Partners' Publications

Recent Entries

A strategy to address the nation's infrastructure needs through increased funding and institutional reform, Road to Recovery: Transforming America's Transportation, has been released by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Leadership Initiative on Transportation Solvency.

Carnegie CoverThe non-partisan plan was developed by former Senator Bill Bradley, former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, and former Comptroller General of the Government Accountability Office David Walker -- a Democrat, Republican, and independent, respectively. The authors seek to address the chronic underfunding and disinvestment that has caused American transportation infrastructure, once the best in the world, to sink to 23rd in international rankings.

Currently, the National Highway Trust is insolvent and relies on frequent bailouts by taxpayers to make ends meet. The Carnegie plan advocates restoring transportation spending to a sound financial footing, and returning to a "pay-as-you-go" model in which capital investments are paid for immediately, as opposed to the current practice of "deferred maintenance." The authors refer to deferred maintenance as nothing more than "a hidden tax, with interest," as delaying needed repairs or improvements only raises the total project cost for taxpayers, often relying on borrowing money. The authors point out that consistent majorities of Americans believe we should invest more in our transportation infrastructure, and they lay out a strategy for raising additional revenue to do so immediately, rather than relying on deficit spending.

The centerpiece of the plan is a bold proposal to levy a tax on oil at the point of production or importation, and put a corresponding tax on fuel sold to consumers at the pump. According to the report, this would stabilize the price of oil and protect the American economy from sharp changes in the price of oil, while providing a steady and predictable stream of revenue to pay for transportation infrastructure.


A new study, "The Economic Impacts of High Speed Rail: Transforming the Midwest," sponsored by the Midwest High-Speed Rail Association and Siemens, that was released today outlines the potential benefits of a high-speed rail system in the Midwest Megaregion with it's $2.6 trillion economy, the fifth largest in the world, behind only the U.S., China, Japan, and Germany. Prepared by AECOM and the Economic Development Research Group (EDRG), the study found that a network of bullet trains reaching speeds of 220 mph extending out from Chicago along four main corridors to the Twin Cities, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, would generate tremendous economic benefits for the megaregion.

Visit the Midwest High-Speed Rail Association's website to learn more.

Download the Executive Summary (PDF 9MB).

AASHTO report.png Few would argue against the need to maintain the nation's existing transportation network and add capacity to accommodate projected population and economic growth. For the first several decades after the passage of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, revenue generated from federal and state gas taxes were sufficient to pay for new capacity and the maintenance of the highway system. This is no longer the case. For a variety of reasons, collections of federal transportation revenue are now the lowest in 60 years. This revenue gap is being felt not only at the federal level, but at all levels of government, while increasing demands on the system continues to put pressure for policymakers to respond with timely funding and financing solutions.

On September 30, the AASHTO Center for Excellence in Project Finance convened a one-day forum for Members of Congress, Congressional staff, and transportation industry stakeholders to explore funding and finance solutions for surface transportation. America 2050 was pleased to be a co-sponsor and participant in this forum.  A new report brings together essays submitted by the forum speakers prior to the event with short summaries of the panel discussions and their salient themes and questions.

sac-valley-station.pngA new report by SPUR, the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, focuses on high-speed rail's ability to encourage more compact land use in California around the 25 proposed stations. The authors emphasize that in order for high-speed rail to reach its maximum potential, the state and the 25 municipalities must support forward-thinking land-use planning and development programs that allow all of the benefits of HSR to be fully realized. The key is to catalyze private investment in areas surrounding the stations.

Download the full report.

In Sacramento, planning is well underway at Valley Station (above picture), an intermodal hub with connections to Amtrak, intercity buses, light rail, and eventually high-speed rail. The 240-acre station area is expected to become one of the largest transit-oriented developments in the country, featuring 12,000 housing units, office space for 19,000 jobs, a Railroad Museum and a thriving retail district, the report says.

"The alternative to high-speed rail isn't just the absence of a train," writes Egon Terplan, the Director of Regional Planning at SPUR. "It is more highways and new runways; congested roads and crowded skies. The cost of this piecemeal approach would likely be more than the high-speed rail system itself."
Tucson.jpg The Sonoran Institute has released a new report on Tucson's role in the Arizona Sun Corridor Megaregion. Tucson's New Prosperity:Capitalizing on the Sun Corridor makes the case that the economic health of Tucson is closely tied to the much larger Sun Corridor economy that is focused in Phoenix, 100 miles to the north. But the report makes clear that Tucson's best strategy is not to compete with Phoenix, but to treat Phoenix as an asset that can be utilized to advance its own economy. In terms of growth and sprawl, Phoenix has won the race. Tucson should compete by establishing its own niche in the economic environment of the Sun Corridor. As a city that is embraced on all sides by national, state, and county parks forests, conservation areas, and monuments, and undeveloped state trust lands, Tucson's great advantages are its spectacular natural environment, opportunities for outdoor recreation and a relaxed desert lifestyle.

Lincoln Landscapes cover.pngLarge Landscape Conservation: A Strategic Framework for Policy and Action
"There is general agreement that the promise of large landscape conservation is its focus on land and water problems at an appropriate geographic scale, regardless of political and jurisdictional boundaries. ... Such efforts are multijurisdictional, multipurpose, and multistakeholder, and they operate at various geographic scales using a variety of governance arrangements."

A new policy focus report issued by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy -- an America 2050 partner -- focuses on strategies for regional collaboration to protect large landscapes in the United States.  Like megaregions, large landscapes span political boundaries and require ad-hoc and formal partnerships for their conservation. Regional Plan Association and America 2050 are now engaged in large landscapes work in the Northeast United States, in partnership with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Lincoln Institute.  Download the Report.
cover image exec summary.jpg A University of Pennsylvania graduate planning studio released their final report this week, proposing investment in two new dedicated high-speed tracks connecting Boston to Washington. Traveling a new right-of-way in the north end of the Corridor, and involving station relocations and strategic improvements in the south end, the plan would cut travel times in half, achieving 90-minute service from New York to Washington, D.C. and 105 minute service from New York to Boston. 

You can download the Executive Summary or the full report in chapters on the Penn students' website.

The report was featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 9.
Ecolopolis.png Graduate planning students at Portland State University have released the fourth version of their ongoing study of the Cascadia megaregion with the guidance of instructor Ethan Seltzer of the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning.

This latest iteration, Ecolopolis 4.0, examines the implications for Cascadia of the new federal livability partnership between the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Transportation. This new interest in the role that Federal agencies can and should play in furthering goals for livability and smart growth presents Cascadia and other megaregions an opportunity to articulate their own livability agendas in anticipation of new initiatives emanating from Washington, DC.