The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Destination:Freedom

A Weekly North American Transportation Update

For transportation advocates and professionals, journalists,
and elected or appointed officials at all levels of government

Publisher: James P. RePass      E-Zine Editor: Molly McKay
Foreign Editor: David Beale      Webmaster: Dennis Kirkpatrick
 

Contribute To NCI

August 26, 2011
Vol. 12 No. 34

Copyright © 2011
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 12th Newsletter Year

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IN THIS EDITION...   In This Edition...

  News Items…
Boston’s Troubled Big Dig Draws More Attention As
   Congressman Seeks “Subsidence” Answers
Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Gets $745 Million From
   Florida’s Abandoned HSR Rail Project
  Transit Lines…
Port Authority Quickly Approves PATH Fare And Toll Increases
  Business Lines…
MBTA Announces Appointment Of Acting General Manager
  Selected Rail Stocks…
 
  Across The Pond…
Turkey Opens Second High-Speed Rail Corridor
German Arguing Over “Gigaliner” Monster
   Highway Trucks Takes Another Turn
  Commentary…
America Needs Infrastructure Financing Authority
  An Early Release…
“Goodnight Irene”
  Publication Notes …


NEWS OF THE WEEK... News Items...

Boston’s Troubled Big Dig Draws More Attention
As Congressman Seeks “Subsidence” Answers

By DF Staff And From Internet Sources

BOSTON --- Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-Boston), who holds the seat once held by South Boston’s legendary Joe Moakley, one of the key funding godfathers of Boston’s multi-billion Central Artery/Tunnel Project (the “Big Dig”), is demanding more information from Massachusetts highway officials following revelations that a deep cavern may have developed underneath the portion of the project that carries automobile traffic under the Fort Point Channel, and which also supports critical railroad tracks that serves Boston’s busy South Station.

The Big Dig, which has had one fatal collapse and another incident where heavy light fixtures were left dangling by rusty mounts, has a new problem: a massive sinkhole, cause unknown, under the Interstate 90 tunnel running beneath South Station’s critical railroad tracks, and then under the Fort Point Channel.

The Boston Herald reported last week:

“Builders of a problem-plagued Big Dig tunnel may have underestimated the sensitive nature of deep underground marine clay — considered as fragile as a house of cards — when undertaking one of the world’s largest “ground freezing” projects, according to an engineering expert. The Interstate 90 connector tunnel is now undermined by a massive sinkhole, and the Boston blue clay underneath it may be the root cause of the latest fiasco,” said Thomas C. Sheahan, a Northeastern University geotechnical engineering professor.

Reporter Richard Weir quoted Sheahan:

“At a micro level, the soil is like a card house, and when it’s frozen it’s extremely stable,” Sheahan said. “But when it thaws, the water contracts, and now those bonds have been broken, causing that soil to collapse like a collapsing card house.”

“State transportation officials are at a loss to explain why the ground under train tracks near South Station has dropped by as much as 8 feet and a water-filled gap — possibly as long as 190 feet — has formed under the I-90 tunnel,” reported the Herald.

Congressman Lynch, whose South Boston constituents use the tunnel to get home, has demanded answers from state DOT officials, and is seeking an investigation into this, the latest in a series of quality and engineering problems that have plagued the $21 billion project since it opened. The state won’t be able to find out how bad the problem really is until 2014, when the ground frozen for the construction of the tunnel, and the support of the rail tracks, finally thaws in full.

In the meantime, state officials are worried about the growing perception that the massive project was designed and/or built improperly from the start, and that when the next “incident” occurs, the public will start avoiding the route, jamming Boston city streets permanently, with the state’s taxpayers footing the bill for the entire mess well into the 21st century.


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Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Gets $745 Million
From Florida’s Abandoned HSR Rail Project

By DF Staff, from the US DOT, and from Internet Sources

WASHINGTON---The Tea Party Wind that blew away Florida’s hopes for an alternative to its over-built highway system has blown a big chunk of what would have been a Sunshine State High-Speed Rail system into the lap of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

This past week US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced that $745 million of the $2.4 billion originally pledged to the Florida project, but refused by Florida’s Tea Party Republican Governor Rick Scott, would go instead to Amtrak, to make improvements in the railroads heavily used Northeast Corridor.

