Summer Has Ended … and so will the most recent (34th) extension of the highway bill

Summer Has Ended

Visitor & guest editorial staffer.

Visitor & guest editorial staffer.

By Greg Sitek

… and so will the most recent (34th) extension of the highway bill

In a Recent American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) newsletter the civil engineering group noted:

Summer comes to an end next week as Congress returns to the Capitol after a five-week recess. Deadlines will be the theme this fall, with the first being the Oct. 1 funding deadline to keep the government open. The second important deadline for ASCE is Oct. 29, when MAP-21, the surface transportation bill, expires. With a D+ cumulative GPA, the topic of America’s infrastructure should be at the top of their to-do lists. Congress has several opportunities to address some of the nation’s infrastructure needs in the coming weeks. Here’s what to watch:

  1. Transportation

Before the U.S. Senate adjourned for August recess, they passed the DRIVE Act, a six-year surface transportation bill.  The DRIVE Act would end the current cycle of short-term program extensions and increase federal funding for surface transportation programs.  The U.S. House of Representatives has until a new deadline of October 29 to act to pass their own multi-year bill before the current law expires. ASCE has been focused on communicating with House members on the need to act quickly and pass a long-term bill. You can help by contacting your House members and urging them to #FixTheTrustFund.

  1. Appropriations for Federal Infrastructure Programs

So far this year, the House has only passed six of 12 annual appropriations bills and the Senate has not yet passed a single one. There is an Oct. 1 deadline to complete this year’s appropriation. Among the major dilemmas holding up the appropriations process are disagreements over the overall funding amounts for the federal government, policy riders that bog down spending bills and fundamental differences on what level to fund federal environmental, healthcare and military programs.

While it’s difficult enough for Congress to fund popular established bipartisan programs like the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving funds (which are facing 23% cuts), newer programs, like the Levee Safety Initiative, have not received any funding since the Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA) passed. If these programs do not receive appropriations, then the progress made by creating them becomes stagnant and no real progress is made in addressing the infrastructure the legislation aimed to improve.

And the ARTBA newsletter had the following to say:

On Sept. 17, 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the document they had created. The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) is using the 228th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution signing to remind Congress that Article One, Section Eight, makes support for transportation infrastructure investment a core federal government responsibility. It’s time, ARTBA says, for Congress to fix the Highway Trust Fund.

“It only took the Founding Fathers 209 days—from a call for action on Feb. 21 to the signing ceremony on Sept. 17—to draft, debate and endorse the U.S. Constitution, one of mankind’s greatest documents,” ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane says. “In contrast, why have our elected leaders taken over 2,000 days since 2008 trying to figure out how to permanently address the Highway Trust Fund revenue problem?”

Ruane says members of Congress should heed and respond to the words of U.S. Constitution signatories Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington and make expanding transportation infrastructure investment a federal priority to support economic growth and improve the nation’s competitiveness.


Hamilton 66dcce51-dd63-45b4-a5db-96ea411c41f4Hamilton said: “The improvement of the roads would be a measure universally popular. None can be more so. For this purpose a regular plan should be adopted, coextensive with the Union, to be successfully executed, and a fund should be appropriated sufficient… To provide roads and bridges is within the direct purview of the Constitution.”



Madioson f26c5ec4-7ea9-4737-8ac8-5706d29e464cMadison noted: “Among the means of advancing the public interest, the occasion is a proper one for recalling the attention of Congress to the great importance of establishing throughout the country the roads and canals which can best be executed under the national authority. No objects within the circle of political economy so richly repay the expense bestowed on them.”



Franklin 8cd18e8a-bb5b-4723-b5f9-76bbb64a543aFranklin challenged legislators: “And have we not all these taxes too… and our provincial or public taxes besides? And over and above, have we not new roads to make, new bridges to build… and a number of things to do that your fathers have done for you, and which you inherit from them, but which we are obliged to pay for out of our present labor?”



Washington b5580c6c-4743-465b-835d-51db410776e1And George Washington, who presided over the Constitutional Convention, said: “The credit, the saving, and the convenience of this country all require that our great roads leading from one public place to another should be straightened and established by law… To me, these things seem indispensably necessary.”

With election-mania already in motion, gathering momentum with every news cast, what do you think the prospects of a worthwhile highway bill are?


This article appears in the October 2015 issues of the ACP magazines

New Wave of TV, Print, Radio & Digital Ads Target Members of Congress & General Public on Highway Trust Fund Fix

ee0d071a-4431-491a-ae5f-0d9154114fae1982 Reagan Gas Tax Proposal Highlighted

The Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) and industry allies have launched a new television, radio, print advertising campaign to put increased pressure on Congress to fix the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), and boost federal highway and public transit investment.  The TCC is also utilizing digital ads asking commuters in key states to contact their congressmen and senators on the issue.

