Infrastructure

More on PPPs and Road Financing

PA Turnpike tilt-shift

Yesterday we talked about Britain's proposed privatization of their transport infrastructre and made an error when we said the Pennsylvania Turnpike was leased to a private company. In 2007 bidding was opened on the Turnpike and in 2008 the highest bid was received from Spanish firm Abertis Infraestructuras, but ultimately the plan failed. Currently the Turnpike is managed by a state-operated commision that "receives no state or federal taxes to operate and maintain its toll road system." The Pew report, Driven by Dollars, outlines several of the problems that were a part of the leasing proposal and calls for a more open process and transparency.

As funding sources dry up, such as the transportation bill now stuck in gridlock on Capitol Hill or depleted state budgets, transportation agencies will have to come up with new methods of financing which has an increasing interest on private money. The 2011 book Road to Renewal examines private investment in transportation projects from around the world, outlining what works and what doesnt for PPPs as well as how to protect public interests. Louise Nelson Dyble has a recently published article "Tolls and Control: The Chicago Skyway and the Pennsylvania Turnpike" which compares the two plans and raises questions about impact on future transportation planning policy.

 

 

Privatizing Infrastructure: Leasing Toll Roads

M6 J7 Fireworks

This week Britian's Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech on infrastructure. He touched upon many different industries and modes, but this is what he said about highways:

Now, road tolling is one option, but we are only considering this for new, not existing capacity.  For example, we’re looking at how improvements to the A14 could be part-funded through tolling.  But we now need to be more ambitious.  We should be asking ourselves, ‘Why is it that other infrastructure’ — for example, water — ‘is funded by private sector capital through privately owned, independently regulated utilities, but roads in Britain still call on the public finances for funding?’ We need to look urgently at the options for getting large-scale private investment into the national roads network; from sovereign wealth funds, from pension funds, from other investors.  That is why I’ve asked the Department for Transport and the Treasury to carry out a feasibility study of new ownership and financing models for the national roads system and to report progress to me in the autumn.  Let me be clear: this is not about mass tolling and, as I’ve said, we’re not tolling existing roads; it’s about getting more out of the money that motorists already pay.

People are already panicking about China owning the motorways, though the BBC does have a nice Q&A about public private partnerships and toll roads. There is also a focus on "shovel-ready" projects, which is apparently concept in the UK. The most famous example of a privitized toll road in Britian currently is the M6 north of Birmingham, which opened in 2003, was proposed by John Major when he was Prime Minister, and is regarded as a mixed success.

These sorts of public private partnerships (PPPs) are quite common in the US. Edit: There was an attempt to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike, but that failed with lots of lessons learned. The Pew Center on the States wrote an overview of what states and agencies should consider when entering these PPPs. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Special Wednesday Seminar - Hironori Kato on Impacts of Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Disaster on Port Activities

Earthquake and Tsunami damage-Sendai Port, Japan

This week’s special Wednesday TRANSOC Seminar has Dr. Hironori Kato, Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Tokyo, presenting “Impacts of Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Disaster on Port Activities in Japan and Maritime Transportation to and from Japan: Latest Report.”

The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011 stressed the importance of reconsidering catastrophic disaster and risk management in international transportation policies and markets. This presentation will examine the impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on port activities and maritime transportation in Japan, with emphasis on the effect of port traffic diversion as international vessels began avoiding areas of high radiation including ports in Tokyo/Yokohama and the Tohoku region. The process used by shipping companies to make these diversion decisions will be investigated, through a combination of literature review and interviews with port authorities and shippers. This presentation will also examine the reactions of port users to the high levels of radiation, as well as the countermeasures taken by port authorities to discourage traffic diversion.  Key lessons are drawn from Japan’s experiences for international transportation engineers, policy makers and business leaders.

The seminar will be held on March 14 from 3-4 p.m. in 544 Davis Hall.

Friday Seminar - Jeff Lidicker on Pavement Resurfacing Policy for Minimization of Life-cycle Costs and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Pot hole and dent - #71/365

Tomorrow's TRANSOC Friday Semiar has Ph.D. candidate Jeff Lidicker presenting, "Pavement Resurfacing Policy for Minimization of Life-cycle Costs and Greenhouse Gas Emissions."

