Don't miss out on the Get Link'd Training and Education Forum!
The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), in conjunction with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), invite you to a briefing on the investment requirements for America's multi-modal transportation infrastructure.
The recent AASHTO-APTA Bottom Line report estimates that $163 billion is needed annually over six years to fix the nation’s aging surface transportation system ($120 billion for roads and bridges, and $43 billion for transit). At present, public investment in transportation infrastructure is only $100 billion a year ($83 billion for roads and bridges, and $17 billion for transit). With the looming May expiration of the transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), and with 70 million new U.S. citizens expected by 2050, now is the time to address these investment needs.
Executive Director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
President and CEO, American Public Transportation Association (APTA)
There is little disagreement over the importance of the nation's transportation infrastructure. And yet, theBottom Line report highlights a massive gap between what investments are needed and what is actually being spent. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, two-thirds of the nation's roads are not in good condition—and deficient roadways are a significant factor in one-third of all highway fatalities. One quarter of U.S. bridges need major repairs or upgrades.
Lack of capacity is also a big problem. Almost half of all Americans lack access to public transit services. Congested roads cause Americans to lose 5.5 billion hours in traffic every year, representing more than $120 billion in wasted fuel and lost time. Congestion, most severe in urban areas, also increases the cost of delivering goods by $27 billion year and causes shipping delays. As the nation's population grows, this cost will grow quickly if the country continues to underfund investment in transportation infrastructure.
Finding long-term, consistent revenue streams to invest in the country's transportation infrastructure is key to America's competitiveness, economic growth, and job creation.
The Bottom Line report is available at www.apta.com/mediacenter/pressreleases/2014/Pages/1412.aspxand bottomline.transportation.org.
Amos Bridges, News-Leader
7:13 p.m. CST March 3, 2015
With a new transfer station due to be built and bus route changes sure to follow, 2015 is shaping up to be a big year for City Utilities' Transit Services.
Speaking to members of a rider advisory committee last month, Transit Director Kevin Lowe seemed eager to make the most of the opportunity. Lowe, who took the helm at the department in December, encouraged the riders to share their criticisms and ideas for improving the bus system.
"We are in the people-serving business, so if we are not performing up to your expectations, we need to know," he said, adding that even radical changes were worth discussing. "Our main goal is to get more people on the bus."
Impressed and intrigued, I made plans to meet with Lowe and talk about ways the newspaper might help get the conversation started. We were set to meet over coffee Feb. 24. But Lowe, who was 45, died of an apparent heart attack the night before.
I only knew Lowe professionally. A former Missouri Department of Transportation engineer, he was Greene County's highway administrator when I started working at the News-Leader. Our paths had crossed occasionally when he worked in the private sector and I covered city development and more recently when he went to work for CU.
Lowe struck me, during our interactions, as an energetic guy — not jump-up-and-down excited, necessarily, but positive and happy to tackle a challenge. That's why I think that, even for those who didn't know him, his death will be a loss.
Lowe certainly had accepted a challenge with the bus system, which for years has been the odd duck among CU's services. Springfield's City Charter requires the utility to manage the bus system. But unlike CU's water, gas and electricity operations, the transit department doesn't come close to paying for itself, relying instead on hefty subsidies from other departments to keep routes running.
In his meeting with the Fixed Route Advisory Committee last month, Lowe noted that only about $1 million of transit's $10 million budget came from rider fares. About $6.5 million came from revenue redirected from other CU departments, he said, with federal funding making up the rest.
"Is this ever going to be a money-making operation? No," he said. But increased ridership could help balance the equation.
The $1.25 fare established more than five years ago also might be due for a change, Lowe said, acknowledging that the current budget doesn't allow for new costs.
Despite the financial constraints, he encouraged the members of the advisory board to be free with the ideas.
"We know there are gonna be some route changes when the transfer station is done," Lowe said. Debated and delayed for the better part of a decade, the approximately $5 million transfer facility was put out for bid this month. Construction of the station near Main Avenue and College Street is expected to begin by late April. If all goes well, it could wrap up by the end of the year.
Kicking off the conversation with the advisory board in February, Lowe said one idea he wanted to explore is the addition of an express bus route running north and south through the city with limited stops. But he seemed equally interested in suggestions made by others.
Board member Greg Horchem offered half a dozen ideas for combining and expanding specific routes around the city and extending daytime service an hour, to 7 p.m. Most of the details were over my head, but Lowe nodded along in agreement and made sure staff members took good notes.
