Transformational Transportation Bill Introduced

By MarEx 2015-05-20 17:05:33

Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), together with 19 Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Democrats, introduced H.R. 2410, the Administration’s GROW AMERICA Act. The bill is a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill that provides robust funding to address our nation’s infrastructure crisis. Democrats offered this six-year, $478 billion bill as Congress must develop a long-term transportation bill this summer.

“I am proud to support this bold new vision for the future of American infrastructure and mobility. The GROW AMERICA Act is a smart investment in job-creation, transportation safety, business growth, and environmental protection,” saidCongressman Garamendi, Ranking Member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. “We need this type of program in order to rebuild and renew our crumbling infrastructure, to provide economic certainty, and to make the U.S. more competitive in a global marketplace.”

A recent study by the Department of Transportation, Beyond Traffic, confirmed that America’s infrastructure is failing. Drivers spend more than 40 hours annually stuck in traffic. Sixty-five percent of the roads they drive on are in less than good condition; one out of four bridges they cross needs to be replaced; and 45% of Americans do not have access to public transit. The report also revealed that, over the next 30 years, Americans will ask more of our transportation system than ever before. The United States’ population will grow by 70 million; freight traffic will increase by 45 percent. Click here for information on California’s infrastructure needs and the increased funds the GROW AMERICA Act would bring to the state.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the latest in a long series of last minute, short-term transportation bill extensions. The stop-and-start nature of these patches makes long-term transportation planning near impossible and imposes a cost in jobs, efficiency, and construction project price tags.

The GROW AMERICA Act offers a new way forward for:

· Highways – Provides $317 billion for programs under the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), an increase of 29 percent over current levels;

· Safety – Increases safety across all modes of transportation, which includes almost tripling the budget of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s automobile defects office, providing $4.7 billion for truck and bus safety programs under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and $16 billion for Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP);

· Freight – Establishes an $18 billion multimodal freight program so American businesses can compete effectively in a global economy and grow;

· Rail – Provides $28.6 billion for programs under the Federal Rail Administration (FRA);

· Mobility – Raises transit investment by 76 percent and increases connections so that more Americans have access to jobs and education;

· Efficiency – Puts in place a transparent and clear permitting process to speed up project delivery;

· Financing – Increases innovative financing by strengthening Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan programs, by making more Private Activity Bonds (PABS) available, and by nearly doubling funding for the TIGER grant program; and

· Research and Innovation – Provides $3.4 billion to leverage research and innovation to move people and goods more safely and efficiently, while minimizing impacts on the environment.

More information on the GROW AMERICA Act can be found at: http://www.dot.gov/grow-america.

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14 Crewmen Still Missing After Barge Capsizes

By Kathryn Stone 2015-05-20 15:01:50

Fourteen crew members are still missing from a barge that capsized early Wednesday morning in Singaporean waters.

The incident took place at roughly 4:00am approximately 7.5 nautical miles north-east of Pedra Branca, Singapore aboard the Bolivian-registered Oceanline SC2018. It is believed that the crew of the vessel was asleep when the incident occurred and may have subsequently gotten trapped underneath the barge’s overturned hull.

The vessel’s chief engineer, Li Guozheng from China was rescued by Malaysian authorities and is the only member of the 15 person crew to be recovered. The rest of the seaman, consisting of 13 Chinese nationals as well as one Malaysian, are still missing.

Commander Kamal Abas of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency told local news agencies that it is possible the vessel encountered waves as high as 2.5 meters (8.2 feet), which could have caused it to capsize under its heavy sand load. The barge was reportedly carrying cargo between the Malysian cities of Teluk Ramunia and Pengerang when it sunk.

The Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) released statement this morning regarding the response effort saying, “Singapore is coordinating the search and rescue (SAR) operations which involves vessels from the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSS Daring and RSS Fearless), the Singapore Police Coast Guard and several Malaysian vessels. MPA has also engaged salvage companies to conduct salvage operations.”

Search operations today were hampered by rough seas. However, the MMEA said that rescue patrols continued searching until 7:30pm and will resume Thursday morning at 6:00am.

