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December 21, 2014

Posts in "Public-Private Partnerships"

December 19, 2014

Most Encouraging News Of 2014, Part Two

92634233 445x293 Most Encouraging News Of 2014, Part Two

Encouraging news: BNSF’s $6 billion capital investment program (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Here’s our second selection of views from transportation advocates, analysts, and interest group representatives on the most encouraging or discouraging transportation developments of the past year….


“The Department of Transportation’s decision to move forward with vehicle-to-vehicle communication helps pave the way for the next generation of crash avoidance technology. The ability of vehicles to communicate with other vehicles and with the infrastructure around them is a promising step toward reducing the number of traffic and pedestrian fatalities, while also increasing the efficiency of our transportation system.”

Hilary Cain, director, Technology and Innovation Policy, Government and Industry Affairs, Toyota

Full story

December 15, 2014

High-Profile Toll Project Opens in D.C. Suburbs

One of the nation’s most prominent public-private toll road partnerships opened Sunday in Virginia with a Yuletide two-week free sample period before tolls begin on a 29-mile stretch of Interstate 95 south of Washington, D.C.

There’s been some backlash against highway tolling in Texas and other states, and a separate and highly contentious P3 project, U.S. 460 in the Hampton Roads area, has been halted by Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

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Senate Rebuffs Cruz Critique of Travel Promotion

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Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In his last-ditch effort to stop the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill on Friday night, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, fired a glancing shot at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and at his support for Brand USA, a public-private partnership Congress created in 2010 to persuade foreign tourists to visit the United States.

Cruz ended up on the short end of a 56-to-40 Senate vote to pass the omnibus which includes a provision reauthorizing Brand USA.

The travel promotion agency is funded through a $10 fee added to the application charge paid by visitors to the United States from the 38 countries in the Visa Waiver Program. The 38 include most of the western European countries as well as a few others such as Japan and Australia.

Federal backing for Brand USA, limited to $100 million a year, is matched by U.S. travel and tourism companies and state and local visitor agencies.

In a Senate floor speech Friday night, Cruz called Brand USA “another bit of corporate welfare,” adding that it “is one of the current majority leader’s pet projects because it helps promote casinos in his home state. Last I checked, casinos were very profitable endeavors that didn’t need the taxpayers helping them out, didn’t need the Congress serving your hard-earned dollars and handing it out to promote casinos.”

But Jonathan Grella, senior vice president of public affairs at the U.S. Travel Association, said Brand USA is about far more than luring foreigners to Las Vegas.

He said many businesses in Texas who benefit from foreign tourism “would vehemently disagree with the senator, as would the main sponsors of the [Brand USA authorization] measure who hail from Minnesota, Missouri, Vermont, and Florida,” referring to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla.

“I think that says everything about how broad the benefits from Brand USA go,” Grella said. “The genesis of the focus on Vegas in particular is born out of the majority leader’s support. And anything that the majority leader supports, in the view of others, must be a sop to his home state, which is obviously not accurate.”

He added, “This program helps create jobs in all 50 states and that’s why it had such broad bipartisan support…. Many of the most active supporters are from smaller destinations who could use the help” in attracting foreign visitors.

Prior to the 2010 law which created Brand USA, Grella said, the United States was the only major developed country that did not have tourism marketing program.

November 14, 2014

A Look Back: Slow Down, New Yorkers, Road Salt & Girding For 114th Congress


458582922 445x296 A Look Back: Slow Down, New Yorkers, Road Salt & Girding For 114th Congress

New York City drivers must adjust to a new 25 mile per hour speed limit. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

This week we looked at New York City’s new 25 mile per hour speed limit. Polly Trottenberg, the city’s transportation commissioner, said public attitudes toward speeding will need to change just as they did toward drunk driving in the past few decades.

A culture change is what’s needed since “Culture eats policy for breakfast,” she said.

Snow storms have hit parts of the country this week and we examined the cost increases that states and counties are facing for a commodity they need to keep highways open: salt.


Full story

November 13, 2014

Maryland Survivor Is Back to Push for P3s

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Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., is a champion of public-private partnerships. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Elected in 2012 with 59 percent of the vote in a Maryland district, which the state legislature had gerrymandered for a Democrat, Rep. John Delaney barely survived last week’s election. He won by 2,269 votes and got less than 50 percent against Republican Dan Bongino and a Green candidate.

But Delaney will be back for a second term as perhaps the House’s most committed and articulate proponent of public-private infrastructure partnerships (P3s).

