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CSDA Opens Registration for Fall Training and Certification Classes

The Concrete Sawing & Drilling Association (CSDA) has opened registration for its Fall training and certification. The packed schedule features six 101 and 201 courses, as well as a GPR certification! Attendees can expect hands-on and classroom-style learning from one of the most respected and knowledgeable veterans of the industry, Rick Norland.

CSDA has scheduled a series of comprehensive introductory programs geared toward anyone wishing to begin or expand their knowledge of cutting disciplines that will take place in Portland, Oregon, at the ICS Training Facility. They are followed by a series of advanced Operator Certifications designed for experienced operators looking to gain proficiency in sawing and drilling techniques and those classes will be held in sunny Clearwater, Florida, at St. Petersburg College. The schedule is as follows:

Date                                   Course                                                                          Location

Oct. 14-15, 2019               Slab Sawing & Core Drilling 101                                  Portland, Oregon

Oct. 16-17, 2019               Wall & Hand Sawing 101                                               Portland, Oregon

Oct. 18, 2019                    Wire Sawing 101                                                              Portland, Oregon

Nov. 8-9, 2019                 GPR Certification                                                            Clearwater, Florida

Nov. 11-12, 2019              Slab Sawing & Core Drilling 201                                  Clearwater, Florida

Nov. 13-14, 2019              Wall & Hand Sawing 201                                               Clearwater, Florida

Nov. 15, 2019                   Wire Sawing 201                                                               Clearwater, Florida

As part of its Train More Save More program, the association offers large discounts to companies that send multiple operators to sawing and drilling classes. CSDA also has an online training website consisting of 27 classes available via www.csdatraining.com.

“Since its launch in 1995, the CSDA Training Program has had over 9,000 graduates and over the past couple of years, we have seen course participation grow across the board. An increasing number of companies are once again feeling financially confident enough to invest in industry training, which not only improves efficiency, safety, and productivity but raises the professionalism of the whole industry,” says CSDA Lead Instructor Rick Norland.

The association has hands-on, classroom and online classes for every discipline and skill level, allowing contractors to provide operators with superior training. To find registration details and other important information about these classes, visit www.csda.org/training.

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The Concrete Sawing & Drilling Association is a nonprofit trade association of contractors, manufacturers and affiliated members from the construction and renovation industry. Diamond tools for projects requiring sawing, drilling, selective demolition, cutting, and polishing offers the construction industry many benefits including lower total project costs, precision cutting, maintenance of structural integrity, reduced downtime, reduced noise, dust and debris, limited access cutting and the ability to cut heavily-reinforced concrete. Founded in 1972, CSDA has 500 member companies worldwide.

 

Summerfest and Association of Equipment Manufacturers Announce Sponsorship and Manufacturing Day Admission Promotion

Summerfest and Association of Equipment Manufacturers Announce Sponsorship and Manufacturing Day Admission Promotion

Summerfest and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) announced a new AEM Manufacturing Day sponsorship and Admission Promotion in celebration of the association’s 125th-anniversary celebration this year.

The sponsorship includes an admission promotion on Friday, June 28 from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Mid-Gate. The first 400 people will receive one (1) free admission ticket for the day and time of the promotion, only.

AEM, which is headquartered in Milwaukee, is the North American-based international trade group representing over 1,000 off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the construction and agriculture industries. Four of those member companies – Komatsu, CASE, Manitou and Topcon – will be a part of the Manufacturing Day display just inside the midgate on June 28.

“For this milestone anniversary we wanted to bring awareness to the community about the impact of manufacturing,” said Nicole Hallada, vice president of marketing at AEM. “We felt Summerfest and its ability to bring together a diverse audience was a perfect opportunity to tell the story of how 1.3 million men and women make the equipment America needs to build and feed our nation.”

AEM will also be onsite on June 28th, displaying full-size construction and agriculture equipment. Summerfest attendees are invited to take their photo with the equipment and post it to their social media accounts with the hashtag #AEMMfgDay between noon and 6 p.m. One winner will be randomly drawn each hour for a special gift.

“You don’t have to work in manufacturing to take advantage of the free admission for Manufacturing Day,” continued Hallada. “This is our way of saying, manufacturing impacts all of us.”

 About AEM:

AEM is the North American-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers, with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectors worldwide. The equipment manufacturing industry supports 1.3 million jobs in the U.S., and 149,000 more in Canada. Equipment manufacturers also contribute $188 billion combined to the U.S. and Canadian economies. AEM has been selected to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 2018 Top Workplaces. Learn more about the association’s history at www.aem.org/125-years.

