Transportation Thursdays

CONGRESS BRIEF
Congress is in Session

Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Leadership Requests Updates on Grade Crossing Data
After the fatal 2015 Metrolink train derailment in Oxnard, California, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent letters to 14 companies detailing their recommendation that highway-railroad at-grade crossing geographic data be incorporated into their navigation services, applications and devices. Only two of original reports have been closed by NTSB. On September 19th, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Chair of the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) sent a letter to the remaining 12 companies seeking information on what steps they have taken to incorporate data into their navigation services, applications, and devices that can help prevent accidents at highway-railroad at-grade crossings. The recipients include: Apple; Google; HERE; INRIX; MapQuest; Microsoft; Omnitracs; OpenStreetMap; Sensys Networks; StreetLight Data; Teletrac Navman; and United Parcel Service. Properly implementing the NTSB’s recommendation would have noticeable positive impacts on safety.

ADMINISTRATION

California Sues U.S. to Regain Authority Over Auto Emissions
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Governor Gavin Newsom filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration’s decision to strip California of its power to set limits on auto emissions of greenhouse gases that are stricter than those of the national government and encourage more electric-vehicle use. A coalition of 22 other states joined the suit. California contends that the Trump administration has exceeded the authority Congress granted to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The state says the administration is ignoring repeated efforts by federal lawmakers to preserve California’s power to improve its air quality by regulating automobile tailpipe emissions. The lawsuit is the 60th filed against the Trump administration by the state of California, according to its attorney general. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao is the lead defendant, along with the DOT, the NHTSA, and its acting administrator, James Owens. A spokesman said the department doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
 
FTA Announces $75 Million for Tempe Streetcar Project
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced a $75 million grant to Valley Metro for the Tempe Streetcar project in Tempe, Arizona. The transit infrastructure project (TIP) will improve mobility and transit service through the historic downtown Tempe area, the city’s governmental and financial center, linking riders to Arizona State University and Valley Metro’s existing light rail system. Support for the Tempe Streetcar project is provided through FTA’s Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program, which provides funding for major transit infrastructure projects nationwide. The Tempe Streetcar is a three-mile streetcar with 14 stations and six vehicles that will connect downtown Tempe, Arizona State University, and the emerging employment corridor of Rio Salado Parkway, which connects existing light rail serving Phoenix, Mesa, and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The total project cost is $192.4 million, including a request of $75 million in federal transit infrastructure grants.

REGIONS
Private Equity Firm Fortress Wants to Build a Train to Las Vegas
Virgin Trains USA is currently the United States’ only privately owned and operated intercity passenger railroad with one rail service between Miami and West Palm Beach. A partnership between Virgin Trains USA and Fortress Investment Group now wants to open a rail line in Las Vegas. A California state agency in September approved the first step in Virgin Trains’ plans to sell as much as $4.2 billion in tax-exempt debt for the $4.8 billion project. The company says construction of the 170-mile line, mainly along the median of Interstate 15, will take three years, and will start in 2023. That would make speedy rail a reality in California, where a voter-approved bullet train between San Francisco and Los Angeles has been beset with delays and cost overruns over the past decade. In pitches to California and Nevada officials, the company has mentioned eventually creating a connection to Los Angeles, but hasn’t offered a timetable for that.
JOBS
View full list of jobs!

Energy & Environment Program Specialist
Posted 9/24/2019
Triangle J Council of Governments, Durham, NC

Fiscal Assistant
Posted 9/24/2019
Triangle J Council of Governments, Durham, NC

Assistant/Associate Data Analyst
Posted 9/19/2019
Puget Sound Regional Council, Seattle, WA

Assistant Planner
Posted 9/19/2019
Puget Sound Regional Council, Seattle, WA

Data and Planning Intern
Posted 9/19/2019
Puget Sound Regional Council, Seattle, WA

OPPORTUNITIES
View full list opportunities!

TMIP Reports on Big Data Are Now Online
Information on GPS, Mobile Phone Data for Origin-Destination Analysis, and data from Emerging Technologies for Transportation Applications: Puget Sound Region Case Study are now available on TMIP’s website through the FHWA.

FTA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Project Management Oversight Rule
Thursday, October 3, 1:30 PM ET
FTA will conduct a webinar on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Project Management Oversight (PMO) rule.  The rule would redefine a “major capital project” as a new rail transit or bus rapid transit project — or an extension, rehabilitation or modernization of an existing transit system — with a total project cost of $300 million or more and with a federal investment of $100 million or more. The previous threshold defined a major capital project as a project costing $100 million or more but did not include federal support as a factor.

Regional Planning and Health: How MPOs Are Using Regional Transportation Planning to Advance Health
Wednesday, October 9, 2:00 PM ET
Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are some of the most influential agencies that most people have never heard of. In this free webinar, the first of two on MPOs and health, we will provide an overview of MPO long-range regional transportation planning and how MPOs can include health in these processes.

Transportation Planning Innovations and Health: How MPOs Are Combining Core Skills and Creativity to Advance Health
Thursday, October 17, 2019 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM ET
In this free webinar, the second of two on MPOs and health, we will provide an overview of a range of creative and inspiring approaches that MPOs are taking to benefit healthy and thriving neighborhoods. MPOs across the country are engaging in an array of activities that promote health and support communities.

FHWA New Webinar Series: Sustainable Pavement Systems
Thursday, October 17, 2:30 PM ET
The FHWA launched the Sustainable Pavements Program in 2010 to advance the knowledge and practice of sustainability related to pavements. The overall objective of the program is to increase the awareness, visibility, and the body of knowledge of sustainability considerations in all stages of the pavement life cycle. This is a 10-part free webinar series which also offers professional development credit hours. 

America Walks Webinar Series: October Free Webinar on The Walkable Campus: Mobility Options for Higher Ed
Tuesday, October 9, 2:00 PM ET
The Walkable Campus: Mobility Options for Higher Ed
 webinar will explore examples of how universities and colleges are promoting walkability and movability in their communities. College and university campuses are thought of as microcosms of society, and, like their larger counterparts, they often have similar issues concerning walking and active transportation and provide valuable lessons for larger scale applications.

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Past Issues