In this issue:

  • Infrastructure Plan Behind Tax Reform on Congressional Agenda, Transportation Chief Says
  • PA DOT Secretary: Funding Cuts would Prompt Cutes in Transit Service, Infrastructure
  • Pennsylvania House Transportation Chairman John Taylor Announces Retirement
  • Low-No Emission Grants Awarded for Florida
  • FPTA accepting donations for Florida transit workers affected by Hurricane Irma

Infrastructure Plan Behind Tax Reform on Congressional Agenda, Transportation Chief Says

President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure investment plan will have to wait patiently in line behind tax reform before it gets its day in Congress, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. In the meantime, tax reform could drive a funding bump for the National Highway Trust Fund, which doesn’t have a dedicated funding source beyond 2020.

Specifics surrounding the infrastructure plan and how to pay for it continue to be difficult to come by. In the original plan, only $200 billion of the proposed $1 trillion would come from federal funds. The remaining $800 billion would be provided by states, localities and the private sector over the next 10 years. But at a recent meeting with lawmakers, Trump called public-private-partnerships (P3s) “more trouble than their worth.” Meanwhile, Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee wrote Secretary Chao requesting an update on the infrastructure plan.

“We always expected tax reform to come before infrastructure in Congress, and we’re keeping a close eye on how these two major initiatives may intersect when it comes to priorities and compromises on both sides of the aisle,” said Charles Kolling, Jr., Senior Principal of Buchanan’s Government Relations group. “Despite President Trump’s recent comments, P3s are a core element of his initial infrastructure plan, and we expect the private sector to play a key role in infrastructure initiatives.”

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PA DOT Secretary: Funding Cuts Would Prompt Cuts in Transit Service, Infrastructure

Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Leslie S. Richards recently wrote a letter to state lawmakers warning that proposed budget cuts would impact current and pending projects. These cuts, which total more than half a billion dollars, could result in service reductions of more than 30 percent as well as fare increases, according to Richards. The proposed $120 million cut to the Multimodal Transportation Fund would jeopardize projects across the state, Richards said.

“Many regional transportation systems across the state could be deeply impacted by these proposed cuts,” said Buchanan’s Debby Stark. “This plan has already received some pushback from both sides of the aisle, and we anticipate that it will undergo significant changes before being approved by the state senate or the Governor. That being said, some level of cuts are possible and transportation systems need to be actively monitoring this situation.”

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Pennsylvania House Transportation Chairman John Taylor Announces Retirement

House Transportation Chairman John Taylor, known as “one of the most powerful Republicans in Philadelphia,” announced he will not seek re-election when his current term ends next year. Taylor, a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from the 177th Legislative District, has served as a lawmaker since 1985. During his tenure, Taylor played a crucial role in securing funding for Philadelphia area projects including the Pennsylvania Convention Center and new sports stadiums.

“John Taylor garnered a lot of respect from both sides of the aisle during his long tenure in Harrisburg,” said Buchanan’s Kim Sokoloski. “All eyes are now on who will replace him as chair of the House Transportation Committee.”

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Low-No Emission Grants Awarded in Florida

Five Florida entities each received $1 million Low-No Emission Grants from the Federal Transit Administration for fiscal year 2017. The Low or No Emission Competitive program provides funding to state and local governmental authorities for the purchase or lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses as well as acquisition, construction, and leasing of required supporting facilities. Under the FAST Act, $55 million per year is available until fiscal year 2020.

The organizations awarded the grant in Florida are:

  • City of Gainesville
  • Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority
  • The Jacksonville Transportation Authority
  • Broward County
  • City of Tallahassee

“The projects selected through the highly-competitive Low-No program all demonstrate strong value to American communities,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams in a statement. “As transit providers nationwide face a backlog of maintenance needs, it is imperative to replace aging buses near the end of their useful life with newer, cleaner models that are also more efficient to operate and maintain.”

“Grants like these can jumpstart fleet upgrades and create significant opportunities for contractors and private companies to support public entities scale efforts to reduce emissions and improve their services,” said Marnie George at Buchanan. “Entities that operate buses as part of their mass transit systems should strongly consider applying to take advantage of these grants while they are available.”

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FPTA accepting donations for Florida transit workers affected by Hurricane Irma

The Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) has started a donation drive for transit employees who were affected by Hurricane Irma in the State of Florida. Transit employees across Florida evacuated and re-located citizens to shelters for several weeks all over the state. Now that the storm has passed, it appears over 100 transit employees received damage to their houses, and some have lost everything.

Employees that reported damage lived in numerous areas, including Collier, Lee, Duval, Brevard, Volusia, Pinellas, and Monroe Counties. FPTA is seeking gift card donations to assist these individuals on the road to recovery. Any denomination is greatly appreciated. Please go to: https://floridatransit.org/hurricane-irma for more information.