El Paso and southern New Mexico had some of the roughest roads in the U.S., study says

(This post was originally written on Oct 17, 2018, by Simon Williams. Read the original article here.)

A study coming out Wednesday morning says EL Paso and southern New Mexico are home to some of the roughest roads in the U.S.

Specifically, the study ranks El Paso and Southern New Mexico roads as the 11th roughest and highest cost to drivers in the U.S.

The study comes from TRIP, which is a national transportation group based out of Washington, D.C.

It calculates the cost of driving rough roads like increasing repairs, maintenance, and tire wear. It says that cost for a driver in the El Paso and southern New Mexico region is about $788 a year.

Erik Meza lives in Central El Paso and rides his bike to the University of Texas at El Paso’s campus and he says “It’s just frustrating having to ride my bike through there. There is nothing but potholes or bumpy roads especially from Stanton all the way up to Oregon, those roads are terrible.”

David Tinoco of Central El Paso lives by El Paso High School and says, “I drive to Cotton and all that and it’s real bad.”

The study says that travel growth is increasing and road conditions are expected to get worse without additional funding.

It says vehicle miles of travel in the U.S. increased by 16 percent from 2000 to 2016 and increased by six percent from 2013 to 2016.

Kathleen Bower, AAA senior vice president of public affairs and international relations says “AAA urges Congress and the current administration to prioritize road infrastructure improvements to ensure safe, efficient, and reliable mobility across the United States.”

Meza agrees something should be done. “It’s pretty sad that we have so many potholes throughout El Paso,” he says, “Especially through the freeway when you’re going down 60 miles an hour down the freeway and you see a pothole, what are you going to do?”

The study looks at cities in large and mid-sized urban areas and EL Paso and southern New Mexico are in the large urban area category.

In the mid-sized areas, Laredo, Texas ranks as 13th roughest and highest cost to drivers and Lubbock, Texas ranks as 15th roughest and highest cost to drivers.

(This post was originally written on Oct 17, 2018, by Simon Williams. Read the original article here.)

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Two ballot questions could generate millions for transportation in Southwest Colorado

(This post was originally written on Oct 4, 2018, by Mary Shinn. Read the original article here.)

Voters will consider two ballot questions in November that would boost funding for transportation statewide in vastly different ways and dedicate different amounts to Southwest Colorado projects.

Regional Transportation Director Mike McVaugh said the additional money for the Colorado Department of Transportation is needed, in part because the 22-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline that funds the department has not gone up since 1991.

“We’re trying to spend our dollars as wisely as possible. But there is not enough money to do the job we are trying to do for you,” he told a small group gathered at the Durango Public Library on Thursday.

CDOT’s annual budget is $1.75 billion. Its funding is generated by federal and state gas taxes, vehicle registration fees, the state’s general fund and a mix of other sources.

As the state’s population has grown from 3.3 million people in 1991 to 5.4 million in 2015, CDOT’s budget per capita has declined from $125.70 per person annually to $68.54 per person annually, McVaugh said.

If nothing is done, scarcity of funds will continue to worsen, he said.

“We’re short of what we really believe needs to be done, to not just maintain what we have but to improve what we have,” said Sidny Zink, a state transportation commissioner.

Proposition 110 asks voters to raise the state sales tax by 0.62 percent (6 cents per $10 purchase) for 20 years.

The measure would allow the state to spend about $7 billion on construction projects over seven to 10 years.

“If I am paying another 6 cents on a $10 purchase, it’s going to add up incredibly fast and make a difference statewide,” Zink said.

The new revenues from Proposition 110 would be divided three ways: 45 percent would go to state projects, 40 percent would fund city and county roads and 15 percent would fund public transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects.

If Proposition 110 passes, nine projects in Southwest Colorado would be funded, including about $55 million to widen U.S. Highway 160 east of Elmore’s Corner to Bayfield and $2 million for safety improvements along Highway 550 in Durango.

