TDA Newsletter  1/31/2020
House Democrats & GOP Put Forward Infrastructure Priorities

On January 29, Democrats in the House of Representatives released the outline for a five-year, $760 billion infrastructure package called " Moving Forward Framework ." Their vision document lays out policy principles and funding levels for multiple programs.

At the core of the proposal is a $489 billion, five-year surface transportation measure, which includes:
  • $319 billion for highway investments
  • $105 billion for public transportation improvements
  • $55 billion for rail investments
  • $10 billion for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration programs

The House plan would increase investment by $137 billion – a 48 percent increase above the 2015 FAST Act funding levels.  

The day before, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Highways and Transit Subcommittee Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) issued a press release with six principles for a new surface transportation authorization:
  • Addressing the long-term sustainability of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF)
  • Incorporating innovative developments in technology to improve our infrastructure
  • Streamlining the project delivery process to maximize available funding
  • Addressing the infrastructure needs of America's rural communities
  • Prioritizing core programs and functions of our existing federal surface transportation programs
  • Ensuring state flexibility

Both Democratic and Republican plans call for a fix to the HTF, but neither details how they propose to pay for it.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the highway portion of a new surface transportation bill last July. Whatever finally passes the Democrat-led House and Republican-led Senate will have to be reconciled in a conference committee.

The current surface transportation law, the FAST Act, expires on September 30, 2020.
2020 Fly-in, May 19-20

Join us in D.C. this spring. With reauthorization of the surface transportation programs, environmental reforms and streamlining, and more on the table, May will be the perfect time to educate the Wisconsin delegation about the needs back home.

Only with increased investment at all levels of government will Wisconsin begin to reverse the trend of deteriorating system conditions.

We are excited to have the Wisconsin Airport Management Association joining us for the Fly-in this year.

TDA again this year is holding most of the event on the Hill and just selecting a home base hotel area. Book any hotel that fits your needs. TDA staff will make sure to keep participants connected as we know networking and reconnecting with old friends is a significant part of the Fly-in.

Don't wait to make your plans! Pick your hotel to fit your budget. Read the materials and make your travel plans today. If you have your travel arrangements, you still need to register with TDA.

​​Click here for the event brochure or register online .
Wisconsin Transportation News
$75 Million Multimodal Local Supplement Program, $1.47 Billion in Reported Needs
Local government leaders earlier this month said the overwhelming popularity of a new Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) grant program points to a continued need to invest in Wisconsin infrastructure.

WisDOT received 1,596 eligible applications for the one-time $75 million Multimodal Local Supplement (MLS) grant program. The needs detailed in the applications total $1.47 billion.

"The new MLS grant program not only will help communities with projects all across the state, but it has also provided state officials with a clear, undeniable record of the unmet needs," said Mike Koles, executive director of the Wisconsin Towns Association.

The MLS grant program was included in the 2019-21 budget, and funds awarded may be used for multimodal transportation projects on the local system, including roads, bridges, transit capital and facility projects, bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, railroads, and harbors. The program pays up to 90% of total eligible costs with local governments providing a minimum of 10% cost share. 

Said Jerry Deschane, executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, "The needs are unquestionable, and while we realize this one-time grant program is not a long-term answer to more than a billion dollars of reported local community needs, it is a significant step in the right direction. We have to start chipping away at these lists of projects."

"This process truly demonstrates the significant needs of the local system," said Wisconsin DOT Secretary Craig Thompson. "It's pretty staggering when you see the actual number of projects and their dollar value."

The project selection process will be competitive, with a focus on measurable economic benefits. Stakeholders will provide input through three local government committees, which will meet to score project applications. WisDOT will announce MLS project awards in late February. More
State Unveils Plans to Modernize I-43
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation unveiled its plans to reconstruct I-43 between Silver Spring Drive and Highway 60 in Grafton at a couple of public involvement meetings in January.

Constructed in the 1950s and 1960s, I-43 connects manufacturers, merchants, commuters, and others in southeastern Wisconsin to surrounding areas, including Green Bay, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, and Chicago.

The I-43 Freeway is one of the busiest corridors in the states, and reconstruction will include adding capacity in both directions. In addition, the project will address safety issues related to design deficiencies in the more than 50-year-old roadway.

The project is expected to cost $550 million, with construction likely to begin in 2022 and wrap up by 2025. More
Transportation in the News
Other Transportation News
Trump Administration Announces Streamlining of Environmental Approval Process

On January 9, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at updating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The move is designed to incorporate a one-federal-decision approach to permitting.
Signed into law in 1970, NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts of proposed major federal actions as part of their decision making.

According to the CEQ press release, "Over time, implementation of NEPA has become increasingly complex and time consuming for Federal agencies, project applicants, and Americans seeking permits or approvals from the Federal government. CEQ has found that the average length of an environmental impact statement is over 600 pages, and that the average time for Federal agencies to complete such NEPA reviews is four and a half years."
In 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order (EO) 13807, which directed CEQ to review its existing NEPA regulations to accelerate the federal environmental review and decision-making process.
Comments should be submitted by March 10.
The Electrification of Transportation

An increasing number of vehicles and devices that have traditionally been gas-powered are easing into electrification, and experts say that this is a trend that will continue. "We're really seeing electrification of everything that moves, from forklifts and yard equipment, to trucks and buses, even things like school buses and agricultural equipment," according to Jeff Allen, executive director of Forth, an electric vehicle advocacy group in Portland, Oregon.
There are nearly 1.2 million electric vehicle owners on U.S. roads today, and according to the Edison Electric Institute, the number of electric vehicles purchased is growing — an 81% increase from 2017 to 2018. However, the lack of power charging stations in some states could stunt the growth. According to PEW , Wisconsin currently has 522 charging stations.

Like some other states, Wisconsin is using part of the dollars from a settlement with Volkswagen over its falsification of emissions tests to help fund the building of charging stations. The state is requesting public comment on its electric vehicle charging station grant program by February 17 at 2 p.m.
Upcoming Events
ACEC/ WisDOT 2020 Transportation Improvement Conference - March 3-4 (Tuesday/Wednesday) in Baraboo

The American Council of Engineering Companies of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation are partnering for the eleventh consecutive year to present the 2020 Transportation Improvement Conference.

This year's theme is "Partnership, People & Process." The conference brings together the department and consulting engineering community for transportation-related professional development programming and networking opportunities. 
TDA Events

  • TDA Annual Meeting: Thursday, November 12