Federal Funding Information from Robin Summerfield

House approves bills extending funds for FAA, highways
By Pete Kasperowicz – 09/13/11 01:21 PM ET
The House on Tuesday afternoon easily approved legislation that extends taxes that fund the Federal Aviation Administration for more than three months, and extends taxes that fund federal highway spending for six months.
Members approved the bipartisan bill by voice vote, under a suspension of House rules. The bill was announced Monday as the result of a bipartisan agreement between House and Senate leaders.
Some extension of FAA and highway taxes is needed this month. FAA funding expires Friday, but is extended through January under the bill; funding for federal highway programs expires at the end of September, but would be extended through March.
The bill, H.R. 2887, marks the 22nd temporary extension of FAA funding, and the eighth extension of federal highway programs. But House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) vowed on Tuesday that this would be the last temporary extension for the FAA.
“This is the 22nd extension, and I can guarantee it will be the last extension, because we must and we will pass a four-year authorization,” he said on the floor. Mica also said he wants a six-year highway bill.
A longer-term FAA funding bill has been held up by House Republican demands for $4 billion in FAA cuts and language that would make it harder to form air unions. The highway bill has also been held up by a dispute over funding. Republicans have pressed for a bill spending about $40 billion annually for six years, while Democrats have sought a two-year bill spending more than $50 billion per year.
Several Democrats on Tuesday welcomed the clean extension of FAA and highway funding, and said the legislation stands in contrast to a bill House Republicans pressed for in July. That bill would have cut off subsidies to three airports — including one in the home state of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The Senate rejected that bill, leading to a two-week shutdown of FAA construction projects.
Democrats also supported the bill on Tuesday because it would not cut funding from fiscal year 2011 levels, unlike other Republican proposals.
“The funding levels in the pending measure are far more preferable than what we are seeing being proposed by Republicans on the Appropriations Committee,” said Committee Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.).
With House passage, the bill moves to the Senate, which is also expected to approve the language.

CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS – TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE
Sept. 12, 2011 – 7:10 p.m.
White House Plans Include Contested Rail Programs, Infrastructure Bank
By Kathryn A. Wolfe, CQ Staff
President Obama’s jobs bill contains billions of dollars for Amtrak and high-speed rail, both of which are likely to draw fierce Republican opposition.
Though the lion’s share of the $50 billion infusion of infrastructure cash Obama is seeking would go toward the highway and rail projects that are considered the breadbasket of transportation spending, the plan also calls for $4 billion for intercity and high-speed passenger rail, and $2 billion for Amtrak capital improvements. Both have become lightning rods for partisan attack.
Additionally, Obama has apparently backed away from his Labor Day call of last year to pay for an immediate $50 billion in infrastructure spending simply by front-loading the first year of expenditures under the next surface transportation bill.
Instead, the jobs plan mostly would generate revenue by levying more taxes on the highest-income Americans and ending some subsidies for the oil and gas industry.
Some transportation stakeholders may be pleased to hear that Obama has abandoned what many viewed was an unrealistic way to fund the sort of infrastructure investments he wants, but the approach will no doubt draw partisan rhetoric about the measure being “stimulus, take two.”

Banks Details


The jobs bill also includes a proposal for an infrastructure bank that seems substantially modeled after a proposal championed by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas (S 652).
Like the Kerry-Hutchison plan, Obama’s proposal would provide loans and loan guarantees for infrastructure projects including transportation, energy and water infrastructure of national or regional significance. Both propose a seven-member governing body appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate and envision an initial capitalization of $10 billion in federal money.
There are some differences, however.
For instance, Kerry-Hutchison contains a section stipulating that the bank should take actions to make it a “self-sustaining entity, with administrative costs and federal credit subsidy costs fully funded by fees and risk premiums.”
In contrast, the Obama jobs bill says the bank should take actions to “minimize the risk and cost to the taxpayer” of the bank’s activities, and notes that its fees and premiums “will be set at levels that minimize administrative and federal credit subsidy costs . . . while supporting achievement of the program’s objectives.”
Beyond the money for highways, high-speed rail and Amtrak, the jobs bill calls for $6 billion for fixed guideway systems, $5 billion for competitive grants across all modes, $3 billion for transit capital projects, $2 billion for airport capital projects, and $1 billion for modernizing the air traffic control system.

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Local Transportation Priorities Remain Unchanged (Frederick News-Post)

Originally published September 23, 2011
By Stephanie Mlot
News-Post Staff

Despite a lack of funding for state transportation projects, Maryland’s transportation secretary is staying positive about future possibilities for change. During the annual transportation priorities tour, state Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley listened to input from city, county and state officials about the draft fiscal 2012-2017 Consolidated Transportation Program.

