Almost 1,800 special interest groups of all kinds are trying to influence Congress as it moves to enact a new surface transportation bill, according to a report entitled “The Transportation Lobby,” issued by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Integrity.
The Center said Wednesday that interest groups employed 2,100 lobbyists and spent an estimated $45 million to lobby lawmakers on transportation in the first half of 2009, comparable to “the amount spent lobbying on climate change.”
The report is being released in two stages on the Center’s website, beginning Wednesday, that will feature an interactive map tracking exactly who's hired the lobbyists nationwide, ranging from cities, counties, and planning agencies to universities, real estate firms, and construction companies.
Signed into law in August 2005, the $244.1 billion Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), the current transportation package, expires Sept. 30, but Congress and the Obama Administration have yet to agree on the next step. A House subcommittee has passed a six-year, $500 billion bill to succeed SAFETEA-LU, but the Senate and the White House are backing just an 18-month extension of current law.
Among the players in the mix, the Center counted more than 475 U.S. cities and 160 counties in 44 states, more than 55 local development authorities nationwide, at least 65 private real estate development companies, and at least 95 transit agencies, 25 metropolitan and regional planning organizations, a dozen individual states, and the national lobbying associations for all three groups.
Also in the mix: more than 75 road and auto organizations, from highway builders and car manufacturers to interstate coalitions andtrucking interests; at least 65 construction and engineering groups, from cement and steel makers to domestic and foreign-owned builders; and more than 45 rail organizations, 50 shipping companies and ports, and 45 additional transportation-centric outfits, from bicycle coalitions to research groups.
Norfolk Southern’s second annual sustainability report includes the company's first calculation of its carbon footprint, a measure of greenhouse gases produced by business operations. It turns out to be "less than one tenth of one percent of the 7.2 billion total emissions of carbon dioxide equivalents in the entire United States for 2007, the latest year for which data is available."
"The largest single component, about 90%, is carbon dioxide emissions from diesel-burning locomotives," noted NS as it released the report Tuesday. "Other sources include emissions from production of electricity for rail facilities and fuel consumption by everything from company vehicles to boilers. Putting it all together, Norfolk Southern's carbon footprint for 2008 is calculated at 5.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents."
"This is an important indicator that establishes a baseline for future improvement," said CEO Wick Moorman in a letter introducing the 62-page report, posted on the company's Web site at www.nscorp.com/footprints. "The Disclosure also demonstrates to our customers, communities, employees, and investors the seriousness of our intent to be good environmental stewards."
Since issuing the company's first sustainability report last year, Moorman said, "We have continued efforts on several fronts to increase our fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse emissions." For example, locomotive fuel economy has improved almost 3% over the past year and 10% over the last decade. The report notes that the greenhouse gas emission ofone Norfolk Southern locomotive per revenue ton-mile "is about one ounce, which is equivalent to the weight of a slice of bread."
Canadian Pacific has signed a three-year contract for Anchor Brake shoes with Watertown, N.Y.-based New York Air Brake Corp. The Anchor Brake shoe products include high and low friction composition shoes as well as tread conditioning shoes. NYAB notes the products are ISO 0991 and AAR M-1003 certified, and deliver service-proven durability and long-life brake shoes for locomotive and freight car applications.
NYAB also noted Tuesday it acquired China Grove, N.C.-based Premtec, Inc., a manufacturer of M-601 hose blanks. Premtec has built hose blanks for NYAB for more than 12 years. “Bringing this manufacturing in-house will reduce costs and streamline production,” said NYAB President Paul Morgan.
Sheridan, Colo.-based Lat-Lon, LLC Tuesday announced its new Mobile App, designed to allow field personnel and managers to log on, select a remote asset, get current message data,and map location in real time. Mobile App provides data about the asset, such as why did it call in, did it reach a customer site, did it leave the plant, what is its status, what direction is it going, and how fast is it traveling.
Lat-Lon says the individual customer can decide how the MobileApp best fits his specific business. System administrators have the flexibility to set up the data that is displayed, chosing from options such as speed, direction, customer geofences, impact data, temperature, fuel level, or battery voltage.
Coupled with Lat-Lon’s Alert Text Messaging capabilities, MobileApp can provide real-time information to a cell phone.
Lat-Lon customers can log on by entering the following URL on their mobile devices: lat-lon.com/m/login.aspx.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority may appeal acourt order requiring two subway-access elevators near City Hall. U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter last Friday ruled in favor of disabled passengers who sued to compel SEPTA to build the elevators. The judge gave SEPTA until Oct. 30 to prepare a schedule for complying with the order.
"We are reviewing whether to appeal," SEPTA General Counsel Nicholas Staffieri said, adding that SEPTA was trying to determine if Pratter's ruling constituted a final order.
Staffieri said SEPTA could not build an elevator in the courtyard of City Hall without permission from the city, which owns the courtyard. "The city has to be brought in. It is the landlord," he said.
Countered Rina Cutler, the city's deputy mayor fortransportation and one of two city representatives on the SEPTA board, "I can't imagine we would withhold permission for something like that." She added, "I would agree that it's long overdue to have accessibility down there.”
But Cutler did note she would prefer to add the elevators as part of an already planned rehabilitation of the deteriorated City Hall subway station, scheduled to begin in 2011, and expected to cost $100 million.
RailComm’s Domain Operations Controller (DOC®) train control system has been selected to replace the existing Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) office system for Denver Regional Transportation District’s Central Corridor light rail transit line.
RailComm’s DOC®:CTC is a next-generation computer-aided dispatching system used to centrally control the CTC signal system and the OCS (Overhead Catenary System) electrification sub-stations.
East Rutherford, N.J.-based PTSI Transportation is conducting a one-day seminar Oct. 23, entitled "Railroad and Rail Transit Physical Characteristics Training and Testing: Are we where we need to be?" The event will take place in the Amtrak Northeast Division Conference Room (sixth floor), 400 W. 31st Street, New York, from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.; a working lunch session is included.
PTSI Transportation says the conference is designed to "share best practice, not just with railroad employees, but also with first responders of various types, such as EMS, hazmat, homeland security, fire, and law enforcement personnel, who may be called onto railroad property in emergencies."
Speakers include Dennis Yachachak, USDOT FRA operating rules program manager, who will offer a federal viewpoint on the matter.
More information is available by contacting PTSI Transportation at (201) 933-5530, or emailing email@example.com. PTSI Transportation plans similar conferences in Chicago and Los Angeles, with exact dates and locations to be announced.