Posts tagged Congress.
Posted in Policy

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx chaired a virtual town hall meeting, entitled Moving from Uncertainty to Long-Term Transportation Investment, on August 6, 2014.  The town hall was open to the general public, as well as business leaders, transportation advocates, and state and local government officials.  Secretary Foxx discussed the United States Department of Transportation’s (US DOT) vision for the future of transportation, as well as answered questions from attendees about transportation policy.

In his opening remarks, and throughout the question and answer ...

Posted in Policy

Congress passed a bill (HR 5021) to provide a short-term funding patch for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), just one day before the United States Department of Transportation was scheduled to begin slowing reimbursements to states for eligible highway, bridge, and mass transit projects.  A failure to act by Congress had the potential to slow-down or stop any number of transportation construction projects across the country in the midst of the construction season.

After volleying the bill back and forth between the chambers over the course of this week, Congress passed a final bill that ...

Posted in P3s

On Tuesday, April 8th, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Panel on Public-Private Partnerships held a hearing on "The International Experience with Public-Private Partnerships".  The Panel focused in particular on the Canadian experience, observing that over the past two decades Canada has become one of the most advanced and active markets for P3s. The witness list and links to their testimony are as follows:

The Honorable John Delaney, United States Representative, Maryland

Dr. Larry Blain, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Partnerships British Columbia | Written Testimony

Mr. David Morley, Vice President, Business and Government Strategy, Infrastructure Ontario | Written Testimony

Cherian George, Managing Director – Americas, Global Infrastructure & Project Finance, Fitch Ratings | Written Testimony

Dr. Matti Siemiatycki, Associate Professor, Program in Planning, University of Toronto | Written Testimony

Congressman John Delaney began by describing the magnitude of the nation’s infrastructure deficit.  Referring to an estimate made by the American Society for Civil Engineers, he explained that close to $4 trillion needs to be invested to bring infrastructure in the US up to world class standards.  As governments are cash strapped, he advocated that private sector capital be engaged to increase investment in infrastructure to fill the gap, and he noted the importance of smart P3 frameworks to meet this infrastructure challenge.  Congressman Delaney referred to The Partnerships to Build America Act (H.R. 2084), which he introduced to the House on May 2013.  He explained that The Partnerships to Build America Act would provide for the financing of state and local government transportation, energy, communications, water, and education infrastructure projects through the creation of an infrastructure fund.

The Panel did not put questions to Congressman Delaney, leaving that for the House. The Panel did, however, engage in a lively discussion with the remaining witnesses about the Canadian experience with P3s and explored the suitability of the Canadian approach for infrastructure projects in the US.

Witnesses outlined various factors that have resulted in successful P3 projects in Canada.  The creation of specialized provincial agencies staffed with experts skilled with both evaluating projects for P3 delivery and negotiating with the private sector was noted as a significant factor contributing to successful P3 deals. Further, the development by these agencies of consistent and predictable procurement processes and standardized documentation has facilitated the delivery of P3 projects and encouraged the development of the P3 market in Canada.

Mr. George of Fitch Ratings, discussing P3s from a global perspective, pointed out that P3s can provide public value, but these transactions need to be appropriately designed and carefully crafted to address all stakeholder concerns.  He indicated that projects that have a defined scope where performance can be measured are better suited to P3 delivery.  He noted that lessons can be learned from past P3 projects undertaken around the world.  He spoke to a few examples including the 407 toll road in Ontario and Chicago’s Skyway toll concessions, each of which came under considerable criticism and involved legal disputes.

Witnesses pointed out that in Canada P3s are not typically used to raise new money to pay for infrastructure through user fees or tolls.  Instead, P3s are viewed in Canada as a way to finance a project using private capital that is repaid overtime by the government through availability payments.  Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) indicated that while P3s are not viewed as a funding solution in Canada, P3s are being considered for that purpose in the US.

Posted in Policy

On Wednesday, March 5, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Special Panel on Public-Private Partnerships held a hearing entitled "Overview of Public-Private Partnerships for Highway and Transit Projects" to review the role of P3s in delivery of highway and transit projects. The witness list and links to their testimony are as follows:

Mr. Joseph Kile, Assistant Director for Microeconomic Studies, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Written Testimony

Mr. James M. Bass, Interim Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer, Texas Department of Transportation Written ...

Posted in Legislation

Representatives from a coalition of Departments of Transportation (DOTs) across the United States have joined to send a letter to Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner  to oppose inclusion into the House's surface transportation reauthorization bill two amendments, introduced by Senator Bingaman, to the recently passed S. 1813, entitled Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). The DOTs that signed the letter include Arizona, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, Texas, Kansas, Virginia, and Ohio.
 
The DOTs say the two ...

Posted in Legislation

Nossaman's Geoff Yarema, chair of the Firm's Infrastructure Practice Group and a Commissioner on the Congressionally mandated National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission, provided testimony this week to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, "Hearing on National Infrastructure Bank: More Bureaucracy & More Red Tape."

View the video of the hearing here.

 

Posted in Legislation

Susan Martinovich, president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), together with representatives of several state departments of transportation, held a news conference yesterday to urge Congress to take action before September 30 to extend the gas tax and to reauthorize federal highway and transit programs at current funding levels.  The press conference was held at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

A press release reporting the news conference quoted Martinovich ...

Posted in Financing

The fiscally conservative House majority continues to pursue reductions in federal spending, and federal transportation spending is part of the mix.  Further use of the general fund to supplement the Highway Trust Fund motor fuel taxes, as well as increases in fuel taxes, are opposed by the House majority.  Cuts could come in several forms, including cuts in Title 23 programs overall or cuts to specific programs.

Given the diminishing role of the Highway Trust Fund in funding future transportation investment, federal credit assistance under the TIFIA program needs to grow in ...

Posted in Policy

This morning, members of the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission and National Transportation Policy Project of the Bipartisan Policy Center released a joint statement urging Congress to take steps toward several transportation policy principles designed to help guide deliberations over how to extend, fund and improve the federal surface transportation program in the face of dire fiscal realities. Some of the key proposals include the call for Congress to incentivize and remove barriers to increased state and local revenues from direct user ...

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