Archive for January, 2013

North Carolina DOT Meeting On Henderson County Expansion Of Interstate 26

Department of Transportation officials in North Carolina will hold an informational meeting on January 31st to discuss long range plans to widen a 22 mile strip of I-26 from U.S. 25 to I-40. This is the first time discussion had been reopened since the lawsuit ten years ago derailed the possibility of expansion.

The project is a long ways away, with the first sections of expansion being set to being in the 2019-2020 fiscal year. DOT officials say the widening is necessary to relieve congestion. The expansion project would be designed to meet traffic needs 25 years beyond when construction is slated to begin.

DOT officials say the widening is needed to relieve congestion. The project would be designed to meet traffic needs 25 years beyond when construction is slated to begin. -Undrea Major, Project Development Engineer, DOT

Officials are expecting the cost of the project to be around $263 million for the expansion.

RWA understands the transportation issues that affect our cities. Randy Wright worked tirelessly to bring light rail to Norfolk to help with traffic congestion. If you are interested in learning more about how RWA can help with your next transportation project, contact us today and let’s talk.

I26 ASHEVILLE NCimage credit: zen on flickr

Sen. Warner Says Fiscal Uncertainty Could Have Significant Impacts To The Hampton Roads Economy

In a statement issued by Sen. Mark Warner yesterday, he stated his concern for the impact of the fiscal uncertainty in congress and its impact on Virginia. Sen. Warner even went as far as to single out how Hampton Roads would be impacted with defense cuts and the multi-billion dollar shortfall in Navy operations and maintenance. He mentioned that already the Navy is planning to defer maintenance, including canceling ship repairs for the second half of the fiscal year.

Congress rang in the new year with a political compromise to avoid what had come to be known as the fiscal cliff. While we avoided a tax increase on most Americans, we also pushed off once again many of the tough decisions required to get our country back on a responsible fiscal path.

If Congress and the White House are unable to agree on debt reduction measures by March, America will face a triple threat: a congressional vote to raise the debt ceiling, across-the-board spending cuts required by the sequester and the expiration of the law that keeps the government funded.

The dysfunction in Washington continues to drag down our recovery. It has added to consumer and business uncertainty, and it’s keeping the economy in low gear.

The indecision also poses a significant threat to our national security. As it is, the Pentagon is operating on last year’s budget. And this white-knuckle game of chicken over the automatic sequester cuts, in particular, could require the Pentagon to ground aircraft and call ships back to port.

If Congress fails to step up, these fiscal challenges will require Pentagon budget planners to find billions of dollars in savings almost immediately, with hardly any flexibility to prioritize the cuts.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appropriately has ruled out cuts to ongoing combat operations in Afghanistan, as well as cuts in pay and benefits for our warfighters. But that means automatic sequester cuts will dig deeper into other programs. As Navy Secretary Ray Mabus recently told me, “How can a shipyard deliver 92 percent of a ship?”

In Hampton Roads, automatic cuts could mean an immediate, multibillion dollar shortfall in Navy operations and maintenance. Already, plans are being made by the Navy to defer maintenance, including canceling ship repairs, for the second half of the fiscal year.

Additionally, procurement in major combat systems could be canceled – along with the significant per-unit cost savings negotiated as part of these multi-year contracts. For instance, the Pentagon negotiated nearly $4.5 billion in savings through a multi-year contract to build Virginia-class submarines – and those savings could be lost if the Navy disrupts the terms of the agreement.

The sequester was intentionally designed to be an unacceptable financial tool – an option no reasonable policymaker would ever willingly choose to use. But by continually pushing off the day of reckoning, we essentially have further amplified its potentially destructive impact: Even deeper cuts may be required over an even shorter budget period.

The sequester’s impact on military readiness could be disastrous. We will have fewer resources to keep our pilots trained or our warship crews capable of full combat operations. It will rob Army units of important training resources as they to prepare to deploy for combat.

Another area of deep concern is the potential layoffs of federal employees and private-sector contractors. Our civilian workforce is composed of hardworking individuals who deserve better. And Virginia’s defense contractors cannot be expected to make smart decisions about their businesses if they lack clear guidance on the short- and mid-range budget outlook.

That’s why I continue to push for a broad, bipartisan approach that, once and for all, strikes a responsible “grand bargain” on all of these fiscal challenges. If we can summon the political will, there is a path forward to begin reining in our nation’s deficits and debt without lurching recklessly from crisis to crisis.

Over the past two years, our bipartisan “Gang of Six” in the Senate managed to move within sight of the goal line on a grand bargain, based on the framework spelled out by National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, commonly called the Simpson-Bowles Commission.