About Summerfest presented by American Family Insurance

Following its 1968 debut, Summerfest presented by American Family Insurance has evolved into what is now recognized as “The World’s Largest Music Festival” and Milwaukee’s cornerstone summer celebration, hosting the music industry’s hottest stars, emerging talent and local favorites along with approximately 850,000 people from Milwaukee and around the world each year for an unforgettable live music experience. During the festival, the spotlight shines on over 800 acts, over 1,000 performances, 12 stages, delectable food and beverages, and interactive activities, all in a world-class festival setting. Summerfest 2019 takes place June 26-June 30 and July 2- July 7, 2019, closed on July 1.  For more details, visit Summerfest.com, Facebook.com/Summerfest, or Twitter: @Summerfest.

We Need A Return To “Made In The USA”

We Need A Return To “Made In The USA”

An e-mail from Jeff Winke, who was involved in the initial posting of this material, this morning prompted me to re-post it almost 6 years later. Some things never change. Six years have passed the economy is better than it has been in years, unemployment is at a level low enough to cause concerns for manufacturers and employers but there is still room for improvement.

imagesThe following is an e-mail exchange between a friend of mine and a friend of his. The comments are so right on target that I thought they were worth sharing with as many people as possible.

Until we start producing and selling again we will be an unstable economy. It is essential that we have something to give the world besides music and entertainment. It wasn’t long ago that we were global leaders in the production of many products. Made in the USA was significant. The comments made by the two individuals below sum up the situation far better than I can.

In the opening, Jeff Winke is answering the age-old question asked by his friend, “How are you doing?”

Doing OK — treading economically and sitting front row center with my popcorn and Big Gulp as I witness the decline of America: we can only innovate and entertain so much… at some point we need to make stuff that can be sold and exported. I grew up in a house where everything I touched was made in America from the toaster, stove, refrigerator to the carpet, furniture, lamps and light bulbs to the toothbrush, clothes, and shoes. I mowed the lawn using an American-made lawnmower, tossed the garbage into galvanized-metal trashcans made in the U.S., rode a Schwinn bike, swung a Louisville Slugger baseball bat, rode in a car designed, engineered, and made in Detroit.

And all the owners and presidents of these companies making stuff for the American consumer made good money but their salaries were not disproportionally and geometrically higher than their workers. That was a period when elected politicians were public servants. They took a cut in pay to serve in office and if they were found to be on the take, they were shamed, humiliated, and run out of office. The press was not owned and controlled by their advertisers.

Higher education was within reach. I went to a state university and could pay my way with money earned at a barely above minimum wage part-time job (20 hours per week during the school year, 36 to 40 hours during summer). Today, I go to the restaurant across the street and am served by graduates of the same institution who can’t find jobs and have a college-loan debt of $60 to $80 grand (double that amount if they went to Marquette or another private college). And that debt is considered modest when compared to many other state colleges and private institutions.

Jeff Winke

Milwaukee WI

Making things has deep roots in American culture.

The Founding Fathers were do-it-yourselfers, from Jefferson’s explicit idealization of the self-sufficient yeoman farmer to Franklin’s intrepid experimentation with electricity. Over the centuries, a return to this kind of independent DIY spirit has helped fuel the Industrial Revolution, the radio era of the early 20th century, the hippie movement (the part of it exemplified by the Whole Earth catalog, anyway) and punk rock.

Along the way, America became the greatest industrial nation on Earth, creating airplanes, cars, electronics, computers, and eventually the Internet.

Then we gradually started relocating factories overseas, as we grew to value inexpensive goods made by cheap labor over arguably better-quality products made by skilled (and relatively expensive, often union) labor at home. Americans pursued other, more lucrative and more stimulating careers than factory work.

That made sense, for a while, as global markets enabled “labor arbitrage” and let the U.S. concentrate on areas where it still holds a competitive advantage: design, engineering, software, marketing, advertising.

At the same time, Americans as individuals stopped getting their hands dirty. Fifty years ago every car owner had to know something about basic repair; today, people who can fix their own cars are rare. (Cars themselves are nearly impossible to repair for the home mechanic anyway, given the profusion of electronics under the hood — but they’re also far more reliable than the cars of 50 years ago, so home repairs are less necessary.) Fewer and fewer people do their own home repairs, plumbing, gardening, canning, or clothes making and mending.

In short, while we stopped making things on an industrial scale, we also stopped making and fixing things at home. Our economy shifted towards software and services, and our personal lives shifted toward the Internet and Walmart.

This is a broad generalization, but the arc of the shift seems clear. America, by and large, has been content to let other people make stuff for us in the physical world, while we concentrate on the bits. No computers are made in the U.S., apart from a few of their components. No smartphone has ever been made here, again, excepting a few components, such as Gorilla Glass (made by Corning in Kentucky).

But there are signs that the trend is starting to reverse.