The effort highlights how conservative and tax-cutting champion President Ronald Reagan got it right when he said that “common sense” tells us that it’s less expansive to keep our transportation infrastructure in good repair than to let it crumble and have to rebuild.

Reagan also was on the money when he added that, wherever possible, assessing a fee on the people who benefit from a public service is “good tax policy” to pay for that service.

“Our highways were built largely with such a user fee – the gasoline tax,” Reagan said in a November 1982 radio address to the nation. “I think it makes sense to follow that principle in restoring them to the condition we all want them to be in.”

The 60-second television ad, sponsored by the TCC and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), airs June 16-18 on Fox News and CNN inside Washington, D.C., and is scheduled to coincide with this week’s House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committee hearings on the future of transportation financing.  Watch the ad.

The latest funding authorization for the highway and public transit program supported through the HTF expires July 31.  Congress continues to struggle in reaching agreement on a sustainable funding solution.

The TCC is also rolling out a 60-second radio ad featuring Reagan, which airs June 16-18 during morning and afternoon drive time on WTOP, D.C.’s top news-talk station.  Listen to the spot.

Complimentary, full-page TCC print ads will appear this week in Capitol Hill publications.  The ads call for an increase in the federal gas tax and note that nearly 90 percent of Republican and Democratic state legislators who voted to increase their state’s gas tax or equivalent during the last election cycle to fund transportation improvements were re-elected.  The TCC has also placed companion digital ads targeting congressional staff.

The TCC initiative extends beyond the Nation’s Capital and features digital advertising targeting voters in the states of these congressional and tax committee leaders:

  • House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)
  • House Speaker John Boehner
  • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)
  • House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.)
  • Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid
  • Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
  • Tom Price Price (R-Ga.) Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.)
  • Todd Young (R-Ind.)
  • Richard Burr (R-N.C.)
  • Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)
  • Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.)

When clicked on the digital ads will take voters to a petition  that they can sign and have sent to their respective members of Congress.

The TCC says it plans to continue a wide-range of advertising and grassroots activities in the run up to the July 31 deadline to keep the pressure on Congress to fix the HTF and then pivot to passage of a long-term surface transportation bill.

Established in 1996 and co-chaired by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association and the Associated General Contractors of America, the 31 associations and labor unions that make up the TCC have a direct market interest in the federal transportation program.  TCC members include:

American Road & Transportation Builders Association (co-chair); Associated General Contractors of America (co-chair); American Coal Ash Association; American Concrete Pavement Association; American Concrete Pipe Association; American Council of Engineering Companies; American Subcontractors Association; American Iron and Steel Institute; American Society of Civil Engineers; American Traffic Safety Services Association; Asphalt Emulsion Manufacturers Association; Asphalt Recycling & Reclaiming Association; Associated Equipment Distributors; Association of Equipment Manufacturers; Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute; International Slurry Surfacing Association; International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers; International Union of Operating Engineers; Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust; Laborers’ International Union of North America; National Asphalt Pavement Association; National Association of Surety Bond Producers; National Electrical Contractors Association;  National Ready Mixed Concrete Association; National Steel Bridge Alliance; National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association; National Utility Contractors Association; Portland Cement Association; Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute; The Road Information Program; and United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

Goodbye Snow, Hello Spring

By Greg Sitek

RMG aNo snow today or for the immediate future. That means spring has sprung and orange cones should start blooming everywhere. That means the sounds of construction equipment should be filling the air replacing the sounds of snowplows and salt spreaders – at lease in a majority of the country.

Are you ready? More importantly, are your employees and machines ready?

Spring is a good time to refresh everyone’s understanding and knowledge of safety on the jobsite, around the equipment and while operating the equipment. Most equipment manufacturers have machine-specific safety information available. This is a good time to make sure that this information is available. If not, contact your local equipment dealer or the manufacturer and get copies. Hand it out to the concerned or involved employees. Don’t depend on them picking it up on their own.

If you need generic safety materials The Association of Equipment Manufacturers has a library of safety manuals covering virtually all the equipment you use. They also have a selection of videos both of which are available in languages other than English. You can visit AEM online at: and click on the store button or scan: (Insert aem safety qr scan code). The equipment manufacturers who produce the equipment have developed the AEM safety material.

So much for the personnel, after you make certain that they are properly dressed and supplied with the required safety for the job. Let’s talk about the equipment.

Most equipment owners have been spending the winter months repairing, updating and getting their equipment ready for the job. Even so there is always the final check before a piece of equipment is loaded on a trailer headed for the job.

