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Boeing Says Strong Transportation Network Essential for 777x Plant Siting

Strong road, rail and aviation facilities are essential for any state wishing to land Boeing’s new  777x manufacturing facility. That’s according to a Boeing document obtained by The Seattle Times.

It’s ironic, given that Washington state – the onetime presumptive front-runner for the facility – has a legislature that continues to be deadlocked on a $10 billion transportation investment proposal. The Legislature did,  however, pass a package of tax incentives to entice Boeing.

Here’s what the Seattle Times reports as Boeing’s essential needs for a new facility:

  • An airport with a 9,000-foot runway capable of handling both the 777X and 747-400 jumbo freighters that could deliver parts.
  • Easy highway and road access to the site for delivering parts.
  • Direct access to the site by rail, including a dedicated rail spur right into the site. This is described as “a critical requirement to support delivery and shipping of parts.”

There is one other “desired” infrastructure feature: a seaport that can handle regular and oversized containers. Another “desired incentive” is “Accelerated permitting for site development, facility construction, and environmental permitting.”

A State winning the entire 777X work (i.e., engineers production workers, administrative and support staff) would gain 8,500 direct jobs at peak production in 2024.

Another Record Year Likely for Port of Prince Rupert

Canada’s Port of Prince Rupert, a key competitor for U.S. northwest ports, likely will set another annual growth record. Rupert has already exceeded last year’s shipments; so far 21 million ton of goods have moved through the port, compared to 20.3 million tons last year.

However, much of that number is due to exports of natural resources. The container story is different, particularly for imports.  So far this year Fairview Terminal handled about 281,033 import containers, compared to about 290,566 in 2012.

 

Two other terminals and products (grain and coal) of interest to Cascadia transportation and climate stakeholders:

“Prince Rupert Grain was the only terminal to see a year-over-year increase, climbing 4.03 per cent from 566,010 tonnes last November to 588,806 tonnes this November. The terminal is up 12.5 per cent so far this year having moved 4.76 million tonnes compared to 4.24 million tonnes.

Ridley Terminals saw a 70 per cent drop in year-over-year traffic, experiencing drops in every type of coal and moving 476,086 tonnes of product compared to 1.61 million tonnes last November. Despite the drop, RTI remains on track to beat last year’s number and is up 3.38 per cent at 10.99 million tonnes compared to 10.64 million tonnes.”

Wash. State Transportation Bill Negotiations Approaching Groundhog Day Status

Monday was another day, another negotiation, same outcome: no deal on a Washington state transportation investment bill.

Senators and Representatives met Monday, with no resolution. Apparently there was a counteroffer from the House Democrats, and the Republican-led Senate wants some days to consider it.

Here’s the challenge in a nutshell: the two sides are having to negotiate philosophy, not numbers. It’d be easier if the two sides were just millions of dollars apart on this program or that project.

Instead, the disagreements are philosophical: the state’s role in funding transit, using about $750 million in general funds on transportation OR education, and supporting or opposing using a small portion of toxic waste site cleanup funds to treat polluted water runoff from highways. See below for more details.

At this point it’s hard to see a deal coming together in time for a special legislative session next week to pass the bill.  A more likely possibility is a January 6 special session, but even that seems like a very long shot.

All bets are off if a bill isn’t passed before the regular session begins on January 13. That’s because the Legislature has to start over. The various pieces of the package – the labor, environmental and transportation sections all have to go through their committees of jurisdiction.  That increases exponentially the difficulty in keeping the compromises intact, and getting the pieces out of committee.

Here is more detail on the outstanding issues:

  • Sales tax on the transportation projects in the proposed bill. Currently, the sales tax (on materials used in projects) revenue is transferred to the general fund. Eliminating that transfer provides about $750 million more for transportation projects, and stretches the gas tax revenue. Many Democratic Members oppose the change, noting it reduces funding for education, housing and other programs they value. Part of the hangup, allegedly, is House Members want to see tighter language limited the provision to projects in the bill.
  • Use of environmental funds (Model Toxic Control Act) currently used to clean up toxic waste sites. The Senate bill calls for using some of the funds to treat polluted water runoff from highway projects. Republicans support that, while Democrats feel strongly about protecting those funds for toxic site cleanups, and using gas tax revenue for the stormwater projects.
  • Funding for transit and multimodal (that is, bike-ped) transportation. The House bill has significantly more funding and is supported by Democrats.  The Senate bill has less for transit; significantly the Republican Co-Chair has stated he doesn’t believe bike-ped facilities are the state’s responsibility to fund.
  • Prevailing wage: moving the project threshold for when prevailing wage rules kick in from $2 million to $5 million.

Washington State Transportation Bill Dead for 2013

This morning House Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn and Senate Transportation Co-Chair Curtis King told a group the transportation bill is dead for 2013.  Negotiations will continue, and a bill could pass during the first week of January.  However, Clibborn also said that if there was no deal by December January 13th, after weeks  and weeks of negotiations, she is done,  it will be extremely difficult to pass a bill in the [new] legislative session beginning on January 13th. Senator King has said essentially the same thing.  That’s primarily because all pieces of the bill (for example, the labor and environmental reforms) would have to move through their respective committees of jurisdiction.  Passage out of those committees is questionable.

Looking for a long-shot silver lining? It’s conceivable, if unlikely, that a deal could be so close that the bills move through committees quickly, and a bill get passed.  Or that they get close enough that a quick special session is called in the Spring.  But don’t bet money on it.

Transportation Issues Daily Going on Hiatus

It is with deeply mixed emotions that I announce our blog and newsletter are going on hiatus. I’ve accepted the position of Chief of Staff for the Port of Seattle Commission. At this point it is unclear if or to what degree the blog and nelead_largewsletter might continue. I will continue to be active on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

This is sudden and unanticipated, I realize. Honestly, I wasn’t looking to end TID. But an opportunity came up that was simply too good to resist – a chance to join and lead a team, to work on complicated challenges, and be in the midst of national and regional policy issues.

 

 

While I am extremely excited about my new opportunity, I’m sad to leave behind TID as we know it.

TID started off as an unproven concept, launched on a hunch. Would there be interest in an email/web-based publication covering all transportation modes? That was non-partisan? That was opinion-free (well, almost always)? That was NOT anti-roads, anti-bikes, anti-transit, or anti-something?

You answered yes. I thought eventually maybe 500 would subscribe eventually; gradually, over 2000 of you subscribed, representing all fifty states.

When I joined twitter, I thought maybe a few hundred would follow us. Over 4100 now follow TID; including many from outside the U.S.

Most rewarding was the interaction with you. Learning more about your project, how transportation impacts your community or business, or more about transportation issues.

I hope to continue publishing, perhaps focusing on analysis stories instead of reporting-oriented stories.