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Items filtered by date: February 2017

FRA picks plan to replace problematic Amtrak tunnel beneath Baltimore after years-long review

April 7, 2017

By: Kevin Rector

(The Baltimore Sun)The Federal Railroad Administration has determined the most environmentally friendly option for replacing the 144-year-old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel under West Baltimore — which currently acts as a bottleneck for Amtrak and other commercial rail traffic along the economically vital Northeast Corridor — is boring four new single-track tunnels deep below the city, to the tune of $4.52 billion.

No funding source has been identified. Still, the conclusion of the three-year, federally funded engineering and environmental study — announced Friday — was a necessary step before any large-scale project to replace the Amtrak-owned tunnel could get underway, and pushes the proposed project one step closer to reality...

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Read More At The Baltimore Sun:  http://www.baltimoresun.com/bs-md-ci-bp-tunnel-study-20170331-story.html

 

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A Chinese-Backed Dam Project Leaves Myanmar in a Bind

April 7, 2017

By: Mike Ives

(The New York Times)For six years, Daw Kaw Bu has waited to return to the village she was forced to leave to make way for a dam that has yet to be built."I pray to God to let me work on my own land again," she said on a recent afternoon, sitting outside the wood-shingled home in Aung Myin Tha, where she was resettled in early 2011. She may get her answer soon, when a government-appointed commission makes a recommendation on the fate of the $3.6 billion, Chinese-financed Myitsone Dam.

The decision is a daunting test for Myanmar's leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who risks angering China, the region's economic powerhouse, if she cancels the project, or the public if she lets it go forward. Analysts say the commission's report would provide her the political cover to kill an unpopular white elephant that she inherited from Myanmar's former military government...

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Read More At The New York Times:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/31/world/asia/myanmar-china-myitsone-dam-project.html?_r=0

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Why AT&T Wants to Build a Wireless Network for the Police

March 31, 2017

By: Ryan Knutson

(The Wall Street Journal) For first responders and law enforcement, the benefits of the dedicated nationwide network announced on Thursday are obvious. The network, to be called FirstNet, will prioritize data traffic from police officers, firefighters and other emergency responders, so they won't be subject to the same network congestion consumers face. That is crucial in a disaster, when citizens often rush to their phones all at once. The network will also operate in very rural areas and across jurisdictions, so that if police from a neighboring town arrive to help, their devices will still work. But what's in it for AT&T Inc., T +0.22% which won the 25-year contract to build FirstNet?


The second-largest U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers gets two things: a large swath of wireless airwaves, known as spectrum; and $6.5 billion over five years for construction. AT&T will be allowed to use the 20 megahertz of spectrum in its commercial network, which is about 13% of its current holdings. That means AT&T wireless consumers will receive faster connections thanks to the extra capacity, which AT&T hopes will entice new customers...

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Read More At The Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-at-t-wants-to-build-a-wireless-network-for-the-police-1490892870

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China-led AIIB Sees Membership Expansion: What's Next?

March 31, 2017

By: Ankit Panda

Earlier this month, the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank saw its first expansion since the Bank's launch early last year. The AIIB added 13 new members, bringing its total membership up to 70. Afghanistan, Belgium, Ireland, Peru, Fuji, Hungary, Armenia, Ethiopia, the Republic of Sudan, and Venezuela are included among the 13 applicants to the bank who received approval. Brazil and South Africa — two of the bank's largest members who received approval to join, but missed a deadline to complete the formal process for membership — received an extension of 12 months to join the development bank.

As the AIIB enters its second calendar year of operation, it's clear that the bank's trajectory continues upward. Though China founded the bank and exercises a de facto veto over funding decisions given its existing vote share, an expanding membership will likely require Beijing to shed some its existing shares. China holds 26 percent of voting shares in the institution, with a three-quarters majority vote required for certain decisions, including on changing the bank's governing rules and approving major funding projects...

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Read More At The Diplomat: http://thediplomat.com/2017/03/china-led-aiib-sees-membership-expansion-whats-next/

 

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Europe Wind Power Plans Are Soaring, But Costs Are Not

March 31, 2017

By: Peter Reina

(The Engineering New-Record) From water depth to turbine sizes, everything about European offshore-wind power is getting larger, except cost.Maturing technology and increasing competition have helped to reduce costs, making offshore power increasingly competitive with onshore, according to some analysts. "The industry has become more masterful at driving down cost," says Huub den Rooijen, head of offshore wind at Crown Estates, which grants 50-year leases for U.K. wind-farm sites—excluding Scotland, as of this month. "There have been improvements in every single aspect," he adds.