Two things come to mind that are often forgotten: the first is making certain that the operator’s manual is onboard; the second is that the ground engaging tools have been serviced and are ready for the first job.

Since I have your attention, let’s add and another item to the list… the prestart check list. You know, the walk-around inspection list.

It’s difficult to remember what every button, switch, lever, light, warning buzzer means. It’s easy to forget where something is, especially if you change machines with any regularity. Beside the operator’s manual is loaded with useful information, hints and even tips that can help you do the job better. It’s good to have it on hand for quick and easy reference JUST IN CASE.

What about the ground engaging tools? For years there has been an argument about what is the most important part of a piece of equipment – the machine itself, the engine, the electrical system, the hydraulic system, the operator’s station.

The correct answer is the “tool.” Without it the machine has nothing to do. And the tool depends on its ground-engaging component for its effectiveness whether it’s teeth, blade or piercing tool. Dull, worn teeth, blade or leading edge on a bucket hinder a machine’s ability to do its job. Dull worn ground engaging tools minimize a machine’s productivity and maximize its fuel consumption – a perfect combination for lower productivity and less profit.

Pre-start checklists are almost always provided by the machine manufacturer in the operator’s manual or service manual. Some equipment owners, based on experience, develop their own inspection routines. If you’re looking for information relative to equipment maintenance and management you should visit the Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) by visiting:

In any organization or on any construction projects the two most important components are the personnel and the equipment. Take care of both…

This articled appeared as an editorial in the April 2105 issues of the 13 ACP publications.


Oil — The Elixir of Modern Living

RMG1aBy Greg Sitek

Oil is one of nature’s more generous gifts. It is the lubricant of life as we know and live it. It is infused into virtually every aspect of our lifestyle. Here is a partial list:

Clothing Ink, Heart Valves, Crayons, Parachutes, Telephones, Enamel, Transparent tape, Antiseptics, Vacuum bottles, Deodorant, Pantyhose, Rubbing Alcohol, Carpets, Epoxy paint, Oil filters, Upholstery, Hearing Aids, Car sound insulation, Cassettes, Motorcycle helmets, Pillows, Shower doors, Shoes, Refrigerator linings, Electrical tape, Safety glass, Awnings, Salad bowl, Rubber cement, Nylon rope, Ice buckets, Fertilizers, Hair coloring, Toilet seats, Denture adhesive, Loudspeakers, Movie film, Fishing boots, Candles, Water pipes, Car enamel, Shower curtains, Credit cards, Aspirin, Golf balls, Detergents, Sunglasses, Glue, Fishing rods, Linoleum, Plastic wood, Soft contact lenses, Trash bags, Hand lotion, Shampoo, Shaving cream, Footballs, Paint brushes, Balloons, Fan belts, Umbrellas, Paint Rollers, Luggage, Antifreeze, Model cars, Floor wax,Tires,Dishwashingliquids,Unbreakabledishes,Toothbrushes,Toothpaste,Combnts, Hair curlers, Lipstick, Ice cube trays, Electric blankets, Tennis rackets, Drinking cups,

House paint, Roller-skate wheels, Guitar strings, Ammonia, Eyeglasses, Ice chests, Life jackets, TV cabinets, Car battery cases, Insect repellent, Refrigerants, Typewriter ribbons,

Cold cream, Glycerin, Plywood adhesive, Cameras, Anesthetics ,Artificial turf, Artificial Limbs, Bandages, Dentures, Mops, Beach Umbrellas, Ballpoint pens, Boats, Nail polish, Golf bags, Caulking, Tape recorders, Curtains, Vitamin capsules, Dashboards, Putty, Percolators, Skis, Insecticides, Fishing lures, Perfumes, Shoe polish, Petroleum jelly, Faucet washers, Food preservatives, Antihistamines, Cortisone, Dyes, LP records, Solvents, Roofing, and many more things we use often if not daily. (source: Yahoo Answers:

The US uses 18.89 million barrels of oil a day. Of that, “The United States imported approximately 9.9 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d) of petroleum in 2013 from about 80 countries. Petroleum includes crude oil and refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel, and biofuels including ethanol and biodiesel. In 2013, about 78% of gross petroleum imports were crude oil, and about 51% of the crude oil that was processed in U.S. refineries was imported.

‘The United States exported 3.6 MMbbl/d of crude oil and petroleum products in 2013, resulting in net imports (imports minus exports) of 6.2 MMbbl/d in 2013. Net imports accounted for 33% of the petroleum consumed in the United States, the lowest annual average since 1985.

“The top five source countries providing U.S. petroleum imports in 2013 were Canada, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.  Their respective rankings vary based on gross petroleum imports or net petroleum imports (gross imports minus exports). Net imports from Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) countries accounted for 56% of U.S. net imports.”

