AASHTO's Future of Transportation for 2012: CTAI's Take

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) identified its list of top ten transportation topics for 2012. Below is our take on those that apply to CTAI’s members and Idaho:

1. Enacting a long-term transportation bill: CTAI will continue to work with Idaho’s congressional delegation and staff to push for the enactment of a long-term transportation bill.

2. Managing in lean times – addressing the problem of the nation’s aging bridges, highways, and transit systems with stagnant or reduced funding: As one of two states without a dedicated source of transportation funding, and given the current economic times, CTAI is working to educate Idahoans in support of transportation funding. We received a grant to develop the I’M4CTAI campaign in which we sign up at least 1,000 transportation supporters to advocate on behalf of Idaho’s transportation needs and sources of funding.

3. Responding to and planning for natural disasters: CTAI has been working with the Idaho Department of Homeland Security and is now working with the Idaho Department of Water Resources to identify Idaho’s transportation resources for recovery and rebuilding – in the event of a natural disaster in our state. Our partnerships with these agencies will help mobilize the vehicles needed to help get Idahoans out of danger and to help transportation providers rebuild after the disaster.

4. Reducing traffic deaths: CTAI supports safer roads and reduced deaths on Idaho roads and highways. CTAI will provide support for any legislation that improves traffic safety for Idahoans.

5. Increasing the visibility of transportation as an issue in the upcoming presidential campaign: CTAI will work through national agencies in the education of long term transportation needs for our politicians.

6. Generating new ways to fund transportation: As part of the I’M4CTAI campaign, CTAI will work to mobilize advocates and partner agencies in support of a local option tax authority to help cities and counties fund transportation needs in Idaho.

7. Advancing intercity passenger rail

8. Engaging the business community in support of transportation: CTAI mobility managers and staff will continue to educate Idaho Businesses on the benefits of improving transportation options such as public transportation, carpooling, vanpooling, and ridematching.

9. Serving a growing elderly population, both rural and urban: CTAI mobility managers and staff will continue to partner with senior centers and agencies that serve the elderly population in identifying opportunities and partnerships that will lead to improved transportation options for seniors.

10. Responding to new stormwater reforms and other environmental regulations.

Transportation Reauthorization Extended...Again.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Community Transportation Association of Idaho commends Congress for extending the nation's surface transportation at current funding levels.

"The six-month extension of federal highway and transit programs approved by Congress this week ensures the continuation of critical services and thousands of job-creating infrastructure projects across the nation," said Heather Wheeler, CTAI executive director. "We congratulate the leadership on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate for their hard work to bring about this extension. We encourage Congress and the Administration to develop and pass a robust, multi-year surface reauthorization bill over the next six months. CTAI is prepared to work with the Idaho Congressional Delegation with the development of this bill."

Watch the APTA video...

House Appropriations Committee Releases FY12 Transportation Funding Bill

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The House Appropriations FY2012 Transportation Funding Bill was released today. The amount appropriated for state and local bus grants is an estimated 37% decrease from the current funding level ($5.2 billion FY2012 compared to $8.3 billion in FY2011).

As a state that relies heavily on federal transportation funding, the communities in Idaho will be deeply impacted by the proposed cut to our public transportation systems. This decrease will lead to severe reductions in transportation services for many individuals across the state and will equate to a loss of thousands of jobs. With high gas prices, a slow economy, and increased ridership, now is not the time to implement cuts to the public transportation systems in Idaho.

We have asked Congressmen Simpson and Labrador to continue to work for a transportation appropriation bill that will put Americans back to work, provide businesses with relief from the costs of congestion and the insecurity of unreliable, inadequate infrastructure. And,we have encouraged them to use their leadership to move forward a bill that increases public transportation investment or at the very least, maintains current funding levels.

