AEM Reports: WHAT LEADING CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES ARE DOING IN THE WAKE OF COVID-19

As COVID-19 (coronavirus) brings countless businesses to a grinding halt, the construction industry remains resilient — even in the face of tremendous challenge.

Unlike many industries where “working from home” and “drive-thru service” are feasible countermeasures, construction firms have jobsites to run. Chris Hopper, executive vice president and general manager of Skanska, told the Cincinnati Business Courier, “You can’t hang drywall from your house.”

Skanska is a New York-based construction and development firm with projects throughout the country. The company employs more than 10,000. Skanska has developed a multi-faceted COVID-19 response plan to help keep employees safe and jobsites operational.

We looked at what Skanska and other leading construction firms are doing in the wake of COVID-19.

14 ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A COVID-19 RESPONSE PLAN FOR CONTRACTORS

  1. Understand and follow CDC guidelines
  2. Place restrictions on travel
  3. Develop screening measures for employees who have recently traveled
  4. Instruct employees to stay home if they are feeling sick
  5. Place restrictions on in-person meetings and other employee gatherings
  6. Encourage employees to work from home if feasible
  7. Train all employees on the 6-foot distancing rule, no handshakes, etc.
  8. Establish thorough cleaning protocols at offices and jobsites
  9. Increase availability of cleaning supplies and handwashing stations at offices and jobsites
  10. Donate N95 respirator masks to local hospitals
  11. Tell elected officials to put partisan bickering aside in this very critical moment of national crisis
  12. Establish dedicated and empowered COVID-19 response teams
  13. Stay up to date on both federal and local COVID-19 developments
  14. Maintain clear, honest and ongoing communication with employees and subcontractors, and perhaps clients and suppliers

BEST PRACTICES TO HELP MITIGATE EXPOSURE

Social distancing is a critical component of any COVID-19 response plan. Turner Construction Company, a New York-based firm that employs roughly 10,000, has begun limiting the size of employee gatherings and has already put a stop to large group meetings. Attending events such as conferences has also been suspended. Remote conferencing technology is now being utilized for meetings. On that note, Turner Construction has expanded its network capacity and training tools to accommodate this surge in online network activity.

Sometimes an essential meeting that requires in-person attendance must take place. Turner Construction mandates that these meetings occur in spaces allowing for adequate social distancing. The CDC recommends that people remain roughly 6 feet apart. Additionally, Turner Construction is adapting standard operating procedures to limit the number of employees in an elevator or hoist at a given time.

Harkins, an employee-owned construction company based in Maryland, constantly reminds employees about the 6-foot rule. Additionally, sick employees are sent home immediately. All gatherings such as lunches are forbidden, and all meetings are now conducted remotely via Microsoft Teams.

Monitoring employees who travel has been another point of focus for construction companies.

Skanska issued a ban on all international travel through at least April. Domestic travel has also been greatly limited.

Turner Construction has restricted all business travel to any CDC Level 3 country, which is a country deemed to have widespread transmission. Also, if any employee had traveled to or had close contact with anyone who traveled to one of these countries, that employee is not allowed onto a Turner jobsite or office for 14 days from the date of contact. Taking it a step further, any employee who exhibits any of the common COVID-19 symptoms is instructed to stay away from Turner jobsites and facilities. Symptoms include fever, cough and restricted breathing.

PROMOTE GOOD HYGIENE

Hygiene has also been at the top of the list for Turner Construction. All jobsites are required to provide access to handwashing stations. Additionally, staff has been trained to religiously clean and disinfect frequently touched objects such as lunch tables, coffee machines and door knobs.

Harkins has instituted a long list of jobsite protocols to help improve awareness. For example, CDC and OSHA guidelines are now posted in all conspicuous locations on jobsites. Furthermore, jobsite leaders are trained to closely monitor employee behavior to ensure that the guidelines are being followed.

Harkins has also taken steps to step up jobsite cleaning. Trailers are now cleaned daily. Furthermore, a commercial cleaning service is brought in to clean and disinfect certain areas of a jobsite if COVID-19 exposure is suspected to have taken place. Harkins has also increased the volume of hand sanitizing products deployed to jobsites.

