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This Week in Washington - October 26

 

ASCE Florida Section Releases New Statewide Report Card
Metropolitan Los Angeles Branch of ASCE Releases New LA County Report Card
Sign Up for “2012 Elections: What Next for Civil Engineering?”
Waterway and Ports Bill To Be Introduced
Are You Ready to Vote?
Legislative Fly-In 2013: Save The Date
State Legislative Updates

 

Asce Florida Section Releases New Statewide Report Card

On October 24th, the American Society of Civil Engineers Florida Section released the 2012 Report Card for Florida’s Infrastructure in Miami. Over 130 public officials and engineers from across the state joined the Section to support the release of Florida’s Report Card. Regrettably, most of the category grades have either stayed the same or gotten worse since that time. For example, Coastal Areas dropped from a C+ to a D- in the span of just four years. Coastal Areas (D-), Energy (D), Flood Control (D+), and School (D+) infrastructure received the worst grades. The other category grades include: Aviation (B-), Bridges (B), Ports (C), Roads (C), Schools (D+), Stormwater (C+), and Transit (C). To read the full report, click here.

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Metropolitan Los Angeles Branch Of Asce Releases New La County Report Card

The Metropolitan Los Angeles Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers released the 2012 Los Angeles County Infrastructure Report Card on Oct. 24th on the steps of city hall. The LA civil engineers awarded Los Angeles County an overall “C” grade. ASCE members were joined by Councilman Joe Buscaino to announce the grades, highlighting the area’s vast needs. The category grades included Bridges (C), Dams (B-), Drinking Water (C), Flood Control (B+), Ports (B), Solid Waste (B+), Streets & Highways (C-), Transit (C), Urban Runoff (D), and Wastewater (B+). Full coverage of the report can be found here.

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Sign Up Today For “2012 Elections: What Next For Civil Engineering?”

Join ASCE staff for “2012 Elections: What Next for Civil Engineering?” the next installment of the Key Contact Briefing Conference Call series. We will explore the outcomes of the November 2012 elections and what they will mean for civil engineers. We will cover the presidential and congressional elections, as well as highlights from states and localities (ballot referenda). In addition, we will touch on anticipated priorities for January 2013, and how ASCE Government Relations will be working to promote civil engineering priorities.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
11am EST
To register for the 2012 Elections briefing call,
visit ASCE's briefing webpage.

The call is an exclusive benefit of the ASCE Key Contact Program. Non-Key Contacts are invited to join the program – simply register for the call and you will be added!

The Key Contact Briefing Conference Call series is designed to provide ASCE Key Contacts with exclusive insights and updates on key public policy issues affecting the civil engineering profession. Our last call, held in May 2012, provided an update on transportation authorization legislation. Calls are held on a quarterly basis.

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Waterway And Ports Bill To Be Introduced

On Wednesday, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced plans to introduce the American Waterworks Act. Aimed at modernizing American ports, locks, and dams, the bill would provide funding and resources necessary to maintain the nation’s inland waterways infrastructure.

One important piece in the proposed legislation would unlock funds in the Inland Waterways Trust Fund to be used for more projects to improve the segment. The other major policy change in the legislation is an increase in the user fee paid by commercial users into the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. The fee increase, which Alexander says was requested by users themselves, would double the revenue collected by the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.

ASCE released the fourth and most recent economic report titled Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Airports, Inland Waterways, and Marine Ports Infrastructure in September. The report outlines the $15.8 billion in additional investment in ports and waterways needed by 2020 in order to protect 738,000 jobs and $770 per year for households. ASCE will continue to monitor the development of the American Waterworks Act, and Key Contacts are encouraged to reach out to their Members of Congress once legislation is introduced.

More information on the American Waterworks Act can be found here.

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Are You Ready To Vote?

Election Day is just 12 days away – be sure you are prepared for this important civic duty:
Are you registered? Many state registration deadlines have passed, but some do allow Election Day registration. If you’re not sure about the date in your state, check it at http://www.engineeringthevote.org.

Many states require identification to vote so be sure you bring the necessary documents with you on Election Day.

Familiarize yourself with candidates and issues on the ballot before you go to vote. Check out our personalized Election guide here. Also, see information on state ballot initiatives relating to civil engineering issues.

Many states and communities are now offering early voting to accommodate voters’ busy schedules. Consider taking advantage of this convenience to ensure your voice is heard.