Durangoan Wendy Lasher supported Proposition 110 after hearing from CDOT officials because it would help maintain the state’s roads and dedicate money for cities and counties to use.

“It’s a minuscule amount that makes a huge difference,” she said.

Proposition 109, entitled “Fix Our Damn Roads,” would require the state to use its surplus funds and reprioritize spending toward road infrastructure.

The question would allow the state to bond for $3.5 billion to use on projects over three years, McVaugh said. It would not create a new funding stream to pay back the debt.

“Personally, I feel like 109 is all talk and no show,” La Plata County Commissioner Brad Blake said.

If passed, Proposition 109 could fund six projects in Southwest Colorado, including $66 million to widen Highway 160 from Elmore’s Corner to Bayfield. It could also set aside $32 million to widen U.S. Highway 550 south to the New Mexico border. The measure would not generate enough money to fund all the projects it names as priorities, and the state Transportation Commission would have to select projects for funding, Zink said.

If both measures are passed, the court system would have to decide how the measures would be implemented because they conflict with another, McVaugh said. It is possible the courts could choose just to implement the measure with the most votes, he said.

(This post was originally written on Oct 4, 2018, by Mary Shinn. Read the original article here.)

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Capitol Agenda for the Week of Oct. 8: Federal Funding for Roads on Tribal Lands

(This post was originally written on Oct 5, 2018, by Eugene Mulero. Read the original article here.)

A funding opportunity of $300 million for the building and repairing of surface transportation at tribal and federal lands has been made available, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Oct. 3. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, with the first deadline set for Dec. 17.

The financial assistance is designed to assist with the construction, reconstruction or rehabilitation of projects that provide access to or within federal or tribal lands. To be eligible, applicants must identify single continuous projects. The federal share of the cost of the project shall be up to 90%. Projects estimated at $50 million or more will be prioritized in the selection process.

Funding will come through the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects program, established under the 2015 FAST Act highway law.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, in a statement, said the program “will help underserved tribal areas fund large-scale infrastructure projects that will improve safety and mobility for their communities.”

Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Brandye Hendrickson added: “The funds will go a long way in making sure that needed improvements to infrastructure serving federal and tribal lands are addressed.”

THE WEEK AHEAD: (all times EDT)

Oct. 8, 4 p.m.: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is scheduled to speak at the National Press Club.

Oct. 9, 1 p.m.: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hosts a teleconference of the Unified Carrier Registration Plan Procedures Subcommittee.

Oct. 10, 12 p.m.: The Cato Institute hosts a discussion on “Romance of the Rails: Why the Passenger Trains We Love are Not the Transportation We Need.”

Oct. 10, 7 p.m.: The National Archives hosts its 2018 Records of Achievement Award ceremony and gala to honor former first lady Laura Bush.

Oct. 11, 9:30 a.m.: The Senate Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and the Coast Guard Subcommittee meets for a hearing titled, “The Future of the Fleets: Coast Guard and NOAA Ship Recapitalization.”

Oct. 11, 1 p.m.: The Bipartisan Policy Center hosts a discussion with Election Assistance Commission Chairman Thomas Hicks, Matthew Masterson, senior cybersecurity adviser at the Homeland Security Department, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Oliver, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Oct. 11, 2 p.m.: The International Trade Administration hosts a meeting of the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.


XL: The annualized rate of driver turnover at large truckload fleets in the second quarter jumped 4 percentage points year-over-year to 98%, according to American Trucking Associations’ Trucking Activity Report.

FLYING CARS: Secretary Chao on Oct. 4 unveiled AV 3.0, the agency’s policy update of autonomous vehicle technology guidelines.

Chao delivered remarks on the updated guidance, titled “Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0,” at the Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington.

KEYSTONE: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has announced funding for 42 projects related to highways, bridges, transit, ports and pedestrian accessibility.

(This post was originally written on Oct 5, 2018, by Eugene Mulero. Read the original article here.)

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