ESTABLISH DEDICATED TEAMS — AND EMPOWER THEM

Skanska has established a Coordination Response Team in each market it serves. Teams are tasked with monitoring COVID-19 developments, sharing information with employees and business partners, and implementing protocols.

Turner Construction has also established a dedicated COVID-19 Action Team. Efforts to support employees are an essential part of this team’s focus. Support is a key element that can get overshadowed in the midst of everything that is going on. This crisis has been taking a tremendous toll on many. Employers can play a constructive role in helping people cope.

On that note, Turner’s COVID-19 Action Team has gathered information to help employees guard against coronavirus-related scams, which are unfortunately emerging on a regular basis. The company has established a “fraud alert page” where employees can receive up-to-date information.

MAINTAIN OPEN, HONEST COMMUNICATION

Skanska is utilizing its internal company website (intranet) to provide general updates on COVID-19. The intranet is also being used to reinforce guidelines and standard operating procedures. This same information is also available through the company’s mobile app.

As reported by the Cincinnati Business Courier, telling employees to stay home when they are not feeling well is a critical piece to maintaining a safe, functioning jobsite. To reinforce the importance of this policy, HGC Groups, a large regional general contractor based in Cincinnati, has temporarily stopped recording unscheduled absences. In other words, an employee who thinks they may have COVID-19 symptoms will not be penalized for calling in sick to work.

LIFE HAS CHANGED, BUT STILL GOES ON

In Orlando, Fla., work on a $2.15 billion airport project continues amidst the COVID-19 crisis. As reported by the Orlando Business Journal, several guidelines have been put into place so work can continue:

  • Employees showing signs of illness are sent home
  • Additional handwashing stations have been made available
  • More frequent cleaning of high touch point areas like stairwells
  • Administrative staffs are evaluated for possible shift adjustments to limit personal interaction

The economic toll of COVID-19 has already set in. That said, some financial analysts expect that industries like manufacturing and construction will be among the last to begin issuing layoffs. That is due to the significant shortage of skilled workers these industries have been experiencing.

Rather, construction firms are expected to take proactive measures to help protect their workers and ongoing projects. The best practices outlined in this article showcase what leading construction firms are already doing in this regard.

LOBBY FOR RELIEF … AND LEAD BY EXAMPLE

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) says it has been lobbying for the construction industry to be deemed “essential” as government officials issue new mandates for certain business closures. AGC has also expressed support for a $2 trillion relief package that, as of March 23, the U.S. Senate had failed to pass on numerous occasions.

In addition, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), show owner and producer of CONEXPO-CON/AGG, says it is working closely with federal, state and local officials to make sure they take immediate steps to contain the spread of COVID-19, support equipment manufacturers and their employees, maintain vital supply chains and ensure the country’s economic resilience. AEM sent a letter to the President requesting that the federal government designate equipment manufacturers, suppliers, and dealers as “essential” and providing state and local jurisdictions with a clear and consistent federal directive moving forward.

AEM continues to urge Congress and the President to take action on the following policies that would support the construction industry:

It is important for construction companies to help bring this message to state and federal leaders. The sooner Congress comes together to pass relief, the sooner financial markets can be stabilized.

While businesses and citizens wait for our nation’s leaders to put their partisan bickering aside and come together in the face of this unprecedented national crisis, the construction industry is showing that it is possible to put the nation’s interests ahead your own.

The CEO of 3M recently told CNBC that he was disappointed that N95 respirator masks are still on store shelves while hospitals face a shortage. To be fair, that could simply be the result of inventory that already existed in the pipeline. Regardless, it is up to retailers to decide if it is in the nation’s best interest to redirect that inventory to local health care facilities.

Some construction companies have already determined that it is in the nation’s best interest.

An ABC television affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, recently reported that area construction companies have answered Vice President Mike Pence’s call to redirect respirator masks to hospitals. More construction companies around the country can follow suit by simply reaching out to their local hospitals and health care facilities.

That is leadership by example, and the construction industry does it as well as anybody.