The DOT said in a statement: “Amtrak will use about $450 million to upgrade electrical systems and tracks between Trenton, N.J., and New York City, boosting on-time service and schedule reliability. That will also raise top operating speeds to 160 mph from 135 mph now on a 24-mile run from Trenton to New Brunswick, and allow for future speeds to reach 186 mph.”

“Another $295 million will be spent on a junction in Queens to separate Amtrak trains traveling between New York and Boston from Long Island Railroad, Metro-North and New Jersey Transit commuter trains.”

For a detailed story see: http://www.joc.com/infrastructure/dot-locks-745-million-award-amtrak

Source: The Journal of Commerce Online, August 23, 2011


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TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

Pleas By Rail Advocates Not Heeded

 

Port Authority Quickly Approves
PATH Fare And Toll Increases

By David Peter Alan

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has voted to increase fares on their Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) system in New York and New Jersey, as well as tolls on their trans-Hudson crossings for motor vehicles. The Port Authority owns the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels and George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and Manhattan, as well as bridges between New Jersey and Staten Island. PATH is a heavy-rail transit system runs between Newark, Jersey City and Hoboken on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, and Lower Manhattan and Midtown on the New York side.

The Port Authority claimed that the increased revenue was necessary to support the agency’s capital program. The governors of New York and New Jersey called for an audit of the agency’s capital program and operations, as a condition for approving the PATH fare and toll hikes. The Port Authority’s Board responded by ordering an audit of the agency’s operations, but not its capital program.

The proposal to increase PATH fares and tolls was first introduced on Friday, August 5th and approved by the Port Authority Board a mere fourteen days later. The public was given only six days notice of hearings, which all occurred on Tuesday, August 16th. Three days later, the approval process was complete. The original proposal called for an increase of up to $6.00 in bridge and tunnel tolls, and for PATH fares to rise from the current level of $1.75 to $2.75 for a single ride, and from $54 to $89 for a monthly pass; increases totaling 57% and 65%, respectively.

Only the governors of New York and New Jersey can veto or modify the Port Authority order, and Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey did just that; reducing the future burden on motorists and truckers, while refraining to do the same for PATH riders. In a statement issued on August 18th, the day before the Port Authority Board voted on the proposals, the governors called for the increases to be implemented in stages. They called for a toll increase of $1.50, from $8.00 to $9.50, now, but only for EZ-Pass users. EZ-Pass is a device that deducts money for each toll from a stored-value account. Tolls paid in cash will increase to $12.00 at the same time. Tolls with E-Z Pass would eventually rise by $4.50, to $12.50, over a four-year period. Cash tolls would increase over the same time to $15.00. The governors limited the eventual burden to motorists with EZ-Pass to an additional $4.50, rather than the $6.00 requested.

They did not give a comparable break to transit riders, since the entire proposed increase from $1.75 to $2.75 for a ride on PATH will be implemented, although the fare hike will not take place all at once. PATH fares will increase 25¢ next month, and an additional 25¢ per year, for the next three years. In the long run, motorists who pay tolls in cash will be hit the hardest, but EZ-Pass users will pay slightly less of an increase than PATH riders. Albert L. Papp, President of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP) specifically criticized this outcome: “We think that the almost-equivalent percentage increases in the PATH fare and the bridge and tunnel tolls discriminates against the rail rider, who is trying to reduce congestion and pollution. It would have been more beneficial for trans-Hudson mobility if the bulk of the increase was levied against the motorist and a reduced percentage applied to the PATH rider.”

This is the first transit fare increase that Cuomo has ratified since taking office at the beginning of this year. A series of fare increases and service cuts on New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority lines, including New York City subways and the Long Island and Metro-North railroads, went into effect two days before Cuomo took office. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie showed favoritism to motorists over transit riders in March, 2010, when he directed a 25% rail fare increase on New Jersey Transit, with a 50% increase outside of peak commuting hours. Rider advocates objected to those fare hikes, but to no avail. At the same time, Christie refused to call for an increase in the state’s gasoline user fee, which has not increased since 1988.

New York rider advocate Joseph M. Clift, a former Director of Planning for the Long Island Rail Road, said that the Port Authority’s massive capital program was the justification for much of the agency’s spending, and questioned the need for all of the capital projects that the agency wishes to pursue. “There may not be a need for some of the proposed projects, as some of the region’s transportation problems can be solved through operational solutions, using brains and electrons, instead of bricks and mortar. The Port Authority should be taking the lead in improving mobility in the region, such as connectivity between Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal. The intent should be mobility, not just jobs” Clift said.

