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State Legislative Update

Archives

Alabama 

Alabama Department of Transportation to delay construction of Northern Beltline for in-depth study of route 

The Alabama Department of Transportation has withdrawn its application for a permit to build the first segment of the proposed Northern Beltline until an in-depth study of the whole 52-mile route is completed.   ALDOT had applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for permits needed to begin construction on a 3.4-mile segment of the six-lane beltline that would connect Alabama 75 and Alabama 79 near Palmerdale in northeast Jefferson County. ALDOT has spent $15 million acquiring the needed right-of-way and had indicated construction could begin as early as next year.

Read More:  Birmingham News 11/15

Arkansas 

Beebe balks at second major highway program 

Governor Mike Beebe was noncommittal Wednesday to supporting another major highway program next year, a day after voters overwhelmingly approved a $575 million bond renewal he pushed.  The proposal to renew a bond issue for interstate improvements that was first approved by voters in 1999 garnered more than 80 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s sparse special election.  Voters will decide a proposed half-cent sales tax increase to fund a $1.8 billion four-lane state highway system in the 2012 general election.  The governor made no commitment to back the 2012 highway program as he did with publicly supporting and appearing in television ads for the interstate bond program.

Read More:  Arkansas News Bureau 11/9

California 

Brown will ask legislators to OK billions for bullet train 

Governor Jerry Brown said Thursday that he will formally request that the Legislature approve billions of dollars to start construction of the California bullet train next year and will work hard to persuade skeptical lawmakers that the project is critical to the state's future.  In his first extended remarks on the $98.5-billion project since a controversial business plan was unveiled last week, Brown said that the state will have a broad need for the system in the long term and that it represents a significantly cheaper alternative to additional highway and commercial aviation investments.

Read More:  LA Times 11/11

Maryland 

O’Malley ready for tough assembly sells 

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley’s expected push for a gas-tax increase during the 2012 General Assembly is already facing stiff opposition, but the proposal is just one of several likely tough sells in his legislative agenda for next year.  Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, readily acknowledges the unpopularity of a proposed 15-cents-a-gallon tax hike during a prolonged economic downturn.  While the governor has yet to say outright that he will sponsor such an increase when the assembly convenes in January, he is taking the lead on legalizing same-sex marriage and a jobs package based largely on increasing infrastructure spending.

Read More:  Washington Times 11/14

Missouri 

Missouri Transportation Department to seek toll on Interstate 70 

As money for big, new road projects withers away, Missouri is looking seriously at tolls on Interstate 70 as a way to fund overhauling the highway from Kansas City to St. Louis.  Highway department Director Kevin Keith said Wednesday his agency would try to persuade the General Assembly to authorize the tolls.  “Tolling is a viable financing option for infrastructure,” Keith said. “As we sit here today with the resources available to us, it may be the only option we have to pay for it.”  Keith said the transportation department would like to form a partnership where a consortium of contractors would come together and build the highway and then recoup their expenses from tolls.

Read more:  Kansas City Star 11/9

New Jersey 

State transportation department mulls benefits of using private workers to fulfill N.J. maintenance needs 

The state Department of Transportation wants to find out whether private workers can plow roads and fill potholes more cheaply than its own employees.  Today is the last day for private companies to submit proposals to provide workers to do work now done by DOT maintenance employees.  The work would be done on limited stretches of roadways in the northern, central and southern regions of New Jersey — including routes 78, 24, 35 and 295 — as part of a three-year pilot program the DOT is considering.

Read More:  Star-Ledger 11/16

New Mexico 

Albuquerque utility plans $200 million in upgrades at water reclamation plant 

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority is planning more than $200 million in upgrades at its water reclamation plant over the next decade.  The utility says more than a half-million people rely on the plant, which treats all wastewater generated by customers throughout Albuquerque and parts of Bernalillo and Sandoval counties.  Water Authority Board Chairman Art De La Cruz says the plant is more than 50 years old and in need of serious rehabilitation and modernization. 

