Industry groups are hopeful that Senate committee approval of a bill to reauthorize the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds bodes well for final congressional approval this year. Industry has had a long wait: the Clean Water SRF was last reauthorized 22 years ago and the Drinking Water SRF was last approved in 1996. Congress annually appropriates funds for the SRFs but at lower levels than called for in needs-assessment surveys. The water measure, which the Environment and Public Works Committee cleared on May 14, would authorize $38.5 billion over five years. Of that, $20 billion is for
The Appellate Division of the New York state court ruled four to zero to uphold the state’s right to use eminent domain to build the Atlantic Yards megadevelopment in Brooklyn, N.Y. Developer Forest City Ratner Cos. (FCRC), New York City, says it plans to break this year, with the intent that the Nets will play basketball in the planned arena, named Barclays Center, in the 2011-12 season. In 2006, the developer was aiming to move have the Nets into the arena by the 2009-2010 NBA season. According to FCRC, this is the 23rd consecutive ruling in favor of the megadevelopment,
A recent study by the Federal Transit Administration concludes that the nation’s largest transit agencies need at least $50 billion to bring their assets into a state of good repair and another $6 billion would be needed annually for normal maintenance. The Rail Modernization Study, completed in April at the request of Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and 11 other senators, examined capital needs of the seven biggest U.S. rail transit agencies. It looked at older systems in New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia, as well as newer systems in San Francisco, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. Combined, the agencies serve
Business groups and unions describe President Obama’s picks to fill the two vacant Democratic seats on the National Labor Relations Board as experienced labor attorneys on the union side. Unions are cheering Obama’s choices, announced on April 24, but business organizations are bracing for potential reversals of some Bush-era NLRB decisions. Craig Becker, associate general counsel to the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO, and Mark Pearce, a founding partner of the New York law firm Creighton, Pearce, Johnsen & Giroux, are expected to gain Senate confirmation. The third vacant board seat will be filled with a Republican, who
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) has put a “hold” on the nomination of Regina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation. The Environment and Public Works Com- mittee cleared McCarthy’s nomi- nation on April 23, but Barrasso is concerned about her support for EPA’s recent finding that greenhouse gases may pose a public-health danger. The action blocks a floor vote on McCarthy.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) has added funds for Dept. of Defense hospitals to a 2009 supplemental spending bill. The $94.2-billion measure, which Obey’s panel was to take up on May 7, includes $3.2 billion for military construction, $900 million more than the White House sought. Obey says most of the boost is for hospital projects. The $3.2 billion also includes the $263 million that the White House requested to speed up hospital projects in Bethesda, Md., and Fort Belvoir in Virginia. Under DOD’s base-closure plans, those facilities would replace the current Walter Reed Army Medical Center in
Early congressional reviews of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act activity in core transportation sectors give agencies generally good marks, but lawmakers plan to keep a keen eye on stimulus spending as the flow increases. At recent House and Senate hearings, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said highway and transit sectors are showing the most progress. He also shed light on two big programs for which DOT hasn’t committed any money yet: $8 billion for high-speed rail and $1.5 billion for unspecified major projects. LaHood praised California’s rail plans and wants to fund work in several other corridors. He also said he’d
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) says he plans to soon unveil a new, multiyear surface transportation bill and predicts that it will move to the House floor in early June. Oberstar declined to disclose the amount of funding that the measure would authorize. An April 24 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials-American Public Transportation Association report says highway capital spending by all government levels needs to reach $132 billion to $166 billion a year by 2015, depending on traffic growth. That compares with $78.7 billion spent in 2006. The report pegs annual transit capital
In an 8-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court on May 4 limited the legal reach of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, known as the Superfund law, in recovering cleanup costs from companies with possible links to pollution at sites. The high court said Shell Oil should not be held liable for contamination at an Arvin, Calif., site where it sold pesticides to a now-bankrupt chemical firm. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said liability under the relevant section of the Superfund law “does not extend beyond the limits of the statute itself.”
Some American Institute of Architects’ 2008 model contract documents for integrated project delivery are being challenged by at least one prominent lawyer who also is an architect and general counsel for a major A/E firm. The documents create a limited-liability company called a single-purpose entity (SPE). Do not use these model documents without “competent legal counsel review,” because they are “flawed,” says Bill Quatman, managing director for Burns & McDonnell Engineering Co., Kansas City. The single-purpose-entity agreement sets up a limited-liability company that contracts for design and construction. Under the SPE model, the owner has three managers, controlling the board.