LesSandra Franklin, a board member who came to Springfield from New York, said the bus system at some point would have to tackle its image problem. While public transportation is seen as a way of life in larger cities, in Springfield buses are seen as a last resort, only for the desperate.
Lowe agreed, repeating his goal of attracting riders from all walks of life to city buses.
"You can make $10 million a year and we want you to ride the bus," he said.
Dale Shumaker, another board member, said he appreciated that Lowe had made a point of riding the bus himself and was asking for unvarnished feedback.
"My idea, and I voiced it, was that those who represent CU Transit in an official capacity should be out in the public more," he said. "A competent person is not afraid of hearing criticism ...
"One thing that he said, and he said it two or three times, so it stuck with me, was, 'We need to hear from you. We're here to serve you so we need to hear from you.'"
Shumaker, who contacted me after hearing about Lowe's death from a bus driver, said he hopes Lowe's successor will adopt a similar approach.
Chris Jones, CU's associate general manager for IT and transportation, said that's the plan. "We'll try to keep a lot of those same ideas going forward."
"Kevin was very engaged. He was engaged with the drivers, with the passengers, with the staff," Jones said. "Now we have to try to find a replacement, which will be challenging."
Whoever ends up at the wheel, I hope they'll continue the conversation Lowe started. He had the bus pointed in the right direction and passengers were getting on board.
Posted 02/26/2015 by Kim Cella
Tomorrow marks the halfway point of CMT’s 30th Anniversary year, and we have loads more to do to move transit forward in the region. We are excited to share all of these great events with CMT members and friends as a part of our 30th Anniversary celebration.
We know public transit is the key to bringing our community together. It connects individuals to jobs, communities and each other.
We may be celebrating thirty years this year, but we know our job is not done. We can move forward both incremental projects and a larger vision for transit, but only as funding allows. CMT’s ‘job one’ is to find a funding mechanism which works for this region and to build much needed support to censure transit connects us to our communities and to each other. The CMT commissioned Transit Financing Study with Transportation for America continues to move forward. It is a six month study running through July, 2015 to look at possible funding options for transit in our region. Look for results to be available at about the same time as the CMT 30th Anniversary celebration.
If you believe transit is a priority for this region, please consider joining CMT today to help move transit forward. Join online today! Hope to see you in the second half of FY15.
With that said, we hope you will join us for some of the upcoming events on the calendar for the second half of FY15.
After years of delays, the $43 million Loop Trolley is back on track. With design changes made and funding questions resolved, construction of the trolley is set to begin in March.
Project officials said Tuesday work will start at the western end of the 2-mile streetcar line that will run between the Delmar Loop and Forest Park. Loop businessman Joe Edwards began promoting the project more than a decade ago.
Officials said the project is scheduled for completion in mid-2016 and, after test runs, it will begin service late next year.
First on the construction list involves work aimed at improving car traffic: rebuilding the existing roundabout near the Lion Gates at Trinity Avenue and Delmar Boulevard. Chris Poehler, administrator of the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District, said the roundabout is designed to increase car safety, improve traffic flow and provide an attractive Loop entrance.
Track work is expected to start in late May, beginning on Delmar near Kingsland Avenue. Vehicular traffic will continue during construction.
Poehler, an engineer and transit planner on loan to the Loop Trolley from the Metro transit agency, said the project has overcome many obstacles.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “It’s taken a significant effort by a lot of people.
“We’re very excited we’re going to be starting this project soon and bringing a great amenity to the people of this region.”
Skeptics of the project have said the streetcar would clog vehicular traffic on Delmar and attract few riders. Some added that the area’s two MetroLink stations already provide adequate public transit.
Mainly to cut costs, the Loop Trolley has undergone some design changes.
The route between the University City Public Library and the History Museum in Forest Park is a bit shorter than first envisioned. The line will have 10 stops along Delmar and DeBaliviere Avenue.
Streetcars able to operate on both battery power and overhead electric lines were dropped in favor of cars powered by overhead lines.
In addition, instead of having a turnaround at both ends of the line, streetcars will travel to one terminus, then reverse direction. Poehler said the vintage-looking streetcars will have cabs at both ends to allow drivers to operate them in either direction.
Much like the streetcar line that operated on Delmar decades ago, Loop Trolley track will allow streetcars to run with traffic between the University City library and the Delmar MetroLink station. There, the line will transition to a single track in the median until it turns south on DeBaliviere.
Vehicular traffic on DeBaliviere will be shifted to one side to allow streetcars to operate on their own single-track right of way next to an extension of the Great River Greenway’s St. Vincent recreational trail.
