connecticut’s roads and highways would likely result in a decrease in the state’s traffic fatalities and serious crashes. It is estimated that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all fatal and serious traffic crashes.

  • Between 2009 and 2013 a total of 1,274 people were killed in traffic crashes in Connecticut, an average of 255 fatalities per year.
  • Connecticut’s overall traffic fatality rate of 0.89 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2013 is lower than the national average of 1.09.
  • The chart below details the average number of fatalities from 2011 to 2013 in Bridgeport/Stamford, Hartford and New Haven, as well as the average cost per driver as a result of traffic crashes.
  • Conn 4Roadway features that impact safety include the number of lanes, lane widths, lighting, lane markings, rumble strips, shoulders, guard rails, other shielding devices, median barriers and intersection design. The cost of serious crashes includes lost productivity, lost earnings, medical costs and emergency services.
  • Several factors are associated with vehicle crashes that result in fatalities, including driver behavior, vehicle characteristics and roadway features. TRIP estimates that roadway features are likely a contributing factor in approximately one-third of fatal traffic crashes.
  • Where appropriate, highway improvements can reduce traffic fatalities and crashes while improving traffic flow to help relieve congestion. Such improvements include removing or shielding obstacles; adding or improving medians; improved lighting; adding rumble strips, wider lanes, wider and paved shoulders; upgrading roads from two lanes to four lanes; and better road markings and traffic signals.
  • Investments in rural traffic safety have been found to result in significant reductions in serious traffic crashes. A 2012 report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) found that improvements completed recently by the Texas Department of Transportation that widened lanes, improved shoulders and made other safety improvements on 1,159 miles of rural state roadways resulted in 133 fewer fatalities on these roads in the first three years after the improvements were completed (as compared to the three years prior).   TTI estimates that the improvements on these roads are likely to save 880 lives over the next 20 years.

CONNECTICUT TRAFFIC CONGESTION

Increasing levels of traffic congestion cause significant delays in Connecticut, particularly in its larger urban areas, choking commuting and commerce. Traffic congestion robs commuters of time and money and imposes increased costs on businesses, shippers and manufacturers, which are often passed along to the consumer.

  • Based on Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) estimates, the value of lost time and wasted fuel in Connecticut is approximately $2.3 billion per year.
  • According to TTI, the average driver in the Bridgeport/Stamford urban area loses $1,174 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion. The average Bridgeport/Stamford commuter wastes 49 hours each year stuck in traffic.
  • According to TTI, the average driver in the Hartford urban area loses $1,038 each year in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel as a result of traffic congestion. The average Hartford commuter wastes 45 hours each year stuck in traffic.
  • TTI estimates that the average driver in the New Haven area loses $932 annually in the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion. The average New Haven commuter wastes 40 hours each year stuck in traffic.
  • Increasing levels of congestion add significant costs to consumers, transportation companies, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers and can reduce the attractiveness of a location to a company when considering expansion or where to locate a new facility. Congestion costs can also increase overall operating costs for trucking and shipping companies, leading to revenue losses, lower pay for drivers and employees, and higher consumer costs.
  • Forty-two percent of businesses surveyed by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association believe that the state’s road congestion restricts or limits the territory of their market.
  • Fifteen percent of businesses surveyed by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association have considered relocation because of regional transportation concerns.

 

CONNECTICUT’S TRANSIT SYSTEM

Connecticut’s heavily traveled and aging transit system, which plays a vital role in providing mobility in the state, has significant preservation needs to replace aging vehicles and to repair rail lines and bridges.

  • Connecticut’s transit network includes 20 urban and rural systems, including the CTfastrack Bus Rapid Transit line in Hartford and the New Haven Line, the nation’s busiest commuter rail corridor.
  • Connecticut’s transit system provides 42 million bus passenger trips per year on 1,100 buses and paratransit vehicles, and 41 million rail passenger trips per year on 500 rail cars and coaches traveling on 226 route miles.
  • The preservation needs for Connecticut’s bus transit system total $2 billion, while the preservation needs for the state’s rail transit system is $14.5 billion.
  • The average age of state-maintained buses in Connecticut is seven years, while the average age of buses maintained by local agencies is nine years. The average service life of a bus is 12 years.
  • Twenty-two percent of rail bridges that carry commuter rail in Connecticut are in poor condition.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IN CONNECTICUT

Investment in Connecticut’s roads, highways and bridges is funded by local, state and federal governments. A lack of sufficient funding at all levels will make it difficult to adequately maintain and improve the existing transportation system.

  • From 2009 to 2013, the federal government provided $1.75 for road improvements in Connecticut for every dollar the state paid in federal motor fuel fees.
  • Following numerous short-term extensions passed by Congress, the current federal surface transportation legislation is set to expire on December 4, 2015. Congress will need to pass new legislation prior to the extension expiration to ensure prompt federal reimbursements to states for road, highway, bridge and transit repairs and improvements. If Congress decides to provide additional revenues into the federal Highway Trust Fund in tandem with authorizing a new federal surface transportation program, a number of technically feasible revenue options have been identified by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
  • A significant boost in investment on the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and public transit systems is needed to improve their condition and to meet the nation’s transportation needs, concluded a new report from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
  • The 2015 AASHTO Transportation Bottom Line Report found that annual investment in the nation’s roads, highways and bridges needs to increase from $88 billion to $120 billion and from $17 billion to $43 billion in the nation’s public transit systems, to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN CONNECTICUT

The efficiency of Connecticut’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Businesses rely on an efficient and dependable transportation system to move products and services. A key component in business efficiency and success is the level and ease of access to customers, markets, materials and workers.

