• Brian Kelly named Secretary of new Transportation Agency

    June 27, 2013

    Brian Kelly will head the newly reconfigured California Transportation Agency, which is part of the governor’s reorganization plan to reduce the number of state agencies, departments and entities.  The Transportation Agency will align all of the state’s transportation entities, which have been scattered throughout different agencies.

    Kelly has been acting secretary at the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency since 2012, where previously he was undersecretary.  The reorganization plan, which Transportation California shared with you last year, establishes the California Transportation Agency as a single-focus cabinet office emphasizing transportation policy.

    “This plan groups transportation departments and commissions and gives transportation a focused voice in the governor’s cabinet,” said Transportation California’s Executive Director, Will Kempton.

    “Transportation California commends the Governor for his appointment of Brian Kelly as the new Secretary of Transportation,” Kempton said.  “As acting Secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, Mr. Kelly has clearly demonstrated his competence and integrity and he will serve the people of California well in his new role.”

    The new California Transportation Agency will include the following departments and offices.
    – Department of Transportation
    – Department of Motor Vehicles
    – California Highway Patrol
    – Board of Pilot Commissioners
    – Office of Traffic Safety
    – High Speed Rail Authority
    – California Transportation Commission (CTC)

    More information on Kelly’s background and appointment can be found in news on the governor’s website here.

    A summary of the governor’s reorganization plan is here.
  • Brian Kelly named Secretary of new Transportation Agency

    June 26, 2013

    Brian Kelly will head the newly reconfigured California Transportation Agency, which is part of the governor’s reorganization plan to reduce the number of state agencies, departments and entities.  The Transportation Agency will align all of the state’s transportation entities, which have been scattered throughout different agencies.

    Kelly has been acting secretary at the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency since 2012, where previously he was undersecretary.  The reorganization plan, which Transportation California shared with you last year, establishes the California Transportation Agency as a single-focus cabinet office emphasizing transportation policy.

    “This plan groups transportation departments and commissions and gives transportation a focused voice in the governor’s cabinet,” said Transportation California’s Executive Director, Will Kempton.

    “Transportation California commends the Governor for his appointment of Brian Kelly as the new Secretary of Transportation,” Kempton said.  “As acting Secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, Mr. Kelly has clearly demonstrated his competence and integrity and he will serve the people of California well in his new role.”

    The new California Transportation Agency will include the following departments and offices.
    – Department of Transportation
    – Department of Motor Vehicles
    – California Highway Patrol
    – Board of Pilot Commissioners
    – Office of Traffic Safety
    – High Speed Rail Authority
    – California Transportation Commission (CTC)

    More information on Kelly’s background and appointment can be found in news on the governor’s website here.

    A summary of the governor’s reorganization plan is here.
  • House GOP and House Dems are miles apart on draft highway bills

    June 24, 2013

    Draft transportation bills are $10 billion apart; continuing resolution likely.

    The House and Senate are taking drastically different paths on a DOT funding bill, raising the possibility of yet another continuing resolution that does little to change the agency’s spending levels. This week Appropriators in both chambers will mark up their respective THUD bills – which are $10 billion apart. The Senate’s allocation to the panel, approved Thursday, is $54 billion – $2.3 billion more than the current fiscal year. The House Appropriations Committee unveiled a $44 billion budget for the departments of Transportation (DOT) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The amount for the agencies in the 2014 fiscal year is $7.7 billion less than their 2013 spending levels. The House is proceeding with 2014 bills that cut below the sequester for domestic programs and which increase spending for defense.

    Read more here and here.

     

  • Reason takes on PIRG study on driving trends

    June 17, 2013

    Millennials are driving less because they’re unemployed, living at home.

    Robert Poole, for the Reason Foundation, writes:  Public Interest Research Group made a big splash last month with a report that says the key to recent decreases in VMT and VMT per capita is changes in preferences and behavior among young people (ages 16-24)—the so-called Millennial generation. The story line is that Millennials want to live downtown and walk, bike, or use transit. PIRG’s VMT projections through 2040 are drastically lower than anyone else’s. PIRG argues for shifting a lot more transportation dollars from highways to transit, bikeways, etc.

    Alan Pisarski points out that the recession has hit young people the hardest, citing a Pew Center study in 2010 that found 37% of young respondents either out of work or underemployed. He also cited figures from the National Highway Transportation Survey that annual miles driven per person differ dramatically by employment status. Derek Thompson (in The Atlantic) assembled an array of data on Millennials, showing, for example, that the number of people ages 15 to 34 living with their parents soared from 0.5 million in 2008 to nearly 2 million in 2011. Fewer young people are getting married, having children, and buying homes—which has led to what Thompson describes as “stagnation” in household formation since 2007. As the economy recovers, all those trends are likely to reverse. . . .

    Poole asks: So what can we make of all this? VMT per capita cannot go on rising indefinitely. The major increases since World War II have come about via the entry of most of the female population into the workforce, along with rising prosperity that has enabled large fractions of lower-income people to afford cars. Pisarski and others predict that future growth in overall VMT will be driven primarily by population growth rather than increased per-capita driving. But the just-so story about Millennials losing interest in driving appears to be mostly an artifact of the recession’s severe impact on younger people, not a fundamental change in their choices of where to live or how to travel.