Getting our hands dirty again

Motorola, a longstanding American electronics company that fell on hard times and got bought by Google a year and a half ago, is reopening a phone factory near Forth Worth, Texas. It will assemble the company’s latest phone, the Moto X, which Motorola Mobility CEO Dennis Woodside says will be the first U.S.-built smartphone ever. It will employ 2,000 people to do so.

Now, Motorola is a much smaller company than it used to be, with just 3 percent of the smartphone market. But what about General Electric, one of the titans of our industrial economy? It too is starting to look at relocating jobs.

“The era of labor arbitrage is ending,” General Electric chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt said this week at D11, a tech conference in southern California. Thanks to new manufacturing technologies that reduce the amount of labor required, he said, “you can basically make whatever you want, wherever you want.”

And at the same time, the DIY spirit is enjoying a resurgence as a growing number of people, disillusioned with bland, prefab corporate culture, are embracing the joys of making their own stuff. “Maker culture” has become a thing, with hundreds of hackerspaces opening up across the country where people can use tools, learn how to solder, or just hang out and work on projects with others. Libraries are starting to offer similar workspaces. Some towns are getting tool lending libraries. And Maker Media’s Maker Faire has grown from a once-a-year event in San Mateo, Calif. to a franchise that happens all over the country (and the world), with four events in four different cities this year.

There’s even a growing array of startups coming out of the maker movement, as entrepreneurs realize that iPhone apps, photo-sharing sites, and ad-supported social networks aren’t the only way to make a business — you can create useful things in the real world, too, and sell them.

In short, many people are growing tired of a world where everything is made (probably of plastic) somewhere overseas, perhaps in wildly unsafe factories, packaged in cardboard and more plastic, hung on a peg in your local big-box store, and brought home in the back of your minivan.

They are realizing that getting your hands dirty is fun.

Making things is good business

It’s also good business. If a captain of industry like Immelt is saying that the era of shipping manufacturing overseas is ending, I pay attention. His reasoning is that GE’s real product is not the physical goods, but rather the process that it takes to create them. They can deliver that “code” anywhere in the world.

Manufacturing, it turns out, is also more of competitive advantage that many companies previously believed. Apple understood this early on and forged extremely tight relationships with its Asian suppliers. Coupling engineering tightly together with manufacturing helps make better products.

While Apple was able to pull that off while spanning the Pacific, most companies don’t have its clout. For them, locating factories in the U.S. can actually make them more competitive.

Motorola’s Woodside put it simply: “When your phone manufacturing is thousands of miles away from your designers and your engineers, you lose the ability to innovate.” By putting its factory in Fort Worth, Woodside says, “We think that’s going to allow us to innovate and iterate much faster.”

Motorola’s senior vice president of advanced projects Regina Dugan put it in an even broader context. “I believe this country was founded by makers and creators,” she told me earlier this week. “We are not only consumers. We are also creators. I think it speaks to a very foundational human desire to make things. And I think we have to return to that as a country.”

GE and Motorola are just two examples of how American industry is shifting the way it thinks about manufacturing. But if you put their moves together with the DIY trend, I think there are reasons to be cautiously hopeful about the future of making stuff in the United States

So let’s get to work.

Dylan Tweney

Executive Editor at VentureBeat

San Francisco, CA

TRIP: U.S. RURAL ROADS & BRIDGES HAVE SIGNIFICANT DEFICIENCIES & HIGH FATALITY RATES; REPAIRS & MODERNIZATION NEEDED TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS, BOOST SAFETY & SUPPORT GROWTH & CONNECTIVITY

America’s rural transportation system is in need of repairs and modernization to support economic growth in the nation’s Heartland, which is a critical source of energy, food, and fiber. With increases in population and growing employment, rural America is heavily reliant on the quality of its transportation system to sustain further growth. This is according to a new report released today by TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit. The report, Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland, evaluates the safety and condition of the nation’s rural roads and bridges and finds that the nation’s rural transportation system is in need of immediate improvements to address deficient roads and bridges, high crash rates, and inadequate connectivity and capacity. The chart below shows the states with the highest rate of rural pavements in poor condition, states with the highest share of rural bridges that are rated poor/structurally deficient, and states with the highest fatality rates on non-Interstate, rural roads.

The report finds that the nation’s rural roads and bridges have significant deficiencies. Fifteen percent of U.S. rural roads are rated in poor condition, while 21 percent are in mediocre condition. Seventeen percent of the nation’s rural roads are in fair condition and the remaining 47 percent are in good condition. Nine percent of the nation’s rural bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge. Poor/structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including agricultural equipment, commercial trucks, school buses and emergency services vehicles.  Forty-six percent of rural bridges are rated fair.  A fair rating indicates that a bridge’s structural elements are sound but minor deterioration has occurred to the bridge’s deck, substructure or superstructure.