To an extent, Govs. Cuomo and Christie appeared to agree. As a condition for allowing the increases, they demanded an audit of the agency’s ten-year capital program, as well its operations. The next day, the Port Authority Board called for an audit of the operations side of the agency, but did not call for a similar audit of the capital program, even though the agency reduced the size of the capital program by taking some projects out. Without an audit, it is impossible to determine which projects are cost-effective and well-managed. How the governors will respond to this act of disobedient omission remains to be seen. In any event, the PATH fare increases will occur every year.

A significant use for the additional revenue projected to come from the toll and PATH fare increases is construction of a new World Trade Center to replace the one destroyed in the attacks of September 11, 2001. Critics have said that such a large amount of new office space in the Lower Manhattan Financial District, where the structures were located, is not needed, because many jobs have moved from there to Midtown during the past decade. They have also complained that the entire project is designed solely to benefit Larry Silverstein, the real estate developer who holds a long-term lease on the World Trade Center, and held leasing rights when the former buildings were destroyed ten years ago.

Other critics cite widespread mismanagement at the bi-state agency. Albert L. Papp, President of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP) specifically said that it was unfair to PATH riders to require them to suffer increased fares, while the Port Authority is $2 billion over budget on construction of a replacement for the World Trade Center. “It is unfair to force them to absorb those cost overruns” he said.

Papp and other rider advocates specifically criticized the proposed PATH fare increase, especially since the projects for which the additional money would be spent do not directly benefit PATH riders, many of whom commute Newark or Hoboken on New Jersey Transit and extend their trips into Manhattan on PATH. The Lackawanna Coalition noted that New Jersey commuters who go to Hoboken and then take PATH into Manhattan pay more than commuters to Penn Station, even though Penn Station’s capacity is constrained at peak commuting hours, while Hoboken has room to accommodate more riders. “The current proposal will exacerbate the current condition considerably and threaten the viability of Hoboken as a commuter terminal” the Coalition statement said.

The Coalition statement also raised two legal objections to the process by which the increases were implemented. New Jersey law requires 15 days notice of hearings before New Jersey Transit can raise fares. The PATH fare increase was approved only three days after hearings, of which the public was given only six days notice. In addition, none of the hearings were located at or near PATH stations or facilities. PATH does not go to Newark Airport, the George Washington Bridge, Staten Island or the other locations selected for hearings. The most convenient was the Port Authority Bus Terminal, located ten short blocks, plus two long blocks, from the PATH station at 32d Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. The Coalition asserted that the hearing locations were inconvenient for PATH riders, and that it was “unduly burdensome” to require them to travel to those locations after getting off PATH trains.

New Jersey advocate James T. Raleigh, criticized the lack of an off-peak fare on PATH, which carries most of its riders at peak commuting hours. “Rail riders of New Jersey have lost twice: first, by losing off-peak fares on New Jersey Transit and second, by not getting off-peak PATH fares” he said. Motorists who use EZ-Pass pay $2.00 less at off-peak hours, even though more hours will be considered “peak” in the future than are today. PATH has never had off-peak fares, and New Jersey Transit eliminated them last year. Rail advocates believe that, if motorists can pay a lower toll at off-peak hours, rail riders should have the same privilege. The Lackawanna Coalition has pledged to advocate for an off-peak PATH fare, as well as restoration of such fares on NJT trains.

None of these arguments were considered, in what appears to have been a rush to implement the PATH fare and toll increases. The Port Authority Board approved the increases unanimously, as is customary.

The PATH fare and toll increases now go to the governors for approval. Since the Port Authority Board already modified the proposal to meet the governors’ demands, implementation is certain to begin next month.

David Peter Alan is Chair of the Lackawanna Coalition, which represents rail riders on New Jersey Transit, some of whom also use PATH. He drafted the statement for the Coalition, which was read into the record at the hearing. Joseph M. Clift and James T. Raleigh are Technical Director and Political Director, respectively, of the Lackawanna Coalition.


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BUSINESS LINES... Business Lines...  

MBTA Announces Appointment Of
Acting General Manager

By DF Staff and MBTA Press Release

Incoming Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey has announced that Jonathan Davis will become the acting General Manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Rail and Transit Administrator when Davey assumes the role of Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of MassDOT on September 2nd.

