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Entries in Transportation (4)

Thursday
Aug042011

FAA Shutdown: End In Sight For 13-Day Stalemate

FAA(WASHINGTON) -- After 13 days of political stalemate over funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, lawmakers announced Thursday a deal to end the shutdown that has sent more than 75,000 workers and contractors home without pay.

The Senate will pass the temporary FAA funding bill the House passed two weeks ago on Friday, officials said.

It is the same bill Senate Democrats objected to because it cut off subsidies to 13 rural airports. Once the deal is passed and signed, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will use his authority -- granted in the bill -- to issue a waiver allowing at least some of the subsidies to continue.

"I am pleased to announce that we have been able to broker a bipartisan compromise between the House and the Senate to put 75,000 transportation and construction workers back to work," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "This agreement does not resolve the important differences that still remain. But I believe we should keep Americans working while Congress settles its differences, and this agreement will do exactly that."

The FAA was partially shut down July 23 after House Republicans and Senate Democrats failed to reach an agreement to continue funding the agency. The Washington dispute has, in effect, laid off nearly 75,000 people who work for the agency or on an FAA-funded airport construction project.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec132010

Will GOP Revolt on High-Speed Rail Projects Derail Obama's Plan?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Many Americans soon could see European-style high-speed trains in their backyards, but a wave of Republican gubernatorial victories means the project -- once touted by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as a "game changer" -- faces many obstacles ahead.

Last week, the Department of Transportation yanked away nearly $1.2 billion in funds from Wisconsin and Ohio after incoming governors in both states said they would not continue the project, and distributed it to 13 other states where high-speed rail projects are moving forward as planned.

All eyes are now on Florida, where Gov.-elect Rick Scott threatened during his campaign to oppose any rail plan that would require subsidies after federal dollars ran out. But since winning office, the governor-to-be has been relatively mute on the subject. Florida received $342.3 million of the money that was redirected from Wisconsin and Ohio.

Proponents of the plan say high-speed railroads are needed to make the United States more competitive and to accelerate business and tourism.

Of the $787 billion in stimulus funds passed by Congress last year, $8 billion was allocated for high-speed rail and another $1 billion per year for five years had been requested in the federal budget to accelerate the program.

Opponents say at a time when the federal government has bigger fish to fry, how states tackle their local infrastructure should be left up to them, not the federal government.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov062010

High-Speed Rail Projects: Casualty of GOP Wave?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In the wake of Tuesday's election results, yet another one of the administration's flagship programs may now be in jeopardy. At least two newly elected Republican governors are taking aim at high speed rail projects in their states.

President Obama promised to develop America's first nationwide program of intercity high-speed passenger rail. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called the plan "a game changer" that "will help change our society for the better." The administration has already awarded $10.5 billion dollars in stimulus money to help pay for 54 rail projects in 23 states. $2.5 billion of that was doled out just last week.

But not everyone is eager to climb aboard. In Ohio, Governor-elect John Kasich has been quoted as saying, "Passenger rail is not in Ohio's future." Kasich minced no words in talking about the project. "That train is dead," he said.

In Wisconsin, the state department of transportation has now stopped all work on a high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee. In a memo to project contractors and consultants, the Wisconsin Transportation Secretary told them to stop work for a "few days." The memo indicated the temporary halt was "in light of the election results." The Governor-elect, Scott Walker, is no fan of the project and made a campaign promise to kill it.

Also in question is a high-speed rail line in Florida, designed to carry passengers at 168 miles an hour from Orlando to Tampa. The state has received $1.25 billion dollars in federal money for the project, but it could cost twice that much to complete. As a candidate, Republican Governor-elect Rick Scott questioned whether the rail line was a good deal for the state.

New York's Governor-elect, Andrew Cuomo, reassured the federal government that if other states didn't want their high-speed rail money, he would be thrilled to have it for projects in upstate New York.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct112010

Obama Pushes for Overhaul of 'Woefully Inefficient' Infrastructure

Photo Courtesy - The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Bringing together governors, mayors, and former transportation secretaries, President Obama said Monday that the country’s “short-sightedness has come due” on transportation infrastructure.

“It should not take another collapsing bridge or failing levee to shock us into action.  So we're already paying for our failure to act,” the president said from the Rose Garden Monday morning. "We can no longer afford to sit still.  What we need is a smart system of infrastructure equal to the needs of the 21st century.”

The president pushed for his $50 billion, six-year proposal on modernizing and rebuilding America’s roads, railways, and runways, originally proposed on Labor Day.  On Monday morning, the president convened a meeting with state and local officials and Cabinet officials to drum up support for the plan. 

“Investing in our infrastructure is something that members of both political parties have always supported.  It's something that groups ranging from the Chamber of Commerce to the AFL-CIO support today.  And by making these investments across the country, we won't just make our economy run better over the long haul; we will create good, middle-class jobs right now.”

Joining the president on stage Monday was Sam Skinner, who served under President George H.W. Bush, and Norman Mineta, who served in the cabinets of both President Clinton and President W. Bush.  Both men have been leading a bipartisan group of more than 80 experts who last week released a call to action demanding an overhaul of how America approaches funding and building infrastructure.  The administration has matched that report with one of their own from the Treasury Department and the Council of Economic Advisers.

“The reports confirm what any American can already tell you:  Our infrastructure is woefully inefficient and it is outdated,” the president said. “There’s no reason why we can't do this.  There's no reason why the world's best infrastructure should lie beyond our borders.  This is America.  We've always had the best infrastructure.  This is -- this is work that needs to be done.  There are workers who are ready to do it.  All we need is the political will.  And this is the season for choices, and this is the choice.”

Following the president’s meeting and remarks, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell touted that the $50 billion investment is the “single-best job creator we can do in this country.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio