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Road repair backlog threatens state transportation budgets

Washington, D.C. — As winter weather takes a brutal toll on roads across the country, drivers are not the only ones facing a bumpy ride from potholes and rough roads: State departments of transportation (DOTs) could feel a painful shock to their long-term finances unless state decision makers reexamine spending priorities. Repair Priorities 2014, a new report from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, looks at road conditions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as how state DOTs are investing in road repair versus expansion. Investing in repair, the report explains, can improve road conditions for drivers and the financial outlook of DOTs at the same time. 

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RTD FasTracks North Metro Rail set to break ground

 DENVER — The Regional Transportation District (RTD) will break ground on the North Metro Rail Line, a new commuter rail service that will improve transit options for Denver’s northern region and connect riders to existing transit services. In December, RTD awarded a contract to Regional Rail Partners (RRP) to design and build the first 12.5-mile phase of the line to 124th Avenue. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

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HNTB’s newest publication focuses on infrastructure delivery

Kansas City, Mo. — HNTB Corporation introduced a new publication, SOLVE, that is dedicated to thoughtfully exploring the delivery of America’s infrastructure. The first issue explores modern program management and how the transportation sector is using it to assess available funding, time and resources to successfully deliver large, highly complex programs and projects.

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Fitch: U.S. transportation trends demand new funding solutions

New York — Public transportation investment strategies will need to transform if trends toward increased multifamily housing, declines in driving, and increasing public transportation usage continue over the long run, Fitch Ratings says. Recent U.S. Census Bureau data showed a shift to more multifamily development in urban areas and that public transportation usage hit an all-time high. In Fitch’s view, the transportation needs of the next 50 years will be markedly different from those of the past 50 years. U.S. policymakers must begin adapting their current decisions to these future needs. If these trends persist and meaningful policy changes are not made, the risk to the public transportation system would have negative implications for the entire economy. 

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Public transit industry recommends six-year, $100.4 billion federal program

 Washington, D.C. — At its Legislative Conference, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released recommendations for authorization of the transportation bill that is set to expire at the end of September. The APTA plan calls on Congress to authorize a $100.4 billion federal transit program over six years, which would grow the current $10.7 billion annual program to $22.2 billion by 2020. In addition, it calls for a number of policy changes in the program that will ensure that the industry provides effective and efficient public transportation.

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Amtrak highlights 2014 infrastructure work

 Washington, D.C. — During 2014, Amtrak plans to move forward on key improvement projects, including continued installation of positive train control safety technology, the start of major construction to upgrade Northeast Corridor high-speed rail, and expansion of station accessibility for passengers with disabilities.

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Record 10.7 billion trips taken on U.S. public transportation in 2013

 Washington, D.C. — In 2013, Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation, which is the highest annual public transit ridership number in 57 years, according to a report released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This was the eighth year in a row that more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide. While vehicle miles traveled on roads (VMT) went up 0.3 percent, public transportation use in 2013 increased by 1.1 percent.

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WSDOT bridge engineers schedule a second March inspection of the Alaskan Way Viaduct

Seattle — Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) bridge engineers have scheduled an additional in-depth inspection of the State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct on Saturday, March 22. During the viaduct’s most recent inspection, WSDOT bridge crews observed new cracks, as well as movement and widening of existing cracks, along girders and supports near Spring and Seneca streets. While the viaduct remains safe for travel, WSDOT bridge engineers need a second inspection to gather more information about the cracks before they can make repairs. 

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