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Your Weekly Planning Updates

In Auto Industry Home, Michigan Tries to Accommodate Bikes

  • In the capital of the U.S. auto industry, drivers have been slow to accept that more Americans are choosing bicycles over cars for commuting or for fun and exercise. While other states adopted bike-friendly safety laws to accommodate cycling’s soaring popularity, Michigan steered clear of the trend and watched as more riders got killed by cars. Now lawmakers are trying to make up for lost time by seeking some of the nation’s strictest bike-safety regulations and tough new penalties for distracted motorists who cause serious injury or death while using a mobile device.

Mississippi Lawmakers Seek to End Road Money Stalemate

  • Mississippi lawmakers deadlocked in 2017 over efforts to increase spending on roads and bridges, and with the 2018 Legislature opening Tuesday, it’s not clear that anything has changed. Many leaders say they’d like to spend more on transportation infrastructure, but support for an outright tax increase is somewhere between weak and nonexistent.

Report: Indiana Could Generate Up to $53 Billion with Additional Tolling

  • Currently, for those who live in La Porte County and wish to travel to Chicago, there are three primary options. One could take the South Shore Line train, travel via the Indiana Toll Road or travel for “free” via I-94. Earlier this year, the Indiana Department of Transportation announced plans to explore the possibility of adding new tolling throughout the state, including in corridors that pass through La Porte County and Northwest Indiana – most notably in this area, that includes I-94.

South Dakota DOT Says More Roundabouts Coming in 2018 to Improve Highway Safety

  • Three years ago, the South Dakota Transportation Commission decided against using roundabouts at the Brookings interchanges between the business route of U.S. Highway 14 and Interstate 29. Among the reasons were complaints that long semitrailers and large farm equipment might have trouble getting around the no-stop circles. Even so, state Department of Transportation officials kept on planning roundabouts at other spots. Now they plan to construct several roundabouts in 2018.

PLANNING

New Planner Comes to Teton County, Wyoming

  • When Tom Newland was working to build a new bridge in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, his planning team looked at 18 designs. The one ultimately chosen was suggested by a citizen at a public meeting. “It’s really important to get out and see what the public thinks,” Newland said. “Not just about the impacts, but about what kind of solutions we can bring.” Newland aims to bring that same perspective to Teton County when he starts this week as its newly hired Integrated Transportation Plan coordinator.

MPOs

Atlanta Regional Commission Plans Call for Sunday Bus Service, Additional Transportation Funding

  • The Atlanta Regional Commission is eliciting feedback for a new plan that could mean more funding for Cobb transportation projects and may even lead to Sunday bus service. Among proposed updates to the ARC’s Transportation Improvement Program are the expansion of metro Atlanta transit services, improved roads and intersections and miles of multi-use trails. And if all goes according to plan, Cobb residents who rely on the county’s transit system to get around may soon be riding CobbLinc buses on Sundays.

ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION

DC Bicycle Beltway Expected to Get Regional Endorsement

  • A new bicycle beltway is set to be endorsed by the region’s Transportation Planning Board in January. The full Outer Loop would be 45 miles long. The beltway would also have additional connections in the middle, through the heart of downtown D.C. along the National Mall, that would bring the total marked trail to about 60 miles long. The National Park Service’s plans call for these trails to be branded as the “National Capital Trail.”

Electric Bike Crackdown in New York City Spurs Delivery Workers’ Concerns

  • Cheap, electric bicycles have made life a lot easier for New York City’s legions of restaurant delivery workers, but the party may be over in the New Year. City officials are promising a crackdown on e-bikes, which may be loved by environmentalists and the largely poor, immigrant workforce that relies on them, but are loathed by many drivers and pedestrians who think they are a menace.

FREIGHT

Trucking Firms Offer Up to $8,000 for Drivers to Ease Shortage

  • Towing a tanker full of milk from Florida, professional driver Joe Woodson pulls off for eggs and coffee at a massive Pilot Flying J truck stop in West Memphis. Among the heavy trucks refueling at the diesel pumps are some that show the new sign of the times: ads recruiting truck drivers. Woodson sees these ads regularly on passing trucks during his milk run to Little Rock. Posted on semi-trailers, the ads boast experienced heavy-truck drivers can land big bonuses, up to $8,000.

