The Transportation Research Board (TRB) 10th National Conference started in Miami today, 28 April 2014.
With 450 registrations from all 50 US states and Washington DC, the National Conference has a real buzz.
The Conference has five technical streams, all with good content, which makes it very hard to choose what to attend.
This morning I attended a workshop – ‘Financial Plan Requirement for the Asset Transportation Plan’. The workshop covered the financial planning requirements under MAP-21 (US Transportation legislation that requires development of a Total Asset Management Plan – TAMP).
A lot of valuable information was provided by the State Departments of Transportation involved in the MAP-21 TAMP Three State Pilot – Louisiana, Minnesota, and New York State.
The different issues each State is facing, and the different approaches to the TAMP made for a very interesting morning.
I noted that the State DOTs and Federal Highway Administration are making a lot of resources available free on the internet.
The afternoon started with a whole of conference welcome and joint session.
I found the presentations from Greg Nadeau, Deputy Administrator, Federal Highway Administration and Dorval Carter, Chief Counsel, Federal Transit Administration to be particularly interesting.
There was a strong acknowledgement that the current investment levels are not enough to sustain US highway and transit infrastructure. We learned that President Obama and his administration are promoting a 4-year, $302-billion package for highways and transit infrastructure.
This represents a 22% increase on current funding levels. Given the widely acknowledged infrastructure deficit in US Highway and Transit assets it will be interesting to see whether the Administration’s transportation package receives the political support it needs to proceed.
Following the joint session I attended the Performance Measures session for the remainder of the afternoon. Several thought provoking papers were well presented on different approaches to performance measures.
Mark Nelson from Minnesota DOT spoke on performance measure integration with the TAMP.
Jeff Zavitski from Deighton Associates lead us through how Maine DOT had used a customer service level approach to performance measures. With a sparsely populated state, an extensive network, and a big revenue shortfall Maine had some hard decisions to make. Using the customer service level approach Maine was able to prioritise network expenditure. The scenario modelling in this analysis was completed using Deighton’s software.
Greg Johnson and Bill Robert provided an instructive presentation on the issues that Michigan DOT is facing as a result of long term revenue shortfalls, and the use of bonds to bridge the revenue gaps. With 25% of revenue now being committed to bond interest payments, and bond raising now capped, Michigan DOT now needs ongoing additional revenue to meet it’s performance measures.
Retrospective analysis of bond raising versus additional taxes was presented. The amount of analysis and how to address the real and on-going revenue deficit problem made the presentation particularly interesting.
David Nicol from Delaware DOT presented a very succinct (time was running short) presentation of how Delaware had set measures and targets and this provided an informative conclusion to the session.
The evening Posters and Reception provided a good opportunity to meet conference participants, and to catch up with a number of people I had previously met at the 8th TRB Conference in Portland four years ago.
The first day of the 10th TRB National Conference was informative, engaging and thought provoking. A very enjoyable day.