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84 Evacuated After Vessel Catches Fire

By Kathryn Stone 2015-05-20 13:12:30

Over 80 crew members aboard the Offshore Support Vessel, Fugro Symphony, were evacuated after the ship caught fire Wednesday in the early morning hours.

The vessel was docked at Peterhead Harbour about 20 miles North of Aberdeen when the fire broke out. Around 35 firefighters arrived at 2:52am to battle the blaze. The fire rescue team also dispatched five appliances and a foam unit to the scene. In total, it took around two hours to get the fire under control.

Though the cause of the blaze is still unknown, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service reported that they located the source of the fire in a supply generator room below deck. The station manager Graeme Laird further added, “Crews worked well with the ship’s firefighting team and showed good firefighting understanding in challenging conditions.”

As a precautionary measure non-essential personnel were immediately taken off of the ship. A total of 84 crew members aboard the vessel were evacuated to the Fisherman’s mission in Peterhead. No injuries were reported.

According to Fugro the Symphony specializes in deep water remote operations. The vessel is flagged out of the Bahamas and operated by Fugro Subsea Services Ltd based out of Aberdeen, Scotland.

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Israel’s Zim returns to profit

Israel-based container carrier Zim returned to profitability in 1Q15 with its EBIT numbers improving dramatically, reaching USD61 million compared with USD5 million in the last quarter of 2014, and a USD16 million negative EBIT in the same quarter last year. In GAAP terms, the Q115 EBIT was USD40
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Iran to Allow Ship Inspection, UN Announces Talks

By MarEx 2015-05-20 11:30:03

Iran will allow the United Nations to inspect a Yemen-bound aid ship at the regional U.N. hub in Djibouti, Tehran’s deputy foreign minister was quoted as saying on Wednesday, offering a chance to avert a showdown with Saudi-led forces.

Earlier in the day, the Iran Shahed’s captain had said the ship was due to enter the Bab al-Mandeb strait linking the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea, bypassing Djibouti on the Horn of Africa and heading for the Yemeni port of Hodaida.

“We have decided to dock our ship in Djibouti so the United Nations inspection protocol can take place,” Hossein Amir Abdollahian was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.

Iran backs the dominant Houthi militia in Yemen’s civil war while Saudi Arabia, Tehran’s regional arch-rival, sees the Houthis as a threat and is leading air strikes on them to try to roll back their advances and reinstate Yemen’s exiled president.

Iran has said the ship is carrying humanitarian aid for Yemeni civilians. Hodaida’s port is under Houthi control.

The Saudi-led coalition controls the waters around Yemen and has enforced inspections on all shipments entering the country. It was not clear whether Saudi forces would allow the Iran Shahed to dock in Yemen even after a U.N. inspection.

Abdollahian said Iran would send a flight to Djibouti on Thursday, also containing aid for Yemen, in a further signal that Tehran might begin to channel all aid through the U.N. hub.

The Saudi-led coalition blocked Tehran’s previous attempts to fly aid directly into Yemen’s capital Sanaa, on one occasion bombing the runway to prevent an Iranian flight from landing.

UN Announces Yemen Talks

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday announced talks between warring Yemeni parties in Geneva on May 28 to end over seven weeks of war, as Iran agreed for international inspections of an aid ship sailing to Yemen.

The moves are aimed at defusing the deepening crisis in the southern Arabian Peninsula, where Saudi-led forces killed at least 15 Houthis in the latest air strikes in a campaign to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

“The Secretary-General is pleased to announce the launch of inclusive consultations starting on 28 May in Geneva to restore momentum towards a Yemeni-led political transition process,” the U.N. statement issued in New York said.

A U.N. Security Council source said Ban was expected to attend the opening session.

The foreign minister of the exiled Yemeni government based in Saudi Arabia appeared surprised by the announcement and said the Houthis must first disarm and quit cities they seized since last September first.

“We didn’t get an official invitation,” Reyad Yassin Abdulla said by phone. “It’s very short notice. If it happens, it shouldn’t be on May 28,” he added.

But Yemen’s U.N. Ambassador Khaled Alyemany said all parties, including the Houthis, would attend.

“Of course President Hadi will be represented in Geneva,” he told reporters in New York. “He might be sending Vice President and Prime Minister (Khaled) Bahah, he might be sending somebody else.”

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