Supersized Container Ships Could Pose Threat to Expanded Panama Canal

  • A pair of shipping lines are bumping up the size of their existing container vessels in a move that – if it catches on – could hurt traffic at the expanded Panama Canal. According to maritime newsletter Alphaliner, Mediterranean Shipping Co. and CMA CGM lines are converting up to 21 of their “neo-Panamax” vessels capable of carrying 14,000 cargo boxes into supersized ships that can haul 17,000 containers.

RAIL

Feds Cast Doubt on Gateway Rail Tunnel Funding Plan

  • A plan to pay for an estimated $13 billion rail tunnel under the Hudson River raises serious concerns, including that it relies on a “non-existent” agreement that would have the federal government foot half the bill, an official at the nation’s federal transportation agency wrote Friday. In a letter to New York and New Jersey officials, K. Jane Williams, the deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, wrote that a recent funding proposal by the states for the first phase of the project, estimated at $11 billion, seeks a 50 percent federal investment that is “considerably higher than much existing precedent for past ‘mega projects,'” and would deplete the existing grant program.

ROADWAYS

San Francisco Considers Paid Express Lanes on Highways to Ease Traffic Congestion

  • San Francisco may see paid express lanes on its oft-clogged highways in an effort to combat traffic congestion. When the San Francisco County Transportation Authority staff gave its governing board a sneak peek at a study to create carpool lanes on Highway 101, as well as Interstate Highway 280, on Dec. 5, transportation staffers also revealed they are considering turning those carpool lanes into paid high-occupancy vehicle express lanes.

FUNDING

How GOP Tax Overhaul Makes It Harder to Pay for Infrastructure in US

  • President Donald Trump promised during the presidential campaign and after his election to lead an upgrade in our nation’s infrastructure, announcing in February 2017, for instance, that he would ask Congress to approve programs designed to stimulate $1 trillion in infrastructure investment across the country. At least up to this point, the President’s promises with respect to infrastructure remain unfulfilled. Furthermore, the recently passed tax bill that he signed last week may create some challenges for the municipal bond market and the infrastructure sector.

TRANSIT

Bus Ridership Is Tumbling in Charlotte, North Carolina. Can a New CATS Plan Bring People Back?

  • In three months, the Charlotte Area Transit System will open the light-rail extension to University City, a $1.1 billion project that will carry riders from one end of the city to the other. But as CATS prepares to celebrate, it’s struggling with a question that has befuddled cities nationwide: Where have all the bus riders gone? In the last three years, ridership on local buses – the largest and most important part of the CATS system – has declined by more than 15 percent. In the four first months of this fiscal year the downward trend has accelerated, with ridership down 9.1 percent compared with the same period a year earlier.

Connecticut to Give $5.4 Million to 10 Towns for Transit-Centered Development

  • The state will pump more than $5 million into projects in New Britain, Berlin and Windsor Locks as it tries to spur development along CTfastrak regional bus system and the soon-to-be-completed Hartford Line rail service. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced the grants Wednesday morning as part of a $15 million plan for encouraging so-called transit-oriented development of apartments, retailers and commercial businesses across the state.

OTHER

No More Commute: Some Tech Companies Ditch Corporate Campuses for Mixed-Use Developments

  • As 90-minute “megacommutes” become increasingly common in the Bay Area, to say that Boramee Seo has an enviable trek to work is a mega-understatement. While her peers are packed like sardines wearing business suits in crowded BART cars, or spend hours each day quietly fuming behind the wheel in stop-and-go traffic, Seo walks. Fifteen minutes after leaving her San Mateo apartment, Seo arrives at the new glass-walled headquarters of SurveyMonkey. “I’m so much happier,” said the 39-year-old, nine months after ditching her hour-plus BART commute and moving into the apartment a few blocks from her office. Seo’s quick commute soon may become a reality for more Bay Area workers, as some companies shift away from the iconic, stand-alone tech campuses that mark Silicon Valley and often are reached by lengthy car commutes.