“Farmers and ranchers depend on rural roads, highways and bridges for daily life and to move their products to market,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Securing the appropriate resources at the local, state and federal levels will allow for the improvements needed to provide a rural transportation system that will keep goods moving, American agriculture competitive and rural Americans safe.”

In addition to deteriorated roads and bridges, the TRIP report finds that traffic crashes and fatalities on rural non-Interstate roads are disproportionately high, occurring at a rate nearly two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads. In 2017, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 2.14 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel, compared to a fatality rate on all other roads of 0.88 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel. Rural roads are more likely to have narrow lanes, limited shoulders, sharp curves, exposed hazards, pavement drop-offs, steep slopes and limited clear zones along roadsides.

“This report highlights again the critical need for federal action to modernize our nation’s infrastructure,” said Ed Mortimer, vice president of transportation infrastructure of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  “We have a historic opportunity to address many rural infrastructure needs with President Trump and Congress discussing a major infrastructure bill. Let’s hope they act to address this critical issue!”

The TRIP report found that America’s rural population, which had declined slightly from 2010 to 2016, increased in 2017, adding an additional 33,000 people.  The modest rebound in rural population is likely a result of increased employment and declining poverty, the report found.  The number of jobs in rural America increased by 370,000 from 2013 to 2017 and the rural unemployment rate has decreased steadily from 10.3 percent in 2010 to 4.4 percent in 2017.  The rural poverty rate, which is the percentage of people who are making below the amount of money deemed necessary to have a basic standard of living, has decreased from 18.4 percent in 2013 to 16.4 percent in 2017, the TRIP report noted.

America’s rural transportation system provides the first and last link in the supply chain from farm to market connects manufacturers to their customers, supports the tourism industry, and enables the production of energy, food, and fiber. Rural Americans are more reliant on the quality of their transportation system than their urban counterparts.

“Rural roads play a critical role in supporting the transportation needs of millions of Americans every day,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA senior vice president of public affairs and international relations. “Damaged and deteriorating roadways too often result in deadly crashes, and it is time to act. Making critical safety improvements to rural roads will save thousands of lives each year and help move our economy forward.”

The TRIP report finds that the U.S. needs to implement transportation improvements that will improve rural transportation connectivity, safety and conditions to provide the nation’s small communities and rural areas with safe and efficient access to support the quality of life and enhance economic productivity.

“The health of the nation’s economy and the safety and quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas ride on our rural transportation system. Our rural roads and bridges provide crucial links from farm to market, move manufactured and energy products, and provide access to countless tourism, social and recreational destinations,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.  “Fixing the federal Highway Trust Fund with a long-term, sustainable source of revenue that supports the transportation investment needed will be crucial to the modernization of our rural transportation system.”

WWW.TRIPNET.ORG

Executive Summary

America’s rural heartland plays a vital role as home to a significant share of the nation’s population, many of its natural resources, and popular tourist destinations. It is also the primary source of the energy, food, and fiber that supports America’s economy and way of life. The strength of the nation’s rural economy is heavily reliant on the quality of its transportation system, particularly the roads and highways that link rural America with the rest of the U.S. and to markets in other countries. The quality and connectivity of America’s rural transportation system support the economy of the entire nation and quality of life for the approximately 60 million Americans living in rural areas.

Good transportation is essential in rural areas to provide access to jobs, to facilitate the movement of goods and people, to access opportunities for health care and educational skills, and to provide links to other social services. Transportation supports businesses and is a critical factor in a company’s decision to locate new business operations. For communities that rely on tourism and natural amenities to help support their economy, transportation is the key link between visitors and destinations.

Roads, highways, rails, and bridges in the nation’s heartland face a number of significant challenges: they lack adequate capacity; they fail to provide needed levels of connectivity to many communities; and, they cannot adequately support growing freight travel in many corridors. Rural roads and bridges have significant deficiencies and deterioration, they lack many desirable safety features, and they experience fatal traffic crashes at a rate far higher than all other roads and highways. This report looks at the condition, use and safety of the nation’s rural transportation system, particularly its roads, highways and bridges, and identifies needed improvements.

Rural areas in this report are based on the U.S. Census Bureau definition, which defines rural areas as regions outside of urban areas with a population of 2,500 or more.  Road, bridge and safety data in this report is based on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) definition for rural areas, which allows states to use the U.S. Census Bureau definition to identify rural routes or to define rural areas as regions outside of urban areas with a population of 5,000 or more. The following are the key findings of the report.

AMERICA’S RURAL HEARTLAND

Rural America is the primary source of energy, food, and fiber that drives the U.S. economy.  The decline in the rural population has been halted largely due to increasing employment and declining poverty. 