Read More:  The Republic 11/10

New York 

Governor Andrew Cuomo institutes reforms at DOT 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced a series of reforms to keep state highway construction projects on time and on budget after cost overruns and delays were commonplace on the expensive reconstruction of I-287 in Westchester County.  Cuomo knocked the troubled I-287 project, saying it called out for changes in how construction projects are bid and developed.  An investigation by The Journal News this year found that design and inspection costs have swelled more than 50 percent on I-287, pushing the total price tag to more than $740 million. Extra expenses and delays fueled $123 million in added costs — pushing the project's total cost to $86 million per mile.

Read More:  Democrat and Chronicle 11/17

Pennsylvania 

Transportation funding on hold 

Some 100 transportation planners and those in transportation-related businesses, who gathered in Upper Merion for a regional transportation conference, Monday did not receive any insider information on how the state intends to address its transportation funding needs.  “The secretary (of transportation) continues to meet with the governor and legislators to see what they support,” said Bryan Kendro, policy director for the state Department of Transportation.  Kendro, one of the featured speakers at the annual conference sponsored by the Greater Valley Transportation Management Association, said he was optimistic that a funding package could be authorized by the governor and state lawmakers by the end of the year.

Read More: The Intelligencer11/15

South Carolina 

South Carolina DOT Reorganization Task Force Makes Recommendations 

A special task force on the reorganization of headquarters operations created within the South Carolina Department of Transportation by Secretary Robert St. Onge has reported its initial recommendations. The most important recommendations include creating a Procurement Office that will consolidate all procurement activities in one centralized operation, developing a Division of Support Services that will include a Customer Relations Office, and restructuring the Office of Budget and Cash Management, according to a statement issued by SCDOT. These organizational initiatives and others will be implemented over the next 30 to 60 days. The initiatives will complement the process and procedural changes already underway at SCDOT.

Read More:  AASHTO Journal 11/4

Utah 

Public asks UTA about budget – via Twitter 

The Utah Transit Authority had a different kind of public discussion Monday about its proposed 2012 budget — 140 characters at a time through a Twitter chat.  UTA General Manager Michael Allegra fielded questions ranging from why UTA does not offer more night service to when free Wi-Fi Internet access will be available on more buses and trains to whether an envisioned switch to distance-based fares will increase costs for most riders.  UTA decided to hold the chat in addition to a traditional, formal hearing it has scheduled on its budget Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. at its headquarters, 699 W. 200 South in Salt Lake City.

Read More:  Salt Lake Tribune 11/14

Virginia 

Hampton Roads has a lame claim to traffic fame 

Our locally notorious Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel is a national celebrity. The often-snarled crossing was ranked the fifth-most-congested corridor in the country in an analysis by the Texas Transportation Institute. The only stretches of highway topping the HRBT were in New York and Atlanta.  "No surprise - none," said Dwight Farmer, chief of the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization. "Particularly for how bad the backup is and how long it will last."

Read More:  Virginian-Pilot 11/16

Chesterfield could be in line for $1 billion power plant 

Dominion Virginia Power won preliminary approval for what could be a $1 billion power plant in Chesterfield County.  On a 5-0 vote Tuesday night, the county's Planning Commission approved a conditional-use permit that, if also approved by the Board of Supervisors, would allow the utility to seek state approval to build a new plant on a site adjacent to its Chesterfield Power Station at Dutch Gap.  The Planning Commission also approved a draft comprehensive plan for the county, ending a nearly yearlong process in which it honed a 200-page-plus document — itself the product of more than two years of study and creation by consultants and a citizens group — that could dictate growth in the county for the next 100 years. It, too, is headed to the Board of Supervisors for final action.

Read More:  Richmond Times-Dispatch 11/16

Washington 

Unions want $2billion in construction bonds 

Washington unions want state lawmakers to ask voters for more tax revenue to stave off deep budget cuts, but that’s not the only thing they want on a spring ballot.  The State Labor Council also is pushing for a bond measure to stimulate the job market through construction on state, college and public-school buildings, on storm-water pollution control projects and more, all across the state. The Legislature can’t borrow more under the state’s constitutional debt limit, but voters can go around the limit.  The goal: $2 billion in bonds.

Read more:  News-Tribune 11/15

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