Posts Tagged: Ray LaHood

Clout city, baby!

U.S. Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood attended Rahm Emanuel’s inauguration as Chicago mayor yesterday — and LaHood sounds eager to work with the new mayor. Tim Jones and John McCormick of Business Week report:

Soon after his swearing-in, [Emanuel’s] transportation advisers will go to Washington to discuss high-speed rail and other projects with LaHood’s staff, the transportation secretary said. “Rahm is going to have some very, very strong and significant partners in this administration because he wants to get things done,” LaHood said.

Why does LaHood want to help Emanuel? (more…)

Nationwide approach to infrastructure is stalled on the tracks

Ray LaHood

Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood announced this week which states won a total of $2 billion in U.S. Dept. of Transportation grant money for train lines. Larry Sandler of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Wisconsin received none of the $150 million it wanted in upgrades to the Amtrak line between Chicago and Milwaukee. The reason Wisconsin didn’t get any money partly lies in Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s past opposition to federal transit cash. The bigger issue here, though, is with the Obama administration.

Walker applied for the grant months after he rejected $810 million in federal money to build a rail line between Milwaukee and Madison. (more…)

O’Hare expansion opponent: We got LaHoodwinked

A former village president of Bensenville, Illinois — which is right by O’Hare airport — wrote a letter to the U.S. House Transportation Committee and Government Oversight Committee demanding an investigation into the Obama administration’s reward of more money for O’Hare airport expansion. Jon Hilkevitch of the Chicago Tribune reports that John Geils, the former village president, claims that, “The ‘Chicago Way’ is alive and well in the axis between Chicago and Washington.” (more…)

LaHood enables O’Hare expansion

Ray LaHood

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation will give Chicago’s O’Hare international airport $155 million to help build a third runway as part of the O’Hare modernization plan. The way Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch reports it, it seems like Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood probably sighed and said, “Okay, okay just give Chicago the damn money” before moving on to more interesting business. A recurring theme of O’Hare expansion is that Washington pushes the project along but airline companies and the city fail to take the next steps. (more…)

A lawsuit deferred is a lawsuit…

After meeting with U.S. Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, United and American airline executives postponed — by an entire week! — their lawsuit against the city of Chicago, reports Andrew M. Harris of Bloomberg. (more…)

$3.4 million dollars!

O'Hare Int'l Airport

U.S. Dept. of Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood, a former Illinois Congressman, joined Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley this week for a seemingly triumphant announcement regarding O’Hare international airport expansion. DOT will provide Chicago $3.4 million build an air traffic control tower that will serve a planned runway, reports the Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch. However, this $3.4 million grant is akin to when Austin Powers foe Dr. Evil emerged from the 1960′s to demand a million dollars:  It sounds like a lot of money… but the tower will cost $42 million to build. (more…)

Chicago’s questionable transit priorities

The Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch reports that two federal transportation grants will come Chicago’s way, with the majority of the money helping an already transit-rich downtown. (more…)

Getting high-speed rail on track

Ray LaHood

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said yesterday that high-speed rail projects funded by the stimulus bill will get started in two weeks. The stimulus bill gave the Dept. of Transportation $8 billion to disburse in high-speed rail funding. DOT gave Illinois $1.13 billion to build a passenger service between Chicago and St. Louis.

Paul Merrion of Crain’s Chicago Business reports that the implementation of high speed rail projects has been delayed because the Obama administration put strict guidelines on freight rail companies. (more…)

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Partial Funding For Two New Runways

The federal Dept. of Transportation has made the “largest financial commitment ever” to one airport project at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, reports the Chicago Tribune’s Monique Garcia. And it’s still not nearly enough money to complete the latest phase in O’Hare expansion. Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood, a former Illinois Congressman, announced a $410 million award yesterday for the city of Chicago to build two new O’Hare runways. But the cost of the runway project is $3.2 billion. The city tentatively plans to borrow about $1.8 billion toward completing the runways. (more…)

Getting What You Pay For: Government Wants More Oversight Of Mass Transit Systems

The idea is simple — since the federal government invests taxpayers’ money in transit systems around the country, it wants to exercise more oversight, particularly on safety issues.  Rachel Swarns reports in the New York Times that federal officials are concerned:  As subway and light rail systems try to cut costs, there is the danger they will skimp on safety standards as well.  The proposal, now being finalized by the Department of Transportation, will require states to prove they have “enough fully-trained staff members to enforce federal safety rules.”  The federal government is ready to invest more in safety, as it is proposing to “cover the costs of salaries and benefits for state employees overseeing standards.”

One problem this new proposal could run into is the great variety of management models used by transit systems around the country.  In the Washington, D.C. region, mass transit is run by WMATA, a regional body whose board is chosen to represent the interests of nine different municipal or county entities.  Understanding Government pointed out the challenges of managing a regional entity this way in a report published last year.  As one expert in Swarns’ article says, “this is a great idea . . . but implementation is going to be extremely difficult.”  We’ll have to wait for the full DOT proposal, but right now, it’s hard to see how this reform would introduce greater uniformity of safety enforcement. -NH