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Archive for the ‘infrastructure’ Category

Enterprising States 2014: Re-Creating Equality and Opportunity

July 23, 2014 Comments off

Enterprising States 2014: Re-Creating Equality and Opportunity
Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has released its annual Enterprising States study, offering an in-depth look at the free enterprise policies being implemented to promote economic growth at the state and local levels.

Now in its fifth edition, the Enterprising States study measures state performance overall and across five policy areas important for job growth and economic prosperity. Those five areas include:

  • Talent Pipeline
  • Exports and International Trade
  • Technology and Entrepreneurship
  • Business Climate
  • Infrastructure

The 2014 report relates these policies and practices to the need for collaboration between education, workforce development, and economic development to positively combat the nation’s growing skills gap.

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Making Effective Fixed-Guideway Transit Investments: Indicators of Success

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Making Effective Fixed-Guideway Transit Investments: Indicators of Success
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 167: Making Effective Fixed-Guideway Transit Investments: Indicators of Success provides a data-driven, indicator-based model for predicting the success of a fixed-guideway transit project. The handbook and final research report make up Parts 1 and 2 of TCRP Report 167, and the spreadsheet tool is available separately for download.

Marine mammals trace anthropogenic structures at sea

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Marine mammals trace anthropogenic structures at sea
Source: Current Biology

On land, species from all trophic levels have adapted to fill vacant niches in environments heavily modified by humans (e.g. [1] ). In the marine environment, ocean infrastructure has led to artificial reefs, resulting in localized increases in fish and crustacean density [2] . Whether marine apex predators exhibit behavioural adaptations to utilise such a scattered potential resource is unknown. Using high resolution GPS data we show how infrastructure, including wind turbines and pipelines, shapes the movements of individuals from two seal species (Phoca vitulina and Halichoerus grypus). Using state-space models, we infer that these animals are using structures to forage. We highlight the ecological consequences of such behaviour, at a time of unprecedented developments in marine infrastructure.

See: Seals Are Drawn to Offshore Wind Farms (The Atlantic)

Evaluating the Effect of Smart Growth Policies on Travel Demand

July 21, 2014 Comments off

Evaluating the Effect of Smart Growth Policies on Travel Demand
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) has released a project brief that provides transportation planning agencies with improved tools and methods to accurately and comprehensively integrate transportation investment decision making with land development and growth management.

Recommended Bicycle Lane Widths for Various Roadway Characteristics

July 19, 2014 Comments off

Recommended Bicycle Lane Widths for Various Roadway Characteristics
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 766: Recommended Bicycle Lane Widths for Various Roadway Characteristics presents an analysis of the research and design guidance for bicycle lane widths on existing travel lane widths and parking lane widths. The conclusions are most applicable to urban and suburban roadways with level grade and a posted speed limit of 30 mph and should be used cautiously for the design of roadways with motor vehicle speeds outside of the range of 25 to 35 mph, and in particular for higher-speed roadways.

Future of Asia’s Finance: How Can it Meet Challenges of Demographic Change and Infrastructure Needs?

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Future of Asia’s Finance: How Can it Meet Challenges of Demographic Change and Infrastructure Needs?
Source: International Monetary Fund

There is a role for Asia’s financial sector to play to address the challenges associated with the region’s changing demographics and infrastructure investment needs. Enhancing financial innovation and integration in the region could facilitate intra-regional financial flows and mobilize resources from the aging savers in industrialized Asia to finance infrastructure investment in emerging Asia. Strengthening the financial ties within the region as well as with the global financial markets alongside appropriate prudential frameworks could also help diversify sources of financing and reduce the cost of funding in emerging Asia. Finally, financial deepening could help ease the potential overheating from scaling up infrastructure investment and hence achieve a more balanced growth in the region.

National Funding of Road Infrastructure

July 10, 2014 Comments off

National Funding of Road Infrastructure
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report examines the funding of roads and highways in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England and Wales, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, and Sweden. It provides a description of the infrastructure in the jurisdiction, information on the ownership and responsibility of the roads, and taxes or other ways of collecting money to fund the nation’s infrastructure. If applicable, a discussion of reforms or new initiatives is examined.

