U.S. Department of Transportation’s Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Brandye Hendrickson participates in the groundbreaking ceremony for Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Central 70 project.

Today, I joined Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Mike Lewis and other state and local officials in Denver for the groundbreaking of the I-70 reconstruction project or “Central 70,” as it’s referred to locally.

For anyone working, living in or visiting Denver, Central 70 is going to be a really, REALLY, big deal.

How big?

$1.2 billion big. That includes a $416 million loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program, $114 million in Private Activity Bonds allocated by DOT, and $50 million in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds from the Federal Highway Administration.

It’s the biggest project CDOT has ever undertaken.

And it’s being delivered using CDOT’s biggest public-private partnership (P3) to date.

If all goes according to plan, the P3 — Kiewit Meridiam Partners, CDOT’s High Performance Transportation Enterprise and the Colorado Bridge Enterprise – will bring several big benefits.

For starters, Colorado isn’t just rebuilding a section of I-70. It’s future-proofing road travel in Denver on the busiest route in the state, by adding intelligent transportation system infrastructure that will help accommodate autonomous vehicles in the years ahead.

The project will cut commute times for thousands of area drivers every day and add managed lanes in each direction along ten miles of I-70. That’ll bring a big sigh of relief for travelers anxious to get to Denver International Airport on time.

For 1,200 Rocky Mountain area businesses that ship freight into and out of Colorado by plane, train and truck, the Central 70 project is expected to be a big economic boost by easing bottlenecks, especially between I-25 and the area that’s home to the Western Stock Show.

CDOT also has big plans in the works to remove a 54-year-old viaduct, lower the highway along one section of the project and put a beautiful park over it.

Best of all, this will be a big state-of-the-art highway project built cost-effectively.

FHWA’s worked closely with CDOT for more than a decade to see this groundbreaking become a reality and we commend the state for using innovative project delivery as a way to invest in better transportation and a stronger economy.

For the Mile High City and the entire state, big things are about to happen on I-70. This P3 is looking down the road and seeing a brighter, safer future for Denver.

I can’t wait to come back to see the Central 70 in 2022 when it’s finished!

Original Source

“BUILD transportation grants will help communities revitalize their surface transportation systems while also increasing support for rural areas to ensure that every region of our country benefits,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a replacement for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants, a program popular with state and local agencies.

On April 20, DOT published a notice of funding opportunity for $1.5 billion through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development discretionary grant, or BUILD, program.

Although BUILD would replace the TIGER program, the two bear some similarities. Like TIGER grants, BUILD money would be awarded on a competitive basis to local or regional entities. The funding would support roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports or intermodal transportation.

“BUILD transportation grants will help communities revitalize their surface transportation systems while also increasing support for rural areas to ensure that every region of our country benefits,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said.

According to a notice on DOT’s website, applicants will be assessed on the basis of safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental protection, innovation, partnership and additional nonfederal revenue for future transportation infrastructure investments.

Read on…

Lawmakers heard from industry groups during a hearing Wednesday to examine how small businesses view the infrastructure crisis.

The House Small Business Committee held the hearing with lawmakers looking to address severe issues facing the national infrastructure system. The hearing explored the challenges that small businesses are facing as a result, and how they could be addressed, with a specific focus on surface transportation and access to broadband.

There has been a growing concern over the crumbling roadways, bridge collapses, and failing pipes in our national infrastructure system. The problem impacts both families and businesses across the country, but there is hope with lawmakers looking to address it.
“Our nation faces an infrastructure investment deficit of $2 trillion over the next 10 years,” Marsia Geldert-Murphey, the chief operating officer at W. James Taylor, Inc., said during the hearing. “The investment gap has led to deficient roads and bridges, water main breaks, inadequate ports and inland waterways, late flights, and so much more. Failing to close this infrastructure investment gap brings serious economic uncertainty for small businesses.”

Geldert-Murphey testified on behalf of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The hearing included speakers from several industry groups which represent small businesses in construction, engineering, and other sectors needed to improve infrastructure. Kevin Beyer spoke on behalf of The Rural Broadband Association.

“There appears to be a widespread consensus that broadband is essential infrastructure, and critical to life in modern American,” Beyer, who also works as the general manager for Farmers Mutual Telephone Company, said. “The public policy question that remains is how to best ensure that the service is available, affordable, sufficient, and sustainable in high-cost rural areas that don’t attract private investments on their own.”

Read on…

From: CNN Money

Take the city of Arvada, Colorado, which has long sought funds for two major projects: a $35 million expansion of an east-west highway since 2001, and an $18 million streetscape overhaul to promote pedestrian safety since 2007.