  • The U.S. Census Bureau defines rural areas as regions outside of urban areas with a population of 2,500 or more.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau definition, 19 percent of the nation’s residents live in rural areas – approximately 60 million people.
  • The nation’s rural areas account for 97 percent of America’s land area and are home to the vast majority of the nation’s 2.2 million farms.
  • America’s rural population, which had declined slightly from 2010 to 2016, increased in 2017, adding an additional 33,000 people.  The modest rebound in rural population is likely a result of increased employment and declining poverty.
  • The number of jobs in rural America increased by 370,000 from 2013 to 2017, and the rural unemployment rate has decreased steadily from 10.3 percent in 2010 to 4.4 percent in 2017.
  • The rural poverty rate, which is the percentage of people making below the amount of money deemed necessary to have a basic standard of living, has decreased from 18.4 percent in 2013 to 16.4 percent in 2017.
  • America’s rural economy is far more reliant on goods production, which includes farming, forestry, fishing, mining and energy extraction, and manufacturing that is the nation’s urban economy.
  • Many of the transportation challenges facing rural America are similar to those in urbanized areas. However, rural residents tend to be more heavily reliant on their limited transportation network – primarily rural roads and highways – than their counterparts in urban areas. Residents of rural areas often must travel long distances to access education, employment, retail locations, social opportunities, and health services.
  • Nineteen percent of the rural population is 65 years or older, compared to 15 percent in urban areas.
  • The movement of retiring baby boomers to rural America is likely to continue in the future as aging Americans seek out communities that offer affordable housing, small-town quality of life and desirable natural amenities, while often located within a short drive of larger metropolitan areas.
  • The amount of rural tourism in a region is tied partly to the level of highway access. Eighty-six percent of trips taken by Americans to visit rural areas are for leisure purposes.
  • Popular tourist activities in rural America include hiking, golfing, biking, hunting, fishing and water sports. Rural areas are also home to beaches, national and state parks, wineries, orchards, and other national amenities.

RURAL QUALITY OF LIFE AND ECONOMIC VITALITY RELY ON TRANSPORTATION

The quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas, and the health of the nation’s rural economy is highly reliant on the quality of the nation’s transportation system, particularly its roads, highways, and bridges. America’s rural transportation network provides the first and last link in the supply chain from farm to market while supporting the tourism industry and enabling the production of energy, food, and fiber.

  • Freight mobility and efficiency are fundamental to rural economic vitality and prosperity. Economic growth and stability in rural areas are heavily reliant on the ability to move raw materials into, or the value-added products out of, these areas.
  • Agriculture, food, and related industries, including food and beverage manufacturing, apparel manufacturing and food and beverage stores and establishments — which rely on agricultural inputs — contributed $1.05 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016. This represents 5.7 percent of overall U.S. GDP.
  • While farming accounts for just six percent of all jobs in rural America, for every person employed in farming there are seven more jobs in agribusiness, including wholesale and retail trade, processing, marketing, production, and distribution.
  • Employment in goods production, which includes farming, forestry, fishing, mining and energy extraction, accounts for 11 percent of earnings in the nation’s rural economy versus two percent in the urban economy.
  • Manufacturing jobs account for 15 percent of earnings in the nation’s rural economy versus nine percent in the urban economy.
  • A United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) report found that “an effective transportation system supports rural economies, reducing the prices farmers pay for inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, raising the value of their crops and greatly increasing market access.”
  • Trucks provide the majority of transportation for agricultural products, accounting for 47 percent of total ton-miles of travel compared to 37 percent by rail and eight percent by barge.
  • The Council of State Governments found that “rural highways provide many benefits to the nation’s transportation system, including serving as a bridge to other states, supporting the agriculture and energy industries, connecting economically challenged citizens in remote locations to employers, enabling the movement of people and freight, and providing access to America’s tourist attractions.”
  • Transportation is becoming an even more critical segment of the food distribution network. While food demand is concentrated mostly in urban areas, food distribution is the most dispersed segment of the economy.
  • A highly competitive and efficient transportation system can lead to lower food costs for U.S. consumers and higher market prices for producers due to lower shipping costs, smaller margins, and more competitive export prices.
  • A report by the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council recommends that governments improve the quality of their transportation systems serving the movement of goods from rural to urban regions as a strategy to lower food costs and increase economic prosperity.
  • A report on agricultural transportation by the USDA found it likely that market changes and shifts in consumer preferences would further increase the reliance on trucking to move U.S. agricultural products.

RURAL CONNECTIONS TO TOURISM AND RECREATION

The condition and quality of the nation’s highway system plays a critical role in providing access to America’s many tourist destinations, particularly its scenic parks and recreational areas, which are mostly located in rural areas.

  • America’s 418 national parks, which are largely located in rural areas, received a record 318 million visitors in 2018, many in personal vehicles.
  • In 2018, domestic and international travelers in the U.S. spent approximately $1.1 trillion.
  • Travel and tourism spending in the U.S. in 2018 supported 8.9 million jobs.