The U.K. Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, a national R&D center, reported a 32% drop in whole-life net-present costs of offshore-wind energy in the past five years, with "high industry confidence" in continuing declines. As the industry matures, investor interest has become "huge," adds Tom Harries, wind-energy analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, London. "The risk appetite has changed. People are much more comfortable with the construction risk."...

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Read More At The Engineering New-Record:http://www.enr.com/articles/41755-europe-wind-power-plans-are-soaring-but-costs-are-not

 

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BIM Could Save Money in an Infrastructure Building Surge

March 31, 2017

By: Jim Lynch

(The Engineering News-Record) At a time when consensus seems rare, Americans are united around the need to repair and modernize our crumbling infrastructure. As policy makers wrestle with the challenge of how to fund this massive undertaking, it is critical taxpayers are able to trust that every dollar invested is well spent. What if we could turn every dollar invested into $1.20 in spending power? By aggressively adopting advanced technologies that are available today, we can.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao captured the point perfectly in her confirmation hearing when she said, "It's also important to recognize that the way we build and deliver projects is as important as how much we invest." The issue is not just what we spend, but how we spend, that will make the difference...

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Read More At The Engineering News-Record: http://www.enr.com/articles/41758-bim-could-save-money-in-an-infrastructure-building-surge

 

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Indonesia high-speed train, backed by China, Comes untracked

March 31, 2017

By John McBeth

(Asia Times) Land, finance and security issues have dogged the much ballyhooed Rp68 trillion (US$5.1 billion) Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail project, Indonesian President Joko Widodo's signature infrastructure undertaking. His government, keen to bridge a yawning infrastructure gap, awarded the contract to Chinese developers two years ago.

Construction was meant to have begun last year, with an ambitious completion date set for 2019. But the joint venture between China Railway International and a consortium of four Indonesian state-owned enterprises has yet to leave the station...

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Read More At Asia Times: http://www.atimes.com/article/indonesia-high-speed-train-backed-china-comes-untracked/

 

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Qatar Pledges 5bn investment in UK after Brexit

March 31, 2017

By: Jennifer Thompson, Javier Espinoza and Henry Mance

(Financial Times) Qatar plans to invest £5bn in the UK over the next three to five years, in a vote of confidence for post-Brexit Britain from the oil-rich Gulf state. Sample the FT's top stories for a week You select the topic, we deliver the news. Select topic Enter email addressInvalid email Sign up By signing up you confirm that you have read and agree to the terms and conditions, cookie policy and privacy policy.

Qatar has already invested more than £40bn in the UK with its sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, having bought trophy assets such as the Shard building and Harrods department store, as well as taking stakes in the London Stock Exchange. The main focus of the new investment will be in assets worth more than £200m in infrastructure, energy, technology and property, a person familiar with the investment strategy said. The announcement is a fillip for Theresa May, the prime minister, as she prepares to begin the formal process of Britain leaving the EU on Wednesday. The prime minister and other senior ministers have wooed Qatar in the nine months since the Brexit vote...

Read More At The Financial Times:https://www.ft.com/content/ac7a13b6-12e1-11e7-80f4-13e067d5072c

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America's Great Dam Teardown Means Cleaner Water, More Parkland

March 31, 2017

By: Daniel J. McGraw

( Next City) Bill Zawiski is Ohio's water quality man and he knows the most efficient way to clean the infamously dirty Cuyahoga River that flows through Cleveland and other Ohio cities. It's not a new regulation or cutting-edge infrastructure. The answer: tearing down old infrastructure — specifically, dams.

"If you are looking at the most economical way to gain watershed restoration, dam removal on its own jumps ahead of many things on the list," says Zawiski, water quality supervisor with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Zawiski explains the science simply. Dams prevent waterways from cleaning themselves. When they are removed, the natural filtering process can work its magic...

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Read More At Next City: https://nextcity.org/features/view/dam-removal-cuyahoga-ohio-epa-funding-restore-watersheds

 

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Canadian Budget Light on details for infrastructure bank

March 31, 2017

By: Rick Baert

 

(Pensions & Investments) The Canadian government's 2017 budget is big on grand plans for infrastructure improvements in transportation, social needs and environmentally friendly utilities.

But there is relatively little on funding these projects — particularly through the concept of an infrastructure bank mostly funded by non-government investors like alternatives managers and domestic and international pension plans.Finance Minister William Morneau, who introduced the budget to the Canadian House of Commons on March 22, "pitches it as a 'stay-the course' budget, but people think it's more like a 'wait-and-see' budget," said Scott McEvoy, Toronto-based partner and specialist on alternative investing at law firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. "There wasn't a lot of detail in the budget that the government didn't already give."...

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Read More At Pensions & Investments:  http://www.pionline.com/article/20170327/ONLINE/170329905/canadian-budget-light-on-details-for-infrastructure-bank 

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