Transport & Infrastructure News and Discussions

caltrek
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U.S. Will Restore Nearly $1 Billion for California's Troubled Bullet Train


https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireSto ... n-78219874

Introduction:
(ABC) SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The federal government has reached an agreement to restore nearly $1 billion in funding for California's troubled bullet train, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced.

The U.S. Department of Transportation finalized settlement negotiations to restore the money for the high-speed rail project that was revoked by the Trump administration in 2019, Newsom said Thursday night.

The restoration of $929 million in grant funding “will continue to spur job creation, advance the project and move the state one step closer to getting trains running in California as soon as possible," Newsom said in a statement.

California voters in 2008 approved nearly $10 billion in bond money to build a high-speed rail line connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco that was supposed to be running by 2020.

But the project was plagued by cost overruns and delays. Officials now hope to have trains running on a segment through the state's central valley agricultural region by 2029.
weatheriscool
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Self-healing concrete eats CO2 to fill its own cracks in 24 hours
By Nick Lavars
June 14, 2021
Concrete has a massive carbon footprint, so technologies that boost its performance and enable it to last longer could have profound benefits for the environment. This has led to the development of self-healing concrete that can repair its own cracks, and scientists have now demonstrated an exciting new form of this that makes use of an enzyme found in human blood.

Tiny cracks that form in concrete mightn't pose an immediate problem to the structural integrity of a construction, but as water gets in and the rupture spreads it can greatly compromise its strength. The idea with self-healing concrete is to intervene in this process while the cracks are still tiny, sealing up the material to prevent not just a catastrophic collapse, but expensive maintenance or a complete replacement of the structure.

This field of research has turned up all kinds of interesting potential solutions over the years. We've seen versions that pack their own sodium silicate healing agents, ones that feature bacteria that produce special glue to knit together these cracks, and others that fill up the gaps with fungus. While promising, scientists at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute have conjured up what they believe is a cheaper and even more efficient solution.
https://newatlas.com/materials/self-hea ... od-enzyme/
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Time_Traveller
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Bipartisan infrastructure deal back on track after walk-back
19 hours ago

A bipartisan deal to invest nearly $1 trillion in the nation's infrastructure appeared to be back on track Sunday after a stark walk-back by President Joe Biden to his earlier insistence that the bill be coupled with an even larger Democrat-backed measure in order to earn his signature.

Republican senators who brokered the agreement with the White House and Democrats to fund badly needed investments in roads, bridges, water and broadband internet indicated they were satisfied with Biden's comments that he was dropping the both-or-nothing approach. In a statement issued Saturday after 48 hours of behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the White House to salvage the deal, Biden said it was not his “intent” to suggest he was issuing a veto threat on the bill.

That proved to be enough for some wavering Republicans, who have privately and not-so-privately registered their displeasure at the linkage.

“Over the weeks and weeks in negotiations with Democrats and with the White House on an infrastructure bill, the president’s other agenda was never linked to the infrastructure effort,” Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said on CNN s “State of the Union” on Sunday. He said that if Biden had not put out the statement, “I think it would have been very, very hard for Republicans to say, yes, we support this.”

“We’re not going to sign up for a multitrillion-dollar spending spree,” he added, referencing the larger Democratic bill.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/worl ... 73634.html
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caltrek
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Fort Lauderdale Accepts Bid From Elon Musk's Firm to Build a Tunnel to the Beach
by Mychael Schnell
July 7, 2021

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics ... ar-AALTdIr

Introduction:
(The Hill via MSN) Fort Lauderdale commissioners on Tuesday accepted a bid from Elon Musk's firm to build a tunnel between the city's downtown area and the beach.

Mayor Dean Trantalis (D) announced in a tweet that the city formally accepted a proposal from The Boring Company to build an "underground transit system between downtown and the beach."

Other firms will now have 45 days to submit competing proposals, the mayor noted.

"This could be a truly innovative way to reduce traffic congestion," he wrote.
caltrek
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Amtrak Plans to Replace Dozens of Aging Trains at a Cost of $7.3 Billion
by Tom Trisher
July 7, 2021

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireSto ... b-78714298

Introduction:
(ABC News) DETROIT -- Amtrak plans to spend $7.3 billion to replace 83 passenger trains, some nearly a half-century old, though much of the funding must still be approved by Congress.

Amtrak said Wednesday that under the contract with German manufacturer Siemens AG, some of the trains will be hybrids, able to operate on diesel fuel and electricity where wires are available. The new trains will replace Amfleet, Metroliner and state-owned equipment starting in 2024.

