Monthly Archive for June, 2012

NAPA Thanks Congress for Highway Bill

While funding levels are now set through 2014, work remains to be done on long-term funding for transportation projects

The National Asphalt Pavement Association welcomes the passage of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. America’s road builders, road owners, and road users will all benefit from the stability that the two-year authorization brings to the industry.

“The House and Senate leadership and the transportation bill conferees all deserve credit and our thanks for delivering a bill that brings an end to years of short-term extensions,” said NAPA President Mike Acott. “This will benefit all Americans, and will help sustain jobs in the asphalt pavement industry.”

But the work is not over for Congress and the Administration. Unless changes are made to how the Highway Trust Fund is financed, the fund will run dry in fiscal year 2015.

“For the future of the country’s roads and the economic activity they support, Congress must address the long-term problems facing the Highway Trust Fund,” Acott said.

The Accelerated Implementation and Deployment of Pavement Technologies program included in the new bill will help speed the deployment of pavement innovations, such as increased use of warm-mix asphalt and higher levels of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) and other recycled materials, but the long-term funding problem remains.

“The asphalt pavement industry has been the leader in developing ways to build longer-lasting roads in economical and environmentally sustainable manners,” said Acott. “But unless the structural problems in funding for the Highway Trust Fund are fixed, even these innovations will not help the county maintain and grow its highway infrastructure.”

Congressional Passage of Surface Transportation Bill is Positive Step Forward; Long-Term Investment Needs Remain

Statement by AEM Chair Rusty Fowler

Following votes in the U.S. House and Senate today to pass the surface transportation bill, Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Chair and Krone North America President and CEO Rusty Fowler issued the following statement:

“On behalf of AEM, the 21,000 members of the I Make America campaign and all of our industry allies, we appreciate Congress coming together to pass a surface transportation bill. This long overdue legislation is critical to market certainty and economic growth, and I encourage the President to sign this into law without delay.

“While we fully understand that the House and Senate did what they could to get a bill passed, we also want to remind them that there is still more work to be done. The comprehensive infrastructure investment our country needs requires a long-term strategic vision and a well-structured, sustainable funding mechanism in order to be effective. The much-needed two years of market certainty provided by the legislation passed in Congress today should be used by all to continue working on a more effective infrastructure solution to keep America strong and competitive for years to come.”

House Passes Transportation Bill; Senate Passage Imminent

BREAKING NEWS: The House of Representatives passed the transportation conference report by a vote of 373-52 Friday afternoon. The Senate is currently considering the bill and passage is expected shortly.

The House and Senate worked vigorously all week to come to a compromise surface transportation conference report on Wednesday night. The announcement of a deal came over 1,000 days after the last surface transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU, expired in September 2009. The conference deal, which runs through the end of September 2014, will keep transportation spending at current levels and extend the authority to collect gasoline taxes through September 2016. The deal will be voted on today, first by the Senate, with the House following shortly thereafter. The bill is expected to pass through both chambers and be signed by the President before the 9th extension to surface transportation programs expires on Saturday.

The House and Senate agreement on Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), will set highway spending at $39.7 billion in fiscal 2013 and $40.3 billion in fiscal 2014.  Mass transit formula grants would be set at $8.5 billion in fiscal 2013 and $8.6 billion in fiscal 2014. Additional revenues will mostly come from collecting revenues from changes to federal pensions and moving money from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank trust fund into the Highway Trust Fund.

The new bill makes significant programmatic reforms, many of which ASCE has been long supported. The deal consolidates federal programs in an attempt to make them more competitive and streamlines the environmental review process to speed project delivery. The bill also has a focus on performance standards for highway and bridge maintenance, and ties some funding to whether states meet performance goals laid out in the bill.

The TIFIA grant program will see a substantial increase to $750 million in 2013 and $1 billion in 2014, a move which ASCE strongly advocated for over the past few months. The TIFIA program will also now operate on a first-come, first served basis, removing evaluation criteria.

Next, the Transportation Enhancements program will also see some changes. First, the program will now be called the Transportation Alternative program and each state will set-aside 2 percent of the amount apportioned for their enhancement activities. However, if these funds are not allocated within the state, the state may transfer up to 50% of those funds to other programs.

MAP-21 also includes the RESTORE Act language, which would establish the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. The trust fund would contain 80% of all penalties paid from parties responsible for the gulf coast oil spill in order to pay for the extensive clean-up efforts. ASCE, through the Water Resources Coalition has been supportive of the inclusion of the RESTORE Act language.

Additionally, MAP-21 expands the ability of states to place tolls on any Federal-aid facility for any new capacity and removes the Bingaman amendment, which ASCE opposed, that would have reduced highway formula funds for states that sell or lease toll facilities to private companies.

Finally, turning to research, the bill provides $400 million for transportation research and authorizes 35 competitive grants to be provided annually for University Transportation Centers, a move which ASCE supported.

ASCE is happy to see that Congress came to a bipartisan agreement on surface transportation programs and worked to get a bill done by June 30th. However, it must be noted that this is just a critical first step to raising the grades for our nation’s surface transportation system. As ASCE has documented, we are not investing nearly enough to bring our roads, bridges, and transit systems to an acceptable condition that will serve our economy in the long-run. Therefore, ASCE will continue to work with Congress on a long-term, reliable funding source to meet these goals.