Jonathan Davis (L) and Richard Davey (R).

Photo: MBTA

Jonathan Davis (L) and Richard Davey (R).

Serving for more than ten years as the T’s Deputy General Manager and Chief Financial Officer, Davis directs the financial management and accounting functions of the Authority, manages the operating and capital budgets, and oversees the collection of all revenue. As the MBTA’s senior financial advisor, Davis provides financial counsel to the General Manager and the Board of Directors.

Stating Davis has the Board’s full confidence and support, Chairman John Jenkins said no one has a better understanding of the T’s financial condition. “The Board will continue to rely on Jon’s wisdom and counsel as the MBTA confronts both immediate and future challenges,” said Jenkins.

“Jon’s deep knowledge of the financial and operational facets of the MBTA will serve us well as we continue our focus on safety, service, employees, fiscal responsibility and innovation,” said Davey.

Prior to coming to the MBTA in 1995, Jon worked in the private sector for 25 years at H.P. Hood, Inc., a regional packager and supplier of dairy products. At that organization, he held various positions: Vice President and Controller, Vice President Operations Planning, Vice President MIS and Treasurer, and Corporate Controller. He received his MBA at Babson College of Wellesley, Massachusetts and his BS at The Defiance College in Ohio.

Davis lives in the City of Medford, just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Berkshire Hathaway B (BNSF)(BRK.B)69.84* * *
Canadian National (CNI)70.8367.77
Canadian Pacific (CP) 55.9054.29
CSX (CSX)21.0920.40
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)48.8545.19
Kansas City Southern (KSU)50.6546.00
Norfolk Southern (NSC)65.1863.06
Providence & Worcester(PWX)12.0813.86
RailAmerica (RA)12.36* * *
Union Pacific (UNP)89.5585.69

Beginning August 29, 2011, we will be adding Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B)
as an indicator for BNSF Railroad, as well as RailAmerica (RA).
 


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ACROSS THE POND... Across The Pond...  

Installments by David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

 

Turkey Opens Second
High-Speed Rail Corridor

Ankara - Konya In Less Than Two Hours

Via Anatolia News Agency and Hürriyet daily newspaper

ANKARA – A new high-speed train between Ankara and the neighboring Central Anatolian city of Konya has started operations last Wednesday, the 24th of August. Turkish Transportation Minister Binali Yldrm announced the start of regular operations during an inspection of the new rail line back on the 21st of August. “Passengers can begin their trips between Ankara and Konya at 7 a.m. on Wednesday,” the minister said.

The train completes the 310 km (193 miles) journey between the two cities in roughly 90 minutes. Passenger services on Turkey’s second 250 km/h line began on August 24, the day after the Ankara - Konya route was inaugurated by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey’s first high-speed rail line is an east-west corridor which is finished and in operation from Ankara to Eskişehir, which intersects with the newest line west of Ankara in Polatli.

TCDD high-speed EMU train set made by CAF of Spain

Photo: Mehmet Poçanoğlu

Eurasia Rail Revolution – a TCDD high-speed EMU train set made by CAF of Spain (RENFE Class 120) idle after arrival in Konya, Turkey back on the 24th of August.

The first 94 km of the new route shares the Ankara - Eskisehir high-speed line, branching off at a triangular junction in Polatli to run 212 km to Konya, with seven major bridges, 83 road under and overpass bridges, 2 030 m (6660 ft.) of tunnel and a parallel road for security purposes.

Built at a cost of YTL 1.0 billion (US $570 million), the north-south line completes a strategic link in the Turkish rail network. Taking the direct route instead of the previous uncompetitive 688 km circuitous route via Afyon cuts Ankara - Konya journey times from 10 1/2 h to 1 1/2 h. TCDD (Turkish Railways) plans to accelerate its initial timings to save a further 15 minutes, and increase the service from 10 trains/day to hourly to meet predicted demand.

For this project railway systems were supplied by domestic contractor Yapi Merkezi Insaat ve Sanayi under a turnkey agreement. Invensys Rail Dimetronic supplied ETCS Level 1 signaling and positive train controls systems, managed from TCDD’s Ankara control center, and Nortel provided the GSM-R digital cellular railway telecommunications backbone. Balfour Beatty Rail was responsible for the 25 kVAC overhead catenary and Areva T&D supplied electrical substations.

