Don the Builder Toys with a Promise Locked

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Don the Builder Toys with a Promise
Posted by NKP guy on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 1:23 PM

   It doesn't look good for Penn Station and its half-million per day commuters.  Team Trump doesn't have any plans for infrastructure in New York nor anyplace else.  The Health Care bill collapsed (twice, by my count), and a lot of energy will be lavished this year and next on a new tax code.  Concurrently, these fools are sleep-walking toward two wars.  So don't expect much interest or help from them for more prosaic tasks like replacing the Hudson River tunnels, constructing a new (and worthy) Penn Station, and getting Americans from one place to another.  We already know what they (don't) think of LD passenger trains.

   We are in for a terrible four years as far as transportation and infrastructure is concerned.    

   But hey, don't take my word for it; take that of the "failing New York Times."

 

Photo
 
CreditRose Wong 

It’s not enough that the Trump administration has no coherent plan to rebuild the country as the president repeatedly promised to do. It is also working against useful projects that would actually improve the nation’s needy roads, bridges and other public works.

Two derailments at New York’s Penn Station have just provided a vivid reminder of America’s broken infrastructure. Though minor, the derailments disrupted regional and long-distance trains for several days and delayed hundreds of thousands of commuters in the country’s largest metropolitan region. They also gave President Trump an ideal opportunity to deliver on his promise of a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. He did not do so. Nor has his administration committed to providing money for projects that have long been on the drawing boards, including one meant to ease travel through Penn Station by building a new rail tunnel between New Jersey and New York.

The clearest sign of the hollowness of Mr. Trump’s trillion-dollar promise came in the budget released last month. It ends subsidies for Amtrak’s long-distance train service, which will hurt the most in the parts of the country Mr. Trump promised to help. It gets rid of popular federal transportation programs like “Tiger” grants that provide money to cities and states to repair and expand highways, bridges and transit systems. Many of the programs Mr. Trump would cut were authorized by Congress with large bipartisan majorities.

These cuts will have real consequences. Even if Congress disregards the budget and appropriates funds, the administration can use its discretionary power to withhold all or part of them. For example, the budget blueprint says the Department of Transportation will decide not to award new federal grants authorized by Congress for transit programs, but instead ask “localities that use and benefit from these localized projects” to foot the bill.

Administration officials have already thrown a wrench into some projects. The secretary of transportation, Elaine Chao, has delayed $647 million in federal funding for a proposal that would increase the capacity of Caltrain, a commuter train line in the San Francisco Bay Area. Officials elsewhere in the country who have grant applications in various stages of approval at the department are worried that they will be cut off, too. These include projects in Dallas; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Kansas City, Mo., according to the American Public Transportation Association, which represents public transit agencies.

During a meeting with the building trades unions last Tuesday, Mr. Trump said, “We are going to rebuild our nation” and told them, “Now you have a builder as your president.” But the next day, in an interview with The Times, he said that he was thinking about using the promise of infrastructure spending as a bargaining chip to get lawmakers to pass other controversial legislation, like a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Apart from its cynicism, that argument is unlikely to work among lawmakers who don’t want to take health care away from 24 million people. And many conservatives who dislike Trumpcare because it does not completely destroy the A.C.A. are also opposed to increased federal spending on infrastructure.

Mr. Trump seems to treasure his reputation as Don the Builder. But his interest stops there. He has made it clear he has little or no intention of fulfilling his promise to repair the nation’s rutted roads, aging railways or dilapidated airports.

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Posted by schlimm on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 2:30 AM

NKP guy
It doesn't look good for Penn Station and its half-million per day commuters.  Team Trump doesn't have any plans for infrastructure in New York nor anyplace else.  The Health Care bill collapsed (twice, by my count), and a lot of energy will be lavished this year and next on a new tax code.  Concurrently, these fools are sleep-walking toward two wars.  So don't expect much interest or help from them for more prosaic tasks like replacing the Hudson River tunnels, constructing a new (and worthy) Penn Station, and getting Americans from one place to another.  We already know what they (don't) think of LD passenger trains.    We are in for a terrible four years as far as transportation and infrastructure is concerned.    

Well said!  

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 6:50 AM

There are two things going on.

One is that Amtrak has a problem getting maintenance done at Penn Station (and elsewhere on the NEC)

The other is that Amtrak has failed to make it's case for funding to Congress and the administration.

The first is the exact thing that Wick Moorman has been trying to solve since he arrived at Amtrak.  He is correct that it's a organization and process issue.  Clearly, in the Penn Station situation, there was a process problem that allowed both incorrect repairs and a backlog of defects to develop.  If managers up the food chain aren't soliciting this news helping solve the problem but instead are just shouting down the chain of command, then they clearly don't know the true nature of their job.  Having the right people in the right job to empowered to develop the best processes is the key.

Infrastructure funding is not simple but not impossible.  It's all about making your case.  Amtrak has made a decent public push over the past few years and now has refined the vision to something doable.  

https://nec.amtrak.com/nec-vision

Wick is no neophyte at lobbying Congress and dealing with the FRA. Have no doubt Amtrak is working hard to secure infrastructure funding.

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by ACY Tom on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 9:08 AM

oltmannd

The other is that Amtrak has failed to make it's case for funding to Congress and the administration.

It's hard to make much of a case when you're shouting at the deaf.

Tom

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Posted by wanswheel on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 1:35 PM

RME
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Posted by RME on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 8:29 PM

NKP guy
So don't expect much interest or help from them for more prosaic tasks like replacing the Hudson River tunnels,

Seems to me that right up at the top of that list that everyone has been mocking was the funding for 'Gateway'.  And that, last I looked, still involved the "replacement" for the existing Hudson River tunnels.

I know it's enjoyable for some people to make fun of the guy, but in this respect the propaganda appears to be mistaken.

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Posted by JPS1 on Thursday, April 13, 2017 1:27 PM
“……constructing a new (and worthy) Penn Station……” 
 
According to its project sponsors, the estimated cost to develop The Moynihan Train Hall, which will allow for the relocation of Penn Station New York, is approximately $1.6 billion.  About $600 million will come from developers in exchange for the rights to redevelop the Farley Building, where most of the new station will be located, and $570 million will come from the Empire State Development Fund.  Amtrak, Long Island Railroad, Port Authority of New York, and the federal government will fund the remaining $425 million. 
 
Amtrak, Long Island Railroad, and the Port Authority probably could borrow the $425 million without any help from the U.S. Department of Transportation.   
 
Amtrak’s long term debt to asset ratio is 8.4 percent – debt and capitalized leases divided by total assets.  It probably could borrow enough money to cover its commitment as well as most of the federal government’s portion of the project in the absence of any DOT funding. 

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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