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The 30-Percent Reduction Charade

roads200x134June 15, 2011 – NSSGA has learned that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee may unveil its version of the long-awaited surface transportation reauthorization bill the week of the Fourth of July. While the details of the bill are unknown, insiders have told NSSGA to expect reforms to the program, including: program consolidation; expedited project delivery time; enhanced use of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program; increased tolling; and more public-private partnerships.

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The Minerals Baby is Back!

Baby_2011June 13, 2011 – The Mineral Information Institute released its latest "Minerals Baby," noting that 38,052 pounds of new minerals must be provided for every person in the United States to make the things we use every day. That number includes 8,509 lb. of stone used to make roads, buildings, bridges, landscaping, and for numerous chemical and construction uses; 5,599 lb. of sand and gravel used to make concrete, asphalt, roads, blocks and bricks; and 496 lb. of cement used to make roads, sidewalks, bridges, buildings, schools and houses. Over the course of a lifetime the average American will need 1.09 million lb. of aggregates.

Zakaria Gets It Right

fareed_zakaria1June 9, 2011 – Well, here's someone who gets it. CNN news analyst Fareed Zakaria, writing in Time magazine, identified several things the U.S. Government needs to do to spur job creation. They are: (a) create a regulatory and tax climate that helps small businesses since they create most of the new jobs, (b) revive manufacturing by focusing on research, technical training and apprenticeship, (c) help growth industries like entertainment and tourism to expand and, perhaps most urgently, (d) rebuild America's dilapidated infrastructure and put millions of people in the construction and housing industries back to work. We need more national media pundits on the same bandwagon and bandwidth, if new legislation is to happen this year.

ARTBA Spokesman Scorches Boehner

artbaJune 6, 2011 American Road & Transportation Builders Coalition Spokesman Matt Jeanneret recently took House Speaker John Boehner to task for stating that an increase in the federal gas tax is a job killer. “Speaker Boehner wins the ‘Pothole of the Week’ award," Jeanneret said. "His statement blasting a long-time transportation leader in Congress for suggesting it might be time after 18 years to consider a small increase in the federal gas tax to pay for highway and mass transit improvements – saying it would be a ‘job destroyer’ – is hypocritical.

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MAP-21: Blueprint for New Transportation Bill?

BoxerJune 2, 2011 – On May 25, Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) unveiled plans for a $56 billion per year surface-transportation reauthorization bill. The outline, known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), reportedly has the support of Boxer, EPW Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Highways & Transit Subcommittee and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mt.), and Ranking Member David Vitter (R-La.) While specific legislative language has not been drafted, the plan calls for spending about the same amount per year as authorized by the last highway bill (SAFETEA-LU). The issue of how to pay for the new bill is left unresolved in the proposal, which is unfortunately, too often the case with ideas in progress. The central piece of the new bill, according to the Association of Equipment Distributors, will be a dramatic expansion of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program, which provides federal credit assistance to finance surface transportation projects of national and regional significance. TIFIA funding would increase to $1 billion per year from the current level of $110 million per year. According to Boxer, an expanded TIFIA program will result in $30 billion of private capital for transportation projects. The duration of the authorization is also undefined. Boxer has indicated that she desires a six-year bill, but it will be easier to make up for the deficit in Highway Trust Fund revenues in a shorter bill. Under the plan, a two-year bill would require Congress to find about $12 billion in additional revenues to make up for the shortfall in user fees, compared to $70 billion for a six-year bill.