Construction work started in 2006, and an inaugural test train ran late last year. Turkey continues work on extending the east-west high-speed corridor west and northward from Eskişehir towards Izmit and Istanbul and eastwards from Ankara towards Sivas as well as Kars, which is near the Iranian border. In Istanbul high-speed trains will be able to travel to the European side of the Bosporus via the Marmary tunnels, still under construction, and then onwards to Bulgaria and Serbia in the more distant future. Turkey, which has a standard gauge rail network, would like to become part of a steel “Silk Highway” rail network which will stretch from central and southeastern Europe, across Turkey and then through Iran into Central Asia and China with possible rail connections to Pakistan, India and Southeast Asia. Today nearly all rail traffic between Europe and Asia travels via Russia and/or Ukraine, both have a broad gauge rail network, unlike the 1435 mm standard rail gauge in China and most of Europe (and North America).


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German Arguing Over “Gigaliner”
Monster Highway Trucks Takes Another Turn

Are Massive Semi-Tractor-Trailer Trucks A Weapon Against Higher CO2 Emissions
Or A Safety Threat And A Hurdle To Moving More Freight Over To Rail?

Via N24 TV News and Deutsche Press Agentur (dpa)

Munich – Bavaria’s transport minister Martin Zeil has spoken out clearly for a nationwide field trial of the so-called “Gigaliner” super long trucks:. “After weighing all the pros and cons, it is 3-0 for the cross-trucks you can score with both ecologically and in terms of economy and safety”. The German ministry of transportation plans to allow 400 Gigaliners to operate along German autobahns and highways in a nationwide trial. The 400 Gigaliners have the freight capacity of 600 average double-trailer trucks.

The SPD political party immediately criticized Mr. Zeil’s pronouncement, stating that the extra-long trucks do not meet certain existing highway safety regulations. The trucks also have a higher gross weight than existing trucks, 44 tons (98,500 lbs) verses current 40 ton (89,500 lbs) maximum, but with more axles, a lower per axle weight than conventional double-trailer trucks. The trucks are difficult, if not impossible, to safely pass on two-lane highways in Germany and in neighboring countries.

Various lobbyists and interest groups, especially green / environmental protection groups as well as automobile driver associations such as ADAC and pro-rail transit groups have been highly critical of the Gigaliners and have successfully fought off efforts by pro-trucking lobbies and pro-business groups to grant Gigaliners open access to the entire German highway network. Several German state governments such as Rhineland-Palatinate have until now prohibited the super-long trucks from operating within their states, but German federal transportation policy can often supersede and overrule state regulations.


Photo: dpa

Green or just Greedy? A Gigaliner in the logo of freight logistics firm Hellmann in Germany in 2010. Hellmann moves a significant number of its standard trucks on piggy-back rail cars on trains in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Germany and other central European countries continue to struggle with ever increasing truck traffic on various highways, most especially on east-west routes, where the fall of the Iron Curtain about two decades ago has lead to an explosion of truck traffic. Railroads have been slow to compete for this additional east-west freight traffic flow. Poor railroad infrastructure in Eastern Europe and sometimes inflexible freight railroads and unionized rail labor in Western Europe, notably in France, Belgium and Holland, and to some degree in Germany have kept the share of freight traffic moved by trains in the 10 percent range, far lower than in North America.

Highly restrictive truck policies in Switzerland and Austria, due to environmental damage caused by trucks in the Alps mountain region, have forced significant amounts of European north-south freight traffic on to the rails. Switzerland has invested heavily in new trans-Alpine rail tunnels to move freight across (or rather under) the Alps. Austria plans to develop a new rail tunnel through the Alps to northern Italy, the Brenner Base Tunnel, for the same reason.


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COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

As Introduced By Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) And Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)…

 

America Needs Infrastructure
Financing Authority

By Neal Peirce
Washington Post Writers Group
Found At
http://Citiwire.Net/Post/2891

© 2011 Washington Post Writers Group

Maybe you’ve seen the headlines — “Engineers Warn Infrastructure Crumbling” — accompanied by stories saying it’s imperative we spend billions, sometimes trillions to fix America’s deteriorating roadways, bridges, water and sewer systems.

I’ve written some of those stories myself. And there’s no doubt — keeping public infrastructure in shape, like fixing leaks and keeping a house’s roof in decent condition, is the essence of common sense. But which spending, and how? Especially on the roadways front, it’ time to think again, asserts Charles Marohn, a civil engineer and conservative Republican and founder of a “Strong Towns” website.