RURAL ACCESS TO ENERGY SOURCES

Travel loads on America’s rural roads are increasing, due partly to the booming energy extraction sector. This has been driven by increases in domestic oil and gas extraction, largely as a result of advancements in hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which has greatly increased the accessibility of shale oil and gas deposits, and the increased production of renewable energy such as wind and solar.

  • Ethanol production in the U.S. increased from 1.6 billion gallons in 2000 to 16.1 billion gallons in 2018.
  • U.S. production of liquid fuels, including crude oil and natural gas, increased 74 percent from 2000 to 2018, increasing liquid fuel’s share of overall U.S. energy production (including coal and nuclear) from 48 to 63 percent.
  • U.S. production of renewable energy, including wind and solar, increased 92 percent from 2000 to 2018, increasing renewable energy’s share of overall U.S. energy production from nine to 12 percent.
  • The development of significant new oil and gas fields in numerous areas, particularly in the North Central Plains, and increased agricultural production are placing increased traffic loads by large trucks on non-Interstate rural roads, which often have not been constructed to carry such high load volumes.
  • The average travel per-lane-mile by large trucks on rural Interstate highways in the U.S. increased by 33 percent from 2000 to 2017.

RURAL TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: CONNECTIVITY

The potential for additional economic growth in many rural areas is being impeded by the failure to significantly modernize the nation’s rural transportation system and provide for adequate connectivity.

  • Sixty-six U.S. cities with a population of 50,000 or more do not have direct access to the Interstate Highway System (Appendix A).
  • Rural transportation accessibility and connectivity are critical to transportation-dependent business sectors, including the growing energy production sector, advanced manufacturing and tourism. Many jobs located in urban areas also depend on economic input from rural communities.
  • Since the routes for the Interstate Highway System were designated in 1956, the nation’s population has nearly doubled, from 165 million to 327 million.
  • The abandonment of more than 100,000 miles of rail lines in recent decades, mostly in rural areas, has reduced access in many rural communities and increased reliance on trucking for freight movement.
  • A report by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials(AASHTO) found that connectivity is particularly poor in rural portions of Western states because of the significant distance between Interstate highway routes and the lack of adequate rail service.
  • Only 60 percent of rural counties nationwide have public transportation available. Twenty-eight percent of those have very limited service.
  • Residents of rural areas often must travel long distances to access education, employment, retail locations, social opportunities, and health services. Rural residents also assume additional risks as a result of living in areas that may be farther from emergency response services including police, fire or medical assistance.

RURAL TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGE: SAFETY

Traffic fatalities on the nation’s rural, non-Interstate roads occur at a rate approximately two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads. A disproportionate share of fatalities takes place on rural roads compared to the amount of traffic they carry.

  • Rural, non-Interstate roads have a traffic fatality rate that is nearly two-and-a-half times higher than all other roads. In 2017, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 2.14 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel (VMT), compared to a fatality rate of 0.88 deaths per 100 million VMT on all other roads.
  • Rural, non-Interstate routes accounted for 22 percent of all VMT in the U.S. in 2017. However, crashes on the nation’s rural, non-Interstate routes resulted in 41 percent (15,205 of 37,133) of the nation’s traffic deaths in 2017.
  • The chart below identifies the 25 states that led the nation in the number of rural non-Interstate traffic deaths in 2017. Data for all states is available in Appendix B.

  • The chart below identifies the 25 states with the highest rate of rural non-Interstate traffic fatalities per 100 million VMT, and the fatality rate per 100 million VMT on all other roads in the state in 2017. Data for all states is available in Appendix C.

The higher traffic fatality rate found on rural non-Interstate routes is a result of multiple factors, including a lack of desirable roadway safety features, longer emergency vehicle response times, and the higher speeds traveled on rural roads compared to urban roads.

  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to have roadway features that reduce safety, including narrow lanes, limited shoulders, sharp curves, exposed hazards, pavement drop-offs, steep slopes and limited clear zones along roadsides.
  • Because many rural routes have been constructed over a period of years, they often have inconsistent design features for such things as lane widths, curves, shoulders and clearance zones along roadsides.
  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to be two-lane routes. Eighty-six percent of the nation’s rural non-freeway arterial roads have two-lanes, compared to 56 percent of urban non-freeway arterial routes.
  • Rural roads are more likely than urban roads to have narrow lanes. A desirable lane width for collector and arterial roadways is at least 11 feet. Twenty-three percent of rural collector and arterial roads have lane widths of 10 feet or less, compared to 18 percent of urban collector and arterial roads.
  • Most head-on crashes on rural, non-Interstate roads are likely caused by a motorist making an unintentional maneuver as a result of driver fatigue, being distracted or driving too fast in a curve.
  • While driver behavior is a significant factor in traffic crash rates, both safety belt usage and impaired driving rates are similar in their involvement rate as a factor in urban and rural traffic crashes.