Last year’s update varied little from the 2010 CTP report, and the lack of additional funding this year has left little room for change in the list of priorities.

Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young listed the top transportation projects as voted on by the board last week, including the U.S. 15/Monocacy Boulevard Interchange construction project, I-70 Phase 4 design project and the I-70 interchange at Meadow Road planning project.

The U.S. 15/Monocacy Boulevard project was in the design phase during last year’s priorities tour; this year, SHA reported that engineering is under way.

State Highway Administration District Engineer Dave Coyne said there were no surprises during Thursday’s meeting.

“Everybody wants their highway user revenue back,” he said of the topic brought up by city aldermen, county commissioners and state officials during the meeting.

Even without the added funding, partnerships between the state, county and city have allowed local projects such as the Motter Avenue bridge and Opossumtown Pike improvements to move forward.

Swaim-Staley offered more good news Thursday night.

“Just as last year, we have not had to cut any projects out of the program,” she said during the meeting.

For the past several years, the state has not been able to address major expansion projects. The secretary said that to be able to get back to long-term planning and construction, the state needs to be in a stable funding situation. Swaim-Staley intends to continue working with the federal government to get to that point, she said.

Historically, the state is able to chip away at priorities each year, adding new ones to the CTP and completing years’ worth of projects.

For the past few years, that has not been the case, Swaim-Staley said after the meeting. But Frederick’s priorities have stayed consistent, which makes it easier for the state to move forward.

New Ridesharing Lot Opens Along U-S 340

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) has the answer to rising gas prices! To meet the growing regional ridesharing demand. SHA is opening a new expansion lot on U-S 340 near Elmer Derr Road and Mount Zion Road in Frederick County.

Located near the existing 34 space lot that has reached vehicle capacity, the new lot provides 46 additional parking spaces. In the existing lot, 20 spaces are now reassigned for MARC users. SHA also improved access to the lots by adding a new deceleration lane on the north side of Elmer Derr Road and a shoulder bypass lane on the south side of the roadway.under the Commuter &Travel tab at the top of the page. Customers who have questions about traffic operations on U-S 340 or other State numbered routes in Frederick County may call SHA’s District 7 Office at 301-624-8100 or toll free at 1-800-635-5119. Ridesharing supports the efforts of the Smart, Green and Growing initiative introduced by Governor Martin O’Malley in 2008 to strengthen the state’s leadership role in fostering smarter, more sustainable growth and inspiring action among all Marylanders to achieve a more sustainable future. The initiative brings together state agencies, local governments, businesses and citizens to create more livable communities, improve transportation options, reduce the state’s carbon footprint, support resource based industry, invest in green technologies, preserve valuable resource lands and restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

“When gas prices rise, we expect to see an increase in the demand for spaces at our ridesharing lots,” said David Coyne, SHA District 7 Engineer.  “With gas prices now above $3 a gallon, the additional spaces at this lot are even more welcome.”  The $511,000 project was awarded to L.W. Wolfe Enterprises, Inc. of Myersville.

For more information on ridesharing lots visit www.roads.maryland.gov. Click on “Park-NRides”

New Wayfinding Signage System Helps Motorists/Visitors in Frederick

Faced with a situation that included a lack of consistent signage as well as visitors and residents attempting to navigate with incomplete, out-of-date or faded signage, the fabrication and installation of a comprehensive Wayfinding system is a critical component of the community’s efforts to promote, preserve and enhance the vitality of Downtown Frederick and Frederick overall.    (Click to enlarge images)

The resulting signage will market the wealth of experiences to be found in the community.  In addition to adding new signs, the old and out of date signs also will be removed. The Wayfinding planning process kicked off more than six years ago with an effort to change the proposed signage related to the improvements to Interstate 70.  The City of Frederick, Downtown Frederick Partnership and the Tourism Council of Frederick County all partnered together and contributed the funds necessary to add the word “Downtown” to the new East Street exit. 

This fiscal and planning partnership has continued throughout the entire six+ year process.  The funds invested in the exit ramp signage were matched with grant funds from the National Scenic Byway and the State of Maryland’s Neighborhood Business Works program.  Together, these sources of funding enabled Downtown Frederick Partnership to hire MERJE to launch the planning and design of a comprehensive Wayfinding program. 

The Wayfinding planning process involved the general public, stakeholders from the various cultural and historic attractions, downtown merchants and official approval bodies in the effort to design and plan a new signage system for Frederick.  Numerous meetings were held, resulting in design and location approval of the Downtown Frederick Wayfinding System by The City of Frederick Mayor and Board of Aldermen in October 2009. The final sign package was sent out to bid in the spring of 2009.  The contract for installation and fabrication was awarded late in the summer of 2009.  Since that time, the fabricator has been finalizing exact signage locations, creating final construction documents and creating samples for review and approval. 

