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Extinguishing the Fire

RR041519 FireApril 15, 2019 – Reports of progress on infrastructure funding last week may have been, shall we say, premature. Instead of stoking the fire, hopes are now extinguishing. In the House, leadership reportedly wants to move forward with a big infrastructure bill, hyping up the idea at a Democratic retreat last week, but details are scarce, according to Politico's Morning Transportation report. House Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) is making plans for a six-year surface transportation bill, and wants to raise the gas tax. It's still an open question about whether his leadership will get behind him.

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Infrastructure Talks Rumored

RR041219 dollarApril 12, 2019 – Democratic leaders in Congress said they would seek President Donald Trump's support in coming weeks for legislation to invest up to $2 trillion to rebuild U.S. infrastructure, including roads, bridges and schools. This episode of one-upmanship follows Trump's long-standing line about $1 trillion in spending. Anyone want to propose $3 trillion? The problem is, everybody wants to talk infrastructure, nobody wants to take action, and ideas to pay for it as are as elusive as a greased pig. House Democrats are pushing for an increase in the federal gas tax, but the chances of that passing in the Senate are bleak. User and/or miles traveled fees have been kicked around, but are short on support. The White House said Trump had spoken recently with House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and agreed to meet soon to discuss working together on infrastructure. Yeah, I'll believe that when I see it. Past bipartisan efforts by Democrats and Trump have brought limited results. A criminal justice bill was enacted, but an immigration reform effort was a dismal failure, as were border security talks. Meanwhile it is only a matter of time until the next bridge collapse.

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bauma is Big: Really Big

RR041119 BaumaApril 11, 2019 – The world’s largest trade fair has opened its doors in Munich, Germany. On Monday, April 8, German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier, Bavarian Minister President Dr. Markus Söder and Messe München CEO Klaus Dittrich opened bauma 2019. Rock Products and Semco Publishing have boots on the ground, and are covering the show event by event.

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Infrastructure Rumblings

RR041019 RoadApril 10, 2019 – Senate committee leaders have their sights set on an ambitious timeline for the surface transportation reauthorization, which is due by next September, Politico reports. Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is hoping to pass a bill through the committee before the August recess, and ranking member Tom Carper (D-Del.) is on board. "In the past we've sometimes waited till too late," Carper said. "I'd rather be too early than too late." It remains to be seen how that approach will mesh with that taken by the House, where Democrats are planning to advance a broader infrastructure bill later this year. Barrasso said that should be phase two, after passing the reauthorization (phase one).

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Pennsylvania Steers Its Own Ship

RR040819 HawbakerlogoApril 8, 2019–Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe (D-Pa.), along with State Sen. Jake Corman (R-Pa.) and Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Pa.), announced that PennDOT has committed to the extension of SR 322 from Potters Mills to State College, according to Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc. Act 89 funding will be used to design and construct the 10 to12 miles of the heavily traveled roadway. Construction is expected to begin in 2027-28 and is projected to cost $670 to 700 million, all from the Act 89 funds. At this time, there is no federal funding committed. With the I-99/I-80 interchange included, there is approximately $1 billion in two major Centre County projects to be completed in the next 10 to 12 years.

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