Many roadway safety improvements can be made to reduce serious crashes and traffic fatalities. These improvements are designed largely to keep vehicles from leaving the correct lane and to reduce the consequences of a vehicle leaving the roadway. Making needed roadway safety improvements would result in a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries. 

  • The U.S. has a $146 billion backlog in needed roadway safety improvements, according to a 2017 report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The report found implementing these cost-effective and needed roadway safety improvements on U.S. roadways would save approximately 63,700 lives and reduce the number of serious injuries as a result of traffic crashes by approximately 350,000 over 20 years.
  • The type of safety design improvements that are appropriate for a section of rural road will depend partly on the nature of the safety problem on that section of road and the amount of funding available.
  • Low-cost safety improvements include installing rumble strips along the centerline and sides of roads, improving signage and pavement/lane markings including higher levels of retroreflectivity, installing lighting, removing or shielding roadside obstacles, using chevrons and post-mounted delineators to indicate roadway alignment along curves, adding skid-resistant surfaces at curves, and upgrading or adding guardrails.
  • Moderate-cost improvements include adding turn lanes at intersections, resurfacing pavements and adding median barriers.
  • Moderate to high-cost improvements include improving roadway alignment, reducing the angle of curves, widening lanes, converting conventional intersections to roundabouts, adding or paving shoulders, adding intermittent passing lanes, or adding a third or fourth lane.
  • Systemic installation of cost-effective safety solutions and devices in rural areas helps to improve safety not just by targeting individual safety problem points on a road, but also making entire segments safer by improving those roadway segments that exhibit the characteristics that typically result in fatal or serious-injury crashes.

RURAL TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGES: DEFICIENT ROAD AND BRIDGE CONDITIONS

The nation’s rural roads, highways, and bridges have significant deficiencies and deterioration. Fourteen percent of the nation’s rural roads have pavements in poor condition, and nearly one-in-ten of the nation’s rural bridges need rehabilitation, repair or replacement.

  • In 2017, 15 percent of the nation’s major rural roads (arterials and collectors) were rated in poor condition, 21 percent were rated in mediocre condition, 17 percent were rated in fair condition and 47 percent were rated in good condition.
  • The chart below ranks the 25 states with the greatest percentage of rural roads in poor condition in 2017. Rural pavement conditions for all states can be found in Appendix D.

  • In 2018, nine percent of the nation’s rural bridges were rated as poor/structurally deficient. Forty-six percent of rural bridges were rated fair and forty-six percent of rural bridges were rated in good condition. A bridge is rated poor/structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Poor/structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks, agricultural equipment, school buses, and emergency services vehicles.  A fair rating indicates that a bridge’s structural elements are sound but minor deterioration has occurred to the bridge’s deck, substructure or superstructure.
  • The chart below ranks the 25 states with the highest share of rural bridges rated poor/structurally deficient in 2018. Rural bridge conditions for all states can be found in Appendix E.

TRANSPORTATION OPPORTUNITIES IN RURAL AMERICA

America must adopt transportation policies that improve rural transportation connectivity, safety and conditions to provide the nation’s small communities and rural areas with a level of safe and efficient access that will support the quality of life and enhance economic productivity. TRIP recommends the following for an improved rural transportation system, based partially on findings and recommendations made by AASHTO, the National Highway Cooperative Research Program (NCHRP), the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the Ports-to-Plains Alliance.

Improve access and connectivity in America’s small communities and rural areas

  • Widen and extend key highway routes, including Interstates, to increase connectivity to smaller and emerging communities to facilitate access to jobs, education, and healthcare, while improving access for agriculture, energy, manufacturing, forestry, tourism and other critical segments of the rural economy.
  • An NCHRP report found that the construction of an additional 30,000 lane miles of limited access highways, largely along existing corridors, is needed to address the nation’s need for increased rural connectivity.
  • Modernize major two-lane roads and highways so they can accommodate increased personal and commercial travel.
  • Improve public transit service in rural America to provide improved mobility for people without access to private vehicles.

Improve rural traffic safety

  • Adequately fund needed rural roadway safety improvements and provide enhanced enforcement, education and improved emergency response to reduce the rate of rural traffic fatalities.
  • Implement cost-effective roadway safety improvements, including rumble strips, shoulder improvements, lane widening, curve reductions, skid-resistant surfaces at curves, passing lanes, intersection improvements and improved signage, pavement markings and lighting, guardrails and barriers, and improved shielding of obstacles.

Improve the condition of rural roads, highways, and bridges

  • Adequately fund local and state transportation programs to ensure sufficient preservation of rural roads, highways, and bridges to maintain transportation service and accommodate large truck travel, which is needed to support the rural economy.

FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING

America’s ability to address its rural transportation challenges would be greatly enhanced if Congress is able to provide a long-term, dedicated, user-based revenue stream capable of fully funding the federal surface transportation program.  The current five-year federal surface transportation program includes modest funding increases and provides states with greater funding certainty, but falls far short of providing the level of funding needed to meet the nation’s highway and transit needs.

  • The USDOT report found that the nation’s current $105 billion investment in roads, highways, and bridges by all levels of government should be increased by 35 percent to $142.5 billion annually to improve the conditions of roads, highways and bridges, relieve traffic congestion, and improve traffic safety.

 All data used in this report is the most current available. Sources of information for this report include: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Hydra Bed is the “Reel” Deal: ICUEE Exhibitor Spotlight

Since 1983, Hydra Bed has built a reputation of providing rugged hay handling flatbeds to the ranching industry. The company has also seen its agricultural equipment used by a number of utility and municipal customers.

Coming from this ranching and agriculture industry, Hydra Bed had a lot of experience with truck bed equipment and attachments. However, it wasn’t until 2013 when Marty Ferguson, of FS3 Inc, reached out to Hydra Bed officials about making a reel handling flatbed to better serve the utility industry. From there, as they say, the rest was history.

Meeting Utility Customer Needs: Take One

 Ferguson set out to design a bed meant to handle reels while not compromising the everyday functionality of the flatbed. After creating a prototype of what he had in mind proved to be unsatisfactory, Ferguson reached out to Hydra Bed to discuss a potential partnership. Knowing of the company’s success in the ranching industry, Ferguson was confident that he could work with Hydra Bed to create a top of the line reel handling utility product.

When Hydra Bed experienced a spike in demand of their ranching products in 2014, talks of a new utility product were delayed until 2016. Meanwhile, Ferguson had become a Hydra Bed dealer and was demonstrating the ranch version of the Hydra Bed with reel handling attachments to his utility customers. Seeing that the needs of his utility customers went beyond the capability of the ranching version, it was not a perfect fit.

As the ranching version of the Hydra Bed continued to come up short in the utility environment, demand for a new design grew.

Meeting Utility Customer Needs: New Design a Success

In February of 2016, the Hydra Bed product development team met with Ferguson to discuss specific needs and goals of a new utility design. According to Jay Russell of Hydra Bed, “The ag industry has served us very well during our history,” he said. “But there have been numerous discussions about market diversification. This seemed to be a very good fit.” With this in mind, and with the two parties sharing an obvious synergy, Hydra Bed formally partnered with Marty Ferguson and FS3 in 2016 and never looked back.

With the help of FS3, Hydra Bed’s development team designed and created the utility-based Hydra Bed Reel Lift and the Hydra Bed HydraWinder.

Products Enhance Customer Efficiency, Safety

The Reel Lift is an integrated reel transport flatbed that is meant to quickly and safely load and transport conduit or cable without the need for a reel trailer. It is operable by a one-man team and can transport reels weighing up to 5,000 pounds. When commenting on the cost efficiency of the Reel Lift, Russell said, “The crew can reduce costly trips to the jobsite because the truck can now tow equipment trailers loaded with boring rigs, excavators and a wide variety of other essential equipment.”

After releasing this product, Hydra Bed experienced incredible numbers and feedback. Seeing as Hydra Bed has long been known for a culture of solving problems and leading design, they decided to go a step further and apply that philosophy to the need of a safe cable retrieval system, resulting in the creation of the HydraWinder.

The HydraWinder is an attachment for the Reel Lift bed that is a bolt-on option that equips crews to safely and efficiently retrieve or payout cable and conduit from nearly any size reel. The self-stowing, “always ready to work and never in the way” design allows for quick adaptations from reel transport to the winder, controlling cable backlash and substantial efficiency and safety to busy jobsites.

Connecting with Customers at ICUEE-The Demo Expo

Since its introduction into the utility world, Hydra Bed has received and continues to receive phenomenal feedback on their products. Russell confirmed this praise by saying, “Enthusiastic customer response from the utility industry is establishing Hydra Bed as equipment designed to meet and dependably fill a specific need.”

One of Hydra Bed’s customers provided positive feedback saying, “Combining our Reel Lift Hydra Bed with a HydraWinder has eliminated a truck and trailer from the jobsite.” Their presence in the utility world is continually proving to be highly valued, desired and needed per their customers’ reviews, and there does not seem to be an end in sight.

Russell and his team at Hydra Bed are adamant that a part of their success came from the company’s presence at ICUEE 2017. “We cannot say enough about the benefits of going to ICUEE in 2017, we loved it,” he said. Considering that the HydraWinder attachment was not even on the product list in 2017, they are even more excited for this year’s ICUEE. “To say we are excited to go back this year is an understatement,” Russell added.