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Roundup: July 8, 2016

Upcoming Events 

Webinar: Doing Business With Georgia Department of Transportation
July 26, 2016   |   Time: TBA   |   Your Computer

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Georgia 2030

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Save the Date: 2016 Transportation Summit
November 30, 2016   |   Athens, Georgia

News of the week from the office of Georgia Congressman Rob Woodall:

“As a result of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act signed into law last year, the Port of Savannah will receive $44,000,000 for reconfiguration and improvement of its on-dock container transfer facilities to bring rail switching activities inside the Port. The funds were awarded through the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (NSFHP) Program, which established a competitive grant program known as Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-Term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE).”

State News

The Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics has released their June Logistics Market Snapshot. Among the highlights:

  • The Dow Jones Transportation Index increased by .87% in the month of May
  • USDOT’s freight transportation services index increased by 1.6%
  • E-Commerce was up 8% from May 2014 to May 2015
  • April exports increased 2.5% over March

The Atlanta Journal Constitution notes that transit had a very good month in Georgia. TheAtlanta City Council authorized a referendum that could invest $2.5 billion into MARTA, and Governor Nathan Deal announced $75 million in grant awards for transit systems across the state.

The AJC offers some thoughts on Georgia’s posture now that the Panama Canal expansion is complete.

National News

This week, lawmakers rolled out a much-anticipated extension to Federal Aviation Administration policy and funding – through September of 2017. It also includes security updates to address concerns in the wake of recent terror attacks. Senator John Thune hailed the bi-partisan measure as a significant win for the Senate.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is moving forward on the biggest piece of the environmental mitigation procedures for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

The Obama administration has released its long awaited commercial drone ruling.

In the midst of one of the worst shipping downturns in recent memory, Maersk shipping giant has decided to fire their CEO.

Happy 60th Anniversary to the Eisenhower Interstate System! On the occasion, TRIPreleased a report on the IHS. Some highlights include:

  • Since 1956, annual vehicle miles have increased 387% to 3,000,000,000,000 annual miles traveled – with a 300% increase in cars to 260,000,000.
  • USDOT estimates that the HIS has a $189 billion backlog of needed improvements.
  • 11.6% of the nation’s highways are in mediocre / poor condition, 3% of bridges are structurally deficient, and 18% are functionally obsolete.
  • From 2000-2014, combination truck travel increased by 29%
  • Since 2008, Congress has transferred $143 billion in borrowed or general fund revenue into the Highway Trust Fund.


Our Take

It seems that in New Jersey, lawmakers are considering a $20 infrastructure fund that would pay for transportation projects over the next decade. While we applaud their leadership in planning for their transportation future, their funding mechanism of choice seems unwise and shortsighted: a tax on jet fuel. In an a-typical political desire to minimize impact on the citizens who actually use the roads and bridges in New Jersey, lawmakers are seeking a funding mechanism that would actually break federal regulations that require jet fuel taxes to be used solely for airport improvements. That fact notwithstanding, however, our view is that a jet fuel tax to pay for roads and bridges disregards one of the most important principles in transportation funding: nexus. The most fiscally responsible transportation funding policies contain a tight link between where the revenue is gathered and where the revenue is spent: some refer to this principle as “user pay, user benefit.” In other words, it’s inadvisable to collect a tax from one sector of the transportation industry and spend it on another sector of the industry. Those who use the infrastructure should pay for the infrastructure, and benefit from improvements to the infrastructure. That’s our take on the situation in New Jersey.

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