CRS — The U.S. Secret Service: History and Missions (updated)

July 8, 2014 Comments off

The U.S. Secret Service: History and Missions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The U.S. Secret Service has two missions—criminal investigations and protection. Criminal investigation activities have expanded since the inception of the Service from a small anticounterfeiting operation at the end of the Civil War, to now encompassing financial crimes, identity theft, counterfeiting, computer fraud, and computer-based attacks on the nation’s financial, banking, and telecommunications infrastructure, among other areas. Protection activities, which have expanded and evolved since the 1890s, include ensuring the safety and security of the President, Vice President, their families, and other identified individuals and locations.

Making Effective Fixed-Guideway Transit Investments: Indicators of Success

July 5, 2014 Comments off

Making Effective Fixed-Guideway Transit Investments: Indicators of Success
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 167: Making Effective Fixed-Guideway Transit Investments: Indicators of Success provides a data-driven, indicator-based model for predicting the success of a fixed guideway transit project. The handbook and final research report make up Parts 1 and 2 of TCRP Report 167, and the spreadsheet tool is available separately for download.

U.S. Department of Transportation Outlines Steps for Managing Impending Highway Trust Fund Shortfall

July 3, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Department of Transportation Outlines Steps for Managing Impending Highway Trust Fund Shortfall
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx today sent letters to state transportation departments and transit agencies outlining steps the Department of Transportation (DOT) will soon be forced to take to manage the impending insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund. In both letters, Secretary Foxx outlined the Department’s proposed plan while emphasizing the need for Congress to act in order to avoid such a shortfall.

“There is still time for Congress to act on a long term solution,” said Secretary Foxx. “Our transportation infrastructure is too essential to suffer continued neglect, and I hope Congress will avert this crisis before it is too late.”

The Department’s most recent projections show the shortfall will reach a critical point in the Trust Fund’s Highway Account in just a few weeks, requiring the Department to institute cash management procedures for highways at that time, with a similar cash management plan to follow for the Trust Fund’s Mass Transit Account when it is expected to reach a similar point this Fall.

Human Activities Increase Salt Content in Many of the Nation’s Streams

June 20, 2014 Comments off

Human Activities Increase Salt Content in Many of the Nation’s Streams
Source: USGS

Concentrations of dissolved solids, a measure of the salt content in water, are elevated in many of the Nations streams as a result of human activities, according to a new USGS study. Excessive dissolved-solids concentrations in water can have adverse effects on the environment and on agricultural, domestic, municipal, and industrial water users.

Results from this study provide a nation-wide picture of where dissolved-solids concentrations are likely to be of concern, as well as the sources leading to such conditions.

“This study provides the most comprehensive national-scale assessment to date of dissolved solids in our streams,” said William Werkheiser, USGS Associate Director for Water. “For years we have known that activities, such as road de-icing, irrigation, and other activities in urban and agricultural lands increase the dissolved solids concentrations above natural levels caused by rock weathering, and now we have improved science-based information on the primary sources of dissolved-solids in the nation’s streams.”

The highest concentrations are found in streams in an area that extends from west Texas to North Dakota. Widespread occurrences of moderate concentrations are found in streams extending in an arc from eastern Texas to northern Minnesota to eastern Ohio. Low concentrations are found in many states along the Atlantic coast and in the Pacific Northwest.

CBO — Answers to Questions for the Record Following a Hearing on New Routes for Funding and Financing Highways and Transit Conducted by the Senate Committee on Finance

June 20, 2014 Comments off

Answers to Questions for the Record Following a Hearing on New Routes for Funding and Financing Highways and Transit Conducted by the Senate Committee on Finance
Source: Congressional Budget Office

On May 6, 2014, the Senate Committee on Finance convened a hearing at which Joseph Kile, Assistant Director for Microeconomic Studies, testified about CBO’s analysis of the status of the Highway Trust Fund and some options for financing highway spending. Some Members of the Committee submitted further questions for the record, and this document provides CBO’s answers.

See also: The Highway Trust Fund and the Treatment of Surface Transportation Programs in the Federal Budget

2012 Economic Census Industry Series Reports – Pipeline Transportation

June 19, 2014 Comments off

2012 Economic Census Industry Series Reports – Pipeline Transportation
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Today the U.S. Census Bureau released additional data from the 2012 Economic Census Industry Series reports, including new data for the transportation sector on pipeline transportation.

This data series publishes national statistics for detailed industries as well as information on the product lines sold by or services provided by businesses. The economic census is conducted every five years and provides a comprehensive and detailed profile of the U.S. economy, covering millions of businesses representing more than 1,000 industries and providing unique portraits of American industries and local communities.