The new engines and passenger cars will be built at a U.S. factory in Sacramento, California.

The new trains will have more comfortable seating, better ventilation systems, individual power outlets and USB ports, onboard WiFi, and panoramic windows. Amtrak CEO William Flynn says they'll pollute far less than the older trains when operating in diesel mode.

The trains will go to lines in New York, New England, California, the Northwest, Virginia and elsewhere. The railroad has an option to buy 130 additional trains from Siemens.
Image
This image provided by Siemens shows a rendering of one of the new Amtrak trains to be built in the U.S. by Siemens Mobility.
(Siemens via AP)
caltrek
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Fort Lauderdale Accepts Bid From Elon Musk's Firm to Build a Tunnel to the Beach
More on that from Rebecca Heilweil in this article published July 8, 2021:

Extract:
(Vox) Concerns that the project is ill-advised cropped up soon after it was announced. Some fear that the tunnel might be a flood risk, given the city’s proximity to the ocean and rising sea levels spurred by climate change. Another worry is that the Boring Company has promised lower costs and faster construction times, despite engineering and tunnel industry experts saying the firm doesn’t offer any particularly novel way of building tunnels. Others have suggested that greater investment into public transportation might be a better solution to the city’s traffic congestion problem.

“It’s worth investigating whether that’s feasible from a structural and engineering perspective,” Lily Elefteriadou, the director of the University of Florida’s Transportation Institute, told Recode. “From a transportation systems perspective, it makes sense to look into alternatives to get people out of private vehicles and see if that might work.”

Tunnels are expensive, Elefteriadou explained, and a dedicated lane or a rail line might do the trick, depending on the land, funding available, and expected ridership.

If the tunnel plan does go through, experts told Recode that water issues, including those exacerbated by climate change, will impact what kinds of features engineers will need to consider.

“The designers will look at what are all the loads and situations that could conceivably exist over that 100- to 150-year time period,” said Michael Mooney, a professor at the Colorado School of Mines who focuses on underground construction and tunnels. “They’ll look at rising sea level, they’ll look at what the design-hurricane event will be, and then they’ll design accordingly.”ox)Concerns that the project is ill-advised cropped up soon after it was announced. Some fear that the tunnel might be a flood risk, given the city’s proximity to the ocean and rising sea levels spurred by climate change. Another worry is that the Boring Company has promised lower costs and faster construction times, despite engineering and tunnel industry experts saying the firm doesn’t offer any particularly novel way of building tunnels. Others have suggested that greater investment into public transportation might be a better solution to the city’s traffic congestion problem.
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Yuli Ban
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World's deepest pool opens in Dubai, part of huge underwater city
Already home to the world's tallest skyscraper and the world's largest mall, Dubai has just opened another record-breaking attraction -- the deepest dive pool in the world.
With a staggering depth of 60 meters (196 feet), the pool, part of the new Deep Dive Dubai attraction -- has stolen the record from Poland's Deepspot, which has a depth of over 45 meters.
The Deep Dive Dubai pool is filled with 14 million liters of fresh water -- the volume of six Olympic-sized swimming pools -- and is at least four times bigger than any other diving pool in the world. Guinness awarded it the "Deepest swimming pool for diving" title on June 27.
The facility is open by invitation only for now but will open to the public later this year. The crown prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, a keen diver, was one of the first visitors and shared his experience on social media.
Water temperature is maintained at 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), a comfortable temperature for wearing a thin wetsuit or a swimsuit.
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And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
caltrek
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Post by caltrek »

The Biden administration today indicated that it is issuing an Executive Order with potentially far reaching economic consequences. The transportation industry will be one of several sectors to be impacted. Here is that portion of a White House statement that concerns transportation:
In the transportation sector, multiple industries are now dominated by large corporations—air travel, rail, and shipping.

Airlines: The top four commercial airlines control nearly two-thirds of the domestic market. Reduced competition contributes to increasing fees like baggage and cancellation fees. These fees are often raised in lockstep, demonstrating a lack of meaningful competitive pressure, and are often hidden from consumers at the point of purchase. The top ten airlines collected $35.2 billion in ancillary fees in 2018, up from just $1.2 billion in 2007. Inadequate competition also reduces incentives to provide good service. For example, the Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates that airlines were late delivering at least 2.3 million checked bags in 2019.

In the Order, the President:

Directs the DOT to consider issuing clear rules requiring the refund of fees when baggage is delayed or when service isn’t actually provided—like when the plane’s WiFi or in-flight entertainment system is broken.