We built a massive interstate highway system — “and then built more,” Marohn asserts: “We poured money in highways, county roads and local streets. We have so much transportation infrastructure — a huge proportion of it with no productivity — that every level of government is now choking on maintenance costs.”

Quite often, Marohn contends, we maintain our “overbuilt” road network while virtually every other city and state service is being cut. Big dollar sums simply “feed strip development.” And on our superhighways, he argues, “We’ve spent trillions to save seconds in the first and last mile of each trip” — resulting in “the fake prosperity of a land use pattern that is bankrupting us, housing bubble and all.”

So when the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) issued its latest report, arguing the United States needs to spend $1.7 trillion on highways and transit systems just by 2020 — doubling current budget projections — Marohn had a terse response. The demand, he said, was “self-serving,” a way to “open up the checkbook for our noble engineers.”

What’s more, Marohn insisted, several of ASCE’s projections of dire economic losses without massively increased spending were based on seriously flawed math.

So what should cities, towns and counties do in the face of radically reduced federal and state dollars for roads? Marohn has a harsh prescription: Focus on the roads you can actually build and maintain from your own resources.

Some localities are already there. Growing numbers of hard-pressed counties — in Michigan, Alabama, Pennsylvania and other states — are actually “de-paving,” tearing up lightly-used asphalt rural roads and replacing them with gravel or other rough surfaces.

Other long-term, cost-saving strategies also exist for local governments. Examples: stop extending or improving roads for strip development. Focus on downtowns and neighborhood centers. Shift zoning to encourage mixed use instead of separated residential and commercial areas. And repeal sprawl inducements like minimum parking requirements for stores or apartment complexes.

The “Complete Streets” movement offers a promising model to make roads safer and “multi-use” friendly by redesigning them to be welcoming for everyone — walkers, cyclists, transit users, and motor vehicles. Even before the recession, my colleague Curtis Johnson noticed that in Minnesota, motorists faced with traffic congestion were finding ways to get closer to jobs and other places they need to be. Complete Streets could act as a magnet, conceivably accelerating the recently-reported decisions of some firms to desert their suburban office parks for more convenient in-town locations.

It’s true — costs for maintaining and replacing antiquated urban water and sewer systems may be even tougher to deal with. But like roadways, they can more easily be made cost-efficient in areas of concentrated rather than spread-out development.

The harsh fact, however, is that no matter how well we reform land use, America’s need for prompt infrastructure repair and replacement remains a massive challenge. The engineers’ figures may be exaggerated, but the bottom line need isn’t.

Fortunately, there’s a partial solution that doesn’t require massive new and compounding public debt. It would be creation of a national infrastructure bank able to draw on some of the enormous sums of capital now on the sidelines, currently unavailable to state and local governments, in pension, sovereign, private-equity, hedge, insurance and corporate funds.

Most nations have such an instrument, notes Michael Likosky, senior fellow at New York University’s Institute for Public Knowledge. And now there’s a congressional proposal for an American Infrastructure Financing Authority, introduced by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).

Granted a one-time $10 billion federal capital infusion, the bank would be able to extend loans and limited loan guarantees to projects short on immediate cash but able to pay for themselves over the long term. Examples would include energy, water or trash disposal plants that can collect user fees, or seaports that anticipates a revenue flow from goods passing through.

Critically important: the proposed bank would be limited to 50 percent of a project’s cost. Private investment would have to cover the rest. That single requirement would represent a giant step toward assurance of the clear cost effectiveness that’s so easily forgotten, or conveniently overlooked, by every player from congressional and state legislative committees to state highway departments and city councils.

It’s about time.


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An Early Release…

“Goodnight Irene”

This week’s edition of Destination: Freedom has been released a bit early in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Irene into New England. Since many of the staff reside in the northeast and within the “cone of uncertainty” for the storm track, we opted to advance our copy deadline and send out DF early.

Next week, Destination; Freedom will publish one day late, on Tuesday due to the Labor Day holiday.

– Dennis K. NCI Webmaster


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2011 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

Web page links as reproduced in our articles are active at the time we go to press. Occasionally, news and information outlets may opt to archive these articles and notices under alternative web addresses after initial publication. NCI has no control over the policies of other web sites and regrets any inconvenience experienced when clicking off our web site.

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