These new data showed that:

  • The pipeline transportation of crude oil industry had an almost 70 percent increase in employment from 2007 to 2012, going from more than 6,500 employees to more than 11,100 employees.
  • The pipeline transportation of refined petroleum products industry had more than a 28 percent increase in average annual payroll per employee from 2007 to 2012, going from $79,000 per employee to more than $100,000 per employee.
  • Pipeline transportation of crude oil makes up 23 percent of total pipeline employment versus 65 percent for natural gas and 12 percent for other refined products.
  • Pipeline transportation of crude oil makes up 18 percent of total pipeline revenue versus 63 percent for natural gas and 19 percent for other refined products.

The Four Dimensions of Effective mHealth: People, Places, Payment and Purpose

June 11, 2014 Comments off

The Four Dimensions of Effective mHealth: People, Places, Payment and Purpose
Source: Deloitte

The promise of mobile health (mHealth), the use of mobile devices to support the practice of medicine and public health, is profound but, as yet, unrealized. mHealth strategies, however, are not “one-size-fits-all.” By leveraging the power and reach of mobile communications, mHealth makes it possible to provide a more versatile and personalized approach to health care. However, in order for mHealth to reach its full potential, four critical dimensions must align: people, places, payment and purpose.

CRS — Water Infrastructure Financing: Proposals to Create a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program

June 5, 2014 Comments off

Water Infrastructure Financing: Proposals to Create a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Policy makers have recently been considering several legislative options to help finance water infrastructure projects, including projects to build and upgrade wastewater and drinking water treatment systems. This report examines one particular option being debated, creation of a “Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act,” or WIFIA, program. Although several other approaches have also been proposed, much of the recent legislative and policy attention has been on WIFIA. In the 113th Congress, House and Senate conferees have included a WIFIA pilot program in H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, or WRRDA. The conference report adopts WIFIA provisions from Senate-passed S. 601 with some additions and modifications. H.R. 3080 as passed by the House did not include similar provisions.

Reshaping the Energy System Could Save Europe Up to €81 Billion in Annual Energy Expenditure, Says New Study by EURELECTRIC and Accenture

June 4, 2014 Comments off

Reshaping the Energy System Could Save Europe Up to €81 Billion in Annual Energy Expenditure, Says New Study by EURELECTRIC and Accenture
Source: Accenture

Reshaping the European energy system could reduce energy expenditure by a range of €27 billion to €81 billion a year by 2030, according to a new study, Forging a joint commitment to sustainable and cost-efficient energy transition in Europe, carried out by Accenture (NYSE: ACN) for EURELECTRIC.

The study shows that European expenditure on electricity and gas, the product of prices and the volumes consumed, has surged by more than 18 percent in recent years, from €450 billion in 2008 to €532 billion in 2012, with electricity accounting for most of this increase. Rising prices were almost solely responsible for the jump, driven largely by charges for renewables support, while the volumes consumed remained largely stable. Without a concerted effort by the industry, policymakers and consumers to more effectively manage the energy system, total energy expenditure could be 50 percent higher by 2030.

Managing Transnational Infrastructure Programs in Africa—Challenges and Best Practices

May 28, 2014 Comments off

Managing Transnational Infrastructure Programs in Africa—Challenges and Best Practices
Source: Boston Consulting Group

Transnational infrastructure programs, such as cross-border railway networks and electricity distribution systems, can increase regional trade, prosperity, stability, and integration. That is part of the rationale of the Priority Action Plan of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA PAP), encompassing 51 programs and with an investment need of $68 billion up to the year 2020. Such programs face formidable challenges, however.

The challenges relate to financing, to technical and regulatory alignments (agreeing on the gauge width of a cross-border railway network, for instance, or on national axis-load regulations), and to matters of governance and even human relations. It is obviously very tricky to coordinate a program’s responsibilities and processes across several countries when there is a great diversity of languages, cultures, financial capacities, and political and regulatory environments. Matters are further compounded by national self-interest, as in staffing, and sometimes by a legacy of historical rivalry and mistrust.

The challenges can be overcome, however, through the skillful deployment of established best practices during the program’s various phases. A framework of these best practices is presented in a new World Economic Forum report on the African Strategic Infrastructure Initiative, Managing Transnational Infrastructure Programmes in Africa—Challenges and Best Practices. The report, developed together with The Boston Consulting Group, is a guide for policy makers, sponsors, and managers that aims to facilitate the delivery of transnational programs punctually and cost-effectively.

Free registration required to access report.