    Read more of this story here.

  • No easy solution for infrastructure funding, panelists say

    June 10, 2013

    U.S. infrastructure is deteriorating faster than maintenance is being funded.  Highway expansion is not keeping up with traffic increases.  Many revenue options, based on fuel taxes and other sources, are being considered to solve the problem, but there is no consensus on a solution, the panelists said last week at the Great West Fleet Executive Conference in Las Vegas.

    Vehicle miles traveled are growing 10 times faster than lane miles, said Will Kempton, executive director of Transportation California. Consequently congestion problems are increasing along with maintenance problems. Because federal funding has been falling behind, many cities and states are taking more responsibility for their own transportation funding. About 10 states that hadn’t raise fuel taxes in a decade took action last year. Many local or state transportation projects now are being funded by new gas taxes, bonds, sales tax on gas, vehicle license fees, or other sources.

    Read more here.

  • Bay bridge problems delineated

    June 3, 2013

    From bolts to testing, problems on the Bay Bridge accumulate.

    According to the Sacramento Bee, among the outstanding issues are:

    • Broken anchor bolts: Bolts at the east pier of suspension span broke in March. The state Transportation Department selected a steel “saddle” retrofit to hold down seismic equipment that the bolts were meant to secure.
    • Bolts at east pier: Caltrans is conducting further tests to determine whether 192 other 3-inch diameter bolts, which secure seismic equipment, must be replaced.
    • Bolts that secure tower: The manufacturer mistakenly treated more than 400 giant anchor bolts with hydrochloric acid during their production, rendering them particularly vulnerable to breakage.
    • Bolts on suspension span: About 1,700 bolts are among those used despite violating specifications meant to prevent brittleness under stress.
    • Testing, construction lapses: Errors on the tower foundation, which suggest possibly weak concrete, are under review by an expert panel assembled by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office. The panel expects to release its report by June 30.
    • Defective tower welds: Caltrans has been assessing and repairing 33-foot-long welds at the tower base, essential for stability in a quake, for the past 10 months.
    • Corroded skyway tendons: Construction errors allowed thousands of steel tendons to corrode, leading to concerns among experts about the skyway viaduct’s durability in a large quake or during normal use. Caltrans has called the problem minor.

    Read more here.

  • Funding shortage leaves 'structurally deficient' bridges without repairs

    May 20, 2013

    Many of California’s bridges are hitting their design life limit.

    KTVU-Oakland reports that many of the thousands of aging bridges in California have been labeled as “structurally deficient,” but the available transportation dollars don’t always end up funding improvements and retrofitting on the spans that need the most help.

    “There are about 2,000 bridges that are labeled structurally deficient,” said Exponent Senior Managing Engineer Vijay Saraf. “A lot of our infrastructure was built in the ’40s and ’50s, so its life cycle is coming to an end,” explained Saraf.

    There are just over 24,000 California bridges that were built to last 50 years. The average age is 44 years old, but some are much older. With a multibillion dollar funding shortfall for bridge repairs or replacements, Caltrans gave KTVU only the most general sense of how it prioritizes the projects. But it appears that it’s the major projects that get priority and the dollars.

    Read more here.

  • Transit booster Foxx nominated for Secretary of Transportation

    May 13, 2013

    Charlotte, N.C. mayor Anthony Foxx was nominated as Transportation Secretary.

    If confirmed, Foxx would replace outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who announced his retirement earlier this year. LaHood said he would remain in office until the Senate confirms his successor.

    The Obama administration touted Foxx’s work on Charlotte’s Streetcar Project, efforts to boost the city’s freight transport industry, and expansions to Charlotte International Airport and a light rail system.

    “Foxx’s career as a public official, in a rapidly changing urban environment, has been marked by an ability to integrate local, state and federal resources to meet important transportation challenges – expertise he will bring to his critical interactions with leaders at the state and local level as Secretary of Transportation,” the White House said.

    Charlotte has won praise for constructing a light rail line that opened in 2007, and Foxx has vocally pushed for more public transit in the southeastern city.

    Read more here.

  • Obama nominates North Carolina's Anthony Foxx to lead U.S. DOT

    May 6, 2013

    Foxx steps into DOT as it implements cuts, juggles expectations.
    Next Steps: The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a confirmation hearing and later vote on the nomination. If then approved by the full Senate, Foxx would be sworn in and LaHood would exit. Read more here.

  • Poll: 62% of US motorists think government should increase spending on roads and bridges

    April 29, 2013

    Top issues are reliability and safety and cost of driving. Other major concerns expressed in the poll, conducted by AAA, were behavior of other drivers, safety/road accidents and fuel efficiency.

    A AAA spokesman said policymakers and transportation advocates are failing to connect with the public on the practical concerns that matter most to motorists and that motorists want to hear about how their elected officials can improve their daily commute by repairing the pothole down the street or the bumpy road around the corner.

    Read more of this article here.
    Click here to go to the AAA report.