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Legislative Fly-In 2013: Save The Date

It’s that time of year again! Mark your calendars for March 19-21, ASCE’s 2013 Legislative Fly-In in Washington, DC. Details, including schedule and application information, will be available on ASCE’s website later this month and the application deadline will be December 7th.

The Legislative Fly-In provides ASCE members with the opportunity to learn about public policy issues affecting the civil engineering profession, and to communicate the civil engineer’s perspective on those issues with elected officials on Capitol Hill. Fly-In attendees will be the first to introduce the new and highly anticipated 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure to their elected officials.

View pictures and information from the 2012 Legislative Fly-In.
 
Help us reach our 2013 goal of having all 50 states represented!

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State Legislative Updates

ASCE is monitoring the gubernatorial elections that will be held in 11 states (Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia) on Nov. 6.
Also, more than 6,000 state legislative seats are up for grabs in 44-states.

Issues such as Medicaid and Voter ID have driven much of the political talk during this election season and the statehouse results will determine which party controls each of the nation's legislatures when they convene in 2013. An additional preview of the state elections is available here from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).


California
Do High-Tech Traffic Tools Work? Caltrans Hopes They'll Ease I-80 Traffic Mess
Bay Area drivers have some notoriously bad daily commutes, but if you’re looking for the stretch of freeway with top bragging rights, look no further than the Interstate 80 corridor through Richmond and Berkeley. Caltrans ranks it as the worst traffic in the Bay Area. Now, Caltrans and regional transportation groups are kicking off an $80 million dollar project to improve that stat – not through new freeways lanes but through technology. Weekday or weekend, the traffic is almost constant between the Carquinez Bride and Bay Bridge – as I found when I tried to get to the midday press conference about that very subject on Friday.
Read More: KQED Radio 10/22


Colorado
RTD to produce $300 million plan for FasTracks
Regional Transportation District general manager Phil Washington vowed Tuesday night to find $300 million to help complete unfinished portions of the metro-wide FasTracks commuter project. Washington said that by December the RTD board of directors could vote on a series of proposed cuts to other programs that will generate the needed funding for FasTracks. "We are going to roll up 8-to-10 high impact items," Washington said during a regular meeting of the RTD board."We want to find more funding so we can build more FasTracks." Washington said he will produce the list of "trade offs" by November for the board to study prior to a December vote.
Read More: Denver Post 10/24


Hawaii
Hawaii details $600M plan for upgrades at Honolulu International Airport
The Hawaii Department of Transportation has released a draft environmental assessment detailing its $600 million plan for modernizing Honolulu International Airport. According to the document filed with the Hawaii Office of Environmental Quality Control, the work includes building a mauka concourse, demolishing the existing commuter terminal that houses the smaller interisland airlines, widening a few taxiways, relocating cargo and maintenance facilities and building a replacement cargo facility. A new commuter terminal will also be built east of the Diamond Head concourse and a car rental facility to house all the rental companies is also part of the project.
Read More: Pacific Business News 10/24

Lingle agrees with Cayetano’s stance on Honolulu rail project
Two former Hawaii governors have differing political views, but one thing they definitely have in common is their opposition to Honolulu’s $5.16 billion elevated-rail project. Republican Linda Lingle, who is running for U.S. Senate, sat down with PBN’s editorial staff on Friday and of course I had to ask her about rail, since Senator Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, has said it would take World War III to kill the project. Construction on the rail project has been stopped since a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling in late August and former Governor Ben Cayetano is one of the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against the project. Cayetano, a Democrat who is running for Honolulu mayor in the nonpartisan race, has also vowed to cancel rail if he is elected.
Read More: Pacific Business News 10/22


Illinois
Quinn unveils $1 billion water, sewer upgrade push
Governor Pat Quinn launched a $1 billion initiative Thursday to upgrade sewer lines, water mains and water treatment plants across Illinois, some of them badly eroded after more than 100 years of service. Timing the announcement to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act, Quinn described his administration's Clean Water Initiative as a jobs-creating effort to pull Illinois up from the nation's lower rungs in terms of water safety. A recent federal Environmental Protection Agency assessment found that Illinois has the fourth-highest need in the country for drinking water infrastructure improvements. The state ranked sixth-highest in the need for wastewater infrastructure improvements, the assessment said.
Read More: Chicago Tribune 10/19


