Make this page on TTNews.com your one-stop shop for all things infrastructure May 16-20. We’ll be offering same-day coverage of events taking place in Washington, D.C., as business, labor and policymakers come together in a series of events designed to elevate infrastructure as a critical issue impacting all Americans.
Jeff Davis, senior fellow at the Eno Center for Transportation, stopped by our Transport Topics studios to talk with TT's Eugene Mulero about the in-flux status of transportation funding, how the FAST Act is being received and more. Watch the video below.
The happiest week of the year for infrastructure nerds is finally here. The Bipartisan Policy Center is releasing a report on dynamic funding alternatives for large-scale projects, Eno and AASHTO are teaming up for a discussion on smart transportation options and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers and the American Society of Civil Engineers are hosting panels on Capitol Hill. Members of Congress find common ground on the significance of having sound infrastructure, but there's less hope for unity among Republicans and the transportation community over raising federal taxes on fuel. The GOP’s top guard, led by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), staunchly opposes the tax increase that would help offset the vast needs in infrastructure repairs. The Eisenhower-era highway system has been neglected, and the unreliable funding stream for repairs will make a full-scale rehabilitation more expensive down the line. That was the assessment of a recent ASCE report. The group and myriad stakeholders have called on Congress to raise the tax. Congress did no such thing when it advanced the five-year FAST Act highway law in December. One of the few lawmakers receptive to the groups who pushed for an increase on fuel taxes is Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a senior member of the Environment and Public Works panel. To help us frame the week ahead, we chatted with Carper about fuel taxes, the FAST Act and the meaning of Infrastructure Week. Here's some of what he said:
FAST ACT: “Sometimes it makes for us to sleep in the bed we have made. The bed that we have made is one in which once again failed to provide the kinds of revenue that are needed to meet the great need across the country.”
CONGRESS: “I think my colleagues, most of them failed to show the kind of political courage that was needed to do the right thing. That we need to hear from our states and local governments and key stakeholders that, you know, ‘you didn't do your job and we need for you to do your job.’ ”
THE PLEDGE: “We have gotten to a point where we’re unwilling to pay for things; unwilling or unable to pay for things. Republicans are fearful of voting for even a user fee that improves transportation because it somehow violates a pledge they have made, which I don’t fully understand or appreciate.”
INFRASTRUCTURE WEEK: “When I think of Infrastructure Week, I don’t think just of roads, highways and bridges. I think of it more broadly. It all focuses on how to create a more nurturing environment.”
AND: “I think every week should be Infrastructure Week.”
THE INFRASTRUCTURE WEEK AHEAD (all times EDT):
May 16, 8 a.m.: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosts a kickoff event. (Coverage: FedEx calls for approval of 33-foot twin trailers.) Watch a replay below.
May 16, 1 p.m.: Bipartisan Policy Center hosts a panel featuring former Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on funding alternatives for infrastructure projects. (Coverage: Panel calls for P3 infrastructure investment.)
May 16, 2:45 p.m.: The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the Eno Center for Transportation co-host a panel on emerging technology in transportation infrastructure. (Coverage: Range of options for funding, says Rep. Sam Graves.)
May 17, 12 p.m.: The Association of Equipment Manufacturers will host a discussion on the future of infrastructure with Reps. Garrett Graves (R-La.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). Amanda Engstrom Eversole, president of the Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation, and Derek Woodgate, futurist and CEO of The Futures Lab, also will participate. (Coverage: Right investments boost economy, says Rep. Garret Graves.)
May 17, 2 p.m.: A presidential transition update with a regulatory emphasis will be hosted by the National Academy of Public Administration.
May 18, 8 a.m.: Supply Chain Summit hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Coverage: Political climate said to be threat to global supply chain.)
May 18, 12:30 p.m.: The American Society of Civil Engineers hosts a discussion on its recent infrastructure investment gap report. The event will feature Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Reps. Garret Graves (R-La.) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.). Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell also will attend.
May 19, 8 a.m.: Council of State Governments roundtable.
May 19, 9 a.m.: Faster Infrastructure Approvals hosted by Covington & Burling.