(US Energy Information Administration

Oil, more than any other single commodity has a direct impact on our lives and living standards. The recent decrease in oil prices is great; or is it?

According to Moody’s Investors Service, (this issue includes an article from Moody’s on this topic) it’s good for some markets/industries while creating problems for others. While individuals are probably enjoying the lower prices some are beginning to suffer as oil-industry related jobs are going through serious negative change. According to a friend who manages an heavy equipment parts and service operations in Odessa TX, hiring has been put on hold as has overtime, extended travel and other services.

Our ACP Associate Publisher for Texas Contractor, Walt Robertson, expressed his concerns stating, “I’m sure everyone is aware of the price dropping of a barrel of oil! And we are all enjoying the low cost of a gallon of gas for our vehicles – That is great news for us – the consumer of general/normal everyday goods!

However – The news is not good for our equipment dealers ( our advertisers ) in the Oil Patch; Texas , Oklahoma, Louisiana and editor added: the Dakotas… Rumblings are taken place in the number of rig permits that are being sought , consolidation  with some of the smaller drilling companies , expansion plans for building of new corporate facilities are being slowed , corporate relocations are being put on hold , already 2 new massive refinery projects have been put on the shelf , layoffs in the thousands are taking place! It is too early to say what will happen as the years progresses – I lived in Houston during the 1980’s when they had their last oil bust – it was not pretty! Texas is a lot better now than it was then

“I’m not trying to paint a gloomy picture of our market – just giving you the facts on what is going on now. We still have a lot of work in the “ pipeline “ … With all the people that have moved into Texas the past 3 years ( 1250 people per day! ) we have school construction , residential & shopping expansion going on , the airports & ports are seeing construction activity and even class A new office building construction is good . If TxDOT receives the money they are seeking for infrastructure expansion – Texas should have a good 2015! Now – if these new Texans decide to move back to their home states??? 

Wells Fargo Reports: Regional Effects of the Oil Price Slump

Oil- and gas-related businesses are cutting capital budgets and implementing layoffs in the face of the continued slide in oil prices. The bulk of the burden is falling on just a handful of states. Energy-Producing States Brace for Job Losses The ongoing fall in oil prices will hurt domestic producers, squeeze their profits and reduce their capital spending and exploration efforts. Producers are not the only ones who will feel the squeeze. The decline in capital spending and exploration will also hurt support businesses, manufacturers of related equipment, and possibly spill over to firms that build pipelines, transport oil and sell the commodity. Weakness in the domestic oil and gas industry has contributed to a downward adjustment of our forecast for business fixed investment for the first quarter of 2015. The sharp pullback in oil- and gas-related investment and employment will largely be concentrated in energy producing states, while the benefits of cheaper gas will be more equitably divided among the entire nation.For full report visit: time you fill up look around and see all that we do with oil; besides fueling our vehicles we power our lifestyle. 

Sharing an E-Mail

9-11I’ve been around a long time. No, not that long… I’m not pushing the century mark, not yet and have not been designated a curmudgeon by everyone who knows me. During my tenure on earth I witnessed many political changes domestically and internationally. I remember World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Desert Storm 1 and 2, Afghanistan and all the conflicts that filled the gaps. 9-11 is a fresh memory that gets renewed daily as I look at the picture I took of the rubble only days after…

My memories are filled with fears. Yes, I was taught and learned to fear the “isms” that echoed around the world almost always to the background sound of war, destruction, death, pain, starvation and suffering. Even at my advanced age there are fears, which I have not conquered, one of them is the fear of socialism.

I have always lived in our United States; I have served a four-year tour of duty in the Air Force, which included a tour in post-war Korea. I lost a brother while he was in the Air Force and had numerous relatives who had also served. Ok, what’s my point?

Fair question.

My point is that I have watched our country erode from an industrial/agricultural nation with an extremely high work ethic, to one that is beginning to embrace socialism. We have lost our global leadership position in so many arenas to countries that have become or are becoming what we were only a few years go.

What prompted this rant? It’s an email from a friend that I am going to share with you but the Internet being what it is, you have probably seen it or received it. I’m certain that many will disagree with me for doing this and for the lesson shared in the following. But, because of our Constitution I can express my feelings, thoughts and opinions and I am exercising that Constitutional right.

An economics teacher at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. 

The teacher then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Labor’s plan”.. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A…. (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and more readily understood by all).=

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.  

The second test average was a D! 

No one was happy. 

T he 3rd test , the average was an F. 

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. 

To their great surprise ALL FAILED and the teacher told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that.

These are possibly the 5 best sentences you’ll ever read and all applicable to this experiment :

  1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. 
  1. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
  1. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
  1. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!
  1. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.”

God Bless America