Kansas
Moore, Hensley tangle over taxes, transportation plan, other issues
Republican senatorial candidate Casey Moore on Tuesday said he wanted to cut taxes further and criticized the state transportation program while Democratic incumbent state Sen. Anthony Hensley said the tax cuts signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback will deprive revenue from schools and he praised the transportation plan as a jobs producer. The two clashed before approximately 100 people in a lodge near Lake Shawnee in the race for the 19th State Senate District, which includes much of western Douglas County.
Read More: Lawrence Journal World 10/23


Louisiana
Jindal backs state’s sale of $325 million in rural road bonds
In a change of strategy, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration late Wednesday endorsed the sale of all $325 million in rural road bonds at the same time. The plan, which emanated from a bill pushed by Jindal earlier this year, called for the state to sell $100 million in the first two years and $125 million in the third year. But Sherri LeBas, secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development, said late Wednesday that the new plan stems from the advice of the state’s bond counsel and financial adviser. “They came back and said even if you let the projects over a three-year period it is better, more financially sound, to go ahead and bond all of the money out up front,” LeBas said.
Read More: The Advocate 10/19

 
Michigan
Snyder panel recommends state park improvements
A panel appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder is recommending ways to improve Michigan’s state park system. The 16-member group sent its findings to the governor Friday. The report calls for finding new funding sources for parks, including seeking bonding authority to reduce a backlog of maintenance needs. It also proposes re-establishing the State Parks Foundation to accept private donations. It recommends developing more regionally connected trail networks, establishing four or five “signature parks” to help revitalize core urban areas and stepping up marketing efforts.
Read More: Lansing Journal 10/21


Minnesota
MnDOT's 20 year plan covers more than roads
After a year of talking with residents and others who rely on the state's transportation system, MnDOT has an outline of how all the pieces fit together. But MnDOT also acknowledges there likely won't be enough revenue coming in to maintain the system in its current condition, or improve it. The Minnesota Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan 2012-2031 is a policy framework for maintaining and building Minnesota's transportation system over the next two decades. The plan is available online. In a departure from the past, officials say the plan aims to approach all the different ways people and goods move around - highways, local streets and roads, transit, railroads, aviation, ports, waterways and bicycle and pedestrian facilities - as part of a larger whole that works together as one system.
View the plan at http://www.minnesotagoplan.org/docs.html
Read More: Minnesota Public Radio 10/18


Ohio
Ohio lawmakers want to slow Gov. John Kasich's plan to lease Ohio Turnpike
Two Democratic state lawmakers hope to slow Republican Gov. John Kasich's plans to lease control of the Ohio Turnpike to the highest private bidder. State representatives Matt Lundy, of Elyria, and Ronald V. Gerberry, of the Youngstown area, announced they would introduce legislation that requires mandatory public input before any deal to outsource the turnpike is complete. The bill would also repeal laws that give authority to the state budget director and director of the Ohio Department of Transportation, ODOT, to approve a deal to privatize the 241-mile toll road.
Read More: Cleveland Plain Dealer 10/23


Tennessee
TN needs $38 billion to improve roads, schools, water
From road and bridge repairs to additional water lines and sewers, Tennessee needs $38 billion in public improvement between now and 2015, a recently released state report shows. In Middle Tennessee, there is at least $10 billion in projects that state and local officials deem important — everything from road and bridgework to a $270 million upgrade to Nashville’s sewer system. The report, released by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, is mandated by state law and provides a snapshot of what type of improvement projects are needed. The report covers a five-year period from July 2010 through June 2015.
Read More: Tennessean 10/18


Utah
UTA budget raises spending on trains by 27 percent
As the Utah Transit Authority gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a 2013 budget that will spike spending on its growing train operations by 27 percent, it also cleared the next-to-last stop toward borrowing another $180 million to help pay for constructing new TRAX and FrontRunner lines. That came as no one from the public appeared at a hearing Wednesday about borrowing that $180 million, plus refinancing up to $140 million of earlier flexible-rate borrowing to lock in long-term interest rates. So the board scheduled a special meeting next Wednesday to finish the process of authorizing bonds to borrow that amount. The heavy borrowing has brought some controversy, even if no one appeared at the public hearing about it on Wednesday.
Read More: Salt Lake Tribune 10/24

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