Poehler said Loop Trolley officials project annual ridership of 394,000.
More than half of project’s funding is a nearly $25 million Federal Transit Administration grant awarded in 2010. FTA officials, unhappy with the Loop Trolley’s progress, had threatened to withdraw the grant before Poehler joined the project about 18 months ago and accelerated planning.
In addition to FTA money, federal funding sources are grants from the Federal Highway Administration Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality Improvement Program and Surface Transportation Program.
Other funding comes from the Great Rivers Greenway, a 1-cent sales tax within trolley district boundaries, about $15 million in tax credits, tax-increment financing and, so far, about $500,000 in private contributions.
Contractors include KCI Construction Co. for track and other infrastructure, Wissehr Electrical Contractors for the trolley overhead contact system and lighting and KCI Construction Co. for rehab of the maintenance building in the old Delmar High School in St. Louis. Kwame Building Group is the construction manager.
Owners of a recently opened Loop business are pleased to see the streetcar advance from planning to construction.
Jack Noecker, general manager of the Good Pie, which relocated last year to 6665 Delmar from midtown, said the streetcar will bring more people to the Loop’s western end.
“We’re happy to have it,” he said. “We’re all for it, as a matter of fact.”
Jeremy Kohler of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this story.
(Kansas City, Mo. – Feb 18, 2015) Joe Reardon, former Mayor/CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Ks., has been selected as the new President & CEO of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA).
Robbie Makinen, Chairman of the KCATA Board of Commissioners, announced today that Reardon, currently an attorney at Kansas City-based law firm McAnany, Van Cleave & Phillips, will take the helm of the regional transit agency in mid-March.
“Joe Reardon is uniquely qualified to take this organization forward,” Makinen said. “We intend to realize our vision of becoming a fully integrated, regional transit system and Joe has demonstrated an ability to cross state lines and build coalitions to advance important issues. We are honored and privileged to have a leader of Joe’s caliber at the helm.”
As Mayor & CEO, Reardon led Kansas City, Ks., and Wyandotte County on a continued economic renaissance, including the opening of the first new grocery store in the city in 30 years, the Sporting Park Soccer Stadium/Cerner office project, and the Village West Luxury Apartments Complex.
Reardon is an advocate of public transportation, credited for the introduction of Sunday bus service in Kansas City, Ks., still the only community in Kansas to provide any regular bus service on Sundays. Under his leadership as Mayor, the first major transit center in the history of the city was built, and a strong partnership with KCATA was forged to support several other significant transportation projects through an FTA TIGER grant.
In addition to being a strong supporter of public transit in the Kansas City region, Reardon has been a proponent of bi-state, regional cooperation. Perhaps most familiar to the region, Reardon negotiated the first Google Fiber development agreement in the country, successfully competing against over 1,100 municipalities that had submitted proposals to Google for the project. He then worked with Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James to create the bi-state innovations team to bridge the gap between the two cities and states to look for creative ways to leverage Google Fiber across the region.
Joe currently teaches an MBA class on regionalism and has partnered with Rockhurst University, the Greater Kansas City Chamber and others to support a regional forum for chief elected officials from across the Greater Kansas City area.
“I am honored by the trust the KCATA Board of Commissioners is placing in me,” said Reardon. “Regional transit faces a good many challenges in the days and years ahead, but I can’t think of a more worthy mission. Public transportation is the glue that holds communities together. I look forward to working with our partners throughout the region to secure public transit’s financial sustainability, and to build a more dynamic and integrated regional transit system.”
The national search for the President & CEO was conducted by EFL Associates. The selection process included input from transit customers and regional stakeholders. The selection panel consisted of a bi-state committee of KCATA board commissioners.
Reardon succeeds Mark Huffer, who resigned as General Manager of the KCATA last August.
February 5, 2015
MoDOT Director Dave Nichols has advised the Commission of his intent to retire from MoDOT effective May 1, 2015. According to Dave, “It is time.” Dave has been eligible for retirement for several years. Two years ago, following Director Kevin Keith’s retirement, the Commission asked Dave to step up from his position as chief engineer and take on the role of director. Ever loyal and committed to MoDOT, Dave did not hesitate. As someone who naturally avoids the spotlight and is more interested in the success of the team than his own advancement, I am sure that he would have been quite happy to remain as chief engineer and support the work of another, but he responded to our call. Even though he was eligible for retirement at the time, he agreed to a two-year commitment. He has given us that and more.
