DETROIT BRIDGE: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder made a splash during his first state of the state speech by calling on the state to revive a deal that would help build a bridge from Detroit to Canada. The deal, if it works out the way Snyder pitched it, could be a great deal for the state, explains the Detroit Free Press . Canada is essentially offering to spot Michigan its cash share of the project up front, to be paid back with toll revenues. In the meantime, Michigan could use the Canadian money to capture billions of dollars in matching funds from the U.S. government for other highway projects. But Michigan lawmakers are still skittish that their cash-strapped state will be on the hook if revenues do not match expectations.
FERRY TALES: In Washington State, Governor Chris Gregoire's plans to turn over control of the state's ferry network to regional authorities has been dead in the water. Now, lawmakers are proposing other ways to trim costs and upgrade service from the aging fleet. The legislators want to bring pay of ferry employees in line with that of other state employees and, if things do not improve, to privatize ferry services, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.
IOWA RAIL: The dream of a Midwest high-speed rail network has already started to fall apart, with newly elected Republican governors of Ohio and Wisconsin backing out of the federally backed deal. Now comes word from The Des Moines Register that Iowa Governor Terry Branstad also is rethinking his state's commitment. Branstad says he is looking for funding sources, other than the state, to help pay for track upgrades and operating subsidies. "I am most troubled by the ongoing subsidy. I don't think we should be in the business of subsidizing passenger train service," he said.
FEDS REACT: Top officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation said in Washington Tuesday they were not worried about the states that backed out of the high-speed rail efforts. "The dollars are so hotly competitive that if one or two states decide this isn't a part of a vision there are dozens of states that have decided it is part of their vision," Joe Szabo, the federal railroad administrator, said in response to a Stateline question. "At this point there's enough work to be done to build out that Midwest plan."
NEW TRAINS: One place rail service is expected to get a boost is Connecticut , where incoming Democratic Governor Dan Malloy likely will push through the purchase of 38 rail cars at a price of $81.6 million, notes the New Haven Register . Not only that, Malloy also is backing long-delayed maintenance at New Haven's Union Station. All told, Malloy is supporting 34 projects that, he says, will create 6,600 jobs in Connecticut.
ROLLING STOPS: Three Tennessee legislators want to let drivers in their area make rolling stops without risking tickets from red light cameras, reports the Knoxville News Sentinel . The bills they drafted could prompt another debate in Nashville over red light cameras. Last year, the state House approved several restrictions on the devices but the legislation died in a Senate committee. "There are people receiving tickets when they are not a threat to the public safety at all," state Representative Ryan Haynes said.