Thanks to the hundreds of Key Contacts who have written, called and met with their Representatives and Senators over the past (nearly) three years to talk about transportation reauthorization.  Grassroots action has been critical to this process.

For a summary of the bill look here

 

National Demolition Association’s Environmental Excellence Awards Recognize Projects in Texas, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Michigan

Projects yielded a high percentage of recycled materials and improved a school, military base, and creek system, while giving new life to an abandoned and contaminated industrial site. 

The National Demolition Association (NDA) presented the 2nd annual Environmental Excellence Awards to four companies which have performed demolition projects that demonstrate significant environmental conservation and community improvement, while bringing about a discernible positive impact on the quality of life in the U.S. and Canada.

“The Environmental Excellence Awards recognize NDA member companies which are true leaders in environmental stewardship,” said Michael R. Taylor, CAE, Executive Director of the NDA.  “Environmental stewardship is one of the demolition industry’s primary missions and these winning projects help illustrate truly dramatic efforts our members have made to make this a reality.”

The winning projects, which were honored at the National Demolition Association Annual Convention in Las Vegas in March, are:

Project: Prichard Stadium Sports Complex Demolition, Fort Hood, TX

NDA MemberCharter Environmental, Boston, MA

Charter led abatement and demolition of the 60-year-old Prichard Stadium Sports Complex in Fort Hood which was demolished to make room for a new hospital.  The project exceeded the client’s recycling goals, reusing or recycling 99.56% of the debris.  Among the many steps taken during the project was concrete being crushed on site and stockpiled for construction of the new medical center.  The stadium lighting fixtures were salvaged for use in a new stadium, while telephone poles were reused on the Fort Hood firing range.  Materials of value, e.g. copper, aluminum, etc. were recycled and reclaimed, while asphalt parking lots were ground and recycled.  Funds from recycled materials were used to support and improve the lives of soldiers and their families.

 Project:  Demolition and Remediation of Newton (MA) North High School, Newton, MA

NDA Member: Costello Dismantling Co., Inc., West Wareham, MA

To make way for athletic fields and grounds adjacent to the new high school, Costello handled the difficult demolition of the former school, coupled with a massive environmental remediation scope of work.  All interior block walls were asbestos-contaminated, which had permeated the inner cavities of the masonry block walls and settled on top of ceiling tiles.  An innovative bracing system that enabled contaminated exterior walls to remain standing and be used as a critical barrier during abatement saved the city millions of dollars in containment expense.  More than 75,000 tons of brick and concrete and 4,750 tons of steel were recycled, while 1,850 tons of non-asbestos debris was sent for processing/recycling.

Project:  Woodside Dam Demolition Project, South Carolina

NDA Member:  Envirocon, Inc., Portland, OR

Envirocon’s Woodside Dam demolition project restored the river to its natural state, allowing it to flow freely again over native bedrock for the first time in more than 100 years, and fish and wildlife to flourish.  By removing two reinforced concrete dams and PCB-contaminated river sediments, Envirocon is letting the river regenerate itself.  The company designed and installed thee siphons to lower the water behind the dam so that dredging could take place, which was followed by the demolition of 34-ft.-high dam. The second dam removal also required the demolition of the dam powerhouse.  Many innovative techniques were employed to complete this project, including the use of a crane to lift and place machinery upon floats in the upstream pool behind the dam.

Project:  Sappi Fine Paper Property Project, Muskegon, MI

NDA Member: Melching, Inc., Nunica, MI

The former 1.1 million sq.-ft. Sappi Fine Paper mill sits on a 119-acre site, with nearly one mile of Muskegon Lake shoreline.  Doug Melching purchased the property with the intention of creating jobs in west Michigan.  When complete, the project will transform the site into a redevelopment project that will include a green energy biomass power plant, a potential ship repair dry dock repair, and other manufacturing operations.  Working with the Melching team, the demolition contractor handled all demolition, environmental cleanup and an asbestos abatement with a scope of work estimated to cost $2 million dollars.

For more information about submitting entries for the 2013 National Demolition Association Environmental Excellence Awards or becoming a member of the Association, go to www.demolitionassociation.com

ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane Statement On The Highway & Transit Bill Conference Report

The following is a statement from American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane on the federal surface transportation program conference bill:

“In the short term, the bill will provide stability in federal funding for state and local transportation projects.  The elimination of earmarks should also accelerate the speed at which federal funds impact the market for transportation improvements.  That’s the good news.

“The bad news is there is no new money.  And even with their federal funds, we are now in a situation where 28 states have invested less in highway and bridge projects over the past 12 months than they did in pre-recession 2008, even when adjusted for inflation.

“We view this bill—as we believe congressional leaders do—as just ‘Step One,’  which is making the significant program and policy reforms needed to restore public confidence in how the federal government is investing their money in transportation and mobility.

“‘Step Two’ is coming to grips with how to fund the nation’s investments in transportation infrastructure and mobility over the longer term.  That tough job remains.  And it will require the same bipartisan, bicameral leadership and cooperation that was ultimately demonstrated on this bill.

“Our mission is crystal clear: to do everything possible to ensure that the proper level of transportation investment is viewed as a core priority as the looming larger discussion and legislative activity begins in earnest on Capitol Hill to define the proper role of the federal government in the 21st century and how it utilizes the public’s money.

“We commend Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), EPW Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.), and T&I Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall (D-W.Va.), for their steadfast leadership and dogged determination to get the job done.“