By adopting the COVID-19 prevention protocols outlined in this article, construction companies can continue leading by example — all while helping to “flatten the curve” and help the nation emerge from this crisis.

Join over 40,000 industry peers who receive construction industry news and trends each week. Subscribe to CONEXPO-CON/AGG 365.

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Deadline Extension for Federal Transit Administration Competitive Grant Programs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao recently announced, during a transit industry briefing, that deadlines for several Federal Transit Administration (FTA) competitive grant programs will be extended for 30 days amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We understand that many transit agencies are experiencing disruptions to normal operating procedures and, as a result, some potential applicants to FTA’s grant programs may not be able to submit timely applications to FTA’s Notices of Funding Opportunity,” Secretary Chao said.

The 30-day extension applies to grant programs currently administered by FTA with active notices of funding opportunities (NOFOs).

“To continue to support the transit industry, we are extending the deadlines for all current open NOFOs for 30 days, recognizing that transit agencies are focused on COVID-19 response during this unprecedented public health emergency,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams, who also participated in the industry call.

The Secretary also highlighted the actions taken by FTA so far in response to the crisis, including new flexibility that allows agencies to use existing federal formula funds for emergency-related capital and operating expenses at an increased 80-percent federal share. She also encouraged transit agency leaders to request other relief from federal requirements as needed by making a request through FTA’s Emergency Relief Docket.

See the grant programs affected by this announcement.

TRIP REPORTS — KENTUCKY MOTORISTS LOSE $4.5 BILLION ANNUALLY ON ROADS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME SAFETY FEATURES – UP TO $2,025 PER DRIVER.

LACK OF FUNDING WILL LEAD TO FURTHER DETERIORATION, INCREASED CONGESTION AND HIGHER COSTS TO MOTORISTS

Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Kentucky motorists a total of $4.5 billion statewide annually – as much as $2,025 per driver in some areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Kentucky, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit . 

The TRIP report, Kentucky Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Kentucky, nearly 30 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition, seven percent of locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or more in length) are rated poor/structurally deficient, and 3,773 people lost their lives on the state’s roads from 2014-2018. Kentucky’s major urban roads are becoming increasingly congested, causing significant delays and choking commuting and commerce. 

Driving on deficient Kentucky roads costs the state’s drivers $4.5 billion per year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays, and the costs of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in the state’s largest urban areas, along with a statewide total, is below.

The TRIP report finds that eight percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in Kentucky are in poor condition and another 21 percent are in mediocre condition, costing the state’s motorists an additional $1.2 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Twenty-three percent of the state’s roads are in fair condition and the remaining 48 percent are in good condition.

Seven percent of Kentucky’s bridges are rated poor/structurally deficient, significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or othermajor components. Fifty-six percent of the state’s bridges are rated in fair condition and the remaining 36 percent are in good condition. Most bridges are designed to last 50 years before major overhaul or replacement, although many newer bridges are being designed to last 75 years or longer. In Kentucky, 41 percent of the state’s bridges were built in 1969 or earlier.

“Infrastructure investment in Kentucky is a top priority for the greater Louisville business community in 2020, not only for moving commerce and improving bottom lines, but as an important tool for business and job attraction,” said Rebecca Wood, COO and vice president of investor development for Greater Louisville Inc. “As a major logistics and manufacturing region that is within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population, it is vital to greater Louisville’s economic future that lawmakers increase funding and support for infrastructure and roads.”

Traffic congestion in the state is worsening, causing up to 52 annual hours of delay for the average motorist in some urban areas and costing drivers up to $1,110 annually in lost time and wasted fuel. Statewide, drivers lose $1.7 billion annually as a result of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion.

“This new report continues to illustrate the serious needs we have throughout Kentucky. In order for greater Louisville to fully capitalize on our central location to attract jobs and compete in today’s 21st century economy, we must make the commitment to invest in our roads and bridges,” said Chris Dickinson, PE, senior principal of Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions and chair of Greater Louisville Inc.’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “The business community urges policymakers to take swift action to repair our crumbling infrastructure.”  

