Ray O’Connor, President and CEO of Topcon Positioning Systems represented AEM at Bloomberg Government NEXT Infrastructure conference

Our infrastructure is critical to the future of our country. Recently American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publicized its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. To review the 2017 ASCE Infrastructure, which earned a D+ you can click  here.

The infrastructure is critical to everyone without exception. We depend on it for not only transportation but also everything we eat, drink, wear; going to work, going to dinner; going to the doctor, the hospital or emergency rooms, getting our children to school to the movies or the playground. Pay attention to local, state and national infrastructure issues and the proposed legislation that attempts to address some of the more critical issues. And the next time you hit a pothole think of the damage being done to the tires, rim, suspension and undercarriage of your care.

Ray O’Connor, President and CEO of Topcon Positioning Systems represented AEM at  Bloomberg Government NEXT Infrastructure conference in Washington D.C. last week. He spoke with Marcia Hale, president, Building America’s Future Educational Fund, in the Smart Infrastructure and Global Advantage segment of the conference.

Dennis Slater, President and Secretary of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), made the opening remarks.

It’s our infrastructure. Think of it this way, the better the infrastructure the safer our world.

ABC Reports: Nearly 200,000 Construction Added Since May 2016

Construction Unemployment Rates Improve in 24 States 

In May, not seasonally adjusted (NSA) construction unemployment rates were down in 24 states on a year-over-year basis, according to analysis released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). At the same time, the construction industry employed 192,000 more workers than in May 2016, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the national NSA construction unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, up 0.1 percent from a year ago.

Because these industry-specific rates are not seasonally adjusted, national and state-level unemployment rates are best evaluated on a year-over-year basis.

“Despite the year-over-year increase, this was the third lowest national not seasonally adjusted May construction unemployment rate on record and the second lowest rate since May 2000,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Also, as in April, all the states except two, Alaska and New Mexico, had estimated construction unemployment rates below 10 percent.”

Since the beginning of the data series in January 2000, the monthly movement in the national NSA construction unemployment rate from April to May has been a decrease every year, except one—2009. This trend continued in 2017 with a one percent rate drop in the NSA rate from April. Among the states, 39 had declines in their May estimated rate from April, and two (Arkansas and Rhode Island) saw no change.

The Top Five States

The states with the lowest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest rate to highest were:

  1. Vermont, 1.5 percent
  2. Iowa, 2.2 percent
  3. Idaho, 2.3 percent
  4. Colorado, 2.4 percent
  5. Indiana and North Dakota (tied), 2.5 percent

Four states—Colorado, Idaho, Indiana and Iowa—were also among the top five in April. Vermont, with a 1.5 percent estimated NSA construction unemployment rate, had the lowest rate among the states.

Colorado, with a 2.4 percent rate, had the fourth lowest rate in May, the state’s second lowest estimated May rate on record. Indiana rate was 2.5 percent, the lowest May rate on record and the third largest year-over-year decline among the states, down 2.1 percent. North Dakota’s 2.5 percent rate was lowest May rate on record.

New Hampshire, which had tied with Idaho and Indiana for lowest rate in April based on revised data, dropped to 15th lowest in May, with a 3.8 percent estimated construction unemployment rate. Despite New Hampshire having the country’s largest monthly increase, up 1.2 percent, it was the state’s second lowest May rate since 2004 (3.1 percent), behind last year’s 3.4 percent.

The Bottom Five States

The states with the highest NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest rates were:

46. Missouri, 7.9 percent

47. Mississippi, 8.4 percent

48. Pennsylvania, 9.3 percent

49. Alaska, 10.5 percent

50. New Mexico, 10.7 percent

Three of these states—Alaska, New Mexico and Pennsylvania—were also among the five states with the highest construction unemployment rates in April. New Mexico had the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate in May, 10.7 percent, down from the second highest ranking in April.

Three of these states—Alaska, New Mexico and Pennsylvania—were also among the five states with the highest construction unemployment rates in April. New Mexico had the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate in May, 10.7 percent, down from the second highest ranking in April.

Alaska ended its eight-month streak as the state with the highest construction unemployment rate, moving up to the second highest rate in May, 10.5 percent. A high unemployment rate for the state at this time of year is to be expected since these are not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates. Interestingly, the state posted the largest year-over-year increase (up 3.5 percent) in May while also posting the largest monthly rate drop in the country (down 5.8 percent).

