TDA Newsletter  6/30/2020
House to Take Up Surface Transportation as Part of a Larger Infrastructure Package
On June 18, the House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee approved – along party lines – a five-year reauthorization of federal surface transportation programs.

The $494 billion Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act (INVEST) comprises the following modal investments:

  • $319 billion for highway investments (a $96 billion increase);
  • $105 billion for public transportation improvements (a $44 billion increase);
  • $60 billion for rail investments (a $50 billion increase); and
  • $10 billion for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration programs (a $3 billion increase).

The full House is expected to take up the measure this week as part of a broader infrastructure package. The $1.5 trillion Moving Forward Act also includes water, broadband, and other infrastructure investments.

The $494 billion surface transportation portion of the Moving Forward Act would be paid for in part with a $145 billion transfer of general revenues to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF).

The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee passed the highway portion of a reauthorization bill, America’s Transportation Investment Act (ATIA), in July of 2019. The remaining three U.S. Senate committees with jurisdiction over surface transportation still need to act, and floor time needs to be scheduled.

The current law, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, expires September 30.
Summer Travel Plan Predictions: AAA Expects Car Travel to Remain Strong
AAA forecasts that Americans will still get out and explore this summer while waiting longer than usual to make their travel plans. However, travelers will be more likely to plan long weekend getaways than extended vacations. Since April, AAA travel experts have seen positive travel trends with a gradual increase in hotel and rental car bookings.

Car trips are projected to account for 97% of the summer's 683 million anticipated journeys.

Wisconsin has many beautiful places that are ideal for an extended weekend to enjoy the fresh air and the scenery. These numerous excursion options may be why AAA placed the Badger State in the top one-third of states that could see traffic congestion rise to normal levels – but still be below usual summer traffic. More
Wisconsin News
I-94 North-South Project Wraps
With the completion of the 18.5 miles of interstate along I-94 from College Avenue to WIS 142, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation finished the last leg of the I-94 North-South Project. This section of the project had a $410 million price tag and was completed on time and budget.
The entire 35-mile I-94 North-South Project corridor stretches from the Mitchell Interchange to the Wisconsin/Illinois border. Modernization will not only result in a much safer interstate section but has already induced significant private investment along the corridor, including Uline, Amazon, and Haribo. More
Wisconsin Receives Federal Grants
Wisconsin was recently awarded two critical grants – one for Milwaukee Bus Rapid Transit and one for the Merrimac Bridge.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a $40.9 million grant for Milwaukee's East-West Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The East-West BRT is a 9-mile transit service connecting employment, education, and recreation destinations through downtown Milwaukee, Milwaukee’s Near West Side, Marquette University, Wauwatosa, and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center.

Bus Rapid Transit is a more modern bus-based transit system that delivers fast and efficient service with features such as dedicated lanes, real-time arrival signs, traffic signal priority, and off-board fare collection.

“We’re pleased that the Federal government recognizes Milwaukee County’s transportation needs by providing their share of support,” said County Executive David Crowley. “This is especially welcome news as we look to jumpstart our economy that has been hard hit by the Coronavius Disease pandemic.”

The construction of this new service is scheduled to begin this year, with a project cost of around $54 million. Service will start in 2021.

Merrimac Bridge
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will receive a $6.75 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant to complete the last phase of the Merrimac Bridge rehabilitation. This money will cover about half of the remaining work to upgrade the existing rail bridge over the Wisconsin River. With this award, $5.8 million in state freight rail bridge preservation funds will be available for other bridge repairs.

The project, which will increase the bridge's carload capacity to 286,000 pounds at 25 mph and extend its life by 40 years, is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

“More than 170 million tons of freight move by rail in Wisconsin each year. Our rail system is vital to the economic health of our major industries, including manufacturing and agriculture. WisDOT is committed to improving the condition of this vital resource throughout Wisconsin,” said Secretary Thompson.
Wisconsin DOT Expands Bridge Program
After launching a pilot program to improve efficiency and streamline bridge improvements for local communities, WisDOT recently announced that the program this year will roughly double, expand to other roadway projects, and gain eligibility for federal funding.

WisDOT launched the pilot with input and support from the Federal Highway Administration and Wisconsin County Highway Association. Both groups helped to develop project selection and evaluation criteria and continue to provide quality assurance.

“This program is a proven opportunity for local governments to reduce costs and expedite project delivery,” Wisconsin County Highway Association (WCHA) Executive Director Daniel J. Fedderly said. Read more
Other Transportation News
Only a Fraction of a Gas Tax Increase is Passed on at the Pump
According to an analysis by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (ARTBA-TIAC), only one-third of state gas tax increases – or decreases – are passed on to consumers in the retail price of gas.

The report’s authors examined 113 changes in gas tax rates in 29 states between 2013 and 2018. These changes included both legislative and variable-rate adjustments.

This study confirms previous research, which found the price of crude oil is the determinant factor for gas prices. State gas taxes are only a small part of a complicated pricing process for retail gasoline.

“Just like we are seeing in today’s environment, what drivers pay at the pump for gasoline can change dramatically from day-to-day,” said ARTBA’s Chief Economist and study author Alison Black. “And these fluctuations have little to do with state efforts to raise transportation revenues to support much-needed infrastructure investments.”

The national average retail price of gas fluctuated between $1.70 and $3.79 per gallon during the period under study. More
2020 Census Counts
The 2020 U.S. Census is underway. This once-a-decade count impacts roads, highways, and public transportation funding in your community.

The census asks a few simple questions about you and everyone living with you on April 1. Wisconsin's self-response rate (68.7%) is higher than the national rate (61.7%). However, everyone's participation is needed to ensure a complete and accurate count.

The deadline for the 2020 Census has been extended to October 31. But do not wait! If you haven’t responded already, click here to be counted.
TDA Outreach
On The Go Podcast: Traffic Changes During COVID-19

In the latest On The Go podcast, TDA Executive Director Debby Jackson speaks with David Noyce, professor of civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the Traffic Operations and Safety Laboratory (TOPS Lab). The two talk about the travel disruption in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, to what extent travel has rebounded, and what we can expect in the near future.

Noyce also explains TOPS' mission of improving traffic operations and safety in Wisconsin and across the Midwest.

Listen to the latest episode here .
Association News
Upcoming TDA Events

TDA Annual Meeting: Thursday, November 12

Happy July 4th!
TDA wishes you and your family a happy and safe July 4th weekend.