Traffic crashes in Kentucky claimed the lives 3,773 people between 2014 and 2018. Kentucky’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.46 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2018 is the sixth highest in the nation and significantly higher than the national average of 1.13.  Traffic crashes imposed a total of $4.8 billion in economic costs in Kentucky in 2018 and traffic crashes in which a lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor imposed $1.6 billion in economic costs.  

The efficiency and condition of Kentucky’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $578 billion in goods are shipped to and from Kentucky, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges. Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system. Approximately 900,000 full-time jobs in Kentucky in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are dependent on the quality, safety and reliability of the state’s transportation infrastructure network.

“These conditions are only going to get worse, increasing the additional costs to motorists, if greater investment is not made available at the federal, state and local levels of government,” said Dave Kearby, TRIP’s executive director. “Without adequate funding, Kentucky’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth, safety and quality of life.”

KENTUCKY KEY TRANSPORTATION FACTS 

THE HIDDEN COSTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS

Driving on Kentucky roads that are deteriorated, congested and that lack some desirable safety features costs Kentucky drivers a total of $4.5 billion each year. TRIP has calculated the cost to the average motorist in the state’s largest urban areas in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on rough roads, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion, and the financial cost of traffic crashes. The chart below details the cost of deficient roads statewide and for the average driver in the state’s largest urban areas. 

KENTUCKY ROADS PROVIDE A ROUGH RIDE

Due to inadequate state and local funding, 29 percent of major roads and highways in Kentucky are in poor or mediocre condition. Driving on rough roads costs the average Kentucky driver $402 annually in additional vehicle operating costs – a total of $1.2 billion statewide.  The chart below details pavement conditions on major roads in the state’s largest urban areas and statewide.

KENTUCKY BRIDGE CONDITIONS

Seven percent of Kentucky’s bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition, meaning there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Fifty-six percent of the state’s bridges are rated in fair condition and the remaining 36 percent are in good condition. Most bridges are designed to last 50 years before major overhaul or replacement, although many newer bridges are being designed to last 75 years or longer. In Kentucky, 41 percent of the state’s bridges were built in 1969 or earlier. The chart below details bridge conditions statewide and in the state’s largest urban area.

KENTUCKY ROADS ARE INCREASINGLY CONGESTED

Congested roads choke commuting and commerce and cost Kentucky drivers $1.7 billion each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel. In the most congested urban areas, drivers lose up to $1,110 and as many as 52 hours per year sitting in congestion. 

KENTUCKY TRAFFIC SAFETY AND FATALITIES

From 2014 to 2018, 3,773 people were killed in traffic crashes in Kentucky.   In 2018, Kentucky had 1.46 traffic fatalities for every 100 million miles traveled, the sixth highest rate in the nation. The traffic fatality rate on Kentucky’s rural, non-Interstate roadways is approximately three times higher than on all other roads and the third highest rate in the nation.  

Traffic crashes imposed a total of $4.8 billion in economic costs in Kentucky in 2018 and traffic crashes in which a lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor imposed $1.6 billion in economic costs.  

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The health and future growth of Kentucky’s economy is riding on its transportation system. Each year, $578 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Kentucky, mostly by trucks.  Increases in passenger and freight movement will place further burdens on the state’s already deteriorated and congested network of roads and bridges.  The value of freight shipped to and from sites in Kentucky, in inflation-adjusted dollars, is expected to increase 114 percent by 2045 and by 65 percent for goods shipped by trucks.

According to a report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, the design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Kentucky supports approximately 47,000 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. These workers earn $1.6 billion annually. Approximately 900,000 full-time jobs in Kentucky in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are completely dependent on the state’s transportation network.

To view full report visit:

TRIPNET.ORG

TRIP REPORTS — ARIZONA MOTORISTS LOSE $9.6 BILLION PER YEAR ON ROADWAYS THAT ARE ROUGH, CONGESTED & LACK SOME DESIRABLE SAFETY FEATURES – UP TO $2,000 PER DRIVER.

LACK OF SUSTAINABLE, LONG-TERM FUNDING THREATENS ARIZONA’S ABILITY TO IMPROVE ROAD AND BRIDGE CONDITIONS, IMPROVE TRAFFIC SAFETY, AND RELIEVE CONGESTION ON A TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM CARRYING GROWING TRAFFIC VOLUMES.

– Roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack some desirable safety features cost Arizona motorists a total of $9.6 billion statewide annually – as much as $2,009 per driver in some urban areas – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. A lack of sustainable, long-term transportation funding threatens Arizona’s ability to improve road and bridge conditions, improve traffic safety, and relieve traffic congestion and could be an impediment to economic growth, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit. 

The TRIP report, Arizona Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Arizona, nearly half of major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor or mediocre condition, the state’s traffic fatality rate is the fourth highest in the nation, vehicle travel in Arizona has increased by 34 percent since 2000, the sixth highest rate of growth nationally and 150 locally and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or more in length) are rated poor/structurally deficient. The report also finds that the rate of population growth in Arizona has been among the fastest in the nation since 2000, placing significant stress on the state’s transportation system and resulting in increasing traffic congestion and delays that choke commuting and commerce. 

Driving on deficient Arizona roads costs the state’s drivers a total of $9.6 billion annually – up to $2,009 per driver in some urban areas – in the form of extra vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays, and the costs of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in the Phoenix-Mesa and Tucson urban areas, along with a statewide total, is below.

The TRIP report finds that 19 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in Arizona are in poor condition and another 25 percent are in mediocre condition, costing the state’s drivers an additional $3 billion each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Statewide, 16 percent of Arizona’s major roads are in fair condition and the remaining 40 percent are in good condition. 

“In 2018, Arizona’s county engineers documented the alarming degradation of county roadways and the fact that existing revenue sources are insufficient to provide basic maintenance. The TRIP report underscores this problem and provides compelling evidence that the chronic underinvestment in maintenance and construction places a heavy cost on Arizonans,” said Craig Sullivan, executive director of the County Supervisors Association of Arizona. “This cost comes in the form of vehicle wear and tear, diminished roadway safety, and impediments to economic growth.  Given these findings, there is little doubt that increasing investments in improving our infrastructure will deliver a significant “return on investment” to Arizona taxpayers.”    

Traffic crashes in Arizona claimed the lives 4,635 people between 2014 and 2018. Over those five years, the number of annual traffic fatalities in the state increased by 31 percent, from 770 to 1,010. Arizona’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.53 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2018 was the fourth highest in the nation. The fatality rate on Arizona’s non-interstate rural roads in 2018 was the fifth highest in the U.S. and significantly higher than on all other roads in the state (2.36 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs 1.39).  Traffic crashes imposed a total of $6.4 billion in economic costs in Arizona in 2018 and traffic crashes in which a lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor imposed $2.1 billion in economic costs.  

“Our own research has shown billions of dollars of unfunded need for local transportation infrastructure. The great work done by TRIP makes the need real by focusing on quality of life impacts like congestion, safety and costs to the individual to maintain their vehicles,” said Rene Guillen, deputy director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns. “This report makes it clear that as a high-growth state facing stagnant and declining transportation dollars our situation will only worsen without action. The information contained in this report serves as a great resource for lawmakers and stakeholders to use when discussing transportation funding options.”

Traffic congestion in Arizona is worsening, causing up to 62 annual hours of delay per driver and costing drivers as much as  $1,089 annually in lost time and wasted fuel. Statewide, congestion costs Arizona drivers a total of $4.5 billion annually. 

Two percent of Arizona bridges (20 feet or longer) are rated poor/structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports or other major components. An additional 37 percent of the state’s bridges are rated in fair condition and the remaining 61 percent are in good condition. 

The report also finds that Arizona’s current sources of transportation revenues will not keep pace with the state’s future transportation needs. This is largely a result of increasing vehicle fuel efficiency and the increasing use of electric vehicles, which, combined, are expected to reduce significantly the revenue generated by the state’s motor fuel tax revenues.  Average fuel efficiency for passenger vehicles in the U.S. has increased by 20 percent over the last decade and is expected to increase by 31 percent by 2030 and 51 percent by 2040.    