Pennsylvania had the second largest year-over-year rate increase and the fourth largest monthly rate increase among the states. Mississippi had the sixth largest year-over-year increase in the country, up 1.2 percent, and the fifth largest monthly increase, up 0.7 percent. Missouri’s 1.5 percent year-over-year increase was the third largest in the country. Nonetheless, it was Missouri’s second lowest May construction unemployment rate since 2006 (6.1 percent), behind last year’s 6.4 percent rate.

Louisiana, which had the third highest rate in April, improved to 11th highest in May, along with Nevada and Ohio, with a 6.3 percent rate. It was Louisiana’s lowest May construction unemployment rate since 2006 (4.3 percent). Illinois, which had the fourth highest rate in April, improved to 17th highest in May, tied with Alabama, with a 5.9 percent rate. It was the state’s lowest May construction unemployment rate since 2000 (5.7 percent).

View states ranked by construction unemployment rate, year-over-year change in construction unemployment, monthly change in construction unemployment, a regional breakdown of states construction unemployment rates and unemployment rates for all industries. 

To better understand the basis for calculating unemployment rates and what they measure, see the article Background on State Construction Unemployment Rates.

TRIP Reports AMERICA’S RURAL ROADS & BRIDGES HAVE SIGNIFICANT DEFICIENCIES & HIGH FATALITY RATES

AMERICA’S RURAL ROADS & BRIDGES HAVE SIGNIFICANT DEFICIENCIES & HIGH FATALITY RATES; REPAIRS & MODERNIZATION NEEDED TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS, BOOST SAFETY & SUPPORT ECONOMIC GROWTH AND 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. Rural America is home to an aging and increasingly diverse population that is heavily reliant on the quality of its transportation system. This is according to a new report released today by TRIP. 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 improvements to address deficient roads and bridges, high crash rates, and inadequate connectivity and capacity. TRIP is a national non-profit transportation research group based in Washington, D.C. The chart below shows the states with the highest rate of rural pavements in poor condition, states with the highest share of structurally deficient rural bridges and those 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. Sixteen percent of the nation’s rural roads are in fair condition and the remaining 48 percent are in good condition. Ten percent of the nation’s rural bridges are rated as structurally deficient, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge.

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 more than two-and-a-half times higher than on all other roads. In 2015, non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 2.18 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel, compared to a fatality rate on all other roads of 0.83 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel. The number of fatalities and the fatality rate on rural, non-Interstate U.S. roads increased in 2105 after decreasing each year between 2012 and 2014.

“Rural roads are far too often overlooked. With fatality rates rising, repairing and maintaining the nation’s roads must be a top priority for legislators,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA senior vice president of public affairs and international relations. “By investing in improvements for today and tomorrow, we can deliver safer experiences for motorists and save tens of thousands of lives.”

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 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.

“Farmers and ranchers depend on rural roads, highways and bridges to move their products to market,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Transportation delays and costs take a bite out of our profitability and competitiveness and impact the quality of rural life.  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 and foster economic growth.”

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 quality of life and enhance economic productivity. The nation’s ability to address its rural transportation challenges will 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.

“We applaud the president, the new administration, and members of Congress for leading the conversation on an issue of critical importance to our 21st century economy: rebuilding America’s infrastructure,” said U.S. Chamber’s Executive Director for Transportation Infrastructure Ed Mortimer. “The American business community looks forward to developing and implementing a long-term plan that will bring our nation’s rural and urban infrastructure up to speed and spur economic growth. Now is the time to take action and to get the job done.”

Rural America is home to the vast majority of tourist destinations, many of which rely on good access. “Crumbling bridges, poorly maintained roads and congested highways discourage travel, threatening the entire U.S. economy,” said Erik Hansen, vice president of government relations for the U.S. Travel Association. “Lawmakers have signaled their interest in finding solutions for America’s surface transportation, as evidenced in passage of the FAST Act and the formation of the NACTTI advisory board. However, far more is needed–and fast–to finish the job.”

Freight mobility and efficiency is fundamental to rural economic vitality and prosperity. “It’s time for our elected leaders to act. Investing in our rural roads will improve safety and efficiency on roadways that are vital to agricultural commerce. That is a top priority for our nation’s 3.2 million farmers, and the 320,000 Americans whose jobs are supported by the manufacturing of farm equipment,” said Robert B. Crain, senior VP & general manager, North and South America, AGCO Corporation.

“The safety and quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas and the health of the nation’s economy ride on our rural transportation system. The nation’s 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.”

To read the full report and regional/state reports visit: TRIP Rural Roads Report

Southeastern Equipment Donates CTLs to Team Rubicon for Neighborhood Revitalization Project in Detroit

Donated equipment supports Team Rubicon’s Operation Joe Louis—a revitalization project in the Herman Kiefer Hospital complex and neighborhood of Detroit, Mich.