In recent decades pavement management optimization has been designed with the objective of minimizing user and agency costs.  However, recent analyses indicate that pavement management decisions also have significant impacts on life-cycle GHG emissions.  This study endeavors to expand beyond minimization of life-cycle costs, to also include GHG emissions.  We extend previous work on the single-facility, continuous-state, continuous-time optimal pavement resurfacing problem, to solve the multi-criteria optimization problem with the two objectives of minimizing costs and GHG emissions. Results indicate that there is a tradeoff between costs and emissions when developing a pavement resurfacing policy, providing a range of GHG emissions reduction cost-effectiveness options.  Case studies for an arterial and a major highway are presented to highlight the contrast between policy decisions for various pavement and vehicle technologies.

The seminar will take place on December 9 at 4:00 PM in 212 O'Brien Hall. (That's a new location!) There won't be a Cookie Hour this week as well. We'll see you in the new year!

Congress set to kill off High Speed Rail funding

Trip to DC_June 2010_003_BWI

The U.S. Congress voted today on a new transportation bill. Included in the bill was language that killed funding for Obama's High Speed Rail program. From AP

The House voted Thursday to kill funds for President Barack Obama's signature high-speed rail program, but the initiative may have some life in it still.

Republican lawmakers are claiming credit for killing the program. But billions of dollars still in the pipeline will ensure work will continue on some projects. And it's still possible money from another transportation grant program can be steered to high-speed trains.

Obama had requested $8 billion in fiscal 2012 for the program and $53 billion over six years.

In light of exisiting questions regarding High Speed Rail in California, the future looks murky indeed. It will be an interesting ride. 

 

Bay Area Infrastructure Report Card: Do we pass?

yay for sunroofs

This week the ASCE's Report Card 2011: Bay Area Infrastructure was released. It's been six years since the last report card was issued, but as Infrastructure USA puts it, there's a lot to be concerned about:

Since the last update of the American Society of Civil Engineer (ASCE)’s Bay Area Infrastructure Report Card in 2005, we have seen several major infrastructure failures: the gas line explosion in San Bruno, California with major loss of life in 2010; wastewater discharges from Marin County into the San Francisco Bay; and a collapse of the Interstate Route 35 Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota with significant loss of life in 2007. All of these are classic examples of aging infrastructure allowed to perform without sufficiently funded monitoring, rehabilitation, and replacement programs. The 2011 Bay Area Infrastructure Report Card for the San Francisco ASCE Section aims at bringing awareness to, and quantifying the need for, funding to upgrade our area’s essential infrastructure to acceptable levels.

The ASCE San Francisco Section’s Infrastructure Report Card Committee’s reevaluation of the various infrastructure categories in 2011 resulted in an overall grade of “C”, with some of the categories being as desperately low as a “D+”. The Committee has determined that in order to bring all categories up to a grade of “B”, which was deemed the minimum acceptable level, we will need additional annual funding of $2.83 billion.

Of course, given the current economy and the state of the California budget, these improvements might be a long way off. Hopefully there won't be any more disasters in mean time. 

The Cost of Our Deteriorating Transportation Infrastructure

A new report released by the American Society of Civil Engineers looks not only at the poor state of the United States' surface transportation infrastructure, but also at the effects of this disrepair on the American economy as a whole. It highlights these costs on the economic well being of both businesses and households, and looks at the implications of letting recent patterns in infrastructure investment continue:

In 2040, America’s projected infrastructure deficiencies in a trends extended scenario are expected to cost the national economy more than 400,000 jobs. Approximately 1.3 million more jobs could exist in key knowledge-based and technology-related economic sectors if sufficient transportation infrastructure were maintained. These losses are balanced against almost 900,000 additional jobs projected in traditionally lower-paying service sectors of the economy that would benefit by deficient transportation (such as auto repair services) or by declining productivity in domestic service related sectors (such as truck driving and retail trade).

If present trends continue, by 2020 the annual costs imposed on the U.S. economy by deteriorating infrastructure will increase by 82% to  $210 billion, and by 2040 the costs will have increased by 351% to $520 billion (with cumulative costs mounting to $912 billion and $2.9 trillion by 2020 and 2040, respectively).

This is the first of four projected reports, with future volumes to examine water, wastewater, energy, and airport and marine port infrastructure.

Carmageddon's come and gone

 405 closure from Sunset Bridge

Carmageddon was a success! The Caltrans project to replace the Mulholland Drive bridge which closed the stretch of Interstate 405 between the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles went more smoothly than expected. Check out this time lapse video of the construction.  Part of that success was a result of the PR campaign by LA Metro and Caltrans. It was also a hot topic on Twitter. They reopened 405 early, which could mean incentive pay for the contractor

 

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