We produced a balanced package of spending cuts, improvements to strengthen Social Security and Medicare, and broad-based tax reforms to generate additional revenue by making our tax code flatter and fairer.

Ultimately, congressional dysfunction and partisan politics short-circuited the work of the Gang of Six. But I firmly believe we can solve our deficit and debt challenges without threatening our national security, holding back our economic recovery or sacrificing investments in programs that will help our economy grow and create jobs.

As Congress prepares to enter yet another round of discussions about federal spending, the automatic cuts and raising the debt ceiling, I believe all of us should be able to agree at least on this much: The full faith and credit of the United States is not a bargaining chip.

Continuing to play games with America’s fiscal future will cause both short- and long-term damage to our national security. And neither the safety nor the financial well-being of the American people should be used as leverage by politicians angling for temporary partisan advantage.

Source: The Office of Senator Mark Warner, Commonwealth of Virginia 

Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority Set To Purchase Vacant Parcel For Future Development

Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority is set to purchase a vacant/tax-delinquent parcel in Lawrenceville owned by a deceased business man whose estate is being handled by the wife of a city councilman.

URA board members were set to vote last week on a sales agreement and the acquisition of the property. If approved, the purchase would complete the acquisition of the entire property and give planners one large uninterrupted parcel for development.

Redevelopment projects are vital to the continued success of our communities. Negotiating these acquisitions can be sometimes difficult and troubled to navigate, but having committed parties, and, sometimes, a knowledgeable consultant can help navigate these projects.

Randy Wright and Associates specializes in urban land development consulting. If you would like to learn more about how we can help consult on your next development project, contact RWA today.  

Urban Land Developmentimage credit: ehavir on flickr

Gov. McDonnell Transportation Agenda Sparks Conversation Amongst Dulles South Alliance Members

Recently, Governor Bob McDonnell unveiled his statewide transportation legislative agenda for the next five years. That same day the members of the Dulles South Alliance, in Loudoun County, met to discuss the transportation problems that plague the area and how the governor’s agenda will help or hurt their transportation issues.

Bob Chase President of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance and Assistant County Administrator for Loudoun County Charles Rudd addressed the DAS meeting and highlighted the traffic problem that is plaguing the Dulles South area and along the Route 50 corridor. Chase talked about the large growth Loudoun has seen over the last two decades and its impact on transportation.

When you talk about transportation in Loudoun, it is important to remember that 20 years ago, there were about 86,000 people in the county. Now, there is approximately 350,000 people. Twenty years from now, who know how many people will call Loudoun County home. Possibly close to 500,000. It is important to remember past, present and future when talking about transportation in the county.  -  Bob Chase, President, Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance

In June of 2012, Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board approved $5 million for preliminary engineering and design for a bi-county parkway during the fiscal 2013 – fiscal 2018 six-year improvement program. This, however, will take time to develop and implement to help alleviate the area’s transportation problem.

Randy Wright worked tirelessly to bring light rail transportation to the City of Norfolk. The Tide, in its short existence, has seen success above expectation, proving that solutions are possible with Virginia’s transportation challenges. If you would like to know more about how RWA can help with your transportation challenges, contact RWA today. 

Traffic Congestion Loudoun Countyimage credit: neoporcupine on flickr

Federal Government Increases Transit Commuter Tax Benefit – It Pays To Ride Public Transit

When the Federal Government voted very early on January 1st to avert the “fiscal cliff” it also passed another piece of legislation that is very important on the public transportation front. In a report from the APTA, it stated that the tax provision with the transit commuter benefit will be increased from $125 to $240 per month, making it equal to the federal tax benefit for parking. This provision extends through 2013 and is retroactive to December 31, 2011.

Congress Passes Fiscal Cliff Legislation; President Signs

Very early on January 1, the Senate passed, by a vote of 89-8, legislation to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The cliff was a combination of sizeable tax increases from expiring Bush era tax cuts and government wide spending cuts from the Congressional budget sequestration legislation, which were set to automatically take effect at the beginning of 2013.

On the tax front, the legislation included a permanent extension of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts for personal income tax rates for everyone, except individuals with taxable income over $400,000 per year and couples with a combined income over $450,000 per year. Additionally, the Alternative Minimum Tax was permanently pegged to inflation.

The bill also includes two tax provisions that are important for transit. It increases the transit commuter tax benefit from $125 per month to $240 per month, thereby making the transit benefit equal to the federal tax benefit for parking. This law allows transit users to receive up to $240 per month, from employers, as a non-taxable fringe benefit, or allows employees to set aside up to that amount as a pre-tax benefit for commuting to work on public transportation.

