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Lawmaker: Finding bipartisan funding for surface infrastructure a ‘challenge’



Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton said finding a bipartisan solution to finding surface transportation remains a major challenge. Norton, a fan of the Washington Capitals National Hockey League champions, is shown with the Stanley Cup when the Capitals visited her Washington office. (Courtesy: ELANOR HOLMES NORTON)

WASHINGTON — Finding a bipartisan solution to funding surface transportation and other infrastructure needs remains a major challenge in Congress, according to the chair and ranking member of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

Speaking during the “Transforming Transportation” roundtable sponsored by Axios and Uber, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and the at-large-representative for the District of Columbia, as well as the chair of the House Highways and Transit subcommittee, said “money is the long and short of it. I would say that while our committee is the most bipartisan in Congress, the big divide is how we pay for transportation.”

She added that “we are no further along on the discussion over money than we were four years ago” when Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or FAST Act, according to an article in the Journal of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

“The world of transportation has changed and the way we are supposed to pay for it is changing,” Holmes said.

Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., the subcommittee’s ranking member, agreed with Norton’s view, saying it is “difficult to raise the gas tax,” especially as more fuel-efficient cars and trucks along with wider use of electric vehicles is “decimating” the revenue stream feeding into the Highway Trust Fund.

Davis said during the event that he believes transportation funding needs to be viewed like a 401 (k) retirement account.

“We need multiple sources of revenues feeding into the Highway Trust Fund, not just the gas tax,” he said. “Relying on just the gas tax is like relying on just one stock to fund your entire 401 (k).”

Norton noted, however, that many states are boosting transportation funding on their own – including raising fuel taxes.

“That says to me [raising fuel taxes] is not a controversial issue,” she said. “Congress must have guts to do what it has to do or come up with a different system” to fund transportation needs.

Norton added that alternative funding methods, such as a vehicle miles traveled or VMT fee, are only being adopted slowly.

“Even that [the VMT fee] is controversial, in terms of how we measure it and whether it is an invasion of privacy,” she said. “There are states in the West trying it out – but that’s closest we’ve come to a new vision.”

In the end, Norton stressed that to improve transportation, “it is going to cost us one way or another. We either pay for it or be stuck in the Eisenhower era of transportation and infrastructure.”  8




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The Nation

Big rig loaded with mail crashes in Little Rock; tractor ends up on guard rail



Part of a tractor hangs over the Interstate 440 railing after the driver couldn’t decide which ramp to take and crashed. (Courtesy: ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The old saying about those who deliver the mail goes something like this: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

But Sunday some indecision did.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation posted on its social media site that the driver of a tractor-trailer carrying a load of mail couldn’t decide which ramp to take off Interstate 440 Terminal Interchange with Interstate 30 and ended up striking the guard rail.

The tractor separated from the trailer and wound up hanging partially over the bridge railing.

Officials said one of the tractor’s fuel tanks became dislodged and fell onto Interstate 30 below causing an explosion and fire.

The driver was taken to a hospital, but her condition is unknown.

Traffic was delayed on both I-30 and I-440 which is the main thoroughfare between Little Rock and the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.



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The Nation

Colorado DOT kicks off project to install media cable barriers on I-25



DENVER — The Colorado Department of Transportation kicked off a seven-month project in June that aims to install new median cable barriers along Interstate 25 between Pueblo and Colorado Springs as a safety measure to prevent median crossover crashes.

According to an article in the Journal of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Colorado agency noted in a June 14 statement that it is using a “multi-phased approach” based on vehicle crash history and traffic volumes to specifically locate the new cable median barriers – part of its Whole System – Whole Safety initiative that takes a systematic approach to safety that includes driving behaviors, the built environment, and operations.

“Improving the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving safety conditions for travelers is our main goal,” Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado DOT, said in a statement. “The statewide program’s whole system approach is unique in how it brings together all areas of the driving experience, resulting in improved and enhanced safety for motorists.”

The $3.5 million project – expected to be completed by December – will remove any existing barrier structures and replace it with media cable barrier along with “added offset” from the travel lane and flattened median side slopes.

That will continue to eliminate vehicle cross-over crashes, the agency noted, while additionally reducing nuisance hits as the northbound cable barrier can be removed. The net effect will allow better maintenance access, reduced maintenance costs, better traffic flow, and further enhancing safety, Colorado DOT said.

A 68-page study wrapped up last year by the Center for Transportation Research and Education at Iowa State University determined that cable median barriers “significantly” reduce motor vehicle crash fatalities and injuries, though they do lead to an increase in “property-damage only” crashes, according to the collected data examined by the school’s researchers.

That study found that out of the 6,718 median-related crashes it examined over a nine-year period stretching from 2007 to 2015, cable media barrier safety devices reduced fatalities, incapacitating injuries, and non-incapacitating injuries by 68.7, 36.8, and 23.9 percent, respectively.



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The Nation

Love’s opens new facilities in Michigan, Illinois and Pennsylvania



The Hampshire, Illinois, location is located at 201 Love’s Crossing near Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 20. (Courtesy: LOVE’S TRAVEL STOPS)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Love’s Travel Stops is now serving customers in three new locations — Bridgeport Charter Township, Michigan; Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania; and Hampshire, Illinois.

The Bridgeport Charter Township location at 6560 Dixie Highway (near Interstate 75 and Exit 144) adds 80 new jobs to Saginaw County and 87 truck parking spaces.

The Slippery Rock stop off Exit 105 and I-79, brings 40 jobs and 48 truck parking spaces.

The third location in Hampshire at 201 Love’s Crossing (near Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 20), has 177 truck parking spaces and brings 80 jobs.

In total, Love’s is adding 312 truck parking spaces for professional drivers.

“These three locations place us in the perfect spots to serve more customers,” said Tom Love, executive chairman and founder of Love’s. “All are along major interstates that are popular for trade routes and leisure travel. We’re proud to add truck parking in areas where our customers need it.”

The travel stops are open 24/7 and offer many amenities.

Bridgeport, Michigan

More than 12,000 square feet of space, Hardee’s restaurant, 87 truck parking spaces, 87 car parking spaces, eight diesel bays, Speedco location on-site, four RV parking spaces, eight showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.

Hampshire, Illinois

More than 10,000 square feet of space, Arby’s restaurant, 177 truck parking spaces, 53 car parking spaces, nine diesel bays, Speedco location on-site, three RV parking spaces, seven showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.

Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania

More than 10,000 square feet of space, Subway restaurant, 48 truck parking spaces, 60 car parking spaces, seven diesel bays, Love’s Truck Tire Care center, two RV parking spaces, six showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.

In honor of the grand opening, Love’s will host ribbon cuttings and donate $2,000 to the Bridgeport Historical Society, Northern Butler County Feed My Sheep Food Cupboard in Slippery Rock and Hampshire High School.





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