Transportation headlines, Tuesday Dec. 14

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

The first nationwide count of parking spaces demonstrates their high environmental cost (Inside Science)

Engineers at the University of California Berkeley had been working on a report that attempts to assess the total environmental impact of the nation’s transportation infrastructure, but along the way they hit a snag.  They had no idea how much car parking there was in the country. So, after revising their methodology, the Berkeley engineers ultimately concluded that the mostly likely scenario is close to 800 million parking spaces, or about 3 for every car. The environmental impacts of parking, they concluded, ranged from encouraging driving over transit, biking, and walking, as well as the pollution caused by its construction.

Grant will help Monrovia officials develop transit village (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

The California Strategic Growth Council has awarded the city of Monrovia a $995,000 grant to help design and construct a new park to go with its planned transit village. The Foothill Extension of the Gold Line to Azusa – a Measure R project scheduled to be complete in 2014 – will stop in Monrovia. The grant will also provide funds to construct a walking path next to the Gold Line along its route through the city.

Tax break for transit commuters extended in bill (Baltimore Sun)

A federal program that allows some transit riders to spend up to  $230 per month in fares as pre-tax dollars was set to expire on January 1, 2011. However, it looks as though the tax deal making its way through Congress will include an extension of that program. Without the extension, the cap of the transit tax break would have been cut in half to $115 per month. Such an outcome would especially hurt local Metrolink riders, for whom monthly passes are often more than $200. For example, a monthly pass for travel between Union Station and Anaheim costs $213.75.

Build America Extension Sought by Democrat Wyden in Senate Tax Compromise (Bloomberg)

Unlike the transit tax break, it looks as though the Build America Bond program will not be extended by Congress’ financial legislative package.  Also created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Build America Bonds have helped state and municipal governments sell a total of $179 billion in infrastructure bonds since April 2009.  Metro itself took advantage of the program’s 35% interest rate subsidy, when it sold $574 million in Build America Bonds earlier this year to finance Measure R projects.