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  • Backgrounder posted February 7, 2012 by Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D. “Turn Back” Transportation to the States

    Abstract: Wasteful, inequitable, and bristling with burdensome regulations, the Federal Highway Program is in dire need of reform. Although Members of Congress have attempted to enact changes in the past, the influence of many lobbyists and influential constituencies continues to thwart the process. By maintaining this predictable money morass, Congress and the President…

  • WebMemo posted January 31, 2012 by Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D. HUD’s Mandatory Minority Relocation Program

    President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is beginning to insidiously intrude in local housing policies in a concerted effort to require racial and economic integration in American communities. It started in 2009, when HUD began using a settlement between the county of Westchester in New York and a civil rights organization as an opportunity to…

  • Backgrounder posted January 13, 2012 by William G. Reinhardt, Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D. Can Public–Private Partnerships Fill the Transportation Funding Gap?

    Abstract: Given tight federal budget restraints and shrinking transportation trust fund revenues, states and the federal government need to find alternative financial resources to finance needed transportation infrastructure projects, especially maintaining and expanding the capacity of the Interstate Highway System. Increased use of public–private partnership contracts…

  • Commentary posted December 13, 2011 by Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D. Infrastructure 'Crisis' is About Socialism

    We constantly hear that America has an infrastructure crisis and that calamity will result if we don't address it. Inevitably the solution involves the investment of vast sums of taxpayer money. Not surprisingly, most estimates of how extensive the crisis is, and how much it will cost to fix, come from what Washington euphemistically calls "stakeholders": the trade…

  • Backgrounder posted December 1, 2011 by Wendell Cox, Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D., Brett D. Schaefer Focus on Agenda 21 Should Not Divert Attention from Homegrown Anti-Growth Policies

    Abstract: Agenda 21, a voluntary plan adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, unabashedly calls on governments to intervene and regulate nearly every potential impact that human activity could have on the environment. However, Agenda 21 is non-binding; it depends on governments for implementation. If opponents focus…

  • WebMemo posted November 16, 2011 by Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D. Obama Administration Retreats from Effort to Deter Ohio Turnpike Privatization

    In October, the Obama Administration took the unprecedented step of revoking funds already awarded to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to study the feasibility of absorbing the independent turnpike commission, which operates the Ohio Turnpike, into ODOT or leasing the turnpike to private investors. Unfortunately for Ohio, neither option was acceptable to the…

  • WebMemo posted November 7, 2011 by Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D. Next Highway Reauthorization Bill Should Terminate the Transportation Enhancement Program

    As this Congress and President continue their struggle to reauthorize the federal highway program (now more than two years overdue), their focus should be maximizing the value of each dollar spent by directing available funds to programs that improve mobility and safety on the roads. To do this, Congress should eliminate low-value programs that add nothing to mobility yet…

  • Testimony posted October 20, 2011 by Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D. The Limited Benefits of a National Infrastructure Bank

    My name is Ronald. D. Utt. I am the Herbert and Joyce Morgan Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. The views I express in this testimony are my own, and should not be construed as representing any official position of The Heritage Foundation. Until recently, federal interest in infrastructure banks has been limited to legislation focusing on the creation…

  • Commentary posted October 10, 2011 by Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D. A New Amtrak Station is a Waste of Money

    In its request for substantial sums of taxpayer money to move and rebuild Amtrak’s Atlanta train station, the railroad notes that its Atlanta passengers have increased by 16 percent over the past year. But since no more than an average of 308 passengers get on or off the two Amtrak trains that serve the station each day, the city and state have better things to do than…

  • Commentary posted September 14, 2011 by Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D. Infrastructure ‘Bank’ Doomed to Fail

    President Obama remains enamored of an “infrastructure bank,” an idea flogged, in one shape or another, for several years now. All of the proposals floated to date involve creating a new federal bureaucracy that would provide loans and grants for construction or repair projects sought by state or local governments. In some proposals, those funds would be provided via the…

  • WebMemo posted September 1, 2011 by Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D. High-Speed Rail: Stealth Budget Plans to Keep the Program Alive

    They stab it with their steely knives, But they just can’t kill the beast. —The Eagles, “Hotel California,” 1977 With Congress eliminating spending for the President’s faltering high-speed rail (HSR) program and making cuts in Amtrak’s soaring subsidies, the Obama Administration appears to be shifting its reliance on funding for its ambitious passenger…

  • WebMemo posted August 30, 2011 by Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D. Obama’s Peculiar Obsession with Infrastructure Banks Will Not Aid Economic Revival

    In response to the credit downgrade by Standard & Poor’s in August, the grim reports on the state of the economy, and the collapse of the stock and financial markets in the week after the downgrade, President Barack Obama has re-engaged with the issue of America’s faltering economy and the human misery left in its wake. While it is possible he may propose a serious…

  • WebMemo posted July 7, 2011 by Wendell Cox, Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D. Using Market Processes to Reform Government Transportation Programs, Report No. 2: Improving Transit with Competitive Contracting

    America’s transit systems confront serious financial challenges that will force them to raise fares and reduce service unless they can get better control of their costs. Carrying less than 5 percent of commuters and less than 2 percent of all urban travel and concentrated primarily in large urban areas, these faltering systems will be seeking ever-higher subsidies at a…

  • WebMemo posted July 6, 2011 by Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D. Federal Highway Program: How Opting Out Would Help States

    Growing dissatisfaction with federal transportation policy and government’s mismanagement of the highway trust fund have encouraged many in Congress and in state governments to seek ways to overhaul the system or to extract themselves from it. Since the mid-1990s, legislation has been introduced each year in Congress to phase out the federal highway program by shifting…

  • Commentary posted June 22, 2011 by Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D. Mica’s Idea to Privatize Amtrak a Good First Step

    If Rep. John L. Mica of Florida gets his way, passenger rail in America will no longer be in the death grip of the Federal Railroad Administration, Congress, rail unions and Amtrak management. The Transportation Committee chairman has introduced legislation that would (1) transfer the 363 miles of tracks in Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor to the U.S. Department of…