The Hidden Value in Government Assets

May 22, 2014 Comments off

The Hidden Value in Government Assets
Source: Boston Consulting Group

The pressure on governments around the world to reduce deficits and public debt has been unrelenting. The response in many cases has been to cut operating costs, raise taxes, and slash investments. The potential downside to those moves, however, is sizable and includes delayed economic recovery and social unrest.

Another weapon in the government arsenal, however, has gone largely unused. Governments have not made a concerted and systematic effort to fully utilize and better manage the assets under their control, an approach known as asset optimization. Asset optimization may bring to mind steps such as divestments or privatizations, but they constitute just one piece of the puzzle. Beyond such one-time moves there are major opportunities for governments to aggressively manage the performance and maintenance of everything from roads to power plants and public museums.

The reasons for focusing on how government assets are managed are numerous and compelling. For one thing, the asset base is massive—the assets of many governments amount to trillions of dollars—and diverse, encompassing everything from physical infrastructure to valuable public data. Furthermore, unlike tax increases or budget cuts, asset optimization is not a drag on economic growth. And the political downside is limited, particularly when better management can yield improved service for the public and a better return on public dollars invested.

Just as important, asset optimization is eminently achievable in three steps: ensuring assets are operating at maximum capacity and efficiency, investing in those assets over their entire life cycle to minimize total costs, and generating additional revenues from those assets where possible. And while moving effectively on all three fronts requires focus and detailed planning, success is well within reach for most governments. The most challenging barriers to success are lack of attention to the opportunity and lack of commitment to making it happen.

Free registration required to access report.

New From the GAO

May 15, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office

Report

1. Law Enforcement Body Armor: Status of DOJ’s Efforts to Address GAO Recommendations. GAO-14-610R, May 14.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-610R

Testimonies

1. Critical Infrastructure Protection: Observations on DHS Efforts to Implement and Manage its Chemical Security Program, by Stephen L. Caldwell, director, homeland security and justice, before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-14-608T, May 14.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-608T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663171.pdf

2. Disaster Resilience: Actions Are Underway, but Federal Fiscal Exposure Highlights the Need for Continued Attention to Longstanding Challenges, by Chris Currie, acting director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittee on Emergency Management, Intergovernmental Relations, and the District of Columbia, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-14-603T, May 14.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-603T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663180.pdf

Beyond Shovel-Ready: The Extent and Impact of U.S. Infrastructure Jobs

May 12, 2014 Comments off

Beyond Shovel-Ready: The Extent and Impact of U.S. Infrastructure Jobs
Source: Brookings Institution

An analysis of occupational employment data for the United States reveals that:

In 2012, 14.2 million workers were employed in infrastructure jobs across the country, accounting for 11 percent of national employment. Truck drivers, electricians, and civil engineers are among the occupations employing the most workers overall, the broad majority of whom (77 percent) focus on operating infrastructure rather than its construction (15 percent), design (6 percent), or governance (2 percent). At the same time, 9.1 million of these jobs are found in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, with logistics hubs like Memphis and Louisville having the highest share of workers involved in infrastructure-related activities.

Infrastructure occupations tend to offer more equitable wages compared to all occupations nationally, paying over 30 percent more to workers at lower ends of the income scale. Workers in infrastructure occupations earn significantly higher wages at the 10th and 25th percentile ($24,750 and $30,190) relative to all workers in the U.S. ($18,090 and $22,480). These not only include specialized occupations that pay above-average wages such as nuclear engineers and hydrologists, but also other sizable occupations such as telecommunication line installers and water treatment plant operators found in nearly every metropolitan area throughout the country.

More than 80 percent of workers employed in infrastructure occupations typically have short- to long- term on-the-job training, but only 12 percent hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and generally need less education to qualify for these jobs. Many infrastructure jobs have low barriers of entry in terms of formal education, including cargo agents, rail car repairers, and other trade occupations, which frequently rely on skills developed on the job. However, these workers still earn competitive wages across a variety of occupations, ranging from gas compressor operators to septic tank servicers.

Infrastructure occupations are projected to increase 9.1 percent during the next decade, including the need to replace more than 2.7 million workers. From 2012 to 2022, many infrastructure jobs are projected to grow by thousands of additional workers, led by fast-growing occupations such as wind turbine service technicians and solar photovoltaic installers. Critically, though, there will be a need to replace almost one quarter of this infrastructure workforce due to retirements and other employment shifts.

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