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Roundup: December 9, 2016

Georgia Transportation Summit Recap

On November 30, GTA partnered with the American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Transportation, and the Georgia Chamber Commerce to host the third annual Georgia Transportation Summit. Over 1,000 attendees converged at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia to hear “State of the System” addresses from senior executives at GDOT, the State Road and Tollway Authority, MARTA, Georgia Ports Authority, Center of Innovation for Logistics, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The Athens Banner Herald covered the event here and the Gainesville Times covered the event here

 

Freight and Logistics

The Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics’ Market Snapshot is now available. The United States GDP increased 2.9% in the third quarter of this year and the trade deficit fell over 10% in September of this year.

And, despite a major hurricane and the bankruptcy of a major international shipping line, the Georgia Ports Authority set another monthly record in October with 251, 566 TEUs.

Freight rail companies are experiencing a surge in volume based on booming fall harvests and rapid growth in crop exports.

 

Transportation Technology / Innovation

Michigan is making significant moves to prepare for more innovation transportation solutions by investing up to $80 million in an autonomous car testing site.

Concurrently, many states are beginning to grow impatient with the intentionally lax guidelines on autonomous vehicles released earlier this year by the federal government. While some states are eagerly jumping into the new frontier, others have filed comments with the NHTSA expressing concerns. Many of the concerns revolve around perceived safety guidance from the federal government with which states are ill -equipped to provide.

 

Federal Issues

Buy America requirements could provide problems for infrastructure development in the future. The conference committee on the Water Resources Development Act has reached a disagreement over requirements that water projects be built with US made steel, but resolved the agreements this week. The proposed conference committee language can be found here. President Elect Donald Trump has indicated support for Buy America type provisions, while Speaker Paul Ryan, a dynamic proponent of free trade, typically opposes such provisions.

Former Labor Commissioner and Deputy Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has been selected by President – Elect Donald Trump for his first Secretary of Transportation. Chao is also the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY).

Senator John Thune thinks any federal infrastructure overhaul would need to be attached to a significant tax package. Concurrently, there’s a significant amount of conversation about that package including an infrastructure bank.

Matt Sturges has been named by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R – PA) as the Committee staff director.

Senator Jim Inhofe (R – OK), outgoing Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, is encouraging House Republicans to move more quickly on a conference committee report on the Water Resources and Development Act.

Senator John Barrasso (R – Wyoming) and Senator Tom Carper (D – Delaware) will take over as Chairman and ranking member of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, respectively, in the next Congress.

Carl Icahn warns of a looming economic crisis created by a corrupt system of renewable energy credits within the Renewable Energy Standard. The trade of the credits is creating a potential crisis for oil refiners.

The WRRDA legislation, announced earlier this week, has been rebranded as the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. It contains significant wins for port projects by broadening the definition of projects that qualify for a 75% federal funding match from 45-50 feet.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R – PA) announced a number of staff changes and promotions.

Americans indicated in a recent Politico / Morning Consult poll that they place a high priority on passing a comprehensive infrastructure bill. However, they also indicated they did not support increasing the national debt to pay for it.

 

Miscellaneous

On December 1, 1913, Ford’s first assembly line began operation.



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