City manager Mark Deven says he’s tried his luck with federal grant programs, like the TIGER grants created by the Obama administration. So far, no luck.

“These funds are very competitive,” Deven says. “At a meeting I went to a couple years ago with the federal Department of Transportation, one of the federal officials mentioned that you have a better chance of having your child admitted to Harvard than receiving one of these grants.”

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“The problem we see with how funding has been going overall is on these short-term continuing resolutions,” says Michael Reeves, who runs the Port to Plains coalition, a group that advocates for transportation corridors between Canada and Mexico. “With transportation, it’s a long-term process, and it’s so important to have that long-term certainty.”

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Sean Strawbridge runs the Port of Corpus Christi in Texas, but he’s been spending a lot of time in Washington lately.In meetings with White

House officials and anyone else who’ll listen, he brings a stack of glossy brochures laying out what he’s after: $225 million from the federal government to widen and deepen the channel that ships pass through.

The president’s fiscal 2019 budget for the US Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the channel, requested $13 million for the project. Not nearly enough to finish the job, even with the port itself supplying another $102 million.

President Trump unveiled a plan in February to turn $200 billion in federal money into $1.5 trillion for fixing America’s infrastructure by leveraging local and state tax dollars and private investment.

The plan seemed promising, but it hasn’t advanced since. Strawbridge, who hired a brand name public relations firm to help sell his project, is growing less optimistic that the money will be available anytime soon.

“I would say at this point it’s highly unlikely that we’re going to see any legislative tweaks this year,” Strawbridge says. Without substantially more federal funding, the project might have to be delayed or scaled back, making it harder to satisfy the export demand stemming from Texas’ booming oilfields.

Read on… 

Farm Bureau

February 5, 2018

Infrastructure was a significant topic of discussion during the president’s 2018 State of the Union address. The administration has been teasing an infrastructure plan for over a year, but this year’s SOTU, as well as documents released and leaked from the White House, add some meat to the bone, and begin to tell us what an infrastructure plan might ultimately mean for rural America. Based on the outline, rural America should perk up.

During the SOTU the president acknowledged the poor state of infrastructure in the United States and promised to help advance a plan that would generate at least a $1.5 trillion investment to rebuild and repair basically all things that move America. The speech was limited in detail, it was the SOTU after all, but immediately following the speech the White House released a two-page press document that gave a few more details.

The release highlighted that one out of every five miles of U.S. highway pavement is in poor condition. And in rural America don’t we know it. According to the Department of Transportation’s latest Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit report, 74% of the nation’s bridges, 73% of the 4 million miles of public roads, and 33% of all vehicle miles traveled are in rural areas. When our roads and bridges are in disrepair, we feel it.

The latest figures floating put federal funds for infrastructure upgrades at $200 billion. While $200 billion is a lot of money, it doesn’t take a math whiz to realize that it’s a far cry from the $1.5 trillion investment mentioned during the SOTU. That means states will be incentivized to work with local and private investment partners for completion and operation of projects under this program. Many transportation experts have highlighted over the years that public-private partnerships are most attractive in large population centers with lots of vehicle miles. In other words, perhaps not a great fit, by and large, for addressing rural transportation issues.

However, the release also laid out the president’s plan to dedicate 25 percent of the federal funds for rural infrastructure needs, prioritized by state and local leaders. These funds will go toward rebuilding roads, providing clean water to rural families and businesses, expanding broadband access, and supplying affordable, reliable power. If we assume the federal funds available will indeed be $200 billion, rural America could see a $25 billion infrastructure injection.

Read on…

FasterBetterSafer

Americans for Transportation Mobility

America’s infrastructure is being surpassed by other nations. Additionally, investment in transportation has dropped as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as population and maintenance needs and congestion impacts grow.

The American public and the business community support increased investment in infrastructure and transportation stakeholders are urging expedient policies from President Trump and Congress.

Mike Mota, Vice President of Engineering for the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CRSI), says our infrastructure needs to be rebuilt now. CRSI is a member of the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC), which is another important player advocating for recharged federal infrastructure legislation and a better transportation system.

Sign the petition and share this story with your friends on social media.

Read on … 

A five year federal transportation reauthorization bill was an important step in stabilizing transportation funding. But as this article indicates the states must recognize the need for additional state transportation funding if state DOTs are going to be able to maintain the current systems and meet the needs of growing populations.

fastact

FAST Act… a step… but not final solution

AASHTO Journal
April 15, 2016

A number of state departments of transportation are telling lawmakers and residents to expect their highway systems to continue to deteriorate unless legislatures provide more project funding, and some states are eyeing unusual steps to keep projects moving.

A senior Michigan DOT official – Chief Operations Officer Mark Van Port Fleet – recently warned state House and Senate transportation committees, the Detroit News reported, that “the results of our predictive model is that the condition of pavement is going to continue to decline” despite higher state and federal funding levels approved in the past year.

A March 22 MDOT staff analysis said: “A significant amount of pavement is in fair condition. Even with the recent passage of increased state and federal transportation revenue, many of these pavements, if not addressed soon, will fall into poor condition. Once pavements deteriorate into the poor category, it is more costly to bring them back into good condition.”

New state projections also see vehicle miles on state roads going up faster than earlier estimates, with congestion continuing to worsen.

The MDOT official told lawmakers that a large multiyear state funding plan, signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder last November, is “going to slow the decline” in road conditions, the Detroit News said.

AASHTO and other industry trade groups have said the new five-year FAST Act federal surface transportation legislation provided “modest” increases in core highway and transit program funding. While that was an improvement from previous levels, AASHTO has said it was not enough to allow states to eliminate their large backlog of needed infrastructure projects to maintain their networks and reduce congestion. Read on…

The Hill
February 17, 2016

Getty Images

Getty Images

The federal government would get more bang for their buck if U.S. drivers were charged directly for their use of highways through tolls or mileage fees, a new study from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says.

The report from Congress’s budgetary scorekeepers says current “spending on highways does not correspond very well with how the roads are used and valued.”

The CBO said mechanisms like tolling, mileage fees or congestion pricing could be considered to fund transportation projects in lieu of relying mostly on gas tax revenue.

“Almost all federal spending for highways occurs through formula grants to state and local governments, and historically, less than half of the funding has been tied directly to the amount of travel on the roads,” the report said.

“Although data from the past 20 years show that, on average, pavement quality is improving, fewer bridges have deficiencies, and highway fatalities occur less frequently, those averages mask differences between urban and rural areas and between interstate highways and other roads, differences that sometimes are not reflected in spending,” the report continued. Read on…

Complete Congressional Budget Office Report

Majority of Americans Believe a Tax Increase is Necessary to Repair Roads

American Trucking Associations
October 20, 2015

ataA new national poll released today found strong support for federal investment in highway infrastructure.
The poll, the second commissioned by American Trucking Associations, was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies between August 30 and September 1, surveyed 800 registered voters on their attitudes about politics, the trucking industry and the state of infrastructure.

“The results of this poll should be taken very seriously by members of Congress as they work to complete a long-term highway bill,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “This poll tells us the American people now believe what we’ve been saying for some time: our roads and bridges are in need of repair and we need to raise revenue to do it.”

Among the poll’s findings were:

  • Infrastructure spending is second only to education (by a 64-60 margin) the area the public thinks more money needs to be spent.
  • The number of people who believe more needs to be spent on infrastructure has risen 12 points – from 48% in 2014 to 60% this year.
  • Forty percent of the public thinks infrastructure should be a top priority for federal spending.
  • Sixty-three percent of Americans believe our roads and bridges are not being properly maintained.
  • And a majority of Americans – 53% – believe it will be necessary to raise taxes to properly maintain roads and bridges.
  • However, the public remains opposed to raising the fuel tax, raising income taxes, Interstate tolling and adding registration fees to pay for needed maintenance, but when forced to choose – the public supports raising the fuel tax over tolling.

Read on…

Presentation of National Trucking Survey by ATA

The AAA poll showed 70 percent of U.S. residents think “the federal government should invest more than it does now for roads, bridges and mass transit systems.”

The Hill
October 13, 2014

highwayconstruction_070715gn2_0Seventy percent of U.S. residents want Congress to increase the amount of money it spends on transportation projects, according to a new poll released on Tuesday by the AAA auto club.

The finding comes as lawmakers are facing an Oct. 29 deadline for renewing federal infrastructure spending.

The AAA poll showed 70 percent of U.S. residents think “the federal government should invest more than it does now for roads, bridges and mass transit systems.”

The group’s president, Marshall Doney, said the findings should spur Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill instead of settling for a temporary patch at the end of the month.

“Americans rely on our nation’s roads and bridges every day, yet Congressional inaction has led to longer commutes, more potholes and unsafe conditions,” Doney said in a statement. “Motorists are dissatisfied that our national leaders repeatedly have failed to meet the basic needs of drivers across the country.”   Read on…