 

CASE Construction Equipment dealer Southeastern Equipment Co. Inc. donated the use of two TR310 compact track loaders with grapple buckets to Team Rubicon for Operation Joe Louis—an urban blight response project in Detroit, Michigan. Team Rubicon has worked in partnership with the City of Detroit’s Motor City Make-Over event—an annual citywide volunteer cleanup and beautification initiative—and Herman Kiefer Development LLC, to clean up the Herman Kiefer Hospital complex and neighborhood by conducting damage assessments, debris management and home repairs in the area.

Team Rubicon brought in over 100 volunteers and training personnel from around the U.S. to assist local residents in the cleanup effort of their properties, as well as any vacant or abandoned properties adjacent to occupied structures. The CASE TR310 CTLs were used in debris management initiatives during the project, including the removal of fallen or dangerous trees, trash, overgrowth and the consolidation of debris and refuse, as well as the demolition of several garages and other outbuildings.

The City of Detroit has experienced significant economic divestment over the last 50 years, and this isn’t the first time that Team Rubicon has worked in the city. Team Rubicon responded to flooding in the area in 2014 during Operation Flood Wrangler. In 2016, they partnered with Motor City Blight Busters for a revitalization project in the historic Brightmoor neighborhood.

Team Rubicon is a veteran-led disaster response organization that deploys teams globally. Its heavy equipment operators have been trained as part of a partnership with CASE that began in November 2015.

For more information on Team Rubicon, visit TeamRubiconUSA.org. For more information on the partnership between CASE and Team Rubicon, visit CaseCE.com/TeamRubicon.

ARTBA Reports: Federal Airport Construction Program Funding Only Meeting 50% of Identified Needs, New Analysis Find

$32 Billion in Project Improvements Required over Next 5 Years, Airports Say

A new analysis of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data finds that current airport construction funding levels are only half of what is necessary to make safety improvements and help reduce runway congestion.

The analysis, conducted by American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, comes as the U.S. House and Senate are expected to debate legislation to reauthorize the FAA and the nation’s aviation programs.

The FAA awarded $3.29 billion in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants to U.S. states and territories in 2016, ARTBA’s analysis shows. Airports used 68 percent of those funds—$2.26 billion—for infrastructure investments. This included the construction, rehabilitation, expansion or improvement of taxiways, aprons, runways and airport access roads.

Grants were awarded to 1,398 airports in 2016, accounting for 41 percent of the nearly 3,400 airports that are eligible for AIP funding. These airports have identified a total of about $6.5 billion annually—or $32.4 billion over the next five years—for projects that could be eligible for AIP grants, according to FAA. Current AIP funding will only cover half of the cost of all potential projects.

“These types of projects and other airport infrastructure needs can be addressed by increasing Airport Improvement Program investment—which has be held flat for the past six years—and increasing or lifting the cap on the passenger facility charge,” Black says. “We think both are needed and needed now.”

States receiving the most grants in 2016 included:

California ($262M)

Texas ($243.8M)

Alaska ($215M)

Illinois ($179.6M)

Florida ($178.4M)

New York ($130M)

Georgia ($94M)

Colorado ($79.6M)

Louisiana ($77.7M)

Missouri ($77.7M)Grants ranged between $15,000 and $36 million, averaging $1.86 million per project. About one-third were for $1 million or more. The largest 2016 AIP grant was $36 million to improve the runway safety area at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
Other major airports using AIP grants for runway construction and rehabilitation included: Chicago O’Hare International (ORD), Ted Stevens Anchorage International (ANC), Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (DTW) and Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW).

Historically, primary airports receive most of the AIP funding, accounting for 69 percent of the value of grants in 2016. Projects were also funded at general aviation (20 percent), reliever (7 percent) and commercial service airports (4 percent).

Major airports that have identified AIP eligible projects over the next five years are:  Chicago O’Hare International (ORD, $741M)

George Bush Intercontinental/Houston (IAH, $626M)

Charlotte/Douglas International (CLT, $511M)

Tampa International (TPA, $477M)

LaGuardia (LGA, $436M)

Los Angeles International (LAX, $389M)

Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International (FLL, $381M)

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI, $357M)

Philadelphia International (PHL, $323M)

San Diego International (SAN, $313M) ARTBA has compiled a state-by-state breakdown of AIP grants and funding needs by airport. It’s available at www.artba.org/aip/.
Established in 1902, ARTBA represents the U.S. transportation design and construction industry in the Nation’s Capital