• Bullet train draws more fire

    April 8, 2013

    Everyone has an opinion on California’s High-Speed Rail this week.  The High-Speed Rail Authority met in Fresno last week to discuss recommended routes. The authority also approved a proposal for an EIR of four proposed routes in the Chowchilla area.

    The Bakersfield Californian says of the controversial downtown stop: “We asked for it.”  Read more.

    The San Jose Mercury News calls out Gov. Brown:  “Here is a legacy to try on for size.”  Read more.

    The Sacramento Bee wonders if rail cynics would have nixed federal highways or intercontinental rail.  Read more.


  • GAO report: California high-speed rail estimates 'reasonable'

    April 1, 2013

    Ridership and revenue estimates sound reasonable to the federal GAO. Republicans in Congress have questioned estimates for the proposed railway, which has received more than $3 billion in funding from the Obama administration. They are gearing up to try to derail the project. Again. You can read more here and here.

    Meanwhile, in California, the HSR Authority filed a civil case against everyone on the planet. That’s not an April Fool’s joke. Read about that here.

  • U.S. infrastructure gets a D+ on annual report card

    March 25, 2013

    The nation’s roads get a D; bridges show some improvement.

    The state of American infrastructure has improved ever so slightly over the past four years – but it’s still failing, according to the new report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers. U.S. infrastructure got a D+ overall grade, up from a D when the last report card came out four years ago. The estimated investment needed by 2020: $3.6 trillion. But that’s for all infrastructure. America’s roads did even worse scored a D. Bridges got a C+ though.  And – surprise, California’s overall score is a C. We’re average!  You can read the report and California assessments here.

  • Ryan budget targets DOT, high-speed rail funding

    March 18, 2013

    Paul Ryan’s budget proposal slashes transportation funding and high-speed rail. Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, presented the budget as part of an effort to cut federal spending by $5.7 trillipn and balance the federal budget by the year 2023. “The mechanisms of federal highway and transit spending have become distorted, leading to imprudent, irresponsible, and often downright wasteful spending,” Ryan said. “Further . . . their capacity as job creators has been vastly oversold, as demonstrated by the extravagant but unfulfilled promises that accompanied the 2009 stimulus bill, particularly with regard to high-speed rail.”  Read more here.

  • Former Caltrans Director Will Kempton Named Executive Director of Transportation California

    March 15, 2013

    Transportation innovator and manager Will Kempton has been named executive director of the state’s leading transportation education and advocacy group, Transportation California. Kempton joins the nonprofit coalition March 18.

    Kempton, 2009-13 executive director of Orange County Transportation Authority and 2004-2009 director of Caltrans, has 40 years’ experience in transportation, public service and government affairs.

    “Will’s experience in infrastructure financing and project delivery is critical right now for transportation planning in the state,” said John Franich, chairman of Transportation California. “California’s aging infrastructure requires greater amounts of costly maintenance, and our recovering economy urgently needs more efficient, modern transportation infrastructure. We believe Will Kempton’s vision and collaborative style will help forge solutions to long-term funding and other transportation challenges.”

    Kempton has been credited with rebuilding Caltrans’ reputation through rapid project delivery, moving stimulus dollars into needed transportation projects and instilling a more businesslike approach at the state transportation planning agency.

    Kempton has moved between public and private posts throughout his varied career, which began at Caltrans in 1976. As chief of the Office of Revenue Management, Kempton oversaw California’s capital highway budget and later, as Assistant Director in charge of Legislative and Congressional Affairs, he secured passage of numerous pieces of legislation that benefited the state.

    In 1985 Kempton became executive director of the Santa Clara County Traffic Authority, managing its billion-dollar highway construction program, the first of its kind in the state. In 1992, Kempton became a partner of Smith, Kempton & Watts, a Sacramento advocacy firm, where he consulted in programs and policies to enhance effectiveness of public and private resources. In 2002, he became Assistant City Manager of the City of Folsom, and was recruited to head Caltrans in 2004.

    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appointed Kempton to head Caltrans, credited him with being an “incredible driving force” in the state’s efforts to rebuild its transportation infrastructure.

    “Throughout his career, Will has focused on meeting the public’s need for reliable transportation services and systems by emphasizing efficiency and best management practices,” Franich said. “We look forward to Will applying his energy and passion to create new transportation solutions that will benefit all Californians.”


  • California's crumbling streets will need billions to fix

    March 11, 2013

    Without repair, 25% of roads will fail in 10 years.  This is according to the League of California Cities, which says California roads are in “rapid decline” and that unless we come up with the cash to fix our streets, one out of four of the roads across California will be in “failed” condition within 10 years.  The assessment says it we’re under-funding our street maintenance and repair by more than $82 billion but that such an investment would protect $189 billion worth of taxpayer dollars underlying our roadway infrastructure. Read more in the LA Weekly here.

  • High-speed rail project will be under way this summer

    March 5, 2013

    Staffed up, HSR Authority expects to contract out by summer.  Questions remain about its legitimacy.  Read more about the preparations here, and more about the legal issue here.

  • Is Obama's warning about 'crumbling roads' overblown?

    February 25, 2013

    The Reason Foundation says conditions on state roads have improved. This contradicts the president’s state of the union comments that 70,000 bridges are structurally deficient and needing urgent upgrades. Read more here.

  • Obama touts Fix It First program in State of the Union

    February 18, 2013

    Proposes public-private partnerships for most urgent projects. Boehner says without identifying funding, it’s like playing Santa Claus. Read about Obama’s statement here. And read more about Boehner’s comments here.

    The House Transportation and Infrastructure committee got off to an interesting start as new Chairman Bill Shuster focused the first meeting on a discussion of the federal role in transportation funding and policy. Here is one story.  And here is another.


  • Transportation Congestion Cost Rises to $121 Billion Annually

    February 11, 2013

    Congestion costs you more, wastes more fuel. A new TTI study says 56 billion pounds of additional carbon dioxide were emitted because of traffic congestion in 2011, or 380 pounds per driver. About 2.9 billion gallons of fuel were wasted during that period, which TTI compares to filling the New Orleans Superdome four times. Read more here.