There is never a good time, it seems, for a change in directors, but Dave has set MoDOT on a good course. As chief engineer and then as director he helped to oversee the downsizing of the organization. The Bolder Five-Year Direction which officially ends March 1 has resulted in savings that put more than $600 million back on the roads over the last five years. The financial crisis MoDOT now faces would have been much worse but for this effort. Given his empathy for MoDOT employees, this was a very difficult process. He has deep affection for the men and women of what he calls “Team MoDOT.”
Dave worked tirelessly to support efforts to provide new funding for transportation. He led the formulation of MoDOT’s long-range transportation plan and the “On The Move” campaign to identify needs across all modes of transportation. He understood the importance of promoting diversity within MoDOT and on MoDOT projects, offering job training and creating economic opportunities for the disadvantaged.
Dave provided valuable assistance to the General Assembly which ultimately led to a bipartisan vote to place Amendment 7 on the ballot. He then traveled to every corner of the state to answer questions and address the concerns of Missourians.
After Amendment 7 failed, Dave spearheaded the development of “Missouri’s 325 System” which the Commission approved yesterday. It provides a disciplined, principled and equitable way to prioritize and allocate limited transportation funds. As I write, he continues to work with the General Assembly and the Governor regarding possible funding options to avoid reductions in services.
Dave has been a passionate advocate for safety. Over his tenure, fatalities on Missouri roads have declined to historic lows. But he continues to urge that such an achievement is not good enough – every life is precious.
Over his career he has been a builder of bridges – in both the literal and figurative sense. Dave has served in assignments throughout the state and during that time he was responsible for projects which spanned rivers and roads which connected communities, but he also bridged the gap that separated groups with sometimes competing interests and has forged valuable partnerships with stakeholders throughout the state: contractors, engineers, labor, business, cities, counties, chambers of commerce etc. He has put his indelible stamp upon the MoDOT culture.
After 31 years of service he has earned the right to select the time that is right for him. Dave has left MoDOT a better organization than he found it for which the Commission is forever grateful. Even with limited funding, the organization itself has never been better positioned. Challenges lie ahead but Dave has helped to chart a path and has fostered a team that is well equipped for the challenges.
The Commission knows well that Dave will remain 100 percent committed until his departure on May 1. There is much he still wants to accomplish, including some progress this legislative session on the funding issue. In the interim, the Commission will have an opportunity to plan for the selection of a new director. As the Commission defines that process, I will share it with you.
Please join me in congratulating Dave Nichols on a job well done and thanking him for his service.
Stephen R. Miller
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Russellville has been awarded a transportation alternative grant by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Central District.
The $116,484 grant funds will be used for sidewalk improvements on Route C, Smith Street and Marion Street to provide improved access to the elementary and middle schools.
The sidewalk will improve safety for children who walk to school.
The grant-funded project continues the sidewalk and pedestrian access improvements Russellville made in recent years with a new sidewalk from the elementary/middle school to downtown and a safety crossing with two traffic signals on Route C, funded by another transportation grant of nearly $250,000.
MoDOT’s Central District awarded $4 million in grants to 14 projects from among 32 requests.
February 04, 2015 / by Collin Reischman, Managing Editor
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — House Speaker John Diehl, R-Town and Country, told reporters today that his office had instructed several lawmakers and committees to take action on transportation, jobs, and a study of the economic impact of NFL teams in Missouri.
Diehl announced all three moves to reporters today following House adjournment. Diehl is asking Reps. Paul Curtman and Glen Kolkmeyer to hold joint hearing of their respective committees on Government Efficiency and Transportation. The joint hearings will be tasked with examining MODOT’s fiscal needs and exploring a variety of funding options to preserve and expand Missouri’s massive road system.
The joint hearings will be tasked with providing some recommendations to Diehl by the legislative spring break. Also on Diehl’s docket is a task force to be chaired by Rep. Jeanie Lauer, which is aimed at bringing business owners and representatives from the state’s universities together to coordinate curriculum and hiring practices for new graduates.
“There are thousands of jobs out there that are available to be filled today, but there’s not a qualified workforce to fill those jobs,” Diehl said. “At the same time, we graduate thousands of students from our universities that can’t find jobs. We need to start breaking down these silos. It’s going to require better communication between colleges, community colleges, universities as well as employers.”
Lauer’s task force will also be tasked with producing a report with recommendations to the legislature. Lauer told reporters she hopped to establish stronger connections between schools and employers so that students were graduating with the understanding that they were fully qualified to apply for specific jobs.
