BRIDGES, TUNNELS AND RAIL ADVISORY
Lane closings planned at the Bayonne Bridge,
George Washington Bridge, Holland Tunnel
Lanes will be closed this weekend and/or next week at the George Washington Bridge, Holland Tunnel and Bayonne Bridge for ongoing construction and repair projects.
Continue reading MAJOR BRIDGE, TUNNEL AND RAIL ADVISORY THIS WEEKEND
Proposal obtained by Vocativ asks for surveillance at nine NYC ‘crossing points’
By Kevin Collier
Jan 27, 2017 at 9:27 AM ET
The state of New York has privately asked surveillance companies to pitch a vast camera system that would scan and identify people who drive in and out of New York City, according to a December memo obtained by Vocativ.
The call for private companies to submit plans is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s major infrastructure package, which he introduced in October. Though much of the related proposals would be indisputably welcome to most New Yorkers — renovating airports and improving public transportation — a little-noticed detail included installing cameras to “test emerging facial recognition software and equipment.”
“This is a highly advanced system they’re asking for,” said Clare Garvie, an associate at Georgetown University’s Center for Privacy and Technology, and who specializes in police use of face recognition technologies. “This is going to be terabytes — if not petabytes — of data, and multiple cameras running 24 hours a day. In order to be face recognition compliant they probably have to be pretty high definition.”
Paul Berger , Staff writer, @pdbergerPublished 6:16 p.m. ET Jan. 25, 2017 | Updated 14 hours ago
New Jersey motorists are being cheated out of hundreds of millions of dollars of toll revenue that could be reinvested in better bridges and tunnels, according to a new report by a conservative think tank that proposes a radical fix for the dysfunctional public agency charged with keeping the region moving.
The report from the Manhattan Institute says the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey should reinvest the enormous profits from its Hudson River crossings and its airports to improve those facilities, instead of subsidizing money-losing operations such as the PATH rail system and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Struggling facilities should be forced to become self-financing through private-sector partnerships, the report adds.
file photo Boyd Loving
The Federal Highway Trust Fund Is Going Broke. Here’s Why That Could Be a Good Thing.
Elizabeth Nolan Brown|July 14, 2014
This week President Obama is putting the hard sell on raising highway and transit aid, as the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) warns that it’s bound by early August to run out of sufficient money to meet state obligations. The White House says Obama will discuss the matter Tuesday in Virginia, where he’s expected to propose a “pro-growth business tax reform” solution. In Delaware on Thursday, he’ll announce an initiative to increase private-sector investment in transportation.
About 27 percent of highway and transit spending currently comes from the federal government, via the HTF, while states kicking in about 38 percent and 35 percent coming from municipalities. The HTF isn’t set to “run dry” in August, as many are reporting, but it did tell states to expect an average 28 percent reduction in aid at that point unless Congress acts. The fund faces a $15 billion gap between projected spending and the money it will collect in 2015.
House and Senate committees began addressing ways to shore up HTF funding last week, both in the short-term and the long-term. The existing two-year funding measure expires at this end of this September. Legislators are now looking at bills that would provide about $11 billion to the HTF through May 2015 and address long-term funding separately in the future.
State governors still say Congress isn’t acting fast enough, and it’s hindering their ability to plan and build major highway and bridge projects. From Reuters:
Republicans and Democrats who gathered in Nashville during the weekend for a National Governors Association (NGA) meeting said that at minimum Congress should approve a short-term fix before the federal highway account becomes insolvent by the end of August. Yet they want a longer solution to remove uncertainly that could stop or delay projects worth an estimated $3.6 trillion to fix crumbling roads and bridges.
The inability of Congress to agree increases pressure on states to find alternative financing for their share, governors said. It affects the work needed to create jobs and boost the economy while repairing outdated infrastructure to avoid disasters such as the 2007 Minneapolis bridge collapse that killed 13 people and injured 145.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. needs $3.6 trillion by 2020 to maintain highways, bridges, and other infrastructure. One way to raise some funds would be to raise fuel taxes, relied on heavily by states and the federal government to fund infrastructure projects—and untouched by Congress since 1993.
Yet there’s nothing stopping states from taking this matter into their own hands. Since 2013, seven states have raised fuel levies, reports Reuters, while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is considering substituting sales tax and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is pushing public-private partnerships. Other governors at the NGA conference also said they were looking at alternative funding solutions.
When left a little more to their own devices, it seems states get innovative. They develop localized solutions. They experiment.