It is critical for you to contact Congressman Simpson and Congressman Labrador to help them understand what a 37% decrease in funding would look like for citizens in Idaho. And, to encourage them to support a higher formula level with a new, multi-year authorization bill. You can find the contact information for the Idaho Congressional Delegation through the respective links below:

Congressman Simpson: http://simpson.house.gov/Contact/  

Congressman Labrador: http://labrador.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=3  

-Heather Wheeler, CTAI Executive Director

Transportation Funding Cuts Looming

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, under the leadership of Chairman John Mica (R-FL), released a six-year, multi-modal surface transportation authorization bill last week. CTAI commends the Chairman and the Committee for their efforts to expand project financing, streamline project delivery, and simplify federal grant programs. However, CTAI is deeply disappointed in the bill’s investment level, which is miserably short of what is required to address the transportation infrastructure investment needs across the nation. The proposal authorizes $35B per year which ismore than 30% less than the amount currently authorized under SAFETEA-LU.

As a state that relies heavily on federal funding, Idaho will be deeply impacted by the proposed cut of more than $8 million to our public transportation systems. This cut will lead to severe reductions in transportation services for many individuals across the state and will equate to a loss of more than 300 jobs. With high gas prices, a slow economy, and increased ridership, now is not the time to implement cuts to the national transportation system. According to numerous experts, including the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. needs to invest an additional $1 trillion beyond current levels in the next ten years just to maintain a state of good repair and meet demand.

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, in conjunction with three other Congressmen, wrote a letter to Chairman Mica and Ranking Member Nick Rahall urging them to “fund surface transportation at a robust level, higher than or at least equal to the current funding level”. These Congressmen understand the real financial impact that crumbling infrastructure, congestion, and limited mobilitywill have on American businesses and families.

CTAI encourages you to take a moment to commend Congressman Mike Simpson for supporting a transportation bill that will put Americans back to work, provide businesses with relief from the costs of congestion and the insecurity of unreliable, inadequate infrastructure. In addition, please urge the remaining Idaho Congressional Delegation to move forward with an authorization bill that increases transportation investment or at the very least, maintains current funding levels.

Commending Simpson's Stance on Mica's Authorization Bill 

New ways to save, when driving alone is the only option...

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

May in Motion was a call to encourage individuals to ditch their single occupancy vehicle and ride the bus, walk, bike, or carpool. My personal May in Motion challenge was to carpool and take the bus once a week, when the children were taken to piano by their dad. My success was great for carpooling, but I never quite made it on the bus.

As parents, it is hard to leave the car behind, particularly when you are concerned with potential emergencies and sick kids during the day. Locally, I had the option of signing up for the “Emergency Ride Home Program” from ACHD Commuteride. But I found excuses to get around it and found someone to carpool with me everyday instead.

The challenge came week three when I had several meetings and needed the vehicle at odd times, so carpooling was not an option and I drove alone. Although I did carpool the final week, I found out how easy it is to fall back into the convenience of driving alone.

So if it is this easy to find excuses to drive, how can I save money and lower my carbon footprint? With all the improvements in technology, I figured there must be something out there to help all of us who need to drive but can’t afford to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle. So I did some research and found that Garmin nuvi navigation systems have ecoRoute software that routes the most fuel efficient way to get where you need to go. More importantly, there is a unit called the ecoRoute HD which connects to your vehicles OBD II port and acts as a diagnostic system.

According to the Garmin website, the ecoRoute HD provides customizable gauges to monitor RPM, air/fuel mixture, oil pressure, oil temp, coolant temp, air flow, fuel flow, air pressure, and more; reads Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC) allows you to view over 4000 trouble codes, their meaning, and reset the check engine light; and, also accurate fuel consumption data can actually help you improve MPG.

So I purchased the ecoRoute HD for $87 on Amazon.com and to save money, I swapped smart phones with a coworker in order to install the Garmin Mechanic software that works on the Android platform. I tried it this past week but in all honesty, I didn’t understand the readings to well. I actually gave up on trying this with the phone as it didn't connect half the time.

Yesterday I purchased the Garmin nuvi 1490T  (a great deal at $139 after a $20 Costco rebate) to test my fuel savings and carbon footprint. Over the next few weeks I will diligently track my ecoRoute results, learn more about what the readings are telling me, and see how my gas mileage or driving improves! In addition, I am committed to carpooling to work and other appointments or meetings when possible.