Finally, Diehl said the House would be exploring the economic impact of having an NFL team in St. Louis. Calling the recent coverage and discussions “mostly hypothetical,” Diehl said that Rep. Jay Barnes and his committee on Government Accountability would be studying the issue.
Barnes’ duty is threefold: to analyze what economic benefit Missouri as a state sees from an NFL team in St. Louis, the existing and continuing state obligations regarding the Edward Jones Dome, and an analysis of money the state has paid out versus earned benefit for the taxpayer. Diehl said the committee would be specifically tasked with examining the state’s role and obligations related to the Rams potential move from St. Louis.
All three announcements came following perhaps the busiest week of floor activity yet in the early weeks of the legislative session. House members finished the week by passing the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act and a bill tying unemployment benefits to the jobless rate — both bills that Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed last year that the legislature fell just short of overriding.
By Bob Watson
Thursday, February 5, 2015
With very little discussion, and a 5-0 vote, Missouri’s Highways and Transportation Commission on Wednesday approved the austerity plan called “Missouri’s 325 System — Tough Choices Ahead.”
It requires the state Transportation Department to concentrate on maintaining — at current levels — about 8,000 miles of the state’s nearly 34,000-mile highway system, while the other 26,000 miles are classified as “supplementary” and will receive only limited, routine maintenance.
MoDOT Director Dave Nichols said there were no changes made in the plan that first was introduced last month.
It still has a primary road going through every county.
In Mid-Missouri, the primary roads include:
• U.S. 50 in Cole, Moniteau, Morgan, Osage and Gasconade counties.
• U.S. 54 in Cole, Callaway, Miller and Camden counties.
• U.S. 63 in Cole, Boone, Osage and Maries counties.
• Interstate 70 in Callaway and Boone counties.
• Missouri 17 in Cole and Miller counties.
• Missouri 5 in Moniteau, Morgan and Camden counties.
• Missouri 52 in Miller and Morgan counties.
• Missouri 42 in Miller and Maries counties.
• Missouri 28 in Maries and Gasconade counties.
• Missouri 19 in Gasconade County.
But other heavily traveled roads — including Missouri Boulevard and Missouri 179 in Jefferson City, Route B between Jefferson City and Meta and Route C between Jefferson City and Versailles, and Providence Road and Stadium Boulevard in Columbia — will be shifted to the supplementary system.
“This is about Missouri and Missourians and our roads and bridges across our state, and keeping them in good condition,” Nichols told commissioners Wednesday morning, “to be able to provide the competitive advantage that we need in our state for economic development, job creation and safety.
“Insufficient transportation funding affects us all.”
The problem isn’t new, he noted. Missouri has the nation’s seventh largest road system — but ranks 46th in funding.
The state’s 17 cents a gallon tax on each gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel sold hasn’t changed since 1996, but costs — especially for materials used in road-building and maintenance, and for labor — have climbed significantly during the last two decades.
Right now, Nichols said, “Our customer satisfaction is at 85 percent — but we’re not going to be able to continue that way,” because the dwindling amounts of money available for major maintenance or construction will leave more and more motorists unhappy with road conditions.
The number in the program’s name is the amount of money — $325 million — the department will have available each year for road and bridge maintenance, starting in 2017.
“It takes $485 million just to be able to keep the system in the condition it is in today,” Nichols told the commissioners. “It takes $160 million more than we will have to maintain what we have.”
And MoDOT won’t have enough money available to match federal funds, a process which previously helped Missouri accomplish road improvements.
The shortfall also means more of Missouri’s crumbling bridges will face being closed in the future because the state won’t have the money to replace them.
Nichols acknowledged MoDOT still will have about a $2 billion budget, but much of the money is obligated for other expenses, including paying off the bonds sold about a decade ago to pay for the “Smoother Roads” initiative that resurfaced the most heavily traveled roads.
He said MoDOT crews still will do the best they can to maintain the existing system, but the focus on the 8,000 miles of primary roads carrying the most traffic will leave the 26,000 miles of supplemental roads like “a patchwork quilt, of going out and patching roads and doing some pothole repairs.”
With a snowstorm in Wednesday’s forecast, Nichols promised MoDOT won’t shirk winter clean-up efforts. But he said an expensive year like last year will take money from the possible improvements in the next summer.
He said lawmakers have suggested several options — including a 2 cents per gallon fuel tax increase for each of the next six years and converting Interstate 70 to a toll road — but none of the ideas have substantial support and will continue to be discussed during the 2015 legislative session.