Infrastructure Update: Fall Meeting, Compact Development Forums, and More

Light Rail

Infrastructure at ULI’s Fall Meeting
Infrastructure enthusiasts will find plenty to keep them busy at ULI’s annual Fall Meeting, being held October 25 to 28 in Los Angeles. Highlights include the following:

ULI in Action on Transportation and Infrastructure: A Catalyst for Sustainable and Competitive Regions Working through the ULI/Curtis Regional Infrastructure Initiative, ULI members in Chicago, Florida, Minnesota, and Seattle pioneered innovative programs that tie infrastructure to land use. Learn how to use infrastructure to build regional collaboration and public/private partnerships that advance sustainability and economic competitiveness in your community. Wednesday, October 26, 1:30–2:45 p.m.

Transportation Directions: Where Are We Heading? Authorization of the next surface transportation bill has languished in Congress. Learn about prospects for a breakthrough and how states are dealing with continued uncertainty and planning for a future with diminished federal resources. Wednesday, October 26, 3:00–4:00 p.m.

Bus Rapid Transit: The Next Opportunity for TOD Can bus rapid transit help catalyze development? Learn from experience on the ground in Shoreline, Washington; Los Angeles; and Cleveland, where a $197 million BRT corridor investment has helped catalyze $5.5 billion in spin-off investment. Friday, October 28, 9:30–10:45 a.m.

And if that’s not enough, check out the latest on “The Car in 2035” (Thursday, October 27, 1:30–2:45 p.m.), public transit expansion in L.A. (Friday, October 28, 11:15–12:15 p.m.), financing for transit and water infrastructure in California (Friday, October 28, 9:30-10:45 a.m.), and new policies to connect transit, jobs, and housing (Thursday, October 27, 3:15–4:30 p.m.).

Forum on Infrastructure for Compact Development in the Suburbs
ULI leaders and members from around the country gathered in Minneapolis two weeks ago to discuss how suburban places are making the transition from being sprawling and automobile-dominated areas to being compact and walkable, and what the post-downturn prospects are for this kind of investment to continue.

The forum, convened with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, analyzed development and transportation case studies, identified infrastructure solutions and challenges, and reviewed the current state of infrastructure finance, including value capture and tax increment financing tools.

If you missed the program in Minneapolis, join us in Atlanta, on December 6 and 7 to explore what’s next in transit-oriented development and regional coordination.

Federal Transportation Policy
After the Federal Aviation Administration debacle this August, in which a standoff between the House and Senate shut down aviation projects and cost federal coffers millions in uncollectable tax revenues, the two houses of Congress met the surface transportation law’s September 30 expiration date with an extension until March 31, 2012.

The stubborn unemployment rate, however, may finally lead to movement on a renewed federal program for highways and transit, which has been in a holding pattern since a series of short-term extensions of the current federal law began in 2009. Infrastructure investment was a plank of the Obama jobs bill, and House Republicans are backing away from their proposed one-third cuts to federal transportation spending. There are various efforts in the House and Senate to find mechanisms to shore up the Highway Trust Fund, where gasoline tax revenues have not been able to keep up with demands. Oil, either through expanded taxes or drilling or both, is a likely source of new revenues. Meanwhile, Obama’s high-speed rail initiative received only placeholder funding—$100 million—in recent budget negotiations.

Cisneros and Miramontes Present Solutions to U.S. Infrastructure Funding Dilemmas
To address America’s infrastructure deficit, Henry Cisneros, former HUD secretary and 2011 winner of ULI’s Legendary Housing Leader Award, and Victor Miramontes, vice chair of CityView, put the focus on the municipal debt market and potential new sources of infrastructure capital—including pension funds—in a recent Urban Land article.