The measure also extends through 2013, retroactive to December 31, 2011, provisions in the tax code providing a tax credit for a portion of costs associated with alternative fuel use by transit systems.

Senate Democrats proposed delaying the sequestration spending cuts for a full year, but Republican opposition to their plan resulted in the legislation including only a two-month delay, paid for by $12 billion in revenue increases and $12 billion in spending cuts.

Republicans in the House of Representatives initially argued that the Senate bill did not provide enough in the way of spending cuts. After discussion of amending the Senate bill, the legislation was brought up for a vote – unamended – and passed the House by a vote of 257-167.

The 113th Congress will immediately face a number of large obstacles. Before the end of March, Congress will need to make additional spending cuts required by sequestration and increase the federal debt limit. It will also need to address the expiration on March 27th of the Fiscal Year 2013 Continuing Resolution currently funding the federal government.

Source: APTA

Long Island Receives $60 million for Multimodal and Economic Development Projects

New York’s Regional Economic Development Councils recently awarded Long Island nearly 60 million in funding for 86 multimodal and economic development projects in  Nassau and Suffolk counties, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced.

The Regional Councils was created in 2011 by Gov. Cuomo as strategy to revive the economy and create jobs. The Regional Councils’s approach to economic development is a community-based, performance-driven approach. The program promotes community, business, academic leaders, and members of the public in each region New York to work together to develop strategic plans specifically for their region. Each region focuses on their strengths and resources to initiate projects that will create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

Long Island was awarded $59.7 million for 86 projects in Nassau and Suffolk counties. According to a release by Gov. Cuomo office included below are some of the multimodal and economic development projects funded:

  • $1 million to support the construction of an $80 million, 94,000 sq. ft. Research Institute at Winthrop University Hospital in the Village of Mineola. The Institute will be a medical research and education facility that will focus on diabetes and obesity.
  • $1 million to support the construction of a sewage collection system for the Ronkonkoma Hub transit-oriented development. The system will connect the proposed mixed use redevelopment project a to new sewage treatment plant being constructed by Suffolk County with Round One Regional Council support. A second component in the Town of Islip involves the construction of a four lane access road of approximately 9,000 linear feet to a 60-acre undeveloped parcel at MacArthur Airport. This project is critical to the retention of the FAA Tracon Facility on Long Island and retention of 800 jobs.
  • $1 million to construct a new Long Island Railroad station and pedestrian overpass, providing access to new commuter parking areas in Wyandanch.
  • $500,000 for Nassau County to redevelop the 77-acre Nassau Hub area to include a new state-of-the-art indoor sports arena, minor league baseball park, retail, office and residential development.
  • $500,000 for the expansion of the Brookhaven Rail Terminal in Yaphank to include construction of a 500,000 sq. ft. refrigerated warehouse and a multi-modal rail freight facility to transport of product on and off Long Island.

As a nationally recognized economic development consulting firm, Randy Wright and Associates is an industry leader in urban development and multimodal transportation projects. Follow our blog for the latest industry news and trends. 

Regional Economic Development Councilimage credit: Governorandrewcuomo on Flickr

High Speed Rail to Connect Michigan and Illinois

Troy, MI is one step closer to becoming the hub of regional high speed rail and bus service between Michigan and Illinois. Troy’s old Amtrak station will be torn down and replaced with a modern multi-modal transportation center, however existing rail line will be used.

The Troy Multimodal Center groundbreaking, for the 6.3 million, 28,000-square-foot project, occurred in November. The center’s site will include a 2,000-square-foot building connecting a pedestrian bridge to the train platform, a docking station for as many as four buses and parking for commuters and travelers.

Funding for the Troy Multimodal Transit Center was secured by Congressman Gary Peters. This project and several others in metro Detroit, the state and region are a part of a reinvestment plan by the Federal government. The goal is to offer a modern, safe ADA compliant facillty that is easy to use and promotes greater mobility options through a centralized facility that provides access to intercity passenger rail service, regional bus routes, taxi services and the Troy-Oakland Airport. Similar stations are also going to be built in Dearborn and Pontiac, both cities are located along a rail line that has been identified for high speed rail between Michigan and Chicago.

In a statement at the groundbreaking Congressman Peters emphasized the important of multimodal transportation projects. “Wherever there has been transit investment there’s been economic development,” he said at the facilities groundbreaking. The project is expected to stimulate employment and economic development in the surrounding communities.

As a leading transportation consulting firm, Randy Wright and Associates is an industry leader in urban development and multimodal transportation projects. Follow our blog for the latest industry news and trends.

US Groundbreakingimage credit: sabrefans77 on Flickr

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