The efficiency and condition of Arizona’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy.  Annually, $332 billion in goods are shipped to and from Arizona, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges. Increasingly, companies are looking at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand. Regions with congested or poorly maintained roads may see businesses relocate to areas with a smoother, more efficient and more modern transportation system. Approximately 1.1 million full-time jobs in Arizona in key industries like tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing are dependent on the quality, safety and reliability of the state’s transportation infrastructure network.

“The lack of adequate, sustainable transportation funding in Arizona will lead to increasing deterioration on the state’s roads and bridges and even longer congestion-related delays for commuters, businesses and visitors,” said Dave Kearby, TRIP’s executive director. “Deteriorated, congested roads rob drivers of time and money while reducing the state’s competitive advantage and threatening economic growth. Making investments that will improve the condition and efficiency of Arizona’s transportation system will ensure that the state remains an attractive place to live, visit and do business.”

ARIZONA KEY TRANSPORTATION FACTS 

THE HIDDEN COSTS OF DEFICIENT ROADS

Driving on Arizona roads that are deteriorated, congested and that lack some desirable safety features costs Arizona drivers a total of $9.6 billion each year. TRIP has calculated the cost to the average motorist in the state’s largest urban areas in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC) as a result of driving on rough roads, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion, and the financial cost of traffic crashes. The chart below details the cost of deficient roads statewide and for the average driver in the state’s largest urban areas. 

ARIZONA ROADS PROVIDE A ROUGH RIDE

Due to inadequate state and local funding, 44 percent of major roads and highways in Arizona are in poor or mediocre condition. Driving on rough roads costs the average Arizona driver $576 annually in additional vehicle operating costs – a total of $3 billion statewide.  The chart below details pavement conditions on major roads in the state’s largest urban areas and statewide.

ARIZONA VEHICLE TRAVEL AND CONGESTION INCREASING

In 2018, the state’s transportation system carried 66.1 billion annual vehicle miles of travel (VMT), a 34 percent increase since 2000, and the sixth highest rate of vehicle travel growth in the nation during that time.  Congested roads choke commuting and commerce and cost Arizona drivers $4.5 billion each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel. In the most congested urban areas, drivers lose up to $1,089 and as many as 62 hours per year sitting in congestion. 

ARIZONA TRAFFIC SAFETY AND FATALITIES

From 2014 to 2018, the number of annual traffic fatalities in Arizona increased by 31 percent from 770 to 1,010.  A total of 4,635 people were killed in traffic crashes in Arizona during that period. In 2018, Arizona had 1.53 traffic fatalities for every 100 million miles traveled, the fourth highest in the U.S. and significantly higher than the national average of 1.13. The fatality rate on Arizona’s non-interstate rural roads is significantly higher than on all other roads in the state (2.36 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs 1.39) – the fifth highest rate nationally.  

Traffic crashes imposed a total of $6.4 billion in economic costs in Arizona in 2018 and traffic crashes in which a lack of adequate roadway safety features were likely a contributing factor imposed $2.1 billion in economic costs.  The chart below details the average number of people killed in traffic crashes in the state’s largest urban areas between 2014 and 2018, and the cost of traffic crashes per driver. 

ARIZONA BRIDGE CONDITIONS

Two percent of Arizona’s bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition. Bridges that are rated poor/structurally deficient have significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Thirty-seven percent of the state’s bridges are rated in fair condition and the remaining 61 percent are in good condition. The chart below details bridge conditions statewide and in the state’s largest urban areas.

ARIZONA TRANSPORTATION FUNDING

The ability of revenue from Arizona’s motor fuel tax – a critical source of state transportation funds – to keep pace with the state’s future transportation needs is likely to erode as a result of increasing vehicle fuel efficiency and the increasing use of electric vehicles. The average fuel efficiency of U.S. passenger vehicles increased from 20 miles per gallon in 2010 to 24.5 miles per gallon in 2020.  Average fuel efficiency is expected to increase another 31 percent by 2030, to 32 miles per gallon, and increase 51 percent by 2040, to 37 miles per gallon. The share of electric vehicles of total passenger vehicle sales in the U.S. is expected to increase to five percent by 2023 and to 60 percent by 2040, by which time they will represent approximately 30 percent of the passenger vehicle fleet.

The federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), which expires on September 30, 2020, is a major source of funding for road, highway and bridge repairs in Arizona. Throughout the five years of the FAST-Act – fiscal years 2016 to 2020 – the program will provide $3.9 billion to Arizona for road repairs and improvements, an average of $775 million per year. From 2014 to 2018, the federal government provided $1.08 for road improvements in Arizona for every $1.00 state motorists paid in federal highway user fees, including the federal state motor fuel tax. 

From 2014 to 2018, federal funds provided for highway improvements were the equivalent of 71 percent of the amount of Arizona state capital outlays on road, highway and bridge projects, including construction, engineering and right-of-way acquisition.

TRANSPORTATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

From 2000 to 2018, Arizona’s population increased by 40 percent to 7.2 million, the third highest rate of growth among all states.  From 2000 to 2018, vehicle miles of travel on Arizona roadways increased by 34 percent, the sixth highest rate of growth nationally. 

The health and future growth of Arizona’s economy is riding on its transportation system. Each year, $332 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Arizona, mostly by truck. Increases in passenger and freight movement will place further burdens on the state’s already deteriorated and congested surface transportation system. The value of freight shipped to and from sites in Arizona, when adjusted for inflation, is expected to increase by 124 percent by 2045, and by 100 percent by 2045 for goods shipped by trucks.

report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association found that the design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Arizona supports approximately 65,000 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy. These workers earn $2.5 billion annually. Approximately 1.1 million full-time jobs in Arizona in key industries like tourism, manufacturing, retail sales and agriculture are completely dependent on the state’s transportation infrastructure network.

CONCLUSION

            As Arizona continues to enhance its thriving, growing and dynamic state, it will be critical that it is able to address the most significant transportation issues by providing a 21st century network of roads, highways, bridges and transit that can accommodate the mobility demands of a modern society.

            Arizona will need to modernize its surface transportation system by improving the physical condition of its transportation network and enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient, safe and reliable mobility for residents, visitors and businesses. Making needed improvements to the state’s roads, highways, bridges and transit systems would provide a significant boost to the economy by creating jobs in the short term and stimulating long-term economic growth as a result of enhanced mobility and access. 

Numerous projects to improve the condition and expand the capacity of Arizona’s roads, highways, bridges and transit systems will not be able to proceed without a substantial boost in local, state or federal transportation funding.  If Arizona is unable to complete needed transportation projects it will hamper the state’s ability to improve the condition and efficiency of its transportation system or enhance economic development opportunities and quality of life.  

Note: This report was released by TRIP on March 10, 2020. For more information visit TRIPorg.net

AED Tells Mayors, Governors to Keep Construction Projects Going

On March 19, 2020,  Associated Equipment Distributors delivered letters to national organizations representing mayors, local elected officials and the nation’s governors, urging them to allow construction projects to continue while highlighting the equipment industry’s integral role in building and maintaining our nation’s essential infrastructure.

In a letter to the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities, AED was joined by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), delivering the message that, “shutting down construction projects in cities and towns not only jeopardizes continued relief and prevention efforts surrounding COVID-19, but will also exacerbate an already dire situation with little safety or health benefit.”

AED delivered a similar letter to the National Governors Association, imploring its members to reconsider halting construction projects across the country. Additionally, AED joined AEM and the Equipment Dealers Association in letters to all 50 governors stressing that equipment manufacturers, suppliers, dealers, and service technicians must be considered essential to economic continuity as governors continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the health and safety of all workers and residents.

In Washington D.C., AED has been working with business organizations to ensure lawmakers and the administration understand the importance of liquidity and access to capital for the equipment industry. AED joined allied business organizations outlining tax modifications that will help provide liquidity for small-medium-sized companies.

To view the letter to the League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, click here.

To view the letter to the National Governors Association, click here.

To view the letters to each Governor, click here.

Established in 1919, Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) is an international trade association based in Schaumburg, IL, representing over 700 construction equipment distributors, manufacturers and industry-service firms nationwide. AED members sell, service and rent equipment to such markets as heavy and light construction, mining, agriculture, forestry, aggregates, engines and industrial.