America 2050 Update: May 16, 2008

In This Issue:
  • A National Plan for Meeting America's Infrastructure Needs
  • House bills authorize increased funding for Amtrak, High-speed rail
  • America 2050 Research Seminar on Megaregions
  • News from the Megaregions
    • Northern California Megaregion: Challenges and Policy Options
    • 10th Annual Northeast State Planning Leadership Retreat
    • 2nd Northeast Climate and Competitiveness Summit
    • Show of support by Northeast Business Leaders for Amtrak Funding
  • About America 2050


A National Plan for Meeting America's Infrastructure Needs

On May 9, America 2050 convened a day-long forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C., titled "Rebuilding and Renewing America: Toward a 21st Century Infrastructure Investment Plan."  The event brought together political, labor, business, philanthropic, and civic leaders to address current and future challenges of water, energy and transportation infrastructure in America and discuss the creation of a national infrastructure plan. 

The forum, which was marked by strong bi-partisan participation, was timed to coincide with the introduction of legislation in the House of Representatives to create a U.S. Commission on Rebuilding America for the 21st Century (H.R. 5976) This commission aims to articulate a national vision for infrastructure investment and specific recommendations for policies in transportation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, community health and social equity, water, electric grid and public lands infrastructure. The bill was introduced on May 6 by a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and would create a commission appointed by Congress and the next president.

The forum was distinguished by congressional participation from both sides of the aisle, and the presence of both labor and business leaders. The morning plenary panel featured Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Tom Petri (R-WI), and Chris Shays (R-CT). Tom Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Terence O'Sullivan, President of the Laborers' International Union of North America both addressed the assembled participants. Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and President Judith Rodin of the Rockefeller Foundation, both ardent supporters of tackling the nation's infrastructure and transportation challenges, provided keynote addresses.

The event was co-sponsored by The Rockefeller Foundation, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, The Surdna Foundation, Regional Plan Association and the Division of United States Studies at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Visit the America 2050 website for additional details, video coverage and photos.


House bills authorize increased funding for Amtrak, High-speed rail

Two bills introduced last week in the House of Representatives would authorize increased funding for Amtrak's capital and operating expenses and create new sources of funding for developing high-speed rail corridors in the United States. The first bill, H.R. 6003, the "Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008" is the companion bill to the Lott-Lautenberg Amtrak bill passed in the Senate last October. It authorizes $14.4 billion for Amtrak over the next five years and represents the first multi-year authorization for Amtrak since the "Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997." The other bill, H.R. 6004, "The Rail Infrastructure Development and Expansion Act for the 21st Century" or "Ride-21", authorizes $12 billion of tax-credit bonds and $12 billion of tax-exempt bonds for new high-speed rail corridors over the next 10 years. The latter legislation will be referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and represents a new source of funding for rail in the country.

Read more about these two bills. 


America 2050 Research Seminar on Megaregions

March 19-21: Healdsburg, CA: Regional Plan Association and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy hosted planners and scholars from the U.S. and China for a two-day retreat to foster academic dialogue on megaregion planning.  RPA and Lincoln commissioned four papers on two topics:  Comparative Studies of Asian Megaregions and Social equity implications of megaregion planning.  The forum featured presentations by the authors, followed by workshops and discussion.    
Read more about the papers and download presentations. 



News from the Megaregions

Northern California Megaregion: Challenges and Policy Options

March 19: San Francisco - The Bay Area Council, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research (SPUR) and Regional Plan Association (RPA) convened a public panel discussion at SPUR on the emergence of the Northern California megaregion. Panelists reacted to a recent report by SPUR describing the Northern California megaregion and discussed collaborative solutions to challenges at this emerging scale. Panelists agreed: the report had heightened awareness to the economic, ecological, transportation, and cultural connections across the Northern California megaregion.  Moderated by Bob Yaro, president of RPA, panelists included Angela-Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO of PolicyLink, Hon. Christopher Cabaldon, Mayor of West Sacramento, Carol Whiteside, Founder of Great Valley Center, Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of Bay Area Council, and Gabriel Metcalf, Executive Director of SPUR.  Read more.

10th Annual Northeast State Planning Leadership Retreat

February 27-28: Baltimore - Regional Plan Association and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy convened state planning staff and scholars from the northeast to share best practices in making the land use-transportation-climate change connection.  Participants heard from Reid Ewing, co-author of the Growing Cooler report, and looked at the history of Maryland's smart growth initiatives.  Case studies were presented from each representative state on planning challenges and strategies in categories of open space preservation, urban revitalization and municipal-state coordination.
Read more.

2nd Northeast Climate and Competitiveness Summit

February 29: Baltimore - Regional Plan Association and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy gathered more than 100 planners, scholars, civic and business leaders to continue the discussion of northeast sustainability and competitiveness.  With keynotes from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell, the event featured roundtables: 1) Northeast Corridor Mobility; 2) Regional Landscapes and Climate Change; 3) Local Government Forum on Climate Change; and 4) Subprime Mortgage Crisis and Affordable Housing.  Blumenauer emphasized the need for federal leadership to develop and guide a national infrastructure investment strategy for the 21st century.  Rendell discussed his effort developing a national infrastructure strategy titled "Building America's Future" with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. Schwarzenegger.  Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown from Maryland and former governor of Maryland Parris Glendening also participated in the program. 
Read more.


Show of support by Northeast Business Leaders for Amtrak Funding

April 2: Washington - The Business Alliance for Northeast Mobility held a forum in the U.S. Capitol to express support for increased funding for Amtrak's capital and operating needs in the Northeast Corridor.  The meeting was attended by Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE), Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Amtrak President and CEO Alex Kummant.  The Business Alliance is advocating for secure funding to bring the Northeast Corridor to a state of good repair, reduce intercity trip times, and increase capacity on the corridor.  Read more. 

About America 2050
America 2050 is a national initiative of Regional Plan Association and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy to develop new strategies for investing in vital transportation, water, and energy infrastructure systems to position America for equitable, sustainable and prosperous economic growth. With partners across the country, we are developing an infrastructure investment plan that anticipates the challenges of rapid population growth, climate change, mobility, and ensuring national prosperity in a changing global economy.

A major focus of America 2050 is the emergence of megaregions - large networks of metropolitan areas, where most of America's growth by mid-century will take place - and how to organize infrastructure investments, environmental protection, and economic opportunities for all at this new scale.

America 2050 includes a network of partners in megaregions across the country developing long-range strategies for sustainable growth and prosperity. A list of America 2050 partners is available on the America 2050 website at www.America2050.org.


America 2050 Update
Edited by Petra Todorovich
Director, America 2050
Contact: Petra@rpa.org
212-253-2727 x322