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115th Congress Convenes; Infrastructure Work to Begin in Second 100 Days
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has announced that work on President-elect Donald Trump’s infrastructure proposal will probably not begin until after his first 100 days in office. Press reports have suggested that Congress will consider healthcare issues, regulation changes and tax overhauls before taking up infrastructure concerns.
As quoted by The Hill newspaper, Shuster said, “We’re going to start to work on it, but first of all, you’ve got to figure out the pay-fors, which will come, I believe, in the first 100 days. Then in the next second 100 days is when we’ll put together a big infrastructure package.”
Politico Pro quoted Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) as saying, "If you ask anyone in the leadership of the Commerce Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee—and I'm on both—I would say no, we're not stepping away. I mean that is one of the things we both need desperately and can agree on."
NYC Transit Opens First New Subway Line in More than 50 Years
MTA New York City Transit opened its first major subway expansion in more than half a century on New Year’s Day: the Second Avenue Line, with stations at 96th Street, 86th Street and 72nd Street and a connection to the existing Lexington/63rd Street Station.
The 1.8-mile stretch of new track is expected to ease overcrowded conditions on the nearby Lexington Line.
New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas F. Prendergast said, “[New York State] Gov. [Andrew M.] Cuomo challenged the MTA to work aggressively to open the Second Avenue Subway on time and we have been working around the clock to meet this challenge. We’re thrilled to start the new year with a new subway line.” Prendergast, an MTA employee for more than 25 years who has served in the post since 2013, announced his
retirement following the launch of service.
Read more about the new Second Avenue Line in the Jan. 16 issue of Passenger Transport.
DOT 'Landing Team' Members
The transition organization has announced several new members of the DOT “leading team” making recommendations for leading the agency.
In addition to retired policy analyst Shirley Ybarra, who Passenger Transport previously announced, the team members follow:
Nancy Butler, AECOM (retired); Karen Czarnecki, Mercatus Center, George Mason University; Bo Denysyk, Global USA Inc.; Daniel Elwell, Elwell & Associates LLC; T. Finch Fulton, VOX Global; Marcus Lemon, Polsinelli PC; and Brigham McCown, Kilgore McCown, PLLC. All are serving in a volunteer capacity. Find other details here.
Foxx Exit Memo: Nation's Transportation System at 'Crossroads'
DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx issued his Cabinet Exit Memo on Jan. 5, an 11-page document that recounts the department’s key accomplishments as his tenure concludes and a new secretary and administration prepare to take office.
“My goal was to set this department on a course for the next 50 years that more fully recognizes the role transportation decisions play in economic opportunity for underserved communities, appreciates the role that technology can play in making our transportation future much safer and embraces innovation even when it disrupts traditional ways of thinking,” Foxx stated.
The memo (available here) notes Foxx’s assessment of the department’s progress in such areas as funding, sustainability, safety, infrastructure investment, technology and strengthening opportunities for economic growth.
Update: APTA Comments on FTA Proposed Regs
After review by multiple committees, APTA submitted comments Jan. 6 emphasizing the land use benefits of public transportation projects, among other issues, in response to FTA’s proposed tools to help public transit agencies comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews. Specifically, FTA proposed a draft Programmatic Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transit Projects and an accompanying Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimator Tool.
In addition, APTA is finalizing comments to an update of DOT’s NEPA implementing procedures, last updated in 1985. Find details on APTA’s website.
In related news, FTA Chief Counsel Ellen Partridge recently issued a letter clarifying that internet protocol (IP) security cameras qualify for a Buy America waiver under existing rules. The Security Industry Association, in consultation with APTA members, committees and staff, successfully sought the clarification. Find the letter here.
FTA Webinar on Zero Emission Research Opportunity
FTA will review its Zero Emissions Research Opportunity (ZERO) at an hour-long webinar Monday, Jan, 9, at 1 p.m. Eastern time.
Space is limited to 100 participants; advance registration is not required.
FTA is accepting applications from nonprofit organizations through Feb. 21 for funding to conduct research, demonstrations, testing and evaluation of zero emission and related technology for public transportation applications.
To participate in the free webinar, click here. Information about ZERO is available here.