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Transportation and Infrastructure

Taxpayers & Underground Infrastructure: Round 2 Debate continues over the most cost-efficient way to fix water and sewer systems
Posted By: Pete Sepp - 03/30/10

Earlier this year NTU published an Issue Brief which explored taxpayer-friendly options for replacement of America’s water and sewer systems, and concluded that PVC pipe was a viable (and often preferable) material for the task. We had hoped that a lively discussion would ensue over a fiscal policy matter that often receives short shrift.

Our hopes have been answered, in the form of a reply to our original Issue Brief from the Ductile Iron Pipe Association (DIPRA) as well as a response to DIPRA’s reply!


Here’s a sample from the exchange of views:

  "If PVC pipe cannot compete with ductile iron pipe in the marketplace without legislative help, it is because ductile iron pipe is a better product. We want  our taxpayer funds to be spent wisely so that the most effective management of our  infrastructures is possible. This is done by taking the long view in the marketplace and allowing utilities to make the decisions they know are best for their customers.


We have already seen, every day, that legislation often costs taxpayers more than it saves. Invariably, central control of local issues means waste. ..."

 Gregg Horn, President of DIPRA


And the following:

"... 1) [W]e aren’t asking for more legislative overreach, only for more open competition; 2) [He] can’t deny that corrosion is a cancer eating away at U.S. underground infrastructure; 3) [N]or can he downplay PVC pipe’s durability, sustainability and cost efficiency. ...


Responsible management of public funds demands that PVC pipe be included in the bidding process in every U.S. municipality. Taxpayers deserve nothing less!"

 Bruce Hollands, Executive Director, Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Association


Which opinion should carry the day? We leave that up to you, dear readers, but we would all do well to remember that every time we turn a faucet handle or look down a manhole cover, serious money is at stake as well as clean water. 

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Boom Times for the Transportation Lobby
Posted By: Demian Brady - 02/08/10

The Center for Public Integrity has a new report out about the massive transportation lobby seeking federal funding. Some of their findings:

  • As lawmakers grappled with renewal of an expiring multi-year transportation law last September, the number of cities and counties lobbying on transportation had grown by 80 percent since the last time a transport bill was about to expire, in the fall of 2003.
  • The cities and counties who list transportation as among their priorities spent a total of more than $35 million lobbying Washington through the first three quarters of last year; if even a quarter of that spending was solely devoted to transportation, it totals more than $8 million, a hefty sum for cash-strapped local governments.
  • Data from the third quarter of 2009 shows that, on top of the 650 cities and counties, those contracting with lobbyists include more than a dozen states, 90 mass transit agencies, 45 local development authorities, and 25 metropolitan and regional planning organizations.

There is a lot of federal money to chase:

  • Last December, Congress passed its appropriations spending for 2010, including more than $52 billion for highways and transit.
  • The "stimulus" included $35 billion for highway and transit programs.
  • A second so-called "stimulus" passed by the House late last year includes another $35 billion for transportation spending.
  • And, Congress is still to consider a multi-year re-authorization of the regular federal transportation legislation.


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Hey, Buddy, Wanna Buy an FAA Tower?
Posted By:  -

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports that the Federal Government has 14,000 structures and buildings that it believes that it can sell for cash -- an estimated $15 billion.  Of course, the challenge is getting Congress to sign off on the sales.  If you think that's going to be easy, I have a bridge you might be interested in.


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