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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | What-if megastorm scenarios for L.A. area ... New Jersey “dirt broker” loopholes … and Orlando autonomous bus shuttles.
Good morning, it’s Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. Transportation and mobility news leads Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup but scroll down for more from places like Charleston, West Virginia; Orlando, Florida; Topeka, Kansas; and Pico Rivera, California ... ALSO ON ROUTE FIFTY … Sewage Case Will Get Airing Before U.S. Supreme Court … This Rural Priority Won Big in the Federal Spending Bill … California Town Launches 'Goat Fund Me' for Fire Prevention … Let’s get to it …
TRANSPORTATION & MOBILITY | Facing a significant revenue shortfall to keep up with needed road repairs across Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine says that increasing the state gas tax is unavoidable but “stopped short” on Tuesday of saying just how high it should be. “I intend to lead on this, as unpleasant as it is,” DeWine said during a press event in Columbus. [Toledo Blade] ... While it’s already unlawful to block a bike lane in most cases in Washington, D.C., the District Department of Transportation recently announced a proposal that would explicitly prohibit taxis, Uber and Lyft drivers from picking up and dropping off passengers in bike lanes. [Curbed DC] … Autonomous bus shuttles will be deploying to the streets in the Lake Nona area of Orlando later in the spring. [Orlando Sentinel] … The Nashville Metro Council has “indefinitely deferred” legislation that would have brought new regulations for e-scooters in the city. [Tennessean]
GOVERNORS | Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has approved a bill that will boost the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2025, making it the highest in the Midwest. [Sun-Times] … West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice urged striking teachers to go back to work following the collapse of a omnibus education bill that would have packaged promised increases in teacher pay with the authorization of charter schools and other provisions teachers in the state have opposed. [WV Metro News] … During a speech on Tuesday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said he’s planning to eliminate an “amusement” tax that applies to gym and fitness club memberships as part of his first budget. [Chattanoogan; Daily Memphian]
CITY HALLS | In suburban Detroit on Tuesday, FBI agents raided Taylor City Hall and the home and vacation chalet of Mayor Rick Sollars. Although it’s unclear the focus of the FBI’s investigation, it “comes amid a broader crackdown on corruption in Metro Detroit that has produced 17 convictions and led to federal charges against 22 contractors and public officials, including Detroit Councilman Gabe Leland.” Sollars told reporters he is cooperating with the investigation. [The Detroit News] … There’s a “tentative settlement” in the lawsuit involving the “Gang of Five” Cincinnati city councilmembers accused of holding secret meetings via emails and text messages. [WCPO] … City officials in Mandan, North Dakota are considering allowing residents to raise chickens inside city limits. [Bismarck Tribune]
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT | While California has certainly seen a rainy and snowy winter, it’s nowhere near to the infamous winter of 1861-62, when an moisture laden atmospheric river plowing into the state brought 45 days of storms and 36 inches of rain to Los Angeles and much of the Central Valley turned into a massive inland lake. The next time California sees a megastorm like that—emergency managers call it the “ARkstorm”—there are worries that flood control infrastructure can’t keep up, according to the Los Angeles Times. That includes the Whittier Narrows Dam, southeast of Los Angeles, which could fail and release a torrent of water draining out of the San Gabriel Valley and into populated areas home to 1.5 million L.A.-area residents, including Artesia, Compton, Downey, Hawaiian Gardens, Long Beach and Seal Beach. In a worst-case scenario, Pico Rivera—where 63,000 residents live just downstream of the dam—could see floodwaters rise 20 feet in some places. [Los Angeles Times; Army Corps of Engineers]
PUBLIC WORKS | In New Jersey, “eight-year struggle to close loopholes to keep bad actors out of the recycling sector is moving closer to winning legislative approval.” Who are the bad actors? “Dirt brokers” who “use contaminated fill and construction debris” instead of clean fill in projects. [NJ Spotlight] … A tough winter season in some places has state and local agencies, like Lynchburg Public Works in Virginia, checking their salt supplies as more snowstorms loom. [WSET] … Topeka, Kansas City Manager Brent Trout asked city residents for patience with snow-removal from neighborhood streets. [Topeka Capital-Journal]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.