Transportation Report — March 14

Week of March 14, 2016
“Orphaned” Funds Available
Recent new guidance from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced that roughly $2 billion in previously unused earmarks can be put back to work to support infrastructure projects across the country. As previously reported, the guidance implements a provision in the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2016, which gave states the option of repurposing certain earmarked funds if the original earmark was over 10 years old, and if less than 10 percent of project funds had been obligated, or if the project is closed. Through the end of FY 2016, states have the option of re-designating these dollars to other projects within 50 miles of the originally intended use.
FHWA’s list of potentially eligible old earmarks meeting the under 10% obligation requirement totals $1.96 billion. A list of earmarks that may be eligible for repurposing is available here http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/cfo/earmarkrepurposing.
Here’s a quick first look around ERC:
ALLOCATED EARMARK PROJECTS STATUS FOR FUNDS AVAILABLE IN FMIS DEMO by STATE or TERRITORY LESS THAN 10% OBLIGATED,
As of December 18, 2015
(Millions of US $)
Connecticut        $81.388
Delaware               $4.169
Maine                     $7.696
Maryland               $23.682
Massachusetts      $93.346
New Hampshire    $7.531
New Jersey         $115.979
New York*          $207.218
Pennsylvania       $98.724
Puerto Rico          $14.785
Rhode Island         $3.121
Vermont                  $1.906
* New York has the largest amount of potential repurposed funds nationally.
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/cfo/earmarkrepurposing/allocated_earmarks_lessthan10percent_erp.pdf

The March 8th action also builds on a similar action in August 2012, when USDOT made over $470 million in unspent earmarks immediately available to states for projects that create jobs and help improve transportation across the country.
We hope you’ll mark your calendars to attend the 56th CSG/ERC Annual Meeting which will be held from
August 7-10, 2016 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
For more transportation policy committee activities contact:
CSG|ERC Transportation Policy Co-consultants:
Steve Hewitt, shewitt109@aol.com or Don Hannon, DonHannon@iCloud.com
22 Cortlandt Street | 22nd Floor | New York, NY 10007 | p. (212) 482-2320 | f. (212) 482-2344
Transportation Policy Newsletter March 18, 2016
“Keeping our Members informed”

Transportation Funding

On February 23, The Council of State Governments hosted a webinar on transportation funding, moderated by Sean Sloan, director of transportation and infrastructure policy for CSG.  The speakers included Joe McAndrew, policy director of Transportation for America, Alison Primo Black, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, and several journalists. According to Black, there were 179 transportation funding bills introduced in 2015 nationally. Eight states passed gas tax increases.  Other bills included user fees, such as automobile registrations and tolls and lock-boxes. Among the trends in transportation, governors are playing a key role in championing this legislation and there are broad based coalitions of public and private partnerships. Transportation funding gets bi-partisan support with lots of backing at the county and local level. Over the past 10 years, 72 percent of ballot measures have passed. “People are willing to invest in transportation,” she said.

Transportation infrastructure investment was mentioned as a top priority by most of the northeastern governors in their State of the State addresses. Among them was Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who reported a $2-billion investment in “shovel ready” infrastructure projects to fix bridges and roads. Massachusetts Gov. Charles D. Baker said the state was doubling the capital investment in transportation to $1 billion, including a major investment in mass transit in the city of Boston. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ‘Built to Lead’ program proposed a $100 billion investment in transportation infrastructure, including New York City’s commuter transportation system, the MTA, the New York Thruway and upstate airports, bridges and roads. Throughout the region, urban mass transit is getting more focus as a means to revitalize communities and serve changing demographic needs.  Ongoing state committee hearings, executive and legislative research efforts, and transportation funding advocates are discussing how best to address the transportation infrastructure funding shortfalls.

In Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo on February 11 signed   Bill 2246/ House Bill 7409, otherwise known as “RhodeWorks”, which will charge a user fee on large commercial trucks in order to repair and maintain the state’s bridges. The state will also leverage $300 million in federal GARVEE bonds. GARVEE is an acronym for a grant anticipated revenue vehicle, which is a debt financing instrument for state highways. The legislation will increase transportation funding by $1.1 billion over the next 10 years, including an estimated $45 million per year in tolls.

The trucking industry opposed the bill, said Keith Goble, state legislative editor for Land Line magazine during the CSG webinar. He added that in a survey of 400 truckers “three quarters will avoid Rhode Island if the state adopts truck only tolls.”

In Massachusetts, would authorize cities and counties to create special transportation finance districts, which would be given the ability to levy an additional local property tax in order to generate revenue for transportation projects (in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the MBTA).

In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has proposed a 30-year, $100-billion program, according to Chris Keating, Capital Bureau Chief for the Hartford Courant, who also presented at the CSG webinar. For the most part, the plan is still in its infancy, but the widening of I84 has already begun. The funding would come from a combination of tolls, taxes and bonding. Twenty-four percent of the tolls would be paid by heavy trucks and 30 percent by out-of-state drivers. The plan also includes an increase in the 25 cent gas tax, by 2 cents per year for seven years.

Spotlight on Bridges

The Federal Transportation Department estimated a $115 billion backlog in repairs for bridges rated structurally deficient or functionally obsolete nationally.

According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, nearly ten percent of the country’s bridges – 58,495 out of 609,539 – were considered structurally deficient last year and needed repairs. This is 2,574 fewer bridges than the more than 61,000 in 2014 that needed repairs, so some progress has been made.

Among the five states with the biggest share of deficient bridges were Rhode Island at 23.2% and Pennsylvania at 21%,

The 250 most heavily traveled bridges that need repairs include:

— In Pennsylvania, several Interstate 95 bridges in Philadelphia.

— In Maryland, several Interstate 95 bridges.

— In New York, the Brooklyn Bridge.

 

 

 

Important Developments in Puerto Rico’s Transportation System

On February 25th US DOT Secretary Foxx made an historic trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico with Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau to join Governor Alejandro Javier García Padilla and Puerto Rico Secretary of Transportation and Public Works Miguel Torres Díaz in signing an agreement that further strengthens the development of transportation infrastructure and promotes economic recovery in the Commonwealth.
This agreement provides federal technical assistance to ensure that Puerto Rican transportation officials are able to expeditiously access about $400 million in previously obligated federal funds for infrastructure projects that will create jobs and spur economic development. It also represents an important step in Puerto Rico’s plan to improve its billing procedures by increasing capacity for developing and sustaining best practices, such as using electronic funds transfer and reducing the time it takes to pay contractors.
Under the new agreement the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority (PRHTA) would complete the billing process more expeditiously, as the federal government would now pay contractors directly, rather than having the PRHTA pay them and then wait to get reimbursed.
Further, the agreement permits the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to authorize the retroactive use of toll credits to be used for state matches, allowing PRHTA to maximize their access to federal funding. This will allow Puerto Rico to use roughly $756 million in toll credits that hadn’t been claimed in years by the commonwealth government. Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Puerto Rico will now be allowed to use these toll credits retroactively, but only to cover what the Commonwealth needs to match funding for existing projects.
Other CSG-ERC states regularly use toll credits to provide the match for highway and transit projects. Advocates have urged the use of toll credits for intercity passenger rail capital projects.

We hope you’ll mark your calendars to attend the 56th CSG/ERC Annual Meeting which will be held from August 7-10, 2016 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
For more transportation policy committee activities contact:
CSG|ERC Transportation Policy Co-consultants:
Steve Hewitt, shewitt109@aol.com or Don Hannon, DonHannon@iCloud.com
22 Cortlandt Street | 22nd Floor | New York, NY 10007 | p. (212) 482-2320 | f. (212) 482-2344
Transportation Policy Newsletter March 4, 2016
“Keeping our Members informed”