  • Annually, $143 billion in goods are shipped from sites in Connecticut and another $119 billion in goods are shipped to sites in Connecticut, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy-three percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Connecticut are carried by trucks and another 18 percent are carried by courier services or multiple mode deliveries, which include trucking.
  • Businesses have responded to improved communications and greater competition by moving from a push-style distribution system, which relies on low-cost movement of bulk commodities and large-scale warehousing, to a pull-style distribution system, which relies on smaller, more strategic and time-sensitive movement of goods.
  • Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system.
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number two site selection factor behind only the availability of skilled labor in a 2013 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

Sources of information for this report include the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

 

ASCE Reports: Surface Transportation Conference Committee Makes Progress and Gets More Time

{08d819bc-1d22-4dd2-80f4-4bea43d54eb4}_ASCE_GovernmentRelations_WashingtonThis week the Surface Transportation Bill Conference Committee met in what will likely be its only public meeting to finalize work on a compromise bill. Congress moved the November 20 deadline to December 4 to give conferees additional time to complete their work. The conference committee chairman, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) kicked-off the meeting by stating, “There is plenty of common ground between the [House & Senate] proposals to allow us to reach an agreement that both [chambers] can willingly support.” The lead House Democrat on the committee, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), underscored the importance of achieving an increase in overall funding in the final bill. “I’m hopeful to get higher levels of spending on an annual basis and if funds are so limited that we have to reduce the term of the bill, it’s an option I think should be looked at,” said DeFazio.

The committee announced a timeline which includes finalizing the conference agreement by November 30 and having a House vote on the bill by the December 4 deadline. It remains to be seen whether the Senate will be able to act before that date. They may need a week extension to approve the legislation before it can be sent to President Obama for his signature. Many members of the committee seem hopeful that a final agreement will be reached very soon and that they can craft a measure that will receive the necessary votes in both the House and Senate to be signed by the president.

In a letter sent to conferees this week , ASCE stated that a five-year program which includes significant funding increases should be the goal of the committee. Otherwise the country could begin to see the job losses and reduction in GDP identified by ASCE’s Failure to Act Economic Report.

Now is a critical time to reach out to conference committee members. Please take a moment to determine if your election official(s) sit on this committee and ask them to support a final bill that increases investment in America’s transportation system. Visit our Click and Connect page to identify your elected official! Take action today!

ASCE’s Comments Regarding House Passage of Six-Year Highway & Transit Bill

On November 5, 2014, newly-minted House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) shepherded through his first piece of major legislation with bipartisan passage of a six-year, $325 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill.  The Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform (STRR) Act of 2015 cleared the House by a vote of 363-64.  A last-minute amendment was added to STRR that secured an additional $40 billion in revenue from an unused Federal Reserve account.  This means that while the House bill is now funded for a full six-years, it does not increase highway and transit funding levels over the current amount.

ASCE endorsed multiple amendments that were offered to raise the gas tax. However none of those amendments were allowed to receive a full vote on the House floor.

Following the bill’s passage, ASCE President Mark W. Woodson, P.E., F.ASCE, released a statement saying, “While the House-passed bill provides six years of stability for the nation’s road, bridge, and transit programs, it fails to increase funding to levels that are adequate to properly maintain our infrastructure.” Woodson went on to state that, “ASCE is disappointed that House leadership prevented a vote on raising the federal gas tax – a policy solution that would have provided long-term funding and certainty that states desperately need to move forward with their transportation projects.“

ASCE also weighed-in against a resolution introduced by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) in support of devolving the federal transportation program to the states. The amendment was defeated 118-310. See how your Representative voted!

Some highlights of the House bill include:

  • Multi-year program certainty that will help states and localities better plan and deliver projects;
  • Accelerated project delivery reforms aimed to improve collaboration between agencies and create deadlines for agency action(s);
  • Providing grants to states for continued and expanded pilot testing of future road user fee collection systems;
  • A new competitive grant to address bus and bus facility needs;
  • Increased focus on funding for roadway safety infrastructure and on the safety needs of rural roads; and,
  • An option for localities to bundle small projects such as bridges to increase efficiency.

The House vote follows previous Senate action in July on their surface transportation bill which provided only three years of funding although at much higher levels.  Now the House and Senate will work to negotiate a compromise before the looming November 20 deadline.  ASCE will be reviewing the House and Senate bills to determine which provisions we favor to be included in any final agreement.  On funding, ASCE urges a final bill be multi-year with sizable funding increases for highway and transit programs.  In the coming weeks, ASCE will continue to engage with our members in our advocacy effort to #FixTheTrustFund. Thank you for all you have done to support the Society’s advocacy efforts!