In a small side room at Washington’s Union Station, this year’s Infrastructure Week kicked off with a keynote address from Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. She again pointed to the private sector and state and municipal officials as being the key drivers on infrastructure funding.
Before the secretary’s address, Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler had offered the infrastructure intelligentsia in attendance a different message.
“We need a partner that is actually making the hard decisions,” the mayor said May 14. “This can’t just be relying on local cities and states.”
The mayor’s view on infrastructure coincides with the findings of a recent analysis from the National League of Cities, which determined local officials are increasingly addressing and responding to constituents who are expressing concerns about their dilapidated surroundings and congestion.
According to the “State of the Cities 2018,” 56% of the state of the city speeches devoted significant time to infrastructure issues based on the 160 speeches reviewed since January. Roads and traffic signs, water, sewer, waste collection, public transit; pedestrian walkways, and, of course, funding were popular themes. Economic development, and budget and management also dominated the annual local addresses.
“The concept of city government is a great American experiment wisely built on a federal structure. For this structure to work best, we need to all work together; cities, state governments and federal government,” as the group put it. “We must all come together to govern. Economic development, public safety, infrastructure, and management are key issues that drive this nation’s agenda.”
The group’s report is a reminder that mayors continue to struggle to fund projects that rebuild their cities without a reliable partner in Washington. Municipal leaders look to President Donald Trump to follow through on his pledge to advance an infrastructure measure that helps to fund the modernization of the transportation grid.
When we last heard our Builder-in-Chief push an infrastructure agenda, his speech included kudos to comedian Roseanne Barr on her new show and an attack on congressional Democrats ahead of the midterms. Word from the White House that Trump’s infrastructure agendum is on hold until 2019 has not deterred the outgoing chairman of the transportation panel in the U.S. House, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.). The chairman said recently he intends to proceed with the consideration of an infrastructure measure this year. Legislation aimed at promoting commerce by enhancing connectivity along freight corridors sounds like something Shuster’s fellow Republicans would not find it difficult to support.
THE WEEK AHEAD: (all times EDT)
June 4-5: The Organization of American States gathers for its 48th meeting of the General Assembly.
June 4, 9 a.m.: The Energy Information Association hosts its 2018 Energy Conference. Speakers include Greg Armstrong, chairman of the National Petroleum Council, and John Kemp, senior market analyst for commodities and energy at Reuters News.
June 4, 10 a.m.: The Newseum rededicates the Journalists Memorial, and adds names of 18 men and women killed in 2017 while reporting.
June 5, 10 a.m.: The Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee marks up a fiscal 2019 transportation bill.
June 5, 8 a.m.: Thomson Reuters hosts its third annual “Government Conference,” focused on the challenge of navigating risk. Keynote speaker includes Derek Benner, acting executive associate director for Homeland Security Investigations at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
June 5, 10 a.m.: The Business Roundtable holds a conference call about its “2018 CEO Economic Outlook Survey.”
June 7, 10:30 a.m.: The Senate Appropriations Committee marks up a fiscal 2019 transportation bill.
June 7, 11 a.m.: The House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee meets on “Maritime Transportation in the Arctic: The U.S. Role.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
PAPER: C.R. England Inc. will raise the pay of its over-the-road drivers with an increase tallying about $11 million annually. The carrier said it is the largest driver compensation increase in the firm’s 98-year history and will impact about 60% of its drivers.
CONVEYANCE: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on May 31 issued new regulatory guidance to clarify the agency’s personal conveyance regulation, as well as the applicability of the agricultural commodity 150-air-miles hours-of-service exemption.
HOCKEY LAND: The Canadian office of Environment and Climate Change published a final rule on greenhouse gas regulations pertaining to heavy-duty trucks and engines in Part 2 of the Gazette on May 30.
ROAD TO NTDC:
From the state that gave us the Farrelly Brothers.
WHAT WE’RE READING:
Congressional tax writers are, thus far, not planning to include the Highway Trust Fund in their next reform package, people familiar with the discussions tell Transport Topics.
We look at the first 500 days as the president, I think the American people elected him in part because [of] the energy he would bring to office, and the huge task he had to turn this economy around, which he’s doing.
White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short on CNBC on June 4
Building bridges. Not walls.