Transportation Thursdays

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DIRECTOR’SBRIEF

Colleagues,

It is hard to believe the year went by so quickly, but this will indeed be the last Transportation Thursdays of the year. We won’t be sending the publication for the next two weeks, but we’ll return on January 8, 2015. The new year will bring coverage of the new Congress, several reauthorizations (rail, surface transportation, and aviation) and the expiration of the highway trust fund in May. And there are always bound to be a few surprises!

On a separate note, are you attending the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Conference in Washington, D.C. this January? If so, please email me at erich@narc.org. I’d love to find some time to meet, if your schedule allows.

A very Happy New Year to you and yours!

Best,

Erich W. Zimmermann

LEGISLATIVEBRIEF

Members Urge Long-Term Highway Bill: Reps. Reid Ribble (R-WI), Tom Reed (R-NY), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) sent a letter to Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner (R-OH) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urging passage of a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill. The current highway bill extension expires on May 31, 2015, and the letter expresses the need to end the cycle of short-term extensions that “kick the can down the road by doing the work needed to pass a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill.” Nearly 80 members have signed the letter in addition to dozens of industry and advocacy groups. The letter asks Congress to agree on a reliable funding mechanism that would give states and local governments the certainty that federal infrastructure dollars will continue to flow.Congress Adjourns for the Session: After finalizing a massive omnibus appropriations bill to fund most of the government through the end of the fiscal year, the Senate passed a package of tax extenders and confirmed a number of Obama nominees, including the Director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. By a 76-16 vote, the bill would extend roughly fifty tax breaks through the end of 2014. One break grants temporary parity in the tax treatment of parking and transit benefits. The bill also includes a nine cent tax increase on diesel fuel that barge operators pay. This increase is expected to generate $260 million over 10 years for the Waterways Trust Fund. With those actions, this Congress adjourned for the session. The 114th Congress will be confirmed in early January.

REGIONALBRIEF

Virginia DOT Shows What Visual Data Can Do: An award-winning prototype from a team at the Virginia Department of Transportation shows how emerging tools are bringing data closer to the people who need it. In October, Virginia DOT won a competition for its data visualization project called TechCenter Virginia.  This project was launched as a public-facing prototype demonstrating one way the state can turn open data into something useful and accessible. Click HERE for additional information.

OPPORTUNITYBRIEF

Click HERE to view the list of grants and events still open!

REPORT: The Innovative MPO: A new report from Transportation for America highlights MPO successes from around the country. This new handbook is designed to give MPO staff, policymakers, technical and advisory committees innovative ways to achieve goals on behalf of their communities. Click HERE for the full report.

CONFERENCE: NARC’s 2015 National Conference of Regions
February 8-10, 2015 – Washington, DC
Registration is open for the National Conference of Regions. This conference is a forum for locally-elected officials and their Regional Councils to explore federal policy issues, and discuss NARC’s legislative priorities for the 114th Congress. Click HERE for the draft agenda and conference webpage.

 

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