Monday, January 30, 2012

House transportation bill would spend about $260B

House Republicans are proposing to spend about $260 billion over the next 4 1/2 years on transportation programs, as well as substantially increase the size of trucks permitted on highways, according to a draft bill being introduced this week.

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and other GOP leaders are expected to introduce the bill on Tuesday. Mica's committee is poised to approve the measure on Thursday.

Significant policy changes in the bill include giving states far greater power — and the U.S. Department of Transport far less say — over how federal transportation aid is spent. The bill also consolidates many existing transportation programs, and makes it easier and quicker for road construction and other transportation projects to meet the requirements of federal environmental laws.

States could permit trucks weighing up to 97,000 pounds — and in some cases as much as 126,000 pounds — on interstate highways under the bill. The current limit is 80,000 pounds in most states. Increased weight limits are supported by the trucking industry, but opposed by safety advocates.

"Larger and heavier trucks mean bigger safety risks for highway drivers," Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., wrote in a letter to House lawmakers last week asking them not to raise weight limits.

The bill would maintain current spending on transportation despite declining gasoline and diesel fuel taxes, which historically have paid for highway and transit programs.

A separate committee will decide how to cover the gap between gas-tax revenues and the spending levels proposed in the bill. GOP leaders have said they plan to use revenue from expanded oil and natural gas drilling, but haven't provided details. However, congressional aides knowledgeable about the proposal said it would include drilling off the Virginia coast and in federal leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The aides weren't authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be named.

The bill provides enough money to prevent the nation's roads, bridges and transit systems from falling further into disrepair, but not enough to significantly reduce the backlog of needed work on transportation infrastructure, transportation experts said. A congressionally mandated commission estimated in 2009 that it would require $200 billion a year to reduce the backlog while maintaining the current transportation system.

"Clearly this level of funding is inadequate to support our needs as a nation," said Joshua Schank, president of the Eno Center for Transportation, a Washington think tank that supports greater transportation investment.

But the bill is expected to save jobs in construction, bus manufacturing and other transportation-related industries in part because it allows state transportation departments to make long-term commitments of funds. Those kinds of commitments are usually necessary before companies can go forward with major new transportation projects.

Each $1 billion in transportation construction spending supports about 30,000 jobs, said Andy Herrmann, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The GOP bill is "holding along the lines of what we've been doing in the past," he said.

But that may be enough to propel the bill through the House in an election year where voter regard for Congress is at rock bottom and lawmakers are eager to show off an accomplishment.

The last long-term transportation bill expired in 2009. Congress has kept transportation aid flowing to states through a series of short-term extensions. The current extension expires on March 31.

The Senate is working on its own bill, which would spend $109 billion over two years. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., a co-author of the bill, says the bill's sponsors have a plan to pay for the measure, but hasn't detailed how that would happen.

A bipartisan proposal introduced in the Senate on Monday would continue transit spending at current levels while giving the regulators greater safety oversight of transit agencies, including the power to impose fines. The Banking Committee is expected to approve the measure on Thursday, after which it will be incorporated into the Senate transportation bill.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Attack on Melbourne public transport ticket and validation machines!

We cram ourselves into these steel tubes like sardines. Forced to endure the discomfort day after day, literally being crushed by society. The sweat, smell, and heat is unbearable. As we stand clinging to a stupid little loop, gasping for breath and shifting our weight from foot to foot aching from the tedium and muttering apologies to the fellow passengers we are crushing and suffocating, we can't help but think of livestock packed together being transported to the slaughterhouse. Because work and consumerism is a slaughterhouse of our minds, and free will.

The public transport system is an essential apparatus of capitalist democracy. It is a conduit with the purpose of efficiently transporting the inhabitants of the metropolis between their homes, their workplaces, and the shops. Making our exploitation by managers and bosses possible. Limiting our actions to either work or consumerism.

We are subjected to constant surveillance in the stations, trams, busses and trains. Security personnel silently observe banks of monitors behind thousands of cameras. Vigilantly watching for “suspicious” behaviour. The ticket inspectors terrorise us into paying up everyday, they are nothing else than armed enforcers of capitalism who use violence and fines to guard the profits of companies who make millions of dollars everyday out of their need for us to travel to and from work.

We spend all our day at work at jobs we hate, making a profit for bosses that humiliate us. And with the meagre earnings we take home we buy into the illusion of happiness and freedom that we can find in the latest electronics, or clothing, cars, and other products which ultimately bring us neither happiness nor freedom. Our homes have become merely the location where we recover from the previous days work and await the alarm clocks chime which interrupts our sleep and signals us to proceed again to work.

And now the metcops who fulfil their role as armed enforcers of capitalism- guarding profits and threatening us with violence and fines if we refuse this exploitation.

We don't demand cheaper, more efficient, or more punctual public transport. We attack this entire way of life. Even to make it free doesn't satisfy us. We already ride for free everyday and refuse to pay or submit to the terrorism of the ticket inspectors. It's not enough to merely evade the fare or hand our ticket to the next passenger boarding the carriage, an invisible rebellion against these circumstances which we all hate. This whole system must be attacked and sabotaged.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

7 Most Unusual Road Signs

7 Most Unusual Road Signs
We have all seen our fair share of unusual things while we drive.What we aren’t used to is proper road signs throwing us for a loop. There are plenty of crazy signs you may see on a trip across the country. Here are a few of them.

No Hitchhikers

There is a sign that reads “Correctional Facility Area: Do not Pick up Hitchhikers.” Well, this sign is not only unusual, but it’s also highly necessary. It’s one thing to be a Good Samaritan, but it’s another to pick up a guy who should be serving 25-to-life.

No Explosives
“No explosives” is a rule that shouldn’t have to be put on a sign, but one that was anyway. The location of this sign is unknown, but it exists, and you may want to steer clear of any area where you see it.

No Falling Limbs

“Warning: Limbs May Fall” is not exactly what you want to see on your journey through an area, but it’s nice that they’re making it known. Of course, this sign isn’t as bad as the “Falling Rocks” sign you might see elsewhere, but if the limb is big enough, it could be a problem. If your car encounters a big limb, it could affect your auto insurance rates.

Message to Dogs

Vancouver certainly has a sense of humor. In a sign made to encourage dog owners to clean up after their pets, there’s also a message for the pups themselves: “Grrrr, bark, woof. Good dog.” Clearly, this sign is an attempt at being cute. It’s certainly original because you’ll never see a sign like this anywhere else.

No Fun

Santa Cruz is supposed to be a pleasant place to visit. However, one sign outlaws almost everything from pets to driving to playing ball. In reality, these are necessary to outlaw in the area, but putting them on a sign only makes you think of doom and gloom.

Beware of Tanks

You’ve heard of deer, dog and duck crossings, but tanks? Yes, apparently there are some places in the world where a tank will cross your path. Clearly, any collision with the tank means bad news for you and not for the tank, so this sign is strictly for your benefit.

Beware of Your Grandpa

Yes, there is a sign somewhere that reads “Beware of Elderly Crossing.” This sign tops even the tank sign. It’s only right to respect your elders, especially when they’re crossing the street.
These signs might be unusual, but they’re around to help you, so be informed and enjoy the next time you drive past one.