Monthly Archives: October 2010

Treasury Makes the Argument for Infrastructure Spending

By Annie Russo
The Department of Treasury, this month, in conjunction with The Council on Economic Advisors released a report, “An Economic Analysis of Infrastructure Investment.”  The report highlights the job creation benefits derived from infrastructure spending.  This data will help bolster ACI-NA’s argument that spending on airport infrastructure significantly benefits local communities economically.

Of these jobs created, 90 percent of them are defined as middle class jobs, meaning that the salaries fall been 25th and 75th percentiles in national distribution of wages.  With the unemployment rate among the construction sector at 17 percent, a large push for infrastructure investment could have a significant impact on our national unemployment rate.

The Transportation Department and the Obama Administration learned through the $1.1 billion provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the Airport Improvement Program that the airport industry creates thousands of jobs through infrastructure investment projects.  This report highlights the high yielding nature of those jobs and the true impact on those employed as a direct result of infrastructure construction.

As the Administration crafts their recently proposed $50 infrastructure investment plan and as the new 112th Congress considers ways to bolster the economy, they need to look no further than increased AIP funding, a raise on the Passenger Facilities Charge cap, and the continued exemption of the Alternative Minimum Tax on private activity bonds to not only improve safety and security for the aviation industry, but also to put thousands of Americans back to work in middle class jobs.

TSA Hosts Cyber Security Summit

By Miranda Horan
On Oct. 21, the Transportation Security Administration hosted its first Cyber Security in Transportation Summit. This summit provided an opportunity for industry officials to come together and share their expertise and knowledge.

Cyber Security is increasingly becoming a top priority in the transportation sector, and as such there is a growing need for collaboration and information sharing between federal agencies and with the private sector. The summit began with a keynote speech from Howard Schmidt, the Cyber Security Coordinator and Special Assistant to the President, where he discussed the potential that cyber threats pose to the transportation sector, and what the industry can do to combat them.

Subsequent presentations throughout the day highlighted the emerging threats and trends for 2011, which are centered around two main things – the insider threat, such as disgruntled employees; and malware, such as the Stuxnet worm that can attack Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition systems that used to control and monitor industrial processes including manufacturing, production, power generation, fabrication, and refining – the essential processes necessary to run the country.

Miller Center Recommendations Could Help FAA Reauthorization

ACI-NA President Greg Principato submitted a blog to the National Journal in response to its call for a discussion on President Obama recent efforts to seek more infrastructure investment and long-term transportation funding measures.

In his posting, Principato noted that, “On Columbus Day, President Obama stood with former Transportation Secretaries Mineta and Skinner to call for bipartisan support for infrastructure investment. The two secretaries chaired a University of Virginia Miller Center conference on transportation, which last week released a report (which the president held up). The Miller Center is run by my old boss former Virginia Governor Gerald Baliles.  I was among the 80 experts called upon by the Miller Center to participate.”

The rest of his posting:

“While the report has a heavy surface transportation focus, its recommendations directly relate to aviation and the need for a serious, policy discussion on infrastructure improvement.

  • “Recommendation 1: Stop the Bleeding. Federal aviation infrastructure spending has gone down both in real terms and because more of the money is spent on FAA operations.
  • “Recommendation 2: Beyond the Gas Tax. Of course in aviation it is the ticket tax. But the point is the same; the mechanism to fund aviation in this country is out of date as airlines move toward charging fees not subject to the ticket tax. It is time to get beyond the ticket tax as currently constituted.
  • “Recommendation 3: Jobs for the Future Not Just for Today. Aviation infrastructure is the perfect illustration of this, look at all the economic activity that grows around airports. Those jobs last!
  • “Recommendation 4: Pass the Power Please. Airports are key parts of their community and we believe the law should be changed where appropriate to give airports more say in their own economic affairs, including what fees to charge and how to finance projects.
  • “Recommendation 5: Adopt a Capital Budget. Airports already essentially do this. It is time to give them the freedom to finance it.
  • “Recommendation 6: Connect the Dots. Airports are also increasingly doing this, looking to better connect to downtown and surrounding areas. Let’s remove restrictions that hold airports back.
  • “Recommendation 7: Getting Americans Home for Dinner. Air transportation congestion has been well documented. In fact, there was a report last week from the University of California at Berkeley that documented the $32.9 billion cost for the U.S. economy, with about half of that paid by passengers.  Let’s move forward with NextGen, and allow airports the flexibility, especially including a higher PFC cap, to finance infrastructure to take full advantage of NextGen. There is NO NextGen without a PFC increase, and there will be lots more missed dinners.
  • “Recommendation 8: It’s All About Leveraging. Airports are involved in public-private partnerships every day. Perhaps there is no mode better at this. Let’s remove remaining obstacles, and I would implore the airline industry to join us (as they often, but not always, do).
  • “Recommendation 9: Delivering Transportation Investments on Time. Airports have an outstanding record in this regard, but the stop and start of 16 FAA Reauthorization extensions and no PFC increase puts this in peril. We need a long-term extension and a PFC ceiling increase so projects can continue to come in on time and on budget.
  • “Recommendation 10: Build a Foundation for Informed Policy.  We need to end the rhetoric and talk about facts based on data. This is why airline misstatements about airport infrastructure are so frustrating and unproductive.

“I was proud to participate in the formation of the 10 recommendations and I applaud Secretaries Mineta and Skinner, Governor Baliles and President Obama for focusing on them. I also call on all my colleagues in aviation to approach this FAA bill, and all its future successors, with the same constructive spirit embodied in the Miller Center’s report.”

Planning Better, “NEPA-ing” Better in Long Beach

By Chris Oswald
Jessica Steinhilber and I spent this week in Long Beach at the Airport Planning Redefined Course and the NEPA Essentials Workshop co-sponsored by ACI-NA, the Airport Consultants Council, and the FAA.  Over 70 planners and environmental specialists from airports, the FAA, and the consulting community attended the events to learn how to plan more effectively and conduct successful NEPA processes.

The need to better integrate planning and subsequent National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review activities was a recurring theme in our sessions.  Project formulation—sometimes known as bridging—was one particularly useful technique identified to enhance this integration.  Project formulation efforts—which include more detailed planning, engineering, and design studies than are typically included in master plans—serve to “bridge” information gaps that between master plans and NEPA.

It was especially satisfying to see planners and environmental specialists with only one or two years of experience work collaboratively with experienced facility and environmental planners in our “hands on” class exercises.

Special thanks to Long Beach Airport Director Mario Rodriguez, who hosted us this week, ACC staff who made the event possible, and our hard -working event steering groups that pulled together informative and provocative course sessions.