The Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) Program

The Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) Program.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. David Randall. January 31, 2018

 Congress created the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program to offer long-term, low-cost loans to railroad operators, with particular attention to small freight railroads, to help them finance improvements to infrastructure and investments in equipment. The program is intended to operate at no cost to the government, and it does not receive an annual appropriation. Since 2000, the RRIF program has made 37 loans totaling $5.4 billion (valued at $5.9 billion in 2018 dollars). The program, which is administered by the Build America Bureau within the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, has approved only four loans since 2012.

[PDF format, 19 pages].

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Motor Vehicle Prioritizing Interventions and Cost Calculator for States

Motor Vehicle Prioritizing Interventions and Cost Calculator for States (MV PICCS). RAND Corporation. Liisa Ecola et al. February 2, 2018

 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers an interactive calculator, called the Motor Vehicle Prioritizing Interventions and Cost Calculator for States (MV PICCS). This online tool can help state decisionmakers prioritize 14 effective motor vehicle injury–prevention interventions based on the costs and effectiveness for their states. MV PICCS not only calculates the expected number of injuries prevented and lives saved at the state level and the costs of implementation, but it selects those interventions that are most cost-effective for a given budget.This update, MV PICCS 3.0, provides a more user-friendly interface, more-intuitive results (including graphics summarizing key outputs), and the ability to create a PDF of the results for each model run. The underlying data have also been updated. A fact sheet for each intervention and a final report with a user guide are included, along with a supplement documenting the changes to the tool and its inputs.

Sustainable and Safe: A Vision and Guidance for Zero Road Deaths

Sustainable and Safe: A Vision and Guidance for Zero Road Deaths. World Resources Institute.  Ben Welle et al. January 2018

 More than 1.25 million people are killed on roads each year, the majority in developing countries, making traffic fatalities the tenth leading cause of death worldwide. Children, elderly and poor people are particularly vulnerable. Are drivers and pedestrians always to blame? Research from WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and the Global Road Safety Facility of the World Bank finds that the most effective way to prevent traffic deaths is a systemic approach that shifts responsibility away from the drivers and pedestrians using roads to the city planners and officials designing them. Analysis in 53 countries found that those that have taken a “Safe System” based approach have achieved both the lowest rates of fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants and the greatest reduction in fatality levels over the past 20 years.  [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 76 pages, 5.3 MB].

Economic Impact of Infrastructure Investment

Economic Impact of Infrastructure Investment. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Jeffrey M. Stupak. July 18, 2017

Infrastructure investment has received renewed interest as of late, with both President Trump and some Members of Congress discussing the benefits of such spending. Infrastructure can be defined in a number of ways depending on the policy discussion; in general, however, the term refers to longer-lived, capital-intensive systems and facilities, such as roads, bridges, and water treatment facilities.

Over the past several decades, government investment in infrastructure as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) has declined. Annual infrastructure investment by federal, state, and local governments peaked in the late 1930s, at about 4.2% of GDP, and since has fallen to about 1.6% of GDP in 2016. State and local governments consistently spend more on infrastructure directly than the federal government. In 2016, direct federal spending on nondefense infrastructure was less than 0.1% of GDP, whereas state and local spending was about 1.5% of GDP. However, the federal government transfers some funds each year to state and local governments for capital projects, which includes infrastructure projects, equaling about 0.4% of GDP in 2016. The United States also lags many other developed countries with respect to annual infrastructure spending. Spending on infrastructure, as a percentage of GDP, is higher in all G7 countries, except for Italy and Germany, than in the United States.

[PDF format, 19 pages, 813.5 KB].

Transport Pricing and Accessibility

Transport Pricing and Accessibility. Brookings Institution. Kenneth Gwilliam. July 2017

A common criticism of urban transport strategies is that they are unduly concerned with mobility or the ability to move rather than accessibility in which a desired journey purpose can be satisfied. It is often further argued that a consequence of this focus on mobility, particularly motorized mobility, is that transport is not affordable to the poor, and that this exclusion justified the use of subsidies to remedy the situation. A key element of “Moving to Access” is thus concerned with increasing the affordability of transport for the poor. The objective of this paper is to explore the relationships between mobility, accessibility, affordability and transport prices and subsidies in more detail with a view to better reconciling the economic efficiency of the urban transport systems with the welfare of the poor. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 46 pages, 595.9 KB].

Informing Pittsburgh’s Options to Address Lead in Water

Informing Pittsburgh’s Options to Address Lead in Water. RAND Corporation. Linnea Warren May, Jordan R. Fischbach, Michele Abbott. June 27, 2017.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is currently struggling to manage and improve its aging water system, with a focus on elevated lead levels for many customers. The issue is well covered in the local media, and several steps are being taken or proposed for remediating lead in Pittsburgh’s tap water. Under federal and state regulatory action and pressure from residents, the city is at a critical decision point for addressing the issue of lead in its water. This Perspective reviews the history and recent developments related to the use of lead in Pittsburgh’s water system and the policy options for lead remediation currently being weighed by local decisionmakers.

The authors review the costs, regulatory barriers, and feasibility of the various options under consideration, including the City of Pittsburgh’s new Safe Water Program and multiple pipe replacement options. They conclude with recommendations, including ensuring optimal pipe corrosion control and filtering in the immediate term and pursuing innovations from other cities to reduce the public and private costs of the permanent solution of full lead service line replacement. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 33 pages, 821.51 KB].

IOT, Automation, Autonomy, and Megacities in 2025: A Dark Preview

IOT, Automation, Autonomy, and Megacities in 2025: A Dark Preview. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Michael Assante, Andrew Bochman. April 26, 2017

This paper extrapolates from present trends to describe plausible future crises playing out in multiple global cities within 10 years. While predicting the future is fraught with uncertainty, much of what occurs in the scenarios presented here is fully possible today and, absent a significant course change, probable in the timeframe discussed.

It is not hard to find tech evangelists touting that ubiquitous and highly interconnected digital technology will bring great advances in productivity and efficiency, as well as new capabilities we cannot foresee. This paper attempts to reveal what is possible when these technologies are applied to critical infrastructure applications en masse without adequate security in densely populated cities of the near future that are less resilient than other environments. Megacities need and will deploy these new technologies to keep up with insatiable demand for energy, communications, transportation, and other services, but it is important to recognize that they are also made more vulnerable by following this path. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 16 pages, 294.46 KB].