Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Port Presents Economic Situational Analysis

The Port of Tacoma posed for itself a difficult task: Meeting the Challenges of the Global Economic Change, for today's breakfast forum at the Hotel Murano - and it was answered admirably.

No one can claim an unclouded crystal ball into the future or in wholehearted recommendations on a definitive response. The keynoter Walter Kemmsies, Chief Economist, Moffatt & Nichol (who was most recently here for the Northwest Intermodal Conference May 19, 2008) did a creditable job in explaining the why's of getting here, the what's of here and the when's of a forecast. He recommended all to FDIC Commissioner Sheila Bair, who had identified the challenges to our economy several years ago, but lambasted other policy leaders who instead got us to where we are now.

In summary, his forecast:
  • Near Term: we are starting a "low" bounce, becoming "less bad." We don't immediately go from "horrible to good."

  • Mid Term: remember the economists' question at the beginning of the recession was would our recovery be graphed as a "U" or as a "V"? Seems now the recovery is thought to be a "W" for recovery by 2012, given the ability to manage the money supply to fit the economic trends.

  • Long Term: is cautiously optimistic for 2012+. NOTE NOW: Some very knowledgeable and well-placed industry panelists during the later panel Q&A session expressed recovery by 2011 or even late 2010.

Kemmsies also reminded that globalization is about profit maximization, not cost minimization. Longer term trends he identified:

  • INTENSE competition for the PNW

  • the containerization of commodity goods.

  • Mexico as a potential product customization nexus for both American continents

  • No one is asking why Latin America doesn't have a recession

My recommendation: Go next year!

Monday, April 13, 2009

SAFTEA-LU Reauthorization- Call for projects

Congress is getting ready to draft the new transportation authorization to replace the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), which expires on September 30, 2009. This legislation is a six-year bill that authorizes our nation's surface transportation programs.

The majority of the Federal funds in the bill will be allocated by formula with the state departments of transportation, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and local transit agencies determining which projects will be funded. However, a select number of Member-sponsored projects will be funded in the bill. Keep in mind that the number of projects in the bill will be limited.

If you know of a governmental agency that would be interested in submitting a project request through this process feel free to send them this form.

If you have any questions, please call or email Jami Burgess at 202-225-5919 or

Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Clarification on HOT Lane Revenue

At the April 1, 2009 RAMP meeting Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow stated it is his understanding the revenue generated from the SR 167 HOT Lanes goes into the general fund when it should be used to help finance improvements on SR 167, specifically right-of-way purchase for the Extension project. I did not think that statement was entirely accurate but was not certain enough to speak up at the meeting. Since then I have done a little further research and here are the facts:
  1. The SR 167 HOT Lanes were never implemented to generate lots of revenue. The primary purpose of the HOT Lanes was to make better use of the available space in the existing HOV Lanes thereby providing congestion relief for all users of the corridor. In that sense we feel the HOT Lanes are a success.

  2. The revenue that is generated from the HOT Lanes is placed in a special HOT Lanes account that WSDOT is able to access to maintain and operate the HOT Lanes. To date, there is no money remaining after those operation and maintenance needs have been addressed.

Chris Picard
WSDOT Planning