Directs the DOT to consider issuing rules that require baggage, change, and cancellation fees to be clearly disclosed to the customer.

Rail: In 1980, there were 33 “Class I” freight railroads, compared to just seven today, and four major rail companies now dominate their respective geographic regions. Freight railroads that own the tracks can privilege their own freight traffic—making it harder for passenger trains to have on-time service—and can overcharge other companies’ freight cars.

In the Order, the President:

Encourages the Surface Transportation Board to require railroad track owners to provide rights of way to passenger rail and to strengthen their obligations to treat other freight companies fairly.

Shipping: In maritime shipping, the global marketplace has rapidly consolidated. In 2000, the largest 10 shipping companies controlled 12% of the market. Today, it is more than 80%, leaving domestic manufacturers who need to export goods at these large foreign companies’ mercy. This has let powerful container shippers charge exporters exorbitant fees for time their freight was sitting waiting to be loaded or unloaded. These fees, called “detention and demurrage charges,” can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In the Order, the President:

Encourages the Federal Maritime Commission to ensure vigorous enforcement against shippers charging American exporters exorbitant charges.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-roo ... n-economy/
caltrek
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I am kind of surprised that this article (see below) is acting like the basic idea is new. Engineers have known this since before I retired, which was almost six years ago. I mean, is the San Francisco Bay area just now understanding that idea?

Be Very Careful Where You Build That Seawall
by Matt Simon
July 20, 2021

https://www.wired.com/story/be-very-car ... t-seawall/

Introduction:
(Wired) THINK BACK TO being a kid at the beach, building walls around your sandcastles. If you engineered those fortifications properly, the tide would come in and flow around your kingdom, before the walls eventually eroded away. By redirecting the rising water, you would have saved your castle—at least for a little while.

Now think bigger. Imagine you’re a city planner in an area threatened by rising seas and you’ve spent a fortune to build a proper seawall. The tide comes in and the wall holds, saving you billions of dollars in property damage. But: whomp whomp. Like the waves you once redirected around your sandcastle, the rising waters hit the wall and flow into the communities on either side of you. You’ve saved your residents, but imperiled others.

New modeling shows just how catastrophic this wayward-water phenomenon might be in the San Francisco Bay Area, where sea levels could rise 7 feet in the next 80 years. “Those rising waters put millions of people and billions of dollars in buildings at risk,” says Anne Guerry, chief strategy officer and lead scientist at Stanford University’s Natural Capital Project, who coauthored a paper describing the research. It was published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “One of the things that's new about this work is that people haven't necessarily thought about how communities, like in the Bay Area, are connected to one another through these shared waters,” she continues.

Guerry and her colleagues did the modeling by breaking up the shoreline into sections, based on characteristics like geology. Then they used hydrological models to show where the rising water would go if a given section of coastline was fortified with a seawall. Basically, they imagined what would happen if the residents of one area decided to protect themselves without fully considering the resulting hydrology. “That water has to flow somewhere,” says Guerry. “And what we found is it ends up flowing into other communities, making their flooding much worse.
Last edited by caltrek on Mon Jul 26, 2021 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
caltrek
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Mystery Group Promoting Infrastructure Privatization Boosted by Toll Road Lobbyists
by Lee Fang
July 23, 2021

https://theintercept.com/2021/07/23/inf ... oll-roads/

Introduction:
(The Intercept) LET’S BUILD INFRASTRUCTURE is preparing to launch formally in Washington, D.C., next week with a six-figure advertising blitz focused on pressing lawmakers to use privatization, rather than taxation, to pay for the infrastructure proposals debated in Congress.

The organization touts public-private partnerships and a process known as “asset recycling,” in which the government finances new construction and repairs by selling or leasing roads, bridges, water utilities, parking lots, and other infrastructure assets to private contractors instead of paying for them with public funding. The private operators in turn recoup costs by adding tolls or increasing user fees, such as water bills or parking fees.

The new group, helmed by two former mayors, Republican Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City and Democrat Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, has published virtually no information about its supporters on its website or how it’s paying for the wave of television advertisements.

There is scant information about Let’s Build Infrastructure anywhere on the internet. The website was registered anonymously in June and leaves no trace about its funding sources. Cornett and Nutter have not responded to requests for comment.

But a trail of evidence, including social media posts as well as nonprofit business registration and lobbying documents, suggests that toll road operators are affiliated with the pro-privatization push.
The article goes on to discuss problems that have been caused by these toll road operators, especially by their greed in raising toll rates.
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