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November 10, 2014

The Week Ahead: Newly Elected Members Get Oriented

freshmanphoto 04 111910 445x306 The Week Ahead: Newly Elected Members Get Oriented

Newly elected members of the House pose for the freshman class photo in November of 2010. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)

We will get insights this week from the people who run some of the nation’s biggest rail and airline companies, and from newly elected members of Congress as they arrive in Washington for their orientation.


Rob Knight, the chief financial officer of Union Pacific will address the Stephens 2014 Fall Investment Conference. He makes another presentation the following day at Baird’s 2014 Industrial Conference.

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November 7, 2014

Friday Q & A: Marc Scribner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Part One

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Marc Scribner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute

Analyst Marc Scribner at the Competitive Enterprise Institute examines transportation policy from a staunchly pro-market standpoint.

Here are excerpts from our conversation. (Note: We did the interview on Election Day, before we knew Republicans would gain control of the Senate.)

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October 22, 2014

Infrastructure Loan Fears Misguided, Reader Says

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A Staten Island ferry heads across New York harbor. New ferry terminals were built in 2005 with TIFIA loan backing (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

TIFIA is the federal loan program, which uses Treasury funds to help finance state and local governments’ infrastructure projects: bridges, ferry terminals, toll roads, etc.

Last week I mentioned that the new bridge across the Hudson River in New York is financed partly by a $1.6 billion TIFIA loan. TIFIA, which is run by the Department of Transportation, stands for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.

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October 3, 2014

The Container’s Friday Q & A: Contra Costa Transportation Authority’s Randy Iwasaki, Part One

With a boost from Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, there’s momentum in favor of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure networks that could better regulate traffic flows and allow cars and trucks to avoid collisions.

New evidence of that momentum came this week as the Contra Costa, Calif., Transportation Authority and Mercedes-Benz Research & Development of North America in Sunnyvale, Calif., announced that they’re setting up a test site at the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

Full story

October 2, 2014

Abbott Says His Wheelchair Can Beat A Car on Some Gridlocked Texas Roads

Highway gridlock is an issue, at least for a few moments, in a 2014 campaign.

In a recent television ad, Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott maneuvers his wheelchair and tells viewers, “A guy in a wheelchair can move faster than traffic on some roads in Texas.”

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September 26, 2014

A Look Back: Toll Lanes, A Big Bankruptcy, Hedging Gone Bad & LNG-Powered Ships

470901883 445x279 A Look Back: Toll Lanes, A Big Bankruptcy, Hedging Gone Bad & LNG Powered Ships

A Las Vegas highway interchange (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

This week on The Container, we reported on the role of toll lanes in the North Carolina Senate race where donors to the campaign of Republican Thom Tillis could benefit from a new exit being built as part of a project near Charlotte.

Tillis is challenging first-term Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan, as the GOP aims for at least 51 seats.

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When Hedging Goes Awry, On The Road And Aloft

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United Airlines jets sit at gates at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Investors and firms use hedging strategies to try to protect themselves against movements in interest rates or commodity prices.

But hedging sometimes brings grief, as two documents this week showed. Full story

September 23, 2014

Lessons of the Indiana Toll Road Bankruptcy

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As governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels signed the Indiana Toll Road deal (Congressional Quarterly photo by Scott J. Ferrell)

Since we’ve written frequently about the contentious issue of toll roads, we can’t let pass without notice Monday’s news that the company operating the Indiana Toll Road has filed for bankruptcy.

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Manufacturers Say Bigger Infrastructure Investment Would Boost Incomes

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The giant drill nicknamed “Harriet” bores a section of the Port of Miami tunnel last year. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The National Association of Manufacturers renewed its call Tuesday for more infrastructure spending, issuing a report saying that “infrastructure spending has been on a decade-long decline” and that “when measured in proportion to GDP, the downward trajectory of infrastructure investment becomes even more stark and worrisome.”

Full story

September 17, 2014

Bipartisan House Report Sees Growing Role for Private Money in Infrastructure Deals

1duncan022702 258x335 Bipartisan House Report Sees Growing Role for Private Money in Infrastructure Deals

Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr., headed a special House panel on public-private partnerships.

There was bipartisan House agreement Wednesday that public-private investment partnerships, which combine state and federal grant money and bonds with Wall Street equity and debt financing, should be an important part of paying for new transportation infrastructure.

But there was partisan disagreement among members of a special P3 panel of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on how large a percentage of infrastructure funding will come from the P3.

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