“Several hundred million dollars has been invested in the revitalization of Downtown Frederick in terms of public infrastructure and private rehabilitation and construction since the devastating floods of the 1970’s – this new state-of-the-art Wayfinding system is critical to ensure that investment is maximized by patrons of downtown,” said Richard Griffin, Director of The City of Frederick Department of Economic Development.

While the design process was wrapping up, Downtown Frederick Partnership led an effort to raise the necessary funds for project implementation.  Implementation will cost about $700,000 – significantly under the initially proposed budget.  Project funding sources include The City of Frederick, Preserve America, the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, the Tourism Council of Frederick County and the State of Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development’s Main Street Improvement Program. 

“Downtown Frederick Partnership has been proud to take on the roll of facilitator and convener to bring together the many people, agencies and funding sources to ensure a project of this magnitude and importance comes to fruition in Downtown Frederick, “ said Kara Norman, Executive Director of Downtown Frederick Partnership. 

The resulting system includes gateway, vehicular, parking and pedestrian signage.  The gateway signage will include the placement of signs welcoming visitors to The City of Frederick as well as Downtown Frederick at key intersections.  The vehicular signage will guide drivers to their intended destinations.  The parking signage is multi-layered and will include information directing drivers to the most appropriate parking garage, new signage placed on the garages that includes the name of each facility and additional signage, including banners and murals, to help drivers identify parking garage entrances when they are hidden from view.  The parking garages also will have additional internal signage to guide exiting drivers to the nearest interstate or highway to assist visitors trying to leave Frederick.  Finally, the pedestrian signage will guide those visiting Downtown Frederick on foot.  Key intersections will have signage to point pedestrians to area local attractions.  Pedestrians also will be guided by new and improved kiosks located at key points throughout Downtown Frederick. 

“The Tourism Council is always evaluating how our area appears from the perspective of first time visitors.  Obviously, easily finding your way somewhere makes a far better first impression than if you get lost.  We are excited about the new system.  There are more messages that could have been included, but the system represents a balance between providing enough guidance and respecting the historic character of downtown,” said John Fieseler, Executive Director of the Tourism Council of Frederick County.

Improvements Made to Dangerous Intersection

Frederick County commuters driving southbound on U.S. 15 will have safer travels thanks to a new right turn lane onto Hayward Road. The State Highway Administration (SHA) recently completed a $500,000 project to construct the lane.

“SHA thanks motorists for their patience and cooperation during the design and construction of this much-needed safety enhancement,” said SHA Administrator Neil J. Pedersen. “The cooperative partnership with state, county officials, law enforcement and community partners has helped enhance safety for U.S. 15 travelers. We ask that motorists continue to drive safely through the intersection and adhere to the appropriate speed limits.”

The new turn lane, approximately 400 feet north of the intersection, allows traffic to now safely merge onto Hayward Road. Motorists traveling on northbound U.S. 15 will also continue to have access to westbound Hayward Road. The construction, along with other safety measures such as reducing the speed limit, adding new pavement markings and installing signs prior to the intersection have enhanced safety. Relocating the right turn movement north of the intersection reduces the potential for conflict between U.S. 15 northbound left turning motorists and the southbound 15 right turning motorists. Prior to this improvement, some left turning motorists would proceed into the intersection and then hesitate when encountering a right turning vehicle from southbound 15.

Customers who have questions about traffic operations along U.S. 15, or other state numbered routes in Frederick County may call SHA’s District 7 Office at 301-624-8100 or toll-free at 800-635-5119.

Learn more about work zone safety and the Choose Safety for Life campaign at http://www.choosesafetyforlife.com.

FDK Breaks Ground on Air Traffic Control Tower

A groundbreaking ceremony for Frederick Municipal Airport’s $5.3 million first air traffic control tower was held in mid-October. U.S. Sentators Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikulski joined several local elected officials and representatives from the FAA at the event.

Construction of the tower is expected to be completed within 18 months; the project is funded by a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Click on the following link to see an architectural rendering of what the tower will look like: 20100615123151522

The airport has two runways and handles a diverse mix of aircraft, including presidential helicopter Marine One. In recent years, the largest growth segment for the airport has been in corporate jets. With two flight restriction areas within a few miles of the airport, it is expected that an air traffic control tower will serve a larger homeland security role by significantly decreasing the number of intrusions into restricted airspace.

SHA Public Meeting – U.S. 15 Interchange

The State Highway Administration will be holding a public information meeting next week concerning the U.S. 15/Monocacy Boulevard intersection project. The details are contained in the attached flyer